Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Telework at the Library for Metro Surge

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) is a resource for telecommuters who are impacted by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Surge 10. MCPL has multiple options for telecommuters who are looking for alternative work sites or resources during the surge. The WMATA Surge 10 will affect the Red Line October 29 through November 22. This surge is expected to cause delays on the entire Red Line -- the Metrorail system’s busiest line.

MCPL library card holders have access for the following telecommuting resources available in branches:

The following resources are available online to MCPL card holders -
For more information about MCPL services call Regina Holyfield-Jewett at 240-777-0106.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SafeTrak Surge 10 Oct. 29 - Nov. 22

Here's the full press release:

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Surge 10 will affect the Red Line October 29 through November 22. This surge is expected to cause delays on the entire Red Line -- the Metrorail system’s busiest line. Metro is urging commuters to find alternatives, particularly during weekday, peak travel hours. Surge 10 is the last surge that will directly affect Montgomery County.

Summary of SafeTrack Surge 10: 

  • Red Line trains will run in two segments -- Shady Grove to NoMa-Gallaudet U every six minutes and Glenmont to Fort Totten every ten minutes. 
  • Metrorail stations at Brookland-CUA and Rhode Island Ave. will be closed. 
  • Metro will run free shuttle buses to replace trains between NoMa-Gallaudet U and Fort Totten. 
  • Ride On will run free shuttle buses between the Silver Spring, Takoma and Fort Totten Metrorail stations during extended rush hours. 
  • The Green/Yellow Line provides a good alternative between Fort Totten and Gallery Place. 
  • Other alternatives include the MARC train; additional Metrobuses along key north-south routes; and Park and Ride lots at Green/Yellow Line Metrorail stations. 
  • For those riding other sections of the Red Line, there will be fewer trains arriving less often. 
  • Overall, Red Line customers are urged to consider telecommuting, off-peak travel, bus, MARC and other alternatives. Commuters should expect trains to be extremely crowded. 

What is Montgomery County Doing to Help Travelers?
Montgomery County, including the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), is assisting travelers during SafeTrack Surge 10, as outlined below.

For Riders:

To encourage commuters to travel outside of peak hours, provide free Ride On “Red Line Shuttles” between the Silver Spring, Takoma and Fort Totten Metrorail stations weekdays every 10 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. MCDOT is extending peak-hour service to 4 ½ hours in both the morning and afternoon. 
  • Distribute free round-trip MARC Train tickets prior to the start of Surge 10 at the Silver Spring and Rockville Metrorail stations to encourage commuters to try this alternative. Tickets will be distributed, while they last, on Tuesday, October 25 from 7 to 9 a.m. and Thursday, October 27 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. 
  • Sell MARC Train tickets at the MCDOT TRiPS store in Silver Spring, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Provide commuter services assistance, including telework, alternate work schedules, carpooling, vanpooling and use of car-sharing. 
  • Post bike route “SafeTrack Detour” signs at station entrances to connect West Hyattsville on the Green/Yellow Line with the Takoma, Silver Spring, Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont stations. 
  • Co-sponsor a “Learn the Route” free, guided bike ride on Saturday, October 29 at 10 a.m. to aid bike commuting. 
  • Encourage commuters to use MCDOT’s recently created interactive map of Park and Ride Lot options. 
  • Coordinate with Montgomery County Police to provide traffic control to improve bus operations at the Silver Spring Transit Center and other key locations. 
  • Offer free Bikeshare memberships, training and helmets to qualified, low income residents through the MC Liberty program
For Drivers:
  • Monitor traffic and adjust traffic signals in areas most affected by SafeTrack to improve bus operations and traffic flow. 
  • Suspend MCDOT road repair projects along key commuter routes affected by surges. 
  • Request that the Maryland State Highway Administration restrict lane closures and construction projects along key routes affected by surges. 
  • Prohibit metered parking on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. along the MD 97 and US 29 corridors in Silver Spring to improve bus operations and traffic flow. 
Educate Travelers:
  • Extend MC311 Call Center hours during Surge 10 to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, between October 31 and November 22. People can call 311 from within the County, 240-777-0311 from outside the County or use Maryland Relay Services. 
  • Provide Ride On staff at affected Metro stations to assist passengers, direct them to shuttles and distribute information. 
  • Hold “pop-up” events at Metrorail stations to educate passengers. 
  • Post interior and exterior Ride On bus and bus shelter ads. 
  • Display informational posters at all transit centers. 
  • Use social and traditional media to communicate with customers and the public. 
  • Promote the Fare Share commuter benefits matching program in Transportation Management Districts and to major employers that allows them to buy down the cost of transit or vanpooling for their employees. Employers may contact Commuter Services at 240-777-8380 or by email. 
  • Transportation Alternatives
Ride a Bus

