From the County Council Office of Valerie Ervin

Dear Resident, 


On May 24, the Council passed the county's fiscal year 2013 operating budget.  I am happy to report that we were able to restore many of the deep cuts made over the past three years to libraries, public safety, recreation and transportation.  The difficult work we undertook in last year's budget created a blueprint for addressing the county's long-term budget problems which set the stage for these essential budget restorations.    

At a time when working families are stretched to their limit, this Council made decisions that would not add to the overwhelming burdens our residents are experiencing with stagnant wages, rising health care costs and increasing prices at the gas pump, the supermarket and retail stores.  

I spearheaded the effort to add money to the budget for the Working Parents Assistance Program to fund childcare subsidies for working families to help get our residents back to work. I also secured funding to retain the Truancy Court Program in our schools, to maintain neighborhood treasures like the Sligo Creek Golf Course and the American Film Institute, and to reduce rental rates for community groups in the Silver Spring Civic Building.  

I secured funding to complete essential trail projects to ensure that our bicyclists, runners and pedestrians can get where they need to go and to encourage residents to take alternative modes of transportation.  Over the next 6 years, more than $40 million is programmed in the capital budget to fund the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Silver Spring Green Trail and Capital Crescent Trail.     

I also worked with my Council colleagues to fund the Working Families Income Supplement and energy assistance for low income residents. I believe this budget strikes the right balance between protecting our taxpayers from significant tax increases while protecting our most vulnerable residents.

I will get the chance to see many of you over the next few months at the Fenton Street Market, in one of our downcounty community gardens, at community meetings or neighborhood gatherings.  As we look ahead to summer, I hope you and your family get the opportunity to reconnect and enjoy all of the great things that Montgomery County has to offer.  



Valerie Ervin  

Valerie Ervin  


Childcare Subsidies Help Families Get Back to Work

As the Council's leader for early childhood education, it was my mission this year to do all that I could to free up funding to eliminate the number of families who are waiting for child care assistance.  I am happy to report that the Council approved a budget that provided $800,000 to reach this goal.   

Montgomery County parents, children and providers are at a crossroads. Budget reductions in this area over the last three years have reduced the amount of assistance that we can offer families seeking quality childcare programs.  These reductions to child care subsidies not only impact access to quality child care, they also impact the operations of local businesses who rely on workers who also have child care needs.   

This year over 2,000 county children were put on a waiting list for child care subsidies because of a March 2011 state enrollment freeze.  Across Maryland, 17,872 children are on the waiting list.  The average weekly cost of full-time childcare for two- to four-year olds is approximately $245.

Child care subsidies are critically important to me because they affect the ability of families to access quality child care, which in turn impacts educational outcomes for children when they arrive in kindergarten.  In Montgomery County, we decided that this issue is too important and has too many long-term consequences not to act now.  

I am gratified that the resources I secured with full Council support in this budget will provide a lifeline to so many families; however, there is still more work to be done.  Over the summer, I will be working with our representatives at the federal and state levels to find additional resources to assist our working families. 

Bikeshare Grant     


Since 2008 the bikeshare program and expanding interconnected bike routes have been at the top of my legislative agenda. I am so excited to have the resources necessary to finally green-light this project downcounty.

I am pleased to announce that the Maryland Department of Transportation has awarded the County a $1 million grant for a proposed bikeshare program in the downcounty areas of Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring. In addition to the grant, during its regular session, the Maryland General Assembly approved a bill that will provide a $250,000 bond to the bikeshare program for construction and equipment costs for 50 bikeshare docking stations and 350 bikes.  The County also has received $252,000 in private sector funding commitments toward the cost of bikeshare stations.   

Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations sited at publicly accessible locations. Bikes may be picked up at one location and returned to another, creating a system that allows for one-way trips. Bikeshare is considered ideal for short trips of less than five miles. Trips under 30 minutes are included in the membership fee, while longer trips are charged based on their duration.

