Help Us Secure FY21 Funding For Georgia Avenue Improvements

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The letter below was sent to the Montgomery County Council to ensure funding is available for the long proposed Georgia Ave improvements. Please consider sending a letter to help us secure the funding:

February 5, 2020

Montgomery County Council

Council Office Building

100 Maryland Avenue, 6th Floor

Rockville, MD 20850

Sent via email to:

Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov

councilmember.hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov

councilmember.jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov

councilmember.albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov

councilmember.glass@montgomerycountymd.gov

Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov

Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov

councilmember.friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov

Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov

Re: County Budget: MD 97 Georgia Avenue Improvements in Montgomery Hills and Forest Glen

Dear Council President Katz and Councilmembers,

The following named Civic Associations and Advocacy Groups urge you to include funding in the FY 21 Capital Improvements Plan budget for the proposed reconstruction of Georgia Ave between 16th Street and Forest Glen Road.  These associations and groups consist of well over 10,000 households and represent the neighborhoods that surround the Montgomery Hills/Forest Glen project planning area.

The SHA Georgia Ave road improvement project enjoys widespread, unparalleled support from the surrounding residents, local businesses, and myriad community organizations. These improvements have been recommended in the County’s Approved and Adopted Master Plans continuously since 1978, including, once again, in the current draft Sector Plan now before the PHED Committee.  While SHA has made significant progress over the past year, notably securing federal NEPA approval for Alternative 5B, we remain in need of a firm commitment for construction funding.

In past meetings, the County Executive assured us that the County would cost share a percentage of the construction costs with the State. In fact, at our last meeting with Maryland DOT Secretary Slater, (then SHA Administrator), he noted the County’s $10 million commitment would be an important factor in having this project proceed from design to construction.  We are very appreciative of the County’s previous commitment, realizing it may be the linchpin for the project to proceed. Unfortunately, we did not see this funding commitment reflected in the proposed CIP budget.  Consequently, we urge the Council to include the funding in the FY 2021-2026 Capital Improvements Program, specifically dedicated in FY 2021 and 2022.

We acknowledge that Georgia Ave is a State road – however, the vast benefits that will result from the road improvements will accrue to both County and State.  The SHA Project Design with the cycle track will establish a balanced approach to transportation, improving pedestrian safety, provide a safe route for bicycles, and further leverage accessibility to the Red and Purple Line stations.  Further, these road improvements will help small local businesses in the corridor to thrive and help to reverse the disturbing trend of increasing vacancies and businesses closing.

Without the improvements the corridor is unsafe for all users: vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.  Commuters and residents alike cannot travel through the area easily, and the existing conditions creates create an economically untenable environment for most businesses.

We urge you to commit the County’s share of funding in the CIP to demonstrate to the State the County’s willingness to be an active partner in the road improvements.

We appreciate your time and consideration of our request. Should you desire any additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the representatives listed below.

Best,

Michelle Foster, Geoff Gerhardt, Ted Martin, Friends of Forest Glen and Montgomery Hills

Alison Gillespie, President, Forest Estates Community Association

Phil Olivetti, President, Linden Civic Association

David Cox, President, North Woodside Citizens Association

Bill Scanlan, President, Woodside Civic Association

Dan Hattis, President, Woodside Forest Civic Association

L. Adriana Gonzalez, President, Woodside Park Civic Association

Peter Gray, Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)

 

CC:

County Executive Marc Elrich, marc.elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov

Chris Conklin, Director, Montgomery County Department of Transportation, christopher.conklin@montgomerycountymd.gov

Greg Slater, Maryland DOT Secretary, gslater@mdot.state.md.us

Tim Smith, MDOT SHA Acting Administrator, TSmith2@mdot.maryland.gov

Sniders Super Foods

sniders

Lillian & Louis Snider in front of their first store in Brightwood in 1922. Sniders Superfoods moved to Ga & Seminary in 1946 and to the current location in 1961.

We are fortunate to have many of the elements that make a great neighborhood: tree-lined streets, access to public transportation (and I-495), good schools, beautiful parks and trails, and a multicultural, diverse community. It is a great place to raise a family. When we ask neighbors what they most love about our neighborhood, they invariably mention Sniders. 

Whether you live in Linden or one of the “Woods” or “Forests,” chances are you count on Sniders as a go-to for groceries. It’s not unusual for neighbors to walk to Sniders daily (your editors have been spotted there three times in the same day!) What is it about Sniders that has kept us coming back since 1946?

What we love

A 5 minute Docs in Progress film from 2018 highlights many of the things we personally love about Sniders – convenience, connection, and customer service. In the film, Mark Hillman, the Deli Manager, reflects upon the tight community of neighbors serving neighbors (Mark grew up in the neighborhood) and notes that Sniders is a gathering spot.

Did you know?

