Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Community Access Program - A success story

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.

Friday, February 10, 2017


NOTE: This is the first blog posting since November 8th. After three months of hiatious, we hope to once again occasionally post meaningful stuff...


These are the links that appear in every eNewsletter the Silver Spring Regional Area Director, Reemberto Rodriguez sends - every week or so. (If you are not subscribed to this eNewsletter, you can do so by simply going to this link. You can see recent issues here.)

These links provide a wealth of information 'a click away'. You are encouraged to browse through them, use them, and let us know if there are some critical ones missing.


(links to all Departments and much more!)

(for Citizens Advisory Board, Urban District, and A&E)

(the broader downtown area listings and happenings)

(links to venues and listings)

(for commercial hubs in the Regional Area)
(for civic matters and more)

(on County's Boards, Committees, and Commissions)




List of public stations where hyper-local news lives:


Know of others? e-mail us!






Subsidy Program Info


Recreation and Parks Programs


Farmers Markets


Saturdays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
(Ellsworth and Veterans Plaza)

Sundays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
(Laurel Ave, downtown)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

#EVERYVOTEMATTERS Our Daily Tip to Get Out the Vote

OCTOBER 24: Engage the wait staff at Waffle House - or the McDonald’s drive through - and remind them to vote vote vote. They will appreciate a fellow citizen recognizing their dignity and worth… And your encouragement may be just what they need for them to vote vote vote.

OCTOBER 25: Vote early! Polls are open for early voting in many States. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. Don’t despair. Vote vote vote.

OCTOBER 26: Focus your energy on the possible. Beware of wasting your precious time, energy, or thoughts on those who you know will not change their minds. Reach out instead to those who simply need encouragement to get to the polls and vote vote vote.

OCTOBER 27: Sharing your enthusiasm for voting is the most effective way to encourage others to do the same. Stay positive. Affirm this greatest of civic duties. Talk it up. Show up!

OCTOBER 28: Remind your female friends that there was a time not too long ago when they could not vote. Don’t squander this ‘right’! Others fought - and died! - so you could vote. We owe it to our ancestors to vote vote vote.

OCTOBER 29: Remind your friends (and yourself!) that this election is much more than the Presidential race. There are MANY local races (and referenda) to learn about, care for, and vote vote vote. Simply Google “sample ballot”, enter your address, and you will see your local ballot.

OCTOBER 30: When you door knock, post on social media, and talk with discouraged friends: Beware. Be VERY AWARE. Many are going to great length to convince you to NOT vote. No matter: Encourage other to Vote, vote, vote!

OCTOBER 31: Do the obvious. Offer to take your parents, your adult children, your old aunt, your scrooge uncle - your own family members! - to the polls. Don’t let it be that they don’t vote because you never insisted! The family that votes together stays together.

NOVEMBER 1: Pray. Yes, pray. Pray that we - and each person we encourage to vote - find it in us to be above the fray; to understand that all of this is for much more than the craziness of the moment; that we each - individually - can make a difference. Pray on. And vote vote vote!

NOVEMBER 2: Stay positive. Impossible? No! Not if you emphasize the beauty, wonders, and magnificence of what is the U.S. of A - and its people. A people that are good and gracious; thoughtful and thankful…And yes, challenged, broken, and dysfunctional - far from perfect. Yet, vote we must. Because. Because it is the right thing to do. Vote vote vote.

NOVEMBER 3: Impress upon everyone you run across today how preciously individual we each are. Sure, we are millions. But, those millions are made up of ones. We each are one. Each ONE matters. Vote vote vote.


#EVERYVOTEMATTERS  Our Daily Tip to Get Out the Vote: Have fun. No one likes a grouch. Authentically enJoy talking up the responsibility to vote. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is also [plifting. It connects us with millions of other Americans. It is our most prolific common ritual. And it should feel good. No need to “hold your nose”; be proud to vote vote vote. !Vote mi gente!

November 5

Don't vote. Don’t complain…. So vote vote vote!

NOVEMBER 6 - Sunday

#EVERYVOTEMATTERS  Our Daily Tip to Get Out the Vote: For those who are faith-based, you probably heard reference to the importance of voting preached from the pulpit today. If not - and even if you did, here’s an inspiration.

NOVEMBER 7 - Monday

 The one question you will get the most today is: WHERE do I vote? There is a SIMPLE answer! “Just GOOGLE it!” Just enter your address and walla! - Up comes your voting place. NO EXCUSE not to vote vote vote!