The downcounty bikeshare program would build on the success of the Capital Bikeshare program in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, which, in its first 18 months, logged more than 1.5 million bike trips. The downcounty system is expected to expand the reach of Metrorail and other transit; provide low-cost transportation options in the most urbanized and congested portion of Montgomery County; help get people out of their cars for short trips; and produce environmental benefits while enhancing economic activity.

Our County is committed to expanding low-cost transportation options through reliable transit and facilities that allow bicyclists and pedestrians to travel in a safe, reliable and convenient way. I want to thank our federal and state representatives, as well as our Department of Transportation, for making this program a reality.

Last year, the County also received funding for 20 bikeshare stations and 200 bikes in the Rockville and Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center area through a federal grant to serve low-income commuters and job trainees.

Budget Highlights         

FY 2013 Operating Budget
  • The Council fully funded the requests for Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
  • Funded the economic provisions in the negotiated collective bargaining agreements with County employees represented by the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Municipal and County Government Employees Organization.
  • Added 58 Police positions, including 43 police officers. Thirty-four police officers will be used to form a District Community Action Team (DCAT) in each of the six police districts.
  • Funded two expanded Fire and Rescue Service recruit classes.
  • Increased funding for Public Libraries by 10 percent, including restored staffing, extended operating hours and expanded library materials.
  • Restored a number of significant items related to Health and Human Services including: funding for health care for the uninsured, working parents child care subsidies, working families income supplement, energy assistance rebates and dental care for low-income patients.
  • Funded the Truancy Court program at Francis Scott Key and Neelsville Middle Schools.
  • Funded youth programming, including a Summer Student/Teen Employment Program, two additional Excel Beyond the Bell comprehensive after school programs and weekend and evening teen programs.
  • Kept parking on Saturdays free in Silver Spring, and established a pilot program whereby the residents of South Silver Spring can buy a discounted monthly parking pass for the Kennett and King Street garages.
  • Added funding to decrease rates to community users of the Silver Spring Civic Building.
  • You can also download the full community grants and reconciliation list.

FY 2013-18 Capital Improvements Program (CIP)  

  • Funded new schools and school additions including keeping the modernizations of the Wheaton High School and Thomas Edison High School of Technology on the Board of Education's requested schedule.
  • Funded science and student services buildings and a parking garage at Montgomery College.
  • Included funds for important trail projects, such as the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Silver Spring Green Trail, and, for the first time, the Capital Crescent Trail.
  • Increased funding for roadway patching and resurfacing by 95 percent and increased funding for sidewalk and curb replacement by 40 percent in fiscal year 2013.
  • Funded other notable projects:
    o    Silver Spring Library
    o    Old Blair Auditorium
    o    Woodside Urban Park
    o    Wheaton Library/Recreation Center
    o    3rd District Police Station
    o    White Oak Recreation Center 

Proposed Zoning Change to Protect Residents from Impacts of Mega-Gas Stations      


On May 9, I joined Councilmembers Marc Elrich and Nancy Navarro and residents of the Kensington Heights Civic Association on the front steps of the County Council Office Building in Rockville for a news conference concerning the construction of mega-gas stations in the county.

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 12-07, which I cosponsored with Councilmembers Elrich, Navarro, Rice and Riemer aims to protect residents' health by prohibiting new mega-gas stations within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, hospitals or other locations used for recreation or entertainment. This ZTA covers gas stations pumping more than 3.6 million gallons per year. That number is based on an EPA report regarding school site guidelines.

At the event, the Kensington Heights Civic Association introduced Dr. Henry S. Cole, an environmental scientist with more than 30 years of experience, who highlighted issues associated with these types of stations.   

I believe that the Council has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of its citizens, particularly children who are our most vulnerable residents. Creating a 1,000-foot buffer between mega-gas stations and schools, parks, playgrounds and other types of public use space is a reasonable step given the traffic and environmental impacts of these types of gas stations.

National Small Business Week       


Councilmember Nancy Navarro (middle) and I presented proclamations on behalf of the Council to Jenny Kim (second from left), owner of Number One Cleaners; Jason Miskiri, a former basketball star at Blair High School and George Mason University who recently opened The Society Lounge; and Julia Miller and Shanda Waters, owners of Blow-Outs Salon. 


