Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett released his recommended FY19 Capital Budget and six-year FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) – his final Capital Budget as County Executive.
In his latest CIP, Leggett is calling for a six-year CIP which totals $4.521 billion. It includes $1.751 billion for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the highest level ever. Including this recommendation, MCPS capital funding under Leggett has grown by $577.8 million – a 49.2 -percent increase - over the past 12 years.
Montgomery County Public Schools
Leggett’s budget provides $1.751 billion to Montgomery County Public Schools, which is the highest funding level ever, according to county officials.
“In November 2006, when I first was elected County Executive, enrollment in Montgomery County Public Schools was 138,520 students,” Leggett wrote in his memo introducing the CIP budget to the County Council. “Today, estimated enrollment for the 2017-18 school year stands at 161,546 students - an increase of over 23,000 students or 16.6 percent. Changing demographics primarily related to increases in students with low-incomes, students with disabilities, or students for whom English is a second language, have led to educational initiatives and facility requirements designed to ensure that all students maximize their potential and are prepared for future educational and career opportunities.”
“For these reasons, I am recommending a $1.751 billion capital budget for the Montgomery County Public Schools. Despite significant reductions in General Obligation bonds, school impact taxes, and recordation taxes, this budget increases Montgomery County Public Schools funding $7.5 million above the Amended FY17-22 CIP. If approved, the recommended funding level represents the highest funding ever provided to Montgomery County Public Schools. Under my Recommended CIP, funding for Montgomery County Public Schools will have grown by $577.8 million, or 49.2 percent over the prior 12 years,” wrote Leggett.
The budget also includes $281.2 million for Montgomery College’s Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring campuses.
“I recommend a total FY19-24 six-year CIP of $281.2 million for Montgomery College. This includes an increase of $4.9 million in the first four years of the CIP, despite diminished County resources. In addition, $21.3 million has been added for a new project to renovate the College's Rockville, Takoma Park/Silver Spring, and Germantown libraries; funding to
begin construction for the Germantown Student Services Center is included; and a $1.5 million increase to the Collegewide Physical Education Renovations project has been recommended to address cost increases in the project. During the six-year period, the Germantown Science and Applied Studies Phase 1 Renovation, the Rockville Student Services Center, and the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Math and Science Center projects will also be completed, and previously approved funding for the College's level of effort projects are assumed.
DownCounty Economic Investment
Capital budget support for business and job creation includes funding for Marriott’s new headquarters in Bethesda and development in White Flint, White Oak, and Wheaton. It includes a $33 million boost in support for affordable housing and a $36.6 million increase – a 28 percent - in road maintenance funding over the previous CIP.
When it comes to investment in economic development, the once again the UpCounty Germantown/Clarksburg area was all but left out as projects in White Oak, White Flint, Wheaton garnered the most attention from Leggett.
“The Recommended FY19-24 CIP includes continued support for critical economic development initiatives that support transit-oriented development of some of the County's most important job hubs,” wrote Leggett in his memo. “These CIP projects will also leverage significant private investment. Funding to support relocation of the Marriott Corporation's new 700,000 square feet Class A corporate headquarters to Bethesda and construction of a new 230-room adjacent hotel has been maintained. The County's support for the project leveraged $22 million in State incentives and $500 million in capital investment and will house upwards of 3,500 permanent employees or equivalent contract workers.
Leggett talked about the County’s investment in the White Flint, Wheaton, and White Oak areas of Montgomery County, under a heading titled “A Strong and Vibrant Economy” which did not include any projects in the Germantown/Clarksburg area.
“County investment in critical White Flint area transportation projects has led to the fully designed and partially constructed White Flint Western Workaround, as well as the completion of the first suburban separated bike lanes. The Western Workaround road realignments and the new Conference Center parking garage have been key to moving forward with the redevelopment of White Flint. This redevelopment has been a shared priority and will significantly increase the County's tax base. In the past two years, additional site plans have been approved for Pike and Rose and East Village, and another site plan is under review for North Bethesda Center. At Pike and Rose, over 850 new residential units, a new hotel, and over half a million square feet of commercial development has been delivered, resulting in the transformation of a suburban retail center into a thriving, walkable, mixed-use neighborhood. A new 300,000 square foot office building is currently under review.”
