Forum Split Over South Valley Project

Montgomery Village's state legislators expect to decide next month whether to pursue $250,000 to build bathrooms and a concession stand at the park.

With Montgomery Village having balked on tens of thousands of dollars in state grants for community projects in the past year, the Village's state legislators asked residents weigh in Saturday on the latest proposal to find itself in the crosshairs of neighbor outcry: a bathroom and concession stand at South Valley Park.

The idea dates back more than a decade, when the Montgomery Village Sports Association suggested the idea in 1998. The Montgomery Village Foundation OK'd the project in 2000, but it came undone in 2003 when potential sponsors fell through.

Last year, it found new life in the Montgomery Village Foundation seminal five-year plan for amenities, programs and community enhancements.

Sen. Nancy J. King, a longtime Village resident, organized Saturday's forum at the Lake Marion Community Center to help her and District 39's three delegates decide whether to request half of the project's $250,000 pricetag among the dozens of community projects funded in the legislature's annual bond bill.

"There’s been some question about why, in a bad economy, are we asking for money. Well, the money is there," she said. "If we don’t ask for it for our community, it will go to another community in Maryland."

Visitors to South Valley Park—which has the Lawn Theater, a football field and a softball field—use portable toilets stationed around the park and purchase food or refreshments from a trailer operated by an outside vendor. The proposed bathroom and concession stand would be roughly 60 feet long by 20 feet wide, with a shingled roof and a canopy to shield picnic tables. Several locations are under consideration, particularly spots that are easily accessible to both the ballfields and the Lawn Theater.

Roughly 50 people attended the forum on Saturday morning, with the two dozen speakers evenly split for and against the

Opponents said they worried the facility would attract drug use, vandalism and violent crime as well as maintenance costs, noise and pests and rodents. Others said they needed more information before they could feel comfortable with the project.

"The bathrooms are a plus to the Village and the sports association but there's a big negative risk involved," said Rich Wilder, who with his wife Jane have been the project's most vocal detractors.

Several opponents raised the specter of child safety, citing the recent Penn State scandal.

"We have to think about the safety of the children," Jane Wilder said. "Who will be attending the bathrooms and ensure the children are safe? The liability on the part of the foundation is scary."

The project's supporters were frustrated by what they see as a perpetually hostile tone toward any attempt to bring something new to Montgomery Village.

"Many people have used this project as an opportunity to introduce all sorts of issues today. ... This is not about trying to keep ourselves insulated from people who might come in—we welcome people from other communities," said Pete Young, a member of the MVF board and father to former and future MVSA athletes. "Ultimately, the argument that we cannot support anything, that will make us marginalized as a community if all we have is this negative posture. We will not move this Village forward."

"I’m really kind of sad people don’t want to make improvements here. The Lawn Theater is awesome, it’s a jewel of the Village. I love kids and that’s what this is all about," said resident Kathi Hufnagel, who worked with children’s programming for the Village for 36 years. "… I understand, I have compassion that nobody wants this in their backyard, but you knew this park was there when you moved in. You knew there were teams playing there."

MVSA representatives said the league is losing families to teams in communities with better facilities.

Several speakers bemoaned the difficultly for seniors and small children to use the portable toilets. The portable toilets fill up quickly on game days, which compels children to duck into the woods or walk all the way to the McDonald's just to use the bathroom, said Garrett King, the MVSA's football commissioner.

"We have a lot of kids and this project would be great for them," he said.

The project's $250,000 pricetag would be split between the state funding and the Montgomery Village Foundation, which has already allocated its share in this year's budget, which estimates it will cost $500 a year to maintain and operate the facility.

If the project has enough support, King said she will request funds for the other half next month. The MVF board will discuss the project at its Feb. 23 meeting.

"Believe me, we have not made our decision yet and this is only the beginning of the process," Nancy King said.