Take a free Ride On “Red Line Shuttle” between Silver Spring, Takoma and the Fort Totten Metrorail stations weekdays every 10 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Connect to the Green/Yellow Line at Fort Totten. Look for Ride On shuttles at the following locations:

  • Silver Spring (southbound only): Colesville Road (between Wayne Avenue and the Metrorail entrance) 
  • Takoma (northbound and southbound): Bus Bay A 
  • Fort Totten (northbound only): Bus Bay C 
Ride enhanced Metrobus service
  • Route 80 weekday rush hour service connecting downtown DC and Fort Totten 
  • Route P6 weekday rush hour service connecting downtown DC and Rhode Island Station 
  • Route L2 weekday rush hour service connecting downtown DC with Chevy Chase Circle 
  • MetroExtra S9 limited stop service, midday and rush hour, between Silver Spring and McPherson Square 
Check other bus options
Ride the Metrorail Green/Yellow Line
Take MARC Train
  • Try the Brunswick Line, which has stations in Rockville, Metropolitan Grove, Garrett Park, Kensington, Silver Spring and Union Station (limited parking available near Garrett Park and Kensington stations). 
  • Connect with Ride On at many MARC stations. Enter station name here to view transit options. 
  • Buy MARC train tickets at the station or in advance: In Person: Quik-Trak ticket vending machines at some stations; On the platform from MARC staff at Rockville and Silver Spring during peak travel times; Onboard with cash only; $20 denominations or less. (Note: MARC charges a $5 surcharge for onboard purchases); Online (Note: When purchasing a ticket, use “Washington, DC” for Union Station.); Silver Spring TRiPS store at the Silver Spring Transit Center, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Explore Commuter Services Options
  • View Montgomery County’s telework video and webinar or receive free, expert consulting services from Montgomery County Commuter Services. Call 240-777-8380 or email. 
  • Consider allowing employees to flex their time. 
  • Consider signing up for the County’s FareShare program for employers that allows them to buy-down the cost of transit or vanpooling for their employees. Contact Montgomery County Commuter Services at 240-777-8380 or email. 
Try Biking
  • Ride to the West Hyattsville Green/Yellow Line station: Look for MCDOT’s bike route “SafeTrack Detour” signs that begin at station entrances at the Takoma, Silver Spring, Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont stations; Route distances along the Sligo Creek Trail, with local street connections, range from about five miles between Takoma and West Hyattsville to 11.6 miles between Glenmont and West Hyattsville; As with any bike route, prepare for the weather and be sure your bike has a headlight. 
  • Use the Georgetown Branch Trail between Silver Spring, Bethesda and Georgetown. This signed trail combines on-street travel with a gravel and paved path. Route distances are 5.7 miles between Silver Spring and Bethesda and 12.1 miles between Silver Spring and Georgetown. 
  • Use Capital Bikeshare: Acess Capital Bikeshare in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Friendship Heights; Bethesda, Chevy Chase Lake, Rockville or Shady Grove. See full station map online; Use a credit card for a $2 single trip fare, good for up to 30 minutes, or an $8 daily fare: Limited income residents can call Montgomery County Commuter Services at 240-777-8380 to learn about eligibility for a free, annual, Bikeshare membership. 
  • Plan your ride by checking the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Level of Traffic Stress map
  • Join a “Learn the Route” free, guided ride on Saturday, October 29 at 10 a.m., co-sponsored by Montgomery County Commuter Services and led by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Register at
Consider Driving as a Last Resort

For those with limited choices, driving may be the best option, but expect more traffic congestion than usual.

For more information, visit Montgomery County SafeTrack, Metro SafeTrack or Montgomery County Commuter Services.

