Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rainscapes Rewards

This is a terrific program, so I'm reprinting this news from Rainscapes Rewards:

The 2009 form for Rainscapes Rewards is posted on the Rainscapes page. This is an incentive program offering rebates for on-site stormwater practices such as rain gardens, conservation landscaping, permeable pavers and rainbarrels. Other practices qualify too! Applications encouraged! Rebates are offered on a first come, first served basis as long as there is money in the rebate fund. Forms may be downloaded from the Rainscapes page at .

Also, Solid Waste Services is offering a workshop in mid May:
Rain Garden and Worm Composting Workshop (registration is required)Sunday, May 17, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Learn what rain gardens are, how they are maintained, and why we need more. Then, find out about composting indoors with worms! We'll discuss how to successfully set up and maintain worm bins for turning your food scraps into black gold for your garden. Advance registration required.
More information...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Parking Lot District Use of Revenue

Today, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee (T & E) began its discussions of Bill 17-09, Parking Lot Districts—Use of Revenue. I introduced this bill on April 14 as a way of making it possible to use parking district revenues to fund transit that serves that particular district.

As everyone knows, money is tight right now. On the table are proposals to eliminate bus service. It seems to me that where we have parking revenue not needed for parking services, we should be able to use some of that money to support alternatives to driving.

The law already permits the use of some of these revenues (fines and parking fees) for transit related uses. Right now, we spend over $5 million of this money on traffic management, ridesharing, commuting alternatives, other mass transit uses and the urban district services.

Transit has long been a priority for me, and it is our best option for reducing congestion, combating climate change and ultimately enhancing our quality of life. I’m committed to looking at any opportunity to preserve transit under our current budget constraints.

A public hearing will be held on May 5 at 7:30, and the T & E Committee will continue its discussions on May 8. To register for the public hearing, call 240-777-7931. Take a look at the bill, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Council Passes Brick Paver Resolution

Today the Council passed the Resolution (with amendments) I proposed to restrict the use of brick pavers, cobblestones and stamped concrete on public walkways. The intent of the Resolution is to make sure our public spaces are accessible to everyone, including those with limited mobility, while at the same time continuing to allow creative design. To learn more, see my April 14 post.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Now Accepting Bids for Climate Plan Evaluation and Implementation

Now that the Montgomery County Sustainability Working Group has issued its 2009 Climate Protection Plan, the County is looking for a consultant to evaluate and help prioritize the plan’s recommendations. Proposed work may include developing evaluation metrics, developing implementation strategies, updating and maintaining the County’s greenhouse gas inventory, evaluating funding and financing mechanisms and other related work. If your business or non-profit organization is interested in pursuing this solicitation visit the link in Montgomery County’s Rapid Procurement System (Request for Proposals #9802000103) and get your bid in by May 6 at 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Joining the President for Transit Plan

Today I joined President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for the unveiling of the President’s new strategic plan for an effective network of high-speed passenger trains. I was representing the National Association of Counties where I am a member of the Transportation Steering Committee and chair of the Transit Subcommittee.

It was a tremendous honor to join the President and transit advocates from across the country for the unveiling of this transit plan that represents the future of transportation in our country. As a longtime advocate for transit, I am pleased that this Administration is acting on principles we’ve employed here in Montgomery County for years such as smart growth, transportation choice and accessible communities.

The President’s plan identifies high speed rail as a viable, new choice for travel—providing seamless access to airports, light rail stations and busy urban centers, alleviating congestion on the roads and in the air, helping to make America’s communities more livable and sustainable and helping meet America’s environmental goals. Under the plan, high-speed passenger trains would run in 100 to 600 mile corridors.

President Obama based his plan on his stated strategic transportation goals to ensure safe and effective transportation choices; build a foundation for economic competitiveness; promote energy efficiency and environmental quality; and support interconnected livable communities.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Budget Information Posted Here Daily

As we enter into one of the most challenging budget seasons we have ever faced, I want to make sure you are fully informed and have every opportunity to participate. That’s why I am posting the background information for all budget discussions to the right under “FY10 Budget Packets.” This way you’ll have the same information we do. Check back often as I will be updating this page daily. Also, visit the Council’s website for committee schedules if you want to hear the discussions. Most importantly, tell me what you would do.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Committee Amends Brick Paver Resolution

Yesterday the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee modified my proposed Resolution to prohibit the use of brick pavers in the construction of streets, sidewalks and other public rights-of-way.

The committee, which I chair, amended the Resolution so that it would ban further use of cobblestones and stamped concrete from public rights-of-way but would permit brick pavers if they are installed according to specifications that are in accordance with the Bethesda Streetscape Standards. The brick pavers only would be allowed in urban districts charged with maintaining them or where there is a permanent maintenance and liability agreement in effect that provides for their maintenance.

We worked hard on this Resolution to include the interests of various stakeholders. With the amendments we have been able to ensure access to public facilities for people with disabilities while at the same time maintaining many options for aesthetics and creative design.

I originally proposed the Resolution in response to recommendations from the Commission on People with Disabilities and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

The Commission on People with Disabilities noted that wheelchair users and others with limited mobility find uneven surfaces to be extremely difficult to navigate. The Commission stated that these pavements create barriers for people with mobility and visual disabilities.

The County Department of Transportation has reported that brick-paver surfaces are more difficult and costly to maintain than concrete or asphalt surfaces. People who push baby strollers also have indicated the brick pavers cause difficulty.

The full Council will take action on the resolution Tuesday, April 21.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Non-profit Used Bookstore Comes to Gaithersburg

I’m looking forward to visiting the Friends of the Library’s third used bookstore. The new store, at the intersection of Quince Orchard Road and Clopper Road in Gaithersburg, will offer not only used books but videos, educational games and other reading materials. The store also will accept tax-deductible donations of books. Proceeds are used to fund library enhancements such as children’s educational programs, cultural celebrations and new library technology.

The store opens on April 15 and will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, May 2, 10:00-2:00. Festivities will include live entertainment, giveaways and children’s arts and crafts.

As we all struggle with a sagging economy, it’s nice to know we have low-cost options, especially for entertaining and educating our kids. If this store isn’t convenient for you, visit the non-profit organization’s other stores in Wheaton and Rockville.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

High School Students Promote Biodiesel

It has been my pleasure to work with Poolesville High School Global Ecologies Studies Program students Casey Alexander and Catherine Schur. For their senior project, Casey and Catherine decided to raise awareness of the use of biodiesel and to promote it as a green alternative to traditional diesel fuel.

I encourage you to take a look at their new Web site that highlights the benefits of biodiesel, debunks some common myths and points out areas where biodiesel is being used effectively. I think even seasoned biodiesel enthusiasts will find some new information there. Most surprising tidbit from the site: “Chicken fats tend to be much less expensive than soybean oil which accounts for the majority of biodiesel that is processed and sold in the United States.”

Now Casey and Catherine are encouraging the Beallsville Fire Department to convert its engines to biodiesel. I am so pleased with their good work and look forward to their future as green energy advocates.