Sharon January 31, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Coach G January 31, 2012 at 10:03 PM
It's crazy how we travel to SE (Ridge Road) and NE (Lamond Riggs) DC and they have state of the art field turf fields and concession/bathroom facilities. Conversely, in one of the wealthiest counties in the the US with have 3 port-a-pots and a football field plagued by duck droppings. MVSA Football facilities are the laughing stock of the Capital Beltway League. With all that said, we still brought home the 2011 14U Maryland State Championship. I hope the politicians can make this happen for the kids sake!
Sharon February 01, 2012 at 12:15 AM
To Coach G: You failed to say that MV has pretty much become the 'Geese Droppings Capital' of the County. Believe me, they do more damage than just at your football field. We have been plagued with such in our residential community. Nothing against geese. Animal and nature lover here! But we need some control over this population of geese when they become a health issue not only for those children who have the benefit of belonging to ball teams & parents available (with financial funds and means; most children & parents in the Village are not as blessed) to chauffeur them to and from games but an absolute health issue for residents & their children who have to 'walk and play' in geese feces every day of their young lives. Sidebar: Belated congratulations on bringing home 2011 14U Maryland State Championship trophy.
Don O'Neill February 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Coach G, You bring up the good point of matching capacity and demand. If a restroom dedicated to MVSA South Valley use were built in the vicinity of the fields and using the attendance numbers you mentioned of 1000 people on game day: 1. What would be the capacity of the facility you would deem adequate? 2. How is this capacity split between girls and boys, men and women? 3. To what extent would MVSA be able and willing to share in the acquisition, maintenance, and operating costs? 4. Would user fees have an application here? By the way coach, I led the effort to save Centerway Park and its athletic fields from the Watkins Mill Middle Project a few years ago and made two appearances before the school on your behalf.
Coach G February 01, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Don, You raise great logistical questions. Questions that would need to be addressed before anything is finalized. The fact remains that this project needs to get approved. MV can't continue to have teams play ball with inadequate facilities. We behind the times and this project is a great way to begin anew. Just my humble .02
David February 01, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Excuse me! I must ask, are proud of stopping a new school from being constructed in your very own community? If so, I would like to know from what planet you hale from, certainly not earth. How can any person in their right mind oppose a new school? I have now done some research on that project. The site was and still is a site for a school to be built on in the future and until such time it will be used by the Montgomery County Parks Department. The Montgomery County School System owns it. Just think a new school will have many of the very same amenities, football, soccer, baseball fields, plus added playground. Just think, in addition, someone might even be allowed to use the restrooms rather than a port-a-pot.
JillM February 01, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I reside in Maryland Place, and I have a child that plays baseball for Gaithersburg Sports Association. Gaithersburg has some of the very best facilities in Montgomery County, from fields to concessions and restrooms. Checking with the City offices, they say to their knowledge there has never once been a complaint of any sexual activity at their restrooms. In addition to the City providing these amenities, the City budget as well provides funding each year. In the thousands of dollars to the GSA. That is called supporting the youth of the community. Let's see Montgomery Village step up to the plate.
Coach G February 01, 2012 at 05:08 PM
^^^Great post!!!
Don O'Neill February 01, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Coach G, You are a passionate advocate for your stakeholders. I admire that. But there are other stakeholders to be considered here including neighboring residents who experience all South Valley activities first hand and Village residents at large who pay MVF assessments that will need to pay for this. The many sides of the South Valley Restroom and Concession issue surfaced at the public meeting on January 28, 2012 at Lake Marion Community Center in East Village. Consequently, there are now numerous open issues, many unanswered questions, evidence of lack of planning, and incomplete staff work. The issues and competing interests demand more time to consider and reconcile in order for the democratic process to be played out. I recommend postponing the scheduled February 23, 2012 MVF BOD meeting decision milestone. Instead, I recommend that the MVF BOD convene an ad hoc South Valley Facilities Committee to study the issues, reconcile the conflicting and competing interests, and identify alternatives for action to the MVF BOD. The ad hoc South Valley Facilities Committee will be asked to thoroughly consider, identify, and report on an agenda of considerations including competing stakeholder interests, location drivers, usage considerations and capacity, security planning, design alternatives, funding sources, acquisition costs, maintenance costs, and operations costs.