The Montgomery County’s 311 Call Center is extending its hours to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday from October 31 through November 22. Call 311 from within the County, 240-777-0311 from outside the County or use Maryland Relay Services. You can learn more about Surge 10 at by using the key words “safe track”.

Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Silver Spring area on Wednesday, November 9, at Sligo Middle School (1401 Dennis Avenue) beginning at 8 p.m. with a pre-meeting reception at 7:30. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting. I hope to see you there.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon or in high definition). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

Holiday Schedule for Veterans Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Veterans Day, Friday, November 11.

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County Liquor stores – all Country liquor stores will be open normal hours
  • Recreation: aquatic and community centers open as scheduled; classes and programs will meet as scheduled; all senior programs cancelled, and administrative offices and senior centers closed
  • Montgomery Parks - For operating schedule, visit
  • Ride On – Ride On will run on a Special Modified Holiday Schedule
  • Metrorail – Information available at
  • Metrobus – Information available at
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Transfer Station recycling and trash drop-offs: Open with normal hours.  Recycling Center: closed;  Transfer Station and Recycling Center administrative offices: closed
  • Trash Collections –Friday collections will slide to Saturday
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – Schools and administrative offices are open; early release day for K-8th grade students
  • State offices and courts – closed

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Marriott Plans New Office and Hotel Complex in Montgomery County

Marriott is the gold standard for corporate excellence, and their decision to continue growing their business right here in Montgomery County is great news. Here's the full press release:

ANNAPOLIS, MD, October, 18, 2016--Marriott International, Inc., the world’s leading hotel company, announced today plans to relocate its global corporate office to a state-of-the-art, build-to-suit $600-million facility to be located in downtown Bethesda in Montgomery County. The county has been Marriott’s home for more than 60 years. The new complex will house more than 3,500 employees in approximately 700,000 square feet of leased office space. The company is continuing its consideration of several sites in downtown Bethesda, and is expected to select a final site in the first half of 2017. Marriott plans to occupy the new space before the expiration of its current lease at 10400 Fernwood Road in late 2022. Marriott also announced that a 200+ room, Marriott-branded hotel will be built on the site.

As part of the announcement, Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson said, “Marriott has been headquartered in Montgomery County, Maryland for more than 60 years and we intend to remain close to our roots. Our goal is to provide a cutting-edge workspace for our associates that offers state-of-the-art technology, modern amenities, and access to a range of transportation options.” Sorenson added, “We also plan to manage a new 200+ room Marriott-branded hotel to be built on the site, which will be a significant economic driver for the community. After a comprehensive review of many excellent options in Washington, D.C., as well as Arlington and Fairfax counties in Northern Virginia, and North Bethesda, we have narrowed our search to downtown Bethesda, an area which offers multiple sites that meet our priority needs.”

In addition to being home to Marriott’s corporate headquarters, Maryland also has 93 Marriott-branded hotels in the state – totaling nearly 18,000 guest rooms – following the company’s merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts last month. In 2015 there were more than 10,400 jobs in Maryland at Marriott properties, including its corporate offices, Marriott-managed hotels and franchised properties.

“Marriott is a world-class company with deep roots in our state, and their decision to continue growing their business right here in Maryland is tremendous news,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “For over 60 years they have been a vital member of our business community, employing thousands of Marylanders, and making a real and lasting positive impact on our state’s economy. Today’s announcement also reflects a great partnership with County Executive Ike Leggett and his team – a partnership that ensures our state will continue to benefit from Marriott’s presence and investment for decades to come.”

“I am pleased by Marriott’s decision to keep its headquarters operations and employees in Montgomery County,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “The county, working closely with Marriott’s team and with Governor Larry Hogan, has partnered on an agreement that benefits the company, the state, and Montgomery County. Marriott has long been a mainstay here and has been an excellent corporate citizen, giving back again and again to help strengthen our community. The Marriott brand, now the largest in the lodging world, will shine ever more brightly from right here in the county.

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen said: “The Montgomery County Council is very enthusiastic about the agreement reached today to relocate Marriott’s corporate headquarters in downtown Bethesda. Marriott is the gold standard for corporate excellence. We are honored they have been here for 60 years and happy they plan to stay and build. This is a good deal for the County and County taxpayers. It creates jobs, stimulates business activity, and grows the County tax base.”

