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Wheaton News

Much of the talk around Wheaton concerns the planned revitalization of the Central Business Disctrict (CBD). Provided below are the public summaries of some of the Wheaton Redevelopment Steering Committee's meetings. Visit our interactive calendar to learn the dates of future meetings. A copy of the most recent summary that has been made available to us is presented below. In future months this information will be archived for your referral, and all text will remain searchable via the search function on WheatonNet.

For information on the Randolph Road Intersection Project please visit this web site.

Wheaton 2020: Planning for the Future

Summary of the Wheaton Redevelopment Steering Committee Held On 8/16/00


The County has been awarded the All America City/County Award for the first time since 1950. The County Executive, as part of his commitment to the redevelopment of Wheaton, plans to hold a full-blown celebration of the award in Wheaton similar to Wheaton Sparkles on the 4th including fireworks. The tentative date is Sunday, 10/15/00.

The Wheaton Urban District Fall Music Festival scheduled for 9/17/00 has been moved to spring due to time constraints. The Redevelopment Office staff are looking for support from the community and welcome input or suggestions including performers/participants.

A hand-out showing the dates of the Main Street Focus Groups and Linkage Meetings was provided. It was noted that the 9/20/00 WRSC regularly scheduled meeting would be a Main Street Focus Group Meeting. Members were asked to help encourage participation in the focus groups. In response to a question, Wrenn explained that the linkage meetings generally encompassed a subset of the Main Street process dealing with how we connect physically, psychologically and economically between Westfield Shopping Town and the rest of Wheaton.

Members were advised to submit their suggestions over the next couple of months for items to be included in the FY02 Budget request which is submitted to the County Executive in December. In response to a question, Cantor explained that items Members wish included should be submitted without regard to which funding source would ultimately pay for them. Ideas can be specific or conceptual and should include items for the operating budget which could be started by 7/01.

The Administrative Assistant for the Wheaton Redevelopment Program, Ms. Sandi Smith, was introduced and the temporary phone number for the WRP, 301-503-3972, was announced. A list of the future meeting dates for the WRSC meetings was handed out. The dates were checked and corrected at the meeting.

Fryer announced that the Wheaton Citizens Coalition would hold their semi-annual meeting on 10/25/00 at 7 p.m. with a community forum covered by WTTG morning news. She indicated the forum would be an excellent opportunity to publicize to a large number of people what is happening in Wheaton right now and how the community will benefit from revitalization. Flyers will be distributed at a later date.

In response to a question, Morrison explained that if a Member is unable to attend a meeting, the Member's representative is welcome to participate (all meetings are open to the public) but the representative would not be able to vote in the Member's stead.

Silver Spring Redevelopment Steering Committee's Experience.

Cynthia Rubenstein, a former Member of the Silver Spring Redevelopment Steering Committee, described the two-year process leading to the release of the SSRSC Summary Report and the implementation of its recommendations. In response to questions and discussion, she advised:

  • Committee issues and business items
    that many unfinished business items were passed on to the SSCAB, Urban District and Traffic Management Group after the Steering Committee was disbanded; that the Steering Committee dealt with issues like master planning and special capital improvements concurrent with developing its summary report;

  • Membership process
    that there was some attrition and members who did not attend meetings basically removed themselves from the Steering Committee but were not replaced; the subcommittee structure was strong and the subcommittees decided on their own meeting schedule; chairs of the subcommittees met together periodically;

  • Community participation
    it was very difficult to incorporate members of the minority community into the process which lead to the establishment of the Silver Spring Leadership Institute; there is a window of opportunity to enroll in the Leadership Institute new class until September 1; they were successful in getting the rental housing community involved in the process; such community participation takes a lot of outreach effort.

  • Role in development projects
    although the development of Strosniders and Fresh Fields in Silver Spring was largely attributable to Foulger-Pratt and market economics, the SSRSC closely monitored proposed development and provided suggestions for public amenities such as the Civic Building, and recommendations as to the types of development desired; much of the land in Silver Spring is owned by the County versus Wheaton where much of the land is in private ownership;

  • Member biases
    the SSRSC was formed after many other redevelopment committees had been formed and disbanded over the years and, therefore, had many preconceived biases whereas Wheaton does not have the same history;

  • Evaluation of recommendations
    there is no tool in place to evaluate the work that is taking place against the recommendations of the Steering Committee.


Subcommittee co-chairs had been appointed and the list of the subcommittees and co-chairs was handed out to all members.

In response to a question, it was stated that the role of the subcommittees is advisory in nature and that a subcommittee member could vote on matters that come out of their group before it is sent to the Steering Committee. The issue comes through the entire Steering Committee before the recommendation is forwarded to the County Executive.

The Steering Committee broke down into smaller groups to identify items as starting points and/or priorities for each subcommittee.

After discussion, the full Steering Committee reconvened to review their recommendations. A summary of each group's recommendations is attached. These recommendations will be synthesized and provided to the members as a starting point for discussions.