NOVEMBER 8 - Tuesday

Only one thing to do today: 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Learn How to Develop Buildings You Care About in Silver Spring, May 13-14

This is the first time such an offering is made in Silver Spring. It highlights our Area's continuing welcoming environment for entrepreneurship.

Guest Blog By Emily Brown

Learn How to Develop Buildings You Care About in Silver Spring, May 13-14

In Silver Spring, the demand for walkable residential properties in the area is intense; as pointed out in a recent blog post, from the middle of the last decade through the middle or end of this one, Silver Spring will have added in the proximity of 5,000 residential units throughout the downtown area.

On May 13-14, the Incremental Development Alliance, a national non-profit, will be holding a Small Scale Developer Bootcamp, designed to teach would-be small real estate developers the basics of small residential and mixed-use projects. This event is co-sponsored by CNU DC, and focuses on how an incremental approach to building cities makes communities stronger and creates more wealth for citizens.

While large development project are essential for meeting the residential and retail needs, small developments also play a key role in the evolution of place.  The advantages of disseminating knowledge on details of the development process include locals owning property, which in turn encourages community engagement and increased participation in the economic and civic sphere. For example, the development of small retail allows entrepreneurs and small businesses to move into spaces at oftentimes less rent found in some larger new projects.

Silver Spring is a market that is ripe for small projects. The demand is here, and so is the need to preserve a neighborhood environment that encourages small business development and local engagement. 

If you’ve ever wondered why that lot on the corner couldn’t be a coffee shop, or had an idea about how to fill a gap on a commercial strip, you may want to consider attending this event. (NOTE: THERE IS A FEE FOR THIS EVENT.)

The Small Scale Development Bootcamp  kicks off with a Happy Hour at Fire House 1 on Friday May 13 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, with an all day training the next day, Saturday May 14, from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. It will be taught by experienced developers, John Anderson and Michael Lander. Participants will learn technical skills and resources to navigate development financing, zoning and entitlement, site selection and building design in order assemble your own small scale real estate deal. The workshop will also address issues surrounding becoming a developer, risk management, quality of life and basic business setup and contracting methods.

WHAT: Small Developer Bootcamp
WHEN: Friday, May 13, and  Saturday May 14, 2016
WHERE: Fire Station 1 and Montgomery County Planning Department Building  
(8787 Georgia Ave Silver Spring, MD 20910)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Garden of Daily Living - a belated Earth Day gift

(This was given to me by a senior who worked in our office sometime in 2012… I’ve lost contact with her, but will be forever grateful for this gift.)

For the garden of your daily living

Plant three rows of peas:
peace of mind, 
peace of heart, 
peace of soul.

Plant four rows of squash:
squash gossip, 
squash indifference, 
squash grumbling, and 
squash selfishness.

Plant four rows of lettuce:
lettuce be faithful, 
lettuce be kind, 
lettuce be patient, 
lettuce really love one another.

No garden is without turnips:
turnip for meetings, 
turnip for service, 
turnip to help one another.

To conclude our garden we must have thyme:
thyme for each other, 
thyme for family, 
thyme for friends.

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love.

There is much fruit in your garden because you reap what you sow.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What is going on in the (real estate) development world in Silver Spring?




So, you want to know: What IS going on (in the development world) in Silver Spring? What are all those real estate developments deals and great projects that are coming out of the ground? What has happened recently? What is the history? Where are we headed?

Well, obviously there is no simple answer and no single place that has all this wonderful information. Oftentime when we try to produce such “lists of lists” they become outdated before they are released and/or the staff capacity is simply not there to maintain it all up-to-date.

Given all these caveats, here is an imperfect, incomplete, and probably not fully accurate snapshot of “What is going on (in the development world) in Silver Spring."


First things first: What you see ‘coming off the ground’ in the downtown area is probably one of the following 1000+ residential units that have recently been completed:

[] Behind the Civic Building: 222 multi-family units.  This project is actually part of the overall downtown Silver Spring development.

[] Down by Montgomery College: (the old Dry Cleaning Institute building): 210 multi-family units now open. (Built behind the historic structure, which is incorporated into the development.)

[] South Silver Spring (Kennett Street): Commonly known as The Galaxy, this is a 241 unit multi-family development.

[] Ripley Street Washington Property’s project, 286 multi-family units, recently open as well... Home Properties's project across the street is also open.