“Marriott is a brand recognized and respected around the world, and the fact that they call Maryland home does a lot to advance our economic development efforts,” said Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill. “With more than 90 hotel properties across Maryland that had more than $600 million in sales last year, Marriott is also a valued part of our state’s tourism industry, which contributes some $16.4 billion in economic impact within our borders each year.”

Marriott International, Inc. is a global leading lodging company with more than 5,700 properties in more than 110 countries. Worldwide property level sales of hotels operated or franchised under the company’s 30 hotel brands totaled $62 billion in 2015. The company is ranked 195 on the most recent Fortune 500 list. The company was founded by J. Willard and Alice Marriott and continues to be guided by Marriott family leadership for nearly 90 years.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tax Credit for Seniors in their Home More than 40 Years

Tomorrow I will introduce Bill 42-16 that would create a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have lived in the same dwelling for at least 40 years. Retired members of the U.S. armed forces who are at least 65 years old also would be eligible for the tax credit. See the video.

Councilmembers Sidney Katz, Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice are co-sponsors of the bill.  A public hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15. If you can't make the hearing, you can also send your testimony to

Residents who qualify for the credit would be eligible to receive a 20 percent credit for the property tax imposed on their property. The credit would be granted annually for five years subject to application requirements.       

The dwelling for which a property tax is sought must have a maximum assessed value of $500,000 or less.

We want to do whatever we can to encourage people who love living in Montgomery County to continue to be able to live here as their life circumstances change. We understand that this can be an expensive place to live for many people at the prime of their earning power, and it gets more challenging for those in retirement years. With this bill, we can offer some help to people who have lived here a long time and helped build this County and to those who served our country and helped preserve and protect all the things for which we are thankful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Apply Now for Grants Advisory Group

Apply by November 9 to the Council’s Grants Advisory Group. We will appoint the volunteer community panel to review grant applications and advise us on proposals received from the non-profit community. 

The Council believes that a strong partnership with non-profit organizations is critical in meeting the County’s needs, so we have established a grants process in which the Council accepts applications from non-profit organizations seeking funds, forwards proposals to the Grants Advisory Group for advice and comments and then makes funding decisions during our spring budget deliberations.

It is anticipated that the Grants Advisory Group will be appointed in December and will be asked to report to the Council by the end of April 2017. Panel members will need to attend training sessions and review relevant materials during late January and February. The applications review will take place between late February and April 15.

The Grants Advisory Group will be asked to provide the Council with written comments on each of the grant proposals. The workload will vary based on the number of applications received and panel members appointed; however, it is expected that each member would review approximately 20-25 applications. Panel members should anticipate approximately six to eight meetings between late January and mid-April, with the potential for weekly meetings in March. 

Volunteers for the Grants Advisory Group can come from panels reviewing Community Development Block Grants or Community Service Grants, as well as from other advisory boards or community groups. Applicants for the Advisory Group cannot be employees of, or member of a board of, a nonprofit group applying for Council grant funding. The Council will designate the chair of the Advisory Group. 

Send your letter of interest along with a resume to Council President Nancy Floreen, Montgomery County Council, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland, 20850, or by e-mail to by 4:00 on November 9. If you have questions, contact the Council Grants Manager at 240-777-7935 or

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Three Ways to Vote

Voting is easy in Montgomery County with three ways to cast your ballot. For more information, visit the Board of Elections at

Vote by Mail
Any voter can vote by mail. Download the absentee ballot request form and send it to the Board of Elections by November 1 if you want your ballot mailed to you or by November 4 if you want it delivered electronically.

Vote Early
Early voting is available October 27-November 3, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at any of these ten early voting sites: 
  • The Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 506 S. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg
  • Damascus Community Recreation Center, 25520 Oak Drive, Damascus
  • Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville
  • Germantown Community Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown
  • Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center, 4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase
  • Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center, 14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville
  • Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Road, Silver Spring
  • Potomac Community Recreation Center, 11315 Falls Road, Potomac
  • Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring
  • Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad, 2401 Arcola Avenue, Silver Spring
Vote on Election Day
Show up at your local precinct on November 8.

* New! If you missed the October 18 registration deadline and are qualified, you can register and vote the same day at any of the early voting sites. Just bring a Maryland driver's license, identification card, learners permit or other proof of residency.

