A Letter from County Executive
Our biggest piece of unfinished work concerns needed investments and shifts in County government facilities – a major task. I decided to comprehensively reevaluate the entire strategy as to how and where to invest a substantial number of the County’s valuable resources, advance our key economic priorities and move forward the implementation of the new Shady Grove Sector Plan to create thousands of new housing units near Metro.
First, let me define the problem:
- Our Public Safety Training Academy has severe space limitations and is in need of tens of millions of dollars in improvements just to stay at its current location.
- Our present Police headquarters is old and wholly inadequate.
- Our transportation maintenance depot at Shady Grove is too small and needs major renovation.
- Facilities to store and maintain our new fleet of Fire & Rescue vehicles are lacking.
- We spend a staggering $22 Million annually on rent payments and need to reduce that sizable expenditure on property we don’t own.
- Our Shady Grove Sector Plan, which will concentrate thousands of new housing units near the Metro, turning a light industrial area into a “Smart Growth” area, is stalled.
- Our Shady Grove Life Sciences Center and adjacent higher education campuses need to be competitive in a global economy. We must create competitive live/work environments for researchers so that we can stem the loss of scientists that is occurring regionally and across the country and retain high paying jobs in the County.
This plan cannot go forward until we find locations to move an array of important facilities out of the County service park on Crabbs Branch Road. For example, we need to find a place to relocate and expand our County Liquor warehouse, our school buses, school food preparation facilities, and our Equipment Maintenance Operations Center.
In the past, this was believed to be an almost impossible order to fill. But, thanks to strong and creative leadership, we have succeeded (see the Smart Growth flow chart). We start by creating a Public Safety Headquarters on a new single campus. This new campus will also have room for other County agency needs. This will free up both the current Public Safety Training Academy site and the County Service Park for alternate uses.
And, we realize better coordination and operational efficiencies by placing our public safety personnel together. The current PSTA site has enormous potential for boosting our biotech presence and laying the groundwork for our economic development far into the future.
Moving a large portion of the County Services Park will allow for transit-oriented development – with more housing, including affordable housing – next to the Shady Grove Metro Station – a more sustainable use that will capitalize on existing infrastructure and allow for development that is less reliant upon automobiles. And we are able to do all this and have it be as“cost-neutral" as possible. This is an approach that is better for our infrastructure, better for our environment and better for the future.