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Clamor Over South Valley Concessions, MVF Committees

MVF board meeting recap: Proposals to reorganize resident committees and to build a bathroom and/or concession stand at South Valley Park stir controversy.

A pair of simmering controversies came to the fore at Thursday night's meeting of the Montgomery Village Foundation board of directors.

  • Exploration into building bathrooms and a concession stand in South Valley Park
  • Reorganization of the MVF’s resident committees

South Valley Park

Earlier this year, the foundation started looking at the possibility of replacing South Valley Park's portable toilets with permanent restrooms, as well as building a concession stand to replace the trailer that sits in South Valley's parking lot.

The bathroom/concession stand would come in partnership with the Montgomery Village Sports Association while also giving the Lawn Theater a boost—a proposal envisioned as part of the foundation's broader efforts to identify ways to revitalize the Village.

South Village residents Jane and Rich Wilder worry that the proposal is pushing forward without community input. The Wilders fought against a similar proposal in 1998 that ultimately fell through.

Jane Wilder has asked the foundation to host a community forum on the issue, especially for residents of South Village, Heron’s Cove and Center Court.

"Nobody knows about this," she told the board in June.

At Thursday’s meeting, board president Bob Hydorn bristled at the suggestion that the project is steamrolling ahead.

"There are rumors running rampant throughout the Village about the possibility of this facility," Hydorn said. "Let me set the record straight for everyone at this time: the MVF board had discussed such a facility and asked staff to look into the possibility of everything from location, size and funding. To date, there has not been any decision made on this project."

MVF staff is looking for a spot in South Valley Park that could be conducive both to the ballfields and to the Lawn Theater, a search complicated by the need to secure access to sewer lines and deal with flood plain restrictions.

It will be several months before the proposal would go to the Recreation Committee for deliberation, Hydorn said.

Committee Reorganizing

A dozen resident committees hold domain over a host of Village-specific topics—from community management to communications to architectural standards—typically having first crack at an issue before recommending that the board of directors take action.

At the board’s annual retreat in April, board members broached the need to consolidate and restructure those committees. The foundation’s Executive Committee has focused its review on committee structure, mission and the possibility of imposing term limits.

So far, the proposal is to combine three committees—public safety, environment and transportation—with aspects of the Commercial Architectural Review Committee to create two new committees.

1) A "Development Plan Review Committee" would offer “one-stop shopping” for developers. The committee would look at a proposed development's:

  • Site plan
  • Traffic impacts
  • Pedestrian safety impacts
  • Stormwater management plan
  • Lighting and signage

2) A "Government Affairs Committee" would keep abreast of county, state and federal issues that impact the Village, including:

  • Transportation priorities (roadways, mass transit)
  • Police
  • Legislative proposals
  • Zoning issues
  • Utilities and cable
  • Public housing
  • The update to the county’s planning blueprint for Montgomery Village

Rich Wilder, a member of the Committee on the Environment and the Transportation, Development and Public Facilities Committee, questioned the steps already taken.

"Why aren’t the committees involved, since we’re being targeted?" Wilder asked the board on Thursday. "… These two committees have functioned very well for the past 20 years. … I haven’t seen any justification" for making changes.

The intent of the reorganization is to spur new volunteers and to focus committees on topics that fit in with the Vision 2030 process and the master plan update—not to surreptitiously do away with certain groups, Hydorn said.

"Once again rumors are flying everywhere in the Village that the MVF board and in particular a couple of board members are trying to abolish some of the committees," he said. "This is absolutely wrong. … There has been no decision made at this time."

The Executive Committee next meets on Aug. 15. Once the Executive Committee makes its recommendation, the board will deliberate and make a decision.

The foundation hopes to settle the issue early next year.

Sharon August 02, 2011 at 11:59 PM
I suggest that there be permanent bathrooms (Charmin, please!) & concession stands installed @ Lake Whetstone as well. That way not only two individuals will oppose but they can soliticite their 'Band of Brothers' who reside near the 'Dock of the Bay' (Lake)! LOL! Sittin' in the mornin' sun I'll be sittin' when the evenin' come Watching the ships (or infrequently used paddle boats) roll in And then I watch 'em roll away again, yeah. I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay Watching the tide roll away Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay Wastin' time Sorry, just couldn't help myself considering all the nonsense residents have experienced simply trying to get a decent playground @ Lake Whetstone!!!
Don O'Neill August 03, 2011 at 01:49 PM
In rallying opposition to the permanent rest rooms in South Valley Park, I have heard opinions both pro and con registered among the Whetstone Group twenty (20) posts to date: 1. Those opposed cite the need for austerity these troubled times, the absence of a case on the need for such a facility, and the adequacy of the port-a-potties which make their appearance only the day of an event and then disappear. 2. Some of those in favor attach various conditions to their support. These additional requirements for a permanent rest room project include: a. Handicap-accessible facilities b. Clovis-type composting toilet c. European-style coin operated, self cleaning, vandal-proof facilities d. Daytime operation only e. Heated facilities for cold weather use f. Surveillance system Other issues that need to be addressed include: 1. Site determination for the facility considering proximity to the adjacent residents, the lawn theater, the ballpark, and the elementary school 2. Permissible use of the facilities by homeless people 3. Permissible use of the facility by Metro bus drivers 4. Sewage hookups 5. Flood plain considerations 6. Pipe freezing mitigation Our Maryland Senator has stated that she will wait “until the whole process plays out” before requesting the funding for the State. Why would a state with a $1.6B deficit subsidize an unnecessary, costly, and controversial public rest room?
Joe August 13, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Why would access be "permissible" for metro bus drivers and the homeless? What in return would the village receive from this use aside from having to clean up after them? Particularly if the facilities are heated for cold weather use. What would the recurring costs be for such a heated facility, in addition to the cost of the asset (no pun intended)?
MD August 14, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Just fing crazy. Certain parts of MV is getting improvements while the rest has to pay?? And why the heck are we putting bathroom when we already had to tear down a playground? This bathroom will end up being run down and will end up being where illegal activity goes on. Just another farmers garden waste..which btw, what happen to the money for that??
MD August 14, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Oh and I love the recent picture of the costly lawn theatre .....and look at all those people....that might need to use a 100k bathroom or buy a drink or food from the 100k concession stand?? If there are so many people using such things, why not ask for donations?? Or have the MVSA raise funds?? And I have to agree with Rich Wilder and his wife, Bob and his cronies are pushing and getting what the majority doesn't want. They have and are ignoring emails that has been sent to MVF.
Don O'Neill August 15, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Please update your thinking the proposed1012 Budget for the permanent rest room facility for South Valley Park is $250,000.
Don O'Neill August 23, 2012 at 09:50 PM
To learn the Top Ten Reasons for withholding funding for this South Valley project, view the YouTube post at: 
http://youtu.be/yftHnv5bxG0
Don O'Neill December 15, 2012 at 09:31 PM
The contentious issue of the South Valley Restroom and Concession Stand continues to drag on. The last act of the South Valley Restroom and Concession Stand will play out next week when the Board of Public Works (BPW) will take up the issue of the $125,000 bond bill grant for the South Valley Restroom and Concession Stand at 10:00AM on December 19, 2012 in the Governor’s Reception Room in the Sate House. On the agenda, I will be there urging the BPW composed of Governor Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp to disapprove the South Valley Park bond bill project involving the Montgomery Village Sports Association and the Montgomery Village Foundation. My testimony in opposition to this project can be heard on YouTube at “Board of Public Works Testimony in Opposition to the South Valley Park Project” http://youtu.be/1qumvqqkjDU

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