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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.

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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.

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