[] EYA/Chelsea School: At Pershing and Ellsworth - by the old library. It includes 63 townhouses, plus the preservation of a historic structure.

[] 8706 Georgia Avenue: One of two office developments turned into housing, this 240 unit apartment complex will be within easy walking distance of the Fillmore and AFI - recently open.

Projects in different stages of development review could bring an additional 2000 units. Some of these include:

[] Silver Spring Library Residential Site: Fronting on Bonifant, this project - almost complete now - will have 120 multi-family units and commercial on the ground floor.

[] 8621 Georgia Ave: This Folger Pratt project, bringing 262 apartment units is currently under construction. 

[] Fenton Baptist Church: This project will rebuild the church and will have street level storefronts, along with 200+ multi-family units.

[] The Old Sligo Police Station: This redevelopment will include 70 garden style units and 12 townhomes in a mix of artists housing as well as market rate housing.

[] The Falklands Chase Redevelopment: This major redevelopment in the northwest side of downtown is slated to eventually include over 1,000 units and more than 60,000 sq. ft. of retail.

[] Studio Plaza - Phase One:  In the heart of "Fenton Village", this 476 unit development will have a major public plaza and some retail, with underground parking (some of which will be public parking.)

[] The Blairs:  The complete 'redo' of the existing Blairs shopping center and adjacent residential developments will be a major new 'destination point' in downtown Silver Spring. The current construction is a 'replacement' of old units; but the project is planned to add a substantial number of new units over the years.


Somewhat dated, but still good: If you want to see some of the above projects in a graphic representation, you can review a presentation given by Park and Planning about a year ago – but still very relevant:

  • Given what has been built recently, it is safe to say that from the middle of the last decade through the middle or end of this one, Silver Spring would have added in the proximity of 5,000 residential units throughout the downtown area.

Other than residential, major projects include the total redo of the old CitiPlace into Ellsworth Place; and, United Therapeutic's "Phase 3" development.

CONTEXT (and a bit of history) [plans and such]

NOTE: On January 8, 2013, the Planning Department did a session outlining all developments in downtown Silver Spring that are under construction and/or in the planning process... See the PowerPoint presentation HERE... You may also want to view another presentation we did which places these developments "in context"... You can find that presentation HERE

Now, step back a minute… If you want to put all of this in context, you’ll want to review some framing documents. Your first stop to understand the context of what is going on should be a fuller understanding ‘how a building gets built’ in our County… Check out “A Resident’s Guide to Land Use Master Plan Process in Montgomery County”:

After that, you’ll be better ready to understand the Silver Spring plans in particular by reviewing the Silver Spring CBD (Central Business District) Sector Plan, found at:

Next you’ll be ready to step back a bit again, and see how this Plan fits into other plans and other planning issues. There is a July 2011 update to all this information, readily found at:

For a synopsis of all these plans, see more of the presentation made by Park and Planning a few ago:

To get a picture of what is here today, nothing provides a better overview than our own web-site:


Wikipedia actually does a decent job providing some history for us:,_Maryland

The Chamber’s web-site also has a brief history and context:

So does some of the local neighborhood historians:

And, of course, the Historical Society has a wealth of info:

Our own historian, Jerry McCoy wrote a book titled “Then and Now: Downtown Silver Spring”… He also wrote a history of book of the broader Silver Spring area:

Gus Bauman, a past Planning Commission Chair did a wonderful timeline that we posted on our blog not too long ago:

While there’s been many articles written about the growth in Silver Spring, this one (somewhat dated) seems to be one of the best:

As if all of the above is not enough, you could also have some fun Googling “Silver Spring redevelopment” not only on the web, but in ‘pictures’ and ‘YouTube’… And – this is quite something if you’ve never tried it – go to ‘more’ in the Google bar; scroll down to ‘even more’; then find the link to ‘scholar’. There you will find amazing historical works ranging from the useful to the useless. (For example, there’s a University of Maryland thesis back from 2005 title “Imagined Pasts, Imagined Futures: Race, Politics, Memory, and the Revitalization of Downtown Silver Spring”.)

All of this will lead you to more information than you probably need – but, you’ll have loads of fun in the investigative journey!

NOTE: I ENCOURAGE YOU TO LEAVE ANY ADDITIONS/CORRECTION TO THE ABOVE AS A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG... And, please consider 'following' this blog so you can get future postings automatically.