Conservation Montgomery 

Community News
February 13, 2011

Our county parks, a heatedheart issue close to our hearts  


      The debate is on again.  A controversial bill was filed on Feb. 4th by the County Executive with the State of Maryland to consolidate services for our 34,000-acre county park system with the intent of reducing costs.

     Bill MC/PG 112-11 County Policy Authority, Metropolitan District Tax and Transfer of Property would give the County the authority to transfer Park Police communications and other equipment to the County Police.  

     The bill would transfer authority to the County Police to enforce Planning Commission regulations in parks, buildings and other areas currently under the jurisdiction of the Commission. It also makes the requirement to levy a tax on all property optional (changes "shall" to "may") and gives the Council, not the Commission, budget authority of how the tax funds are to be used.   A Council vote is anticipated on Monday, but there seem to be many issues unresolved in regard to this proposal which came out of the recent report of the Organization Reform Commission (ORC).  There was not unanimous support for this recommendation within the ORC. 

      Portions of Bill MC/PG 112-11 are already in County law.  But there is a nagging question as to the wisdom of placing jurisdiction over park services under political entities. More clarity is needed in exactly what this enabling legislation would mean for our local parks and, whether it would actually result in any cost savings.   

      Posts from our member organizations and individuals over the past week suggest that -- at the very least ---putting the brakes on this legislation is warranted until the impacts and cost-benefits are carefully considered.  We also need to look at the public safety aspects of merging Parks Police with the County Police Department.  A hearing will be held in Annapolis on Feb. 25.  The County Executive is expected to submit a reorganization plan to the Council by Feb. 28. The  Council will then hold a public hearing on the plan by March 31 and vote on a plan prior to the adoption of the FY12 operating budget in mid-May.



Find the Council packet on the bill here.  

Find the positions of the Parks Department and Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier here along with a copy of the proposed legislation. 


Read Councilmember Roger Berliner's Feb. 11th e-mail on the topic here. 


Find Casey Anderson's blog post on this topic here. 


Organizational Reform Commission background



The bottom line is that parks matter, yet they are not sacrosanct.  Our award-winning park system needs to be positioned so that it is not vulnerable to county politics.  And any proposal to reorganize needs the benefit of thorough public participation and discussion as to the merit and impact of these decisions. The rush to get Bill MC/PG 112-11 to Annapolis has aroused suspicion and speculation. We have seen legislation that is sorely needed languish in the Executive's domain, namely amendments to update the county Forest Conservation Law, while Bill MC/PG 112-11 was on the table in the blink of an eye.   


We recommend deferral of any action on this legislation at the county or state levels of government until all potential impacts have been analyzed.  Please weigh in.  Contact your Council Members and State Legislators to express your views on this important issue.     


                            -- Conservation Montgomery Board of Directors 


Governor Introduces Legislation to Ramp Up Wind Energy in Maryland
windGovernor O'Malley introduced House Bill 1054, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2011 on Feb. 11.  The bill directs the state's largest utilities to enter into 20-year purchase agreements with offshore wind developers, who are expected to place wind turbines 10 miles or more off the coast of Ocean City, Md. The bill would require between 400 and 600 megawatts of offshore wind development, enough to power nearly all the homes on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
       According to the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), the cost to ratepayers would be low -- about $1.45 per month in the initial year, or the same as the monthly savings of changing just two traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Relative costs would decline from there, and would likely be cheaper than fossil fuel generation over time.
      Meanwhile, the bill would create about 2,000 manufacturing and construction jobs over five years and 400 long-term operations jobs, according to the MEA. The total economic impact of offshore wind for the state could surpass $1.9 billion and generate $14 million in state tax revenues.
      Five of Maryland's top environmental groups strongly endorsed the O'Malley bill Friday. These include the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Federation. Read the bill and see the list of sponsors here.



Montgomery County middle school student Julia Madsen designed a "ConservationKids" activity page that you can print out for your children.
Click here to download our kids activity page and print it out. 

Happy 10th Anniversary to
Friends of Sligo Creek
, one of the best community watershed organizations in Montgomery County. 
Stop by their open house and celebration and find details here. 


Featured Article
Read Conservation Montgomery Board member David Hauck's article on a hands-on way to conserve our county forests by visiting our home page or click here to read.
Featured Article



Join Conservation Montgomery Board members and other like-minded community members this week for a "Meet Up" networking happy hour on Feb. 16th at 6 p.m. at the  

8407 Kitchen Bar, 8407 Ramsey Ave., Silver Spring, 20910. (Next to the Silver Spring Metro) 


We will have information on some of the local issues there.  





On the future of our County parks and park services.

7 p.m. at 12900 Middlebrook Road, Gaithersburg.

More info here. 




8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. in Silver Spring. 

Details and how to register here. 





Conservation Montgomery will join a panel including Friends of Sligo Creek, Sierra Club of Montgomery County, and Montgomery Countryside Alliance at 7 p.m. March 1st at the Neighborhoods Committee meeting of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Committee.

Silver Spring Civic Building.


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