Coach G February 01, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Don, Respectively, this sounds like a bunch of bureaucratic red tape. You know who suffers while we spin our wheels, the kids and the parents of those kids. Let's take a Get'er done attitude and make this happen.
JillM February 01, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Mr.’s O’Neill and Horton, Having heard you both at the 28th meeting on the concession and restrooms, you both must either have far too much time on your hands, or you just hate where you live. My thought is that you hate where you live. Please keep in mind that all communities whether Montgomery Village or even the new community of Urbana need to keep up with the times and the people that they are serving. Move ahead Gentlemen, move ahead or you both will be left behind.
Don O'Neill February 01, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Coach G, We need less drama and more teamwork if the South Valley facilities issue is to be resolved in favor of all stakeholders. With some cooperation and teamwork, the MVSA may be able to get its restroom without destroying the quality of life of the neighboring residents and without doing it on the backs of Village residents at large who pay MVF assessments. I cannot support a $250,000 restroom and concession in plain view of neighboring residents. I can support a restroom only facility for MVSA teams and visitors located adjacent to the fields at 40% of the cost where MVSA bears some of the acquisition cost, none of the maintenance cost, and all of the operating costs including supplies and utility bills. This brings me back to the basic questions: 1. What would be the capacity of the facility you would deem adequate? 2. How is this capacity split between girls and boys, men and women? 3. To what extent would MVSA be able and willing to share in the acquisition, maintenance, and operating costs? 4. Would user fees have an application here?
JillM February 02, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Mr. O'Neill, Do you ever say anything new or for that matter, that makes sense? We are in the year 2012 not 1912. MOVE ON. Do you dislike children? It sounds like you do.
Don O'Neill February 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM
JillM, I have a question for you. The sports people are demanding the restroom and concession, but have made a case only for the restroom. Village residents at large must pay for it through MVF assessments. Neighboring residents must suffer the effects and impact to their quality of life. How should these conflicts be reconciled in a democratic way?
Coach G February 02, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The restroom and concession facility will benefit both MVSA Sports and the Lawn Theater. Honestly, I can't break down how the facility should be broken down. I'm thinking more urinals that actual toilets. Maybe the ladies room should have 3 toilets and the men's room 1 toilet and 2-3 urinals. I know that our football organization had 270 kids last year with 252 being boys and the rest cheerleaders. You add parents, coaches and admin staff and you have quite a bit people just on practice days in the summer. I don't know the formula of actually how many bathrooms we need for 1000 people. I know all 1000 won't be using the rest room at the same time. I guess these are questions for scientists. I don't know how the money is allocated. I just know MV needs this project to go through. Not just MVSA. South Valley Park is what it is, a park. How do we make the park better is the question. Approving this plan is the answer. All you have to do is look to Ridge Road and Alta Vista park to see a blueprint of success. Why is this so hard. Does MVSA football have to go door to door selling candy bars to make this a reality? I'm glad I'm a coach and not a politician.
a farris February 02, 2012 at 04:05 PM
... or a bad, selfish, short-sighted politician at that. Way to go, Coach G!
JillManelli February 02, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Mr. O’Neill, It is very clear in the non-scientific survey being done by the Patch who you obviously stand with. Those that say NO to everything. That sure looks like the democratic way to me. Over 100 YES to under 20 NO. Enough said.
Manuel Rivera February 02, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I have been read this blog and I own here. I want right people run our government. How do I volunteer to help Mr Hydorn? I live in far end of East Village Ave. My sons play soccer and we want bathroom in all park.
Bob Hydorn February 02, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Manuel, I would greatly appreciate your support. I can be reached at my email RobertHydorn@aol.com Thank you.