Leggett mentioned the Wheaton Redevelopment project with work on the new Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) headquarters building and the White Oak Redevelopment funding is for the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan vision of housing, retail, and a hub for medical and life-sciences research adjacent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration headquarters. He also mentioned the redevelopment of the west side of Crabbs Branch Way, Westside at Shady Grove Metro, is underway with completion of the first mixed use residential-retail building and a portion of the first phase of townhomes.
Germantown Area Projects
As for capital projects included in Leggett’s plan that are in the Germantown area the CIP includes new infrastructure, recreational space, and school additions.
The FY19 CIP includes acquiring the land and begin construction of a new Dorsey Mill Road Bridge to provide an east-west connection between Century Boulevard on the west side of I-270 with Observation Drive on the east side of I-270. However, the actual land acquisition is projected in FY23. The construction is projected from FY24 to FY27. The total cost of the project is $28.4 million, of which $5.3 million is expected to be funded within the next six years.
The latest version of the County’s CIP Budget continues funding for the design for Observation Drive Extended, a north-south road extension of existing Observation Drive, connecting north Germantown to Clarksburg.
“The project provides for the design and construction of a 2.2 mile long roadway within a minimum 150-foot right-of-way,” according to the project description in the CIP Budget. “The scope of work between Waters Discovery Lane and West Old Baltimore Road is a four-lane divided roadway (two lanes in each direction), along with an eight-foot wide shared-use path on the west side and a five-foot wide sidewalk on the east side, with landscaping panels. The scope of work between West Old Baltimore Road and Stringtown Road is a two-lane roadway, along with an eight-foot wide shared-use path on the west side, with space for the two additional master-planned lanes and a five-foot wide sidewalk on the east side to be built in the future. A bike path will be provided on the east side from existing Observation Drive near Waters Discovery Lane to Little Seneca Parkway to provide greenway connectivity. Traffic signals will be provided at the Shawnee Lane, Little Seneca Parkway, and West Old Baltimore Road intersections. A bridge approximately 550 feet in length will be constructed near Waters Discovery Lane, ending at West Old Baltimore Road near the future MTA Comsat Station.”
Extending Observation Drive would provide a north-south corridor that links existing Observation Drive to Stringtown Road, providing access to a rapidly developing residential and business area between the I-270 and MD 355 corridors. “The project improves mobility and safety for local travel, improves pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular access to residential, employment, commercial and recreational areas,” according to the CIP Budget document.
The Cricket Field at South Germantown Recreational Park is also in the CIP. Preliminary work has begun on the field which will be located at the intersection of Schaffer Road and Burdette Lane in Germantown. The cost of the project is slotted at $2.3 million in total funding of which $1.4 million will be funded in the next six years.
“The project provides a new cricket field and supporting infrastructure on undeveloped parkland within South Germantown Recreational Park. The project includes the following amenities: 400-foot diameter cricket field with pitch, irrigation, vehicle entrance road, 50 parking spaces, vehicle turnaround and overflow parking for 30 cars, central pedestrian plaza, trail connection to existing park, loop trails around field and natural area of park, viewing mound for spectators, bioretention areas, hedgerow screen plantings, meadow plantings and reforestation areas,” according the Montgomery County Capital Budget website.
The plan also includes the Seneca Crossing Local Park, a new local park on approximately 28 acres of undeveloped parkland at 11400 Brink Road and is budgeted for a total of $8.8 million dollars, of which $3 million will come out of the budget in the next six years. The park is still in the planning stage, with design expected to begin in FY22 and construction to begin in FY23.
When it comes to Germantown area schools, Leggett’s budget includes additions for two Germantown elementary schools, S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary and Ronald McNair Elementary School.
Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, located at 12500 Wisteria Drive has a capacity for 533 students. Enrollment is expected to reach 697 students by the 2019-2020 school year. A feasibility study was conducted in FY 2013 to determine the cost and scope of the project. Board of Education, in the FY 2017-2022 CIP, accelerated this project one year. An FY 2017 appropriation was approved for planning funds. An FY 2018 appropriation was approved for construction funds. An FY 2019 appropriation is requested to complete this project. This project is scheduled to be completed by September 2019.