Sniders generously donates 1 percent of sales to our local schools. You must save your receipts and turn them into school reps who tally them (click here for WoodlinSligoEinstein,, & Northwood Reps. 2019 receipts must be submitted by Feb. 15)

Manager Terry Sweet

We recently spoke with manager Terry Sweet about the store, the neighborhood, and what keeps it all together. We were surprised to learn that Terry is also a neighbor; he lives just a few blocks away. Terry has seen quite a few food trends in his 19 years at Sniders and acknowledges that increased competition keeps them on their toes – be it Aldis, Blue Apron, or UberEats – but they stay focused on what they do best: customer service, good prices, and community convenience. He mentioned that he doesn’t see a big push among loyal customers for organic or vegan foods. But just in case, they have started to grow the organic section along with prepared Asian and Indian foods. Terry noted that he would love to see is an expanded prepared food section. He believes younger customers, short on time, would appreciate quality dinners made by Sniders staff for carry out.

And what of rumors that Sniders isn’t part of a re-developed Montgomery Hills? Terry indicates that Sniders isn’t going anywhere. While he notes the challenges of increased competition, they have seen it before (before Staples, a Safeway operated from the Aldis location). As a neighbor, he sees the same disruptions caused by congestion and road improvements we all do.

Let’s Keep Sniders Strong!

Alan Lauer, who lives a few blocks away in Linden, believes that not as many new residents are plugged into neighborhood institutions the way they used to be. Seen sporting a sign at the September 2019 Street Fest that read “Shop at Snider while you still can,” Alan obviously has concerns. His two grown children, raised on Sniders groceries, are just the customers that Terry and Sniders will have to win over to remain competitive. Recent closings like the Woodside Deli show that no business is guaranteed to survive in Montgomery Hills.

In the spirit of celebrating the good things along Georgia Avenue that make our community special, we encourage you to shop at Sniders! If there is something you’d like to see, let Terry and the staff know. They want you coming back.

How You Can Help #FixGeorgiaAve

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The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is working on the engineering plans for the road design but we need to continue to advocate for funding to complete the design and to fund construction.

  1. Sign the Petition to Fund the Ga Ave Improvements. With each signature an email is sent to Maryland Dept. or Transportation Secretary Rahn and SHA Administrator Slater. Over 1,100 people have signed but we must keep on the pressure.
  2. After January 1, 2020, call / write the Governor (410-974-3901) and Maryland DOT Secretary Slater to fund the MD 97 Alternative 5B Georgia Ave (Secretary Greg Slater 410-865-1000 or email gslater@mdot.state.md.us)
  3. Attend the First Friday Neighbor Night. We typically meet the First Friday of the month (check the schedule on the FOFGMH Facebook page) from 5:30 pm until 8 pm at a local restaurant to show our support of our local businesses. It is a fun way to meet new neighbors or reconnect with old friends. Kids are always welcome.

If you would like to help volunteer to #FixGeorgiaAve, email us at fixgeorgiaave@gmail.com.

Best,

Michelle Foster, Woodside Park/Woodside Forest

Geoff Gerhardt, North Woodside

Ted Martin, Forest Estates

Montgomery Hills Street Fest 2019

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When we make people-dominated spaces, and not vehicle-dominated streetscapes, the fun can start. Our community is rich in a diversity of local businesses; a wide variety of community organizations; dedicated elected representatives that show up to show their support; and a slew of dedicated residents that are working to #FixGeorgiaAve.

We hope everyone enjoyed the 2019 Montgomery Hills Street Fest and will come back to celebrate with us in 2020. Feel free to leave us comments below on what you liked and what other ideas you have to make the Fest even better for next year.

Want to volunteer with us or help us advocate to #FixGeorgiaAve? Sign up to follow this website or send us an email at fixgeorgiaave @ gmail.com.

And that’s a wrap – THANK YOU SPONSORS!

Final TY Poster

The 2019 Montgomery Hills Street Fest is in the books. We were so thrilled to see the hundreds of residents that came to spend the day with us. It was like a gigantic dress rehearsal for when we can finally walk and bike across and along Georgia Ave.

HUGE thanks to all of our sponsors! We could not have done the Fest without you and your generous donations. We super-sized the fun this year and there are so many businesses, organizations, and individuals to thank – please say thanks to our sponsors when you are out and about.

And of course we would be remiss not to shout out to the dozens of volunteers that made this event possible, safe, and so much fun. Thank you to every one who gave their time, efforts, and cake!

The Fest Planning Team met many a Sunday at 8 am to plan the event – and even with all the work wanted to meet last night to talk about #StreetFest2020.

Finally, the Fest was an opportunity to advocate for to fund the Georgia Ave improvements and so many elected officials attended the Fest to demonstrate their continued support. It was a busy weekend in the County, and we appreciate you make the time for us!

Stay tuned for Fest photos – we will share them later this week.