photo of Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton at Meet the Mayors filming

Mayor Newton Opposes Interim Bus Depot Plan in Rockville

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PHOTO | MCPS BOE

Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton testifed in opposition of a plan to move 100 buses from the Shady Grove Bus Depot to the Carver Educational Center Services parking lot, during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

“We’re very interested in working with you and all of our Montgomery County partners to find you a solution for a problem that we understand is a real problem, but we do not want it in the city of Rockville,” Newton told school board members.

Newton was joined by other concerned residents, who also made statements about the adverse impact the buses would have in their community. Residents have created a petition in opposition of the plan.

The County government has set a deadline of January 2017 for the Shady Grove Bus Depot to be vacated so that developers can begin building a neighborhood near the Shady Grove Metro station.

According to a memo sent by board member Phil Kauffman, last year, the County Council approved approximately $1.7 million to accommodate an interim bus depot at the Carver Center parking lot.

Kauffman and BOE member Rebecca Smondrowski introduced the bus depot topic during the new business section of Tuesday’s meeting. They requested that the Board send a letter to the County asking officials to hold off on the move until a long-term solution is identified.

“It makes no sense to me to be putting money into a temporary site, when we need to find a permanent solution, so I think it’s really pretty critical that we come up with a final solution and just do it and put our money there,” Smondrowski said.

“I think it was important that we take action today,” said BOE member Patricia O’Neill. “The clock is ticking to January of 2017 and short of board members chaining themselves to the Shady Grove Depot and saying, ‘Blank no, we won’t go,’ it is a legitimate concern,” she said.

The Board unanimously agreed to ask the County to delay the relocation of the bus depot. Board of Education President Michael Durso will write a letter to County Executive Ike Leggett with the request.

At the meeting, Montgomery County Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman said that staff will continue to plan for the Carver Center bus depot in case the county doesn’t delay the move process and will hold a community meeting on May 11th to receive further input.

On Wednesday, the County Executive responded to a resident’s question about the bus depot issue during his online “Live Discussion” event:

“Thank you for your question. I have received several related questions during this afternoon’s chat. I am aware of the MCPS need to relocate its buses from the current site at Shady Grove. The decision to relocate the bus depot and [several] other large county facilities from the Shady Grove location was mine, a part of my Smart Growth initiative. That large tract of property is located within a short walk to the Shady Grove Metro station. I believe that it is far wiser to build homes at this site where people can live and use public transportation to commute. Most County facilities have been relocated. MCPS has been exploring new locations for its buses for about five years. With a growing student population, additional parking spaces were needed. MCPS has studied several sites and continues to look for a long-term solution. The County Council has required, as a condition of funding, that MCPS develops a comprehensive long-term solution. We continue to work with the schools toward this end. I believe the Carver lot is a reasonable interim site to use for MCPS because MCPS owns the site, with a new parking garage at the College it will not need these spaces; and the public expense will be greatly reduced. It is always difficult to locate some public facilities. I assure you that I will continue to work with MCPS to find the best possible solution.”

To watch the meeting in its entirety, visit the Board of Education website.

Maureen Chowdhury

About Maureen Chowdhury

Maureen Chowdhury is a multimedia journalist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at mchowdhury@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter at @MediaMaureen. Maureen authors the blog Sound Check on MyMCMedia.

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