The Co-chair also advised that the Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee had been addressing transportation issues in Wheaton for the past six years and offered to provide copies of the replies that WUDAC had received from the Police Department, the State Highway Administration and Montgomery County Department of Transportation in response to the 22 areas which the Committee felt needed to be revamped.

The next meeting of the WRSC is scheduled for Wednesday, September 20, 2000. Staff will provide a reminder notice prior to the meeting.

Group A Recommendations

Marketing and Business Development
  • Identify and promote assets and visions and discourage unattainable elements.
  • Understand and reconcile developable potential with desired development/revitalization.
  • Identify and attract "quality of life" industries.

Transportation and Public Safety
  • More and better pedestrian mobility in and around Downtown.
  • Better lighting, police patrols and establish Service Corps.

Housing and Education
  • Balance between school enrollment and proposed developments to improve quality of our schools.
  • Balance density and diversity of types of housing.

Urban Design and Image
  • Develop guidelines for public and private partnerships noting that most property here is privately owned.
  • Enhance/increase green space.

Outreach and Community Development
  • Identify values, interests and goals of underrepresented stakeholders.

Group B Recommendations

Marketing and Business Development
  • Develop marketing plan
  • core business
  • retention and recruitment
  • what exists now -- public and private
  • what could be added to program
  • How to improve image and leasability of Wheaton
  • Is a better circulation system called for?
  • What are marketing benefits within CBD and to CBD from Olney

Transportation and Public Safety
  • We need better signage for pedestrians and motorists
  • Better sidewalk lighting
  • Make Wheaton pedestrian-friendly
  • Better crosswalk signalization
  • Can we improve bicycle safety?
  • Deal with perception of safety
  • We need wayfinding system

Housing and Education
  • Elementary schools upgrades (priority)
  • Physical plant improvements
  • Programs need improvement
  • Substandard condition of some older single-family houses and yards
  • Have greater impact by involving the greater community with education and assistance
  • Housing types -- more urban styles (i.e., high rise condos or higher density townhouses in the close-in locations)

Urban Design and Image
  • Incentives for property owners to make improvements to properties
  • Better maintenance of public rights of way
  • Should there be a comprehensive approach to urban design and image
  • Redevelopment of several lots or incremental improvements
  • Street trees/streetscapes/medians
  • First-class supermarket

Outreach and Community Development
  • Minority participation and involvement
  • Business involvement

Group C Recommendations

Marketing and Business Development
  • What kinds of business do we envision that Wheaton wants to attract
  • What are the messages we want to send to attract people to Wheaton -- different audiences
  • How do we generate new businesses and cultivate existing businesses
  • Engage and enlist major property owners so they are part of the program
  • Why are businesses leaving/failing
  • Attract local and nonlocal people
  • What are the obstacles to achieving goals re: image, attracting businesses, etc.
  • Who are these developers and how to get them into the area (Committee needs to know what County has done to date)
  • How can we get residents to support local businesses here and what will be coming
  • What is status of Westfield Wheaton and is it an appropriate anchor
  • Preserving small businesses
  • Full implementation of Enterprise Zone
  • Ethnic restaurants or attractions

Transportation and Public Safety
  • Shuttle buses in the CBD
  • Parking garages -- strategically placed; safety; develop around garages
  • Determine what Silver Spring and Bethesda have done to deal with safety issues -- attendants
  • Failure to recognize mindset (drive-up, park close) in considering garages
  • Safety perception problem (carjacking, shooting)
  • Better lighting throughout Wheaton
  • Safe to cross where "naturally" want to cross
  • Pedestrian safety at intersections
  • Make turns smoother (reexamine traffic patterns). Example: Ennalls to Georgia, Reedie to Viers Mill
  • How can we work with police to actually improve public safety
  • Pedestrian-friendly environment and bicyclists
  • Support restaurants which support other businesses

Housing and Education
  • Finding a way to reach out to school system and community to find ways to improve system (example -- overcrowding)
  • Need to improve education; brings up housing values but with transient population (Walter Reed, fresh immigrant base, etc.) challenges education
  • Considerations needs to be given to mixed-use in properties slated for redevelopment
  • Encourage homeownership vs. rental housing
  • Education of new homeowners
  • Homes -- smaller viewed as starter homes
  • Attracting people to stay in school system (magnet, scores)
  • Market positive things about Wheaton's housing (example: close-in, affordable, what supports we have to coming to Wheaton such as schools)
  • Image -- literally have a committee who calls in homeowners that don't meet community standards
  • How to increase property values

Urban Design and Image
  • What is MNCPPC design
  • Use professionals
  • Park Center is in the plan
  • Main Street process
  • Broaden participation base -- committee is much too narrow for this
  • Ugliness (lack of aesthetic appeal) -- multicultural aesthetic appeal

Outreach and Community Development
  • Media -- citizen reporters
  • Youth -- involvement
  • Translators
  • Other nonprofit resources who do outreach (example -- MHP)
  • Churches, synagogues, places of worship, faith-based communities

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