Tuesday, June 24, 2008

what's up the pike: money money money charrette

County Executive Ike Leggett throws a little more money at the Fillmore. Is Live Nation threatening to jump ship? Let's not jump (ha!) to conclusions.

- Greater Greater Washington, one of the region's best blogs on what's happening inside-the-Beltway, gave a nice long mention to our mini-series on last week's Burtonsville charrette. It's not all too often that a JUTP post gets this much attention - you'll want to get on the commenting bandwagon before the cool kids move on to the next big local blog story.

- County Executive Ike Leggett's working hard to make sure that Live Nation, whose proposed Fillmore music hall will take over the former J.C. Penney building on Colesville Road, stays in the game. In addition to $2 million in State funds, Live Nation will also get $800,000 in tax breaks from Montgomery County over the next ten years. Lee Development Group, who owns the land and a good chunk of the block bordered by Colesville, Georgia, Cameron and Fenton, will get up to fifteen years to develop a hotel-and-office complex behind the venue. That's triple the five-year deadline made by Park and Planning for submitted plans to be built.

I'm surprised by that, because I'd assume a developer would want to get his building up as quickly as possible. Then again, it's been long enough since we last heard about the Fillmore that I assumed it'd already opened. Perhaps I'm just impatient.

- Rising gas prices have forced Montgomery County Public Schools to cut bus service to a wider net of students living near a school. Currently, students within a mile of an elementary school, a mile and a half of a middle school, and two miles of a high school cannot ride the school bus. While the School Board hasn't decided what the new distances will be, I can't help but wonder: seriously? Back when I went to Eubie High, I had a friend who lived just a mile away and rode the bus. There are no sidewalks between his house and the school, and he'd have to cross busy Route 28 to get there.

Could MCPS really take away bus service from neighborhoods where walking to school would actually be dangerous? (More importantly, would The Parents ever let that happen? Seriously? No.)


Anonymous said...

It's time to redraw the school boundaries. This bus/fuel issue reveals a deeper problem that the boundaries are antiquated, convoluted and need an unbiased reassessment based on proximities of schools to homes.

Just look at the school boundary maps. It is absurd. For example, Westland Middle School is surrounded by neighborhoods that are bussed to Pyle Middle School. You can Google map this yourself. There is a bus stop at 5201 Crown Street, Bethesda, MD 20816 that buses kids almost 4 miles to Pyle Middle School. This bus stop is literally 200 feet from Westland Middle School. On a COMPLETELY SEPARATE route (that is a separate bus!), there is a bus stop at 5700 Overlea Road, Bethesda 20816 that also busses kids to Pyle Middle School that is four miles away. This bus stop is about 1/3 of a mile from Westland Middle School.

For many who live in downtown Bethesda, east of Wisconsin Avenue, their elementary school students are bussed unnecessarily to a Rosemary Hills Elementary School that is 4 miles away in Silver Spring. There are several operating public elementary schools in MUCH closer proximity: Bethesda ES (.5 miles), Chevy Chase (1.5 miles) and Somerset ES (2.0 miles), Bradley Hills (2.0 miles). While some of these schools are in close proximity, there are operating under antiquated policies from the 1980’s to mix up the demographics, so some of these schools are actually now limited to a subset of grades within the elementary school years. This causes increased bussing of kids to a school that is significantly out side of their neighborhood.

These same atrocities occur at elementary, middle and high schools throughout the county.

Peruse through the Montgomery County School Website, you will find many boundaries and bus routes that no longer make sense.

School boundaries must be reassessed for proximity, which is the fair and equitable way to divvy up districts.

Also, a fee should be charged for bussing to magnet and special programs (except those for disadvantaged students), if parents CHOSE to send their kids t those programs, they should be willing to pay the costs to transport their kids.

As you can see, there are many dollars in the extreme unnecessary bus routes and artificially extended bus routes throughout the county. New boundaries would likely save enough money to add hundreds of teachers to the school system.

For School Boundary maps, select school, then select PDF for Facilities and Boundaries:
For Bus Routes, select the school, then select PDF for bus route schedule:

Anonymous said...

Why not have HS kids take public transit buses? That would help us to move from private autos to public transit by teaching our kids that it is good to take public transit, and training them to use the public transit system -- not to mention taking some of these diesel buses off the road.

This is done in cities all over the country, why not here, if it is true as our county government tells us, that we are moving to a more 'urban high-density' county?

Anonymous said...

A lot of high school kids do use Public Transportation. Their ID gets them on any Ride-on bus for free until 7pm. Maybe that's changed or something.

Anonymous said...

The ugly details of deal Leggett engaged in with Live Nation and Lee make this bad deal even worse.

Thomas Hardman said...

I was recently discussing the ridiculousness of the County's school-bus system's practices. I was ready to launch into one of my patented tirades but I didn't get a chance.

"What are all of those school buses doing, that you see running around half-empty or with only maybe 3 kids on them? Or sitting around parked up at McDonalds with the engines running all day? Doesn't it make sense to use the right size of bus to transport the number of kids who have to go some place?"

Well, he's right, and one of my campaign planks was that the County should develop a "just in time right-sized dispatching system". Now, I realize that it will be worse than eating crow for the County to ahve to do exactly as was suggested by the least-popular Republican ex-candidate in District 4. But as I said during that campaign, there is an economic catastrophe unfolding around us, and you must take it seriously or there will be heck to pay.

Now, we will of course leave it up to the wisdom of the Council and Mr Leggett to wind up doing exactly as I suggest and to give me no credit whatsoever. And that's exactly what will happen. They'll stop using full-size buses to transport groups of five or less kids. They'll recheck and refine schedules. They'll realize that it might be a lot more efficient to have a lot of smaller vans running smaller and more-flexible routes. And they'll do what has to be done. I wouldn't suggest something that doesn't need to be done, of course... which is why I suggested it.

In the meanwhile, get ready folks: the Motorcycle Patrol Officer is about to make a big-time comeback. I bet there's a lot of truth to the rumor that MoCo is shopping around for the best-equipped Harley Davidson dealerships... and for a couple of good moped stores, as well. The full-size police cruiser is about to fade away for most purposes, replaced by itty bitty cars like Mini Cooper station-wagons, or Ford Explorer hybrid SUVs.

I wonder how transparent and self-serving will be the Union efforts to pad hours and miles, no matter how much fuel it burns on the taxpayser's dime.

Anonymous said...

The county is in the bed with Lee Development, not that they actually develop anything in Montgomery County these days

retgroclk said...

Instead of shrinking the school bus, why not work with some of these stay at home parents and arrange some kind of system where parents volunteer, or work for a small stipend to drive groups of kids to school.
The county could arrange some kind of insurance to cover any possible accidents and ,

this would save the county monet- in a number of ways.

Brian White said...

I had friends in high school who lived out in Bowie. While driving there one day I noticed a sign: No Thru Pedestrians. I asked what was up with it. Turns out the neighborhood parents had it declared a no thru pedestrian area so that it would take kids more than a mile to walk around to school, thus triggering them to get a bus assigned. Wankers. Walk to school already. I had to walk 20 miles uphill both ways... what's 1.5 miles?