Since 1962, the National Small Business Administration has been recognizing the special impact made by outstanding American entrepreneurs and small business owners with Small Business Appreciation Week.

The Council is also committed to helping our small businesses thrive.  One initiative that I helped to kick off in Wheaton and Silver Spring is the Local First Program, which is a nationally recognized program that emphasizes the importance of patronizing locally owned businesses and helps owners network and make collective purchases.  Last October, I asked the Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee to review the County's Local Small Business Reserve program and extend the sunset date of that program because small businesses are a critical component of the county's economy. In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that Montgomery County remains committed to an environment that supports economic growth and job creation.  

The Council recently passed Bill 6-12, which provides assistance to small businesses adversely impacted by a county redevelopment project.  In addition, the Council added two positions to the Department of Economic Development to implement Bill 5-12 that created a Small Business Navigator to help small business owners start and maintain their businesses.

Land Use Update        



White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan
On May 22, I had to opportunity to participate in the Citizens Advisory Committee meeting at the National Labor College.  I was delighted to see such an amazing turnout of community members.  Planners gave an overview of the proposed White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan and discussed traffic implications and transit options for the area.  
The White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan will analyze the housing, transportation and economic needs of the area.  East County is primed for future development, and I continue my long-standing commitment to attract development that addresses the jobs/housing imbalance in the Route 29 Corridor.  This area is a significant piece of the county's economic development plan, and I believe that the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan will set the stage for development that will compliment the county's life science assets, academic institutions and educated workforce.  The Planning Department continues to hold meetings to receive input on the future of the White Oak, Hillandale and the Route 29 Corridor.  

I encourage everyone to stay involved as this master plan moves forward.  Planning staff will formulate recommendations that go to the Planning Board for review.  The Planning Board will then make their recommendations to the Council for final actions.  We want to hear what is important to you to help shape your community.

Future meetings dates include:   

Planning Board Meeting
Thursday, May 31 at 7:00 pm
Montgomery County Planning Department, Auditorium (first floor)
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring
Topic: Briefing on Results of Traffic Modeling and Analysis
Planning Board agendas and meetings can be accessed via the website:

Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) Meeting
Tuesday, June 19 at 7:00 pm
Montgomery County Planning Department, Auditorium (first floor)
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring
Topic: Planning Department staff will present and solicit input on the preliminary recommendations for the White Oak Science Gateway Staff Draft Master Plan. The preliminary recommendations will summarize the major elements of the Master Plan.

Community Forum
Tuesday, June 26 at 7:00 pm
Francis Scott Key Middle School, Cafeteria
910 Schindler Drive, Silver Spring
Topic: Planning Department staff will present and solicit input on the preliminary recommendations for the White Oak Science Gateway Staff Draft Master Plan. The preliminary recommendations will summarize the major elements of the Master Plan.
Additional information can be found at:

Long Branch Sector Plan
Planning staff continues to work on the sector plan for Long Branch in East Silver Spring, which will incentivize revitalization along the Purple Line.  The plan seeks to provide a neighborhood center, improve pedestrian-friendly linkages and encourage mixed-use redevelopment while also encouraging small business retention and improving the natural environment by creating connections to the surrounding stream valley parks.  This plan will add a new urban park and improved public facilities while ensuring affordability for residents and small business owners.  A community meeting is currently being scheduled.  Additional details can be found at:

Takoma/Langley Crossroads Sector Plan
On April 24, the Council adopted the Takoma/Langley Crossroads Sector Plan.  This sector plan will achieve a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly area that builds on the cultural diversity of the Crossroads community and protects the area's unique environmental features.  The plan encourages quality development that creates a sense of place in the Takoma/Langley Crossroads area and fosters greater economic opportunities for local residents.
Additional information can be found at:

Kensington Sector Plan
The Council passed the Kensington Sector Plan on March 20.  The Kensington Sector Plan area includes the incorporated Town of Kensington and three adjacent areas: the West Howard antiques district, the Ken-Gar community north of the CSX railroad tracks and the commercial district at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and University Boulevard.  