Public Forum on Small Cell Antennas

Update 10/25/16: Check out the Council's new web page featuring information on cell antennas. You may find the link to the frequently asked questions especially helpful


This meeting will provide an opportunity to learn about pending telecommunication tower applications and to ask questions about existing and proposed County regulations. Here's the full press release:

The Montgomery County Council from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, will hold an informational forum at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg on a proposal that would allow for the installation of small cell antennas and poles in public rights-of-way. The meeting will provide an opportunity to learn about pending telecommunication tower applications and to ask questions about existing and proposed County regulations.

Ridgeview Middle School is located at 16600 Raven Rock Dr. in Gaithersburg.

The meeting will be recorded by County Cable Montgomery (CCM) and broadcast numerous times on Cable Channels 996 (high-definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast; Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon. Times of the rebroadcasts have yet to be determined. The recording of the meeting also will be available via streaming through the Council web site at

The Council is now considering proposed Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 16-05, sponsored by Council President Nancy Floreen, which would allow telecommunications poles no higher than 30 feet in various zones with standards for their construction. The Council held a public hearing on the proposal on July 19.

As people are disconnecting from the traditional wired telephone and use their cell phones for far more than voice communication, there is a greater demand for wireless services in residential areas. The telecommunications industry can meet this need with small antennas on short poles.

Under the Federal Communications Act and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, the County may not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services, may not regulate in a manner that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services, must act on new tower applications within 150 days and must make any denial of an application in writing supported by substantial evidence in a written record. The statute also preempts local decisions premised directly or indirectly on the environmental effects of FCC allowed radio frequency (RF) emissions.

Antennas may be placed on utility poles.  Some neighborhoods have underground utilities without utility poles; however, most neighborhoods have street light poles. The new equipment cannot be supported on existing residential street light poles. An applicant intends to replace the existing street light pole with a pole that could accommodate antennas and a street light.  These poles would be less than 30 feet tall compared to the traditional oversized cell towers that rise high above the areas in which they are erected.

The current Zoning Ordinance requires a conditional use approval for every new pole, no matter how short the pole. Councilmember Floreen proposed the ZTA in the belief that standards for 30-foot poles will offer the community and the providers with a more predictable approach to moving forward on improvements in County wireless service.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Update on MCPS Efforts to Reduce Class Size and Address the Opportunity Gap

Tune in to County Cable Montgomery at approximately 1:45 tomorrow to see the update from Montgomery County Public Schools on its efforts to reduce class size and address the opportunity gap. In approving the Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget in May, the Council provided significant new funds that would go toward those purposes. If you aren't able to watch the meeting live, you can get it on demand about 24 hours later.

New MCPS Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith, Chief Academic Officer Maria Navarro, Associate Superintendent of Elementary Schools LaVerne Kimball and Associate Superintendent of Secondary Schools Darryl Williams are among the MCPS representatives expected for the update on schools.

The FY17 budget for MCPS resulted from a historic collaboration between the Board of Education and the Council. Together we agreed to redirect significant resources to reduce class size and address the opportunity gap. Specifically, the Council's appropriation for MCPS was $89 million above the State-mandated Maintenance of Effort minimum spending level, with $37.9 million redirected within the budget directly for class size reductions and closing educational disparities by adding instructional and support staff.

On September 13, MCPS staff briefed the Board of Education on how it is allocating the additional resources in FY17 and the metrics that will be used to measure the success of these efforts. The Board of Education found the briefing to be very timely, detailed and informative, and expressed a strong desire for the superintendent to request to provide the same update to the Council.
Superintendent Smith’s presentation to the Board of Education addressed the following planned actions:

  • Reducing average class size and targeted staffing to provide closer monitoring and supports for students 
  • Leveraging resources to increase staff capacity to meet student needs in schools with the largest learning disparities 
  • Focusing efforts on increasing the academic success of Black or African American students, Hispanic/Latino students and students impacted by poverty to mitigate disparities in learning opportunities 
  • Developing instructional supports and programmatic options to increase learning opportunities for students receiving special education services and our English language learners 
  • Providing enhanced curricular and instructional options 
  • Increasing programmatic access by removing barriers and increasing opportunities for learning