Soccer Fields in Potomac Neighborhood? March 8, 2011
You may have heard about a proposal for new soccer fields on the Brickyard school site in Potomac.Currently, the site is leased by Montgomery County Public Schools to an organic farmer, who has farmed the land there for 31 years.I was surprised to see a proposed lease agreement between MCPS and Montgomery County on the Board of Education's agenda for action later today.
I am disappointed that when the County Executive wrote to the school system in November 2009 to request the lease agreement, he did not share his intention to lease the site and issue a Request for Proposal for soccer fields with the community.Montgomery County prides itself on process and transparency - and in my view, the Executive Branch has not fulfilled these fundamental obligations to our residents in this case.
As a former coach, I understand the need for more fields.The scarcity of fields downcounty presents a significant challenge to parents and to athletic organizations.On the other hand, the nature of Brickyard Road, with its winding turns in the heart of a residential area, may not lend itself particularly well to the type of intensive use that is contemplated by four new soccer fields.Others might feel that the organic farming taking place there is the best use for the site.Each perspective is a legitimate point of view - points of view that I believe should be explored in an honest, upfront conversation that engages the community and considers neighborhood concerns while making the best use of the County's asset.
It is in that context that last week Iasked the Board of Education to postpone actionon this item, until there has been more time for meaningful public input.In my view, if the use of this site is going to be modified, the community is owed an open and transparent dialogue from the start.
Spending Disclosure Website Goes Live September 8, 2010
Back in February of 2009, I was the chief sponsor of a bill that led to the creation of a new website that will allow the public to search and view information on government expenditures over $25,000. I was grateful that this legislation, modeled after similar federal legislation sponsored by then-Senator Obama, was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, and Duchy Trachtenberg, and passed unanimously by the Council.
As of September 1, the spending disclosure bill has now been fully implemented and the searchable website is now available to residents. The new website can be accessed from the County's Department of Finance home page by clicking on "Spending Disclosure" under Quick Links. The direct link is: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/spendingdisclosure. Details of Bill 1-09 can be found here. It is important to keep our government open and transparent to those who want to know where their tax dollars are being spent. This website takes another major step toward meeting this goal. We want to be accountable to our residents.