Showing posts with label Christina Ginsberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christina Ginsberg. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Twinbrook reelects citizen association officers, sets agenda for coming year

Twinbrook Citizens Association members reelected the incumbent slate of officers at last night's election meeting at the Twinbrook Recreation Center. President Richard Gottfried defeated challenger Rob Crow 29-9. The 38 voting residents also reelected the other officers, who were unopposed:

Vice-president: Dr. Steven Wilcox
Secretary: Mary Ann Barnes
Treasurer: Christina Ginsberg
Member-at-large East: Rachel Sultanik
Member-at-large West: Virginia Quesada

The presidential contest turned primarily on questions of how dense development should be around the Twinbrook Metro station, with Crow favoring taller buildings. How to get more residents involved in the association was another issue, as was the association's handling of nearby development like the B.F. Saul project and Rockville Pike Plan. Gottfried cited the increase in turnout for important meetings since he took office a year ago, and outlined plans for further outreach, such as partnering with the Recreation Center's movie nights this summer.

After the vote, Gottfried and Treasurer Christina Ginsberg discussed some of the priority issues that will most affect Twinbrook in the coming year. Ginsberg cited the likely return of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's proposal for an appointed taxing authority this fall, and the debate over potential historic preservation efforts that could impact property values, as the two biggest issues. 

Ginsberg said historic designation would hurt home values, sending potential buyers to adjacent Aspen Hill where they wouldn't have to get every exterior change approved by the Historic District Commission. 

Gottfried said the county's bus rapid transit proposals, expansion or replacement of the Twinbrook Recreation Center, the need for a sprinkler system at Twinbrook Elementary School and a streetlight at Halpine Road and Ardennes, the APFS school standards debate, and requiring more developer investment in the neighborhood, are among at least 30 issues he will be working on in the months ahead. He said the association will begin lobbying the Mayor and Council on needed projects this fall for next year's budget decisions.

Among issues brought up by residents was men gathering to drink in Rockcrest Park, who are leaving glass bottles behind on park property that borders several homes.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The Blair Ewing/Mark Twain site,
now being coveted by Montgomery County
as an MCPS bus depot, is
close to Twinbrook and adjacent to
Rock Creek Park
Much of the heated debate over the plan to give Montgomery County Public Schools' Shady Grove bus depot to developers has been in the Aspen Hill area, where an MCPS program with a reputation for frequent police intervention is being moved from the existing Blair Ewing Center (a.k.a. Mark Twain School) on Avery Road.

But that Avery Road site along Norbeck Road is also close to the Twinbrook neighborhood in Rockville, RedGate golf course, and Rock Creek Park. That has many Twinbrook residents alarmed, and left with little time to react with this "smart growth" land swap moving full steam ahead.

$16.6 million dollars had previously been allocated to renovate the Blair Ewing Center school, which could hold 600 students in a time of vast overcrowding in MCPS facilities. Yet the Montgomery County Council Education Committee is scheduled to vote today to take back those funds, paving the way for demolition of Blair Ewing, and moving the "smart growth" scheme forward. $32 million will be spent to redevelop the site into a bus depot, money that is being spent for the sole purpose of private developer profit at the current Shady Grove depot site. Money which, of course, could instead go to new school construction in Rockville or Aspen Hill.

Christina Ginsberg, past president and current treasurer for the Twinbrook Citizens Association, has written a letter to County elected officials on behalf of current president Richard Gottfried to express their concern. In it, Ginsberg implores the County to "stop fast-tracking the bus depot. The whole project needs to be reconsidered before it becomes an embarrassment to Montgomery County."

Among the issues of concern:

The Avery Road site's Mark Twain School Athletic Park was funded by the City of Rockville and Project Open Space funds, and is used for various team sports. City taxpayers covered 25% of the construction costs, and Maryland put $591,750 in P.O.S. funds to cover the rest. All of that money would now be for naught.

The 500 buses using the depot would be driving in and out of already-jammed Norbeck Road, which would cause traffic issues for neighborhoods in Rockville and Aspen Hill.

Demolition of the school is contrary to the Rockville Pike Plan's allowance for a major influx of new residents and students to the city.

And the already-shaky RedGate Golf Course could be impacted negatively, as well.

Perhaps most jarring, is the decision to place the massive depot literally on the edge of Rock Creek Park, with its already-strained water quality and downstream flow into the District. Ginsberg warns of the environmental impact of runoff from the vehicles and site into Rock Creek, writing that the depot would be "essentially an industrial facility next to a nationally significant piece of parkland and a waterway that traverses historic areas of the District of Columbia.  I would hope that you are as interested in preserving parkland DOWNCOUNTY as you are in preserving parkland upcounty, as with Ten Mile Creek."

The County Council has shown very little concern with waterways in the downcounty area, having sold off part of Little Falls Stream Valley Park to a private developer. It is now threatening to approve a massive redevelopment of the Westbard area that would drop over 3000 new residents on the banks of the Little Falls watershed.

Ginsberg notes that the school system is "crying poor" in Annapolis for construction money, even as it plans to demolish an existing school and spend tens of millions of dollars to do so. And with little warning to residents.

"When we, the taxpayers, see this kind of hidden and backdoor deal being pushed through, and we are told, yet again, at the 11th hour, that it is a 'done deal', we know there is something badly wrong," Ginsberg wrote.

This is at least the second County project in the last month that is being rammed through as a "done deal", before citizens have even seen the details. The other one - a new Transit Authority - popped up last Friday afternoon.

Image: Google Maps

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Rockville residents had the opportunity to address the Mayor and Council on the proposed lengthening of 2-year elected terms to 4 years at a public hearing last night. A majority of city voters supported the proposal on last November's ballot. Far fewer turned out to speak at the hearing Monday night at City Hall.

Former city councilmember Mark Pierzchala testified in favor of the change, but lamented the "construct" of the less than 17% of registered voters who voted speaking for the other 83%. Pierzchala, an expert on surveys and statistics, urged the mayor and council to put a second issue - moving city elections to presidential years - back on the ballot again in 2015. That particular calendar change was rejected by city voters in 2013. This time, Pierzchala suggested, the ballot question language should include a statement explaining the benefit intended by the initiative's supporters - namely, increasing voter turnout.

Resident Joe Jordan, who served on the Rockville Charter Review Commission, noted that the majority of voters who didn't turn out last November had the same chance to vote as those who did. Jordan also spoke in support of 4-year terms Monday night.

Twinbrook Civic Association President Christina Ginsberg was more skeptical of the change. Ginsberg said elected officials' efforts to avoid frequent elections, and put forward additional changes that would favor incumbents, were "very dangerous." She recommended the council take the opposite approach, and make changes that would reduce the advantages of incumbency. Such changes, she said, could motivate new challengers to run. Ginsberg mentioned several ideas, including public financing, campaign finance reform, and a limit on how many mailings city candidates could send out.

Another resident, who lives in the Rockshire neighborhood, said she and her husband specifically chose to move to Rockville 37 years ago for its frequent elections, which she believed made municipal government more accountable.

The Mayor and Council are now expected to act on the change to 4 year terms, on the basis of voters' recommendation last November.