Don O'Neill February 02, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Coach G, OK Coach, I agree that crunching the numbers to convert 1000 visitors to the facility capacity is best left to those with experience in such things. The thing is the devil is in the details, and there has been inadequate planning and insufficient staff work to bring to a vote without knowing these things. You say hat the restroom and concession facility will benefit MVSA Sports and Lawn Theatre. However, the benefits are closely tied to where the facility is located. 1. If close to the MVSA Sports fields, the biggest user by far, how will Lawn Theatre patrons benefit? Especially the elderly people spoke about in the public meeting? 2. If it is close to the Lawn Theatre, isn’t this going to a considerable inconvenience to the 1000 potential users of MVSA Sports? And won’t the girls coaches need to make the long hike to escort players, a practice was attested to by girls baseball coach at the public meeting? 3. If the facility is located midway between the MVSA Sports fields and the Lawn Theatre, won’t this impact the quality of life of neighboring residents as was testified to in the public meeting? The question here is what stakeholder group should have priority and how can all stakeholders be accommodated so that no one group takes the full brunt of the impact? Again the issue has not been fully worked out making a vote on funding the project premature.
Coach G February 02, 2012 at 05:35 PM
@ Don - Now those are great questions. I don't have the answers but great questions none the less. If we can answer these questions then maybe we can get the ball rolling.
Don O'Neill February 02, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Coach G, OK coach, we are on the same team. No w let’s see if other stakeholders are willing to get suited up and get in the game. A South Valley Facility proposal to meet the essential needs of MVSA Sports is a large, rugged restroom adjacent to the sports fields and out of view of the neighboring residents. While a concession might be nice to have, it is not included in this proposed solution. A shared funding plan for the project is as follows: 1. Acquisition costs not to exceed $100,000 would be borne by MVF and the State of Maryland. 2. Maintenance costs would be borne by MVF. 3. Operations costs would be borne by MVSA Sports including provisioning of supplies, electric and water and sewage utility bills, and cleaning costs. In the event that there are exorbitant water and sewage hook costs or unforeseen environmental compliance costs, the project and its funding plan would need to be reassessed. In addition to MVSA Sports, I am anxious to hear the South Valley residents views on this proposal that fully satisfies the essential needs of the MVSA Sports community while at the same time takes into account the quality of life issues of neighboring residents to the fullest extent possible. This proposal does not take into account the essential needs of the Lawn Theatre patrons. Anyone who can articulate these needs is encouraged to do so.
Jim Larson February 02, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Hey there Coach looks like you are getting suckered into a deal here. As a neighbor to South Valley I support the entire facility. I would think your MVSA would not be happy with less than the complete facility.
Coach G February 02, 2012 at 09:18 PM
lol @ Jim. No suckering here. At this point I think I have made it perfectly clear what MV Football would like. I'm going to sit back and see what the decision makers come up with. I just hope this project doesn't get shelved again. South Valley Park really needs this.
Don O'Neill February 02, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Coach G, Don't take a knee at the one yard line. Make the play; don't hide in the stands.
Coach G February 03, 2012 at 11:06 AM
LOL @ Don - The best coaches can identify when the game is over. I hope that this dialogue was beneficial to all that an opportunity to participate. At this point, the only thing I can do now is to wait for the decision to be made. Know this, from an MV Football perspective, we're prepared to do whatever it takes to assist in providing the families we serve the most up to date facilities we can. Unfortunately, MV Football is only a part of MVSA, not the ruling body. Some when it comes to logistics and decision making, I digress. Appreciate the feedback and good luck on your campaign. ~Hail Chiefs!!!
Don O'Neill February 03, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Coach G, Well said! I'd be proud to be on your team any time.
LenGray February 06, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Why is John Horton running for the Montgomery Village board? Having had coffee with a friend from Eastgate this morning, he was saying that John Horton doesn’t even show for his own Eastgate meetings, of which he is a board member. Why would we want someone like that running for any board especially the Montgomery Village board?
jnrentz1 February 23, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Let those who want the facility and those who will use the facility, pay for the facility.
Don O'Neill December 15, 2012 at 05:17 PM
The state legislature action is only the start of the process. It concludes next week when the 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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