Meanwhile at McNair Elementary School, located at 13881 Hopkins Road, enrollment projections indicate that Ronald McNair Elementary School will exceed capacity by more than 150 seats by the end of the six-year planning period. An FY 2019 appropriation is requested to begin the architectural design for this addition project. This project is scheduled to be completed September 2021.
Public Safety and Quality of Life
The FY19-24 recommended Capital Improvements Program also includes substantial funding for projects that provide a positive quality of life for residents.
Leggett said that a significant component of the recommended FY19-24 capital budget was earmarked to fire/rescue services. Major projects include the design and construction of a new fire station in Clarksburg and White Flint and design and construction funding for a new future fire stations project to provide adequate fire protection and emergency services in areas with high growth and Fire and Rescue Service needs.
“My Recommended FY19-24 CIP provides $113.7 million for Fire and Rescue projects the largest of which provides $49.0 million to replace aging fire apparatus,” wrote Leggett in his memo. “Total costs to complete the new White Flint Fire Station No. 23 in FY23 ($29.3 million) and the new Clarksburg Fire Station in FY22 ($30.6 million) are also included. I am pleased to report that we have also worked with the WSSC to secure $2,533,200 in funding to help bring sewer to the Clarksburg historic district. I am sending an FY18 supplemental for the Clarksburg Fire Station project to begin this sewer work, and my Recommended CIP assumes some acceleration of the Clarksburg Fire Station project to complete the project more expeditiously. Again, completing this project will allow the County to begin realizing lease savings, and will make it less costly for private property owners to connect to sewers as aging septic systems fail.”
The Clarksburg fire station planning and design is complete through the design development stage. Design will begin in Summer 2018 with construction to begin in early 2020.
The recommended CIP budget also includes $2.1 million in funding to complete planning and schematic design for a library in Clarksburg, however, the budget does not plan on any expenditures for a Clarksburg Library until FY23 and FY24.
Leggett will host a budget forum in Germantown on Monday, Jan. 29 at the BlackRock Center for Arts, located at 12901 Town Commons Drive. The forum will begin at 7:00 pm. This forum will be the last of five budget forums to be held throughout the county in January. Residents are invited to attend and provide input about priorities for the Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget.
12 Years of "Building the Future of the Montgomery County"
When the CIP Budget was released on Tuesday, Leggett took the opportunity to highlight the progress made over his 12 years as County Executive in opening and renovating new County facilities of all types, adding more than 21,000 classroom seats in public schools, opening a record number of new fire stations, and expanding Montgomery College – as well as expanded funding for such “back to basics” as road repaving and maintenance, clean energy buses, and snow removal apparatus.
“For the past 12 years, my team and I have – quite literally – been building the future for Montgomery County,” said Leggett. “My ‘Smart Growth Initiative’ has swapped and sold County land to open up job-creating investment in our biotech corridor and made possible thousands of units of transit-oriented housing near the Shady Grove Metro while delivering new County facilities that can serve the taxpayers for decades.”
“During the past 12 years, we have invested to build six new schools, 44 additions, and renovate and expand 27 schools. That translates to 21,043 new ‘seats’ for our kids and grandkids. That’s almost a 50-percent increase in the MCPS capital budget over 12 years,” he said.
“Led by our Department of General Services, we have finished 50 major County government building projects – and that doesn’t even include schools, College, or parks facilities,” continued Leggett, who will end his final term as County Executive in December after the November elections. “That represents more projects completed in my 12 years during the Great Recession and tough economic times than the 37 completed during the 12 years before I was elected, during the economic ‘boom.’ In addition, we have built 42 more secondary projects. I also anticipate another half dozen projects to be finished before I leave in December and a number of others that we’ve started – such as the new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center and the new Wheaton County office building – will open following my departure from office.
“But we haven’t just been building new projects. We’ve also done the ‘back to basics’ work on maintaining and improving what we already have. I have increased funding for taking care of primary roads by $53.7 million – a remarkable 136 percent - and resurfacing of residential and rural roads by $197.9 million - an astounding 1,330 percent – both figures compared to the 12 years before I took office.”
Photos by Germantown Pulse.