This plan will help to revitalize this historic community by allowing scaled development that appropriately compliments the surrounding neighborhoods and historic structures, provides housing options and creates a pedestrian-oriented town center.    
For more information on the Kensington plan, visit:

Public Service Recognition Week 

I saluted public service employees, who help make Montgomery County a great place to live and work, as part of the 27th Annual National Public Employees Service Week.

Those who represented their fellow employees at the Council ceremony included (left to right): Merle Cuttitta, Service Employees International Union Local 500;  Jennifer Connors, principal of Rolling Terrace Elementary School; Anna Treadway, media assistant at Rolling Terrace Elementary School; Commander Don Johnson, Montgomery County Police; Helen Smedley and Rosalie Mesa, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Officer Ryan Street; Nadim Khan, HHS; JoAnn Barnes and Carla Miller, Children, Youth and Family Services; and Fire Chief Richie Bowers.

I was proud to present this proclamation, and I want to thank all of our public service workers for their tireless efforts on behalf of our community.

Teacher Appreciation: Math Can Be Fun 

National Teacher Day began almost 60 years ago when Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day because of the important role teachers play in our society. On May 8, the Council recognized two exemplary teachers for their ability to inspire their students to achieve success.

I was joined at the Council by Mrs. Heydi Dupre, who is a Spanish teacher at Baker Middle School and one of the recipients of the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award, and Mr. Jacob Scott, a teacher at Montgomery Blair High School and Montgomery County's NAACP Teacher of the Year in 2011.  His enthusiasm for teaching math shows his students that math can be fun, exciting and relevant. Check out his video: Triangle Experts.  Watching his innovative video gave the audience and Councilmembers a quick refresher on geometry in a cool new way.
Fenton Street Market Hits Veterans' Plaza 

As one of the Council's strongest advocates for local, small businesses, I joined with the County Executive to reopen the Fenton Street Market for its next season in downtown Silver Spring.

Veterans' Plaza has become a hub for community activities.  As the Council representative for Silver Spring, I have worked with constituents to ensure that the Fenton Street Market continued to operate in Silver Spring. I am so excited that the market has found a home at Veterans' Plaza for at least three years. As a frequent visitor to the market, I am delighted to see its success.

This year, Fenton Street Market will welcome more than 60 vendors each Saturday offering original artwork, handmade and imported crafts, antiques, jewelry, furniture, vintage clothing and services. The Fenton Street Market operates directly across the street from downtown Silver Spring's FreshFarm Market that also is open on Saturday mornings.

The space has also become vibrant with civic engagement. In 2011, the Fenton Street Market was incorporated as one of the nation's first benefit corporations, a hybrid for-profit/non-profit business model for social entrepreneurs. One thing that makes this market unique is its mission, which is to invigorate the economy with locally based, independent businesses and arts. The market also holds community conversations each week and includes space for non-profits, such as Silver Spring Green.
Power Girls Luncheon: Women of the Past, Present and Future   
It was my pleasure to be the keynote speaker at the Power Girls Luncheon, which was hosted by the Department of Recreation this month at the Silver Spring Civic Building.  This is just one example of the positive youth programming that the county offers.  The Recreation Department's Teen Team and the Sports Academy joined together to create small groups of teens who meet to discuss topics relevant to the experiences of young women in our community.  These small groups have grown from three to four students into two larger groups that meet regularly as part of the Sports Academy's After School Program.  These efforts have been led by Bintu Musa and Mariatu Savage.    

Now more than ever before, there are significant opportunities available to women.  This panel discussion and luncheon provided the teens with an opportunity to hear from women of different backgrounds who serve in a variety of fields and make significant contributions to our community.  It is important that we support and encourage each other as we all do our work because its makes our voices louder and our community stronger.

As I looked around the room, I saw an amazing group of young women, who are working hard to get a good education, who are making positive choices and who embody what it means to be power girls.  While they might not realize it now, they are making decisions today that start them down a path towards their life-long accomplishments.  It was my pleasure to share my story with them in the hopes that my example will ignite a spark that leads these young women to explore public service and help shape our future.