When the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza opened in the summer of 2010, there were some that thought the pricing structure was simply out of reach for many users – particularly for non-profits and other civic organizations.
The County – led by the County Executive – analyzed how to best lower the cost to worthy groups, without compromising the enterprise nature of the facility’s fiscal steward, the Community Use of Public Facilities.
The idea emerged to create a separate fund that would in essence subsidize certain uses. The rules were simple and clear. Users subsidized had to serve a public good. Priority would be given to those organizations located in or serving Montgomery County residents. Non-profits, civics and fraternal groups would qualify. The funds would go towards financially supporting a portion of the rental fees. A formal application process was adopted. And, a committee was set up to make the decision on who should be approved, and what percent subsidy should be granted. Annual cost of the Program has ranged from $100,000 - $200,000.
And so the Community Access Pilot program was born. After two years of experimentation and adjustments, the Pilot became a Program – the Community Access Program.
Groups that have qualified and received funding include:
- Various community groups (youth, faith based, art, cultural, clubs, sorority/fraternity, etc.) that are working on improving and/or positively impacting others in Montgomery County; and,
- Civic Groups - including but not limited to homeowners associations, neighborhood associations, tenant associations, senior citizen groups, etc.
The CAP has been instrumental in making the Civic Building and Veterans Plaza a premier welcoming space, accessible to a broad range of users.
Over the few years in existence, the CAP has helped over 200 organizations fulfill their dreams of using this civic space at a reasonable cost.