The Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee discussed the Wheaton Library project, redevelopment on Parking Lot 13, and Wheaton’s small businesses at its Nov. 28 meeting at the Mid-County Regional Services Center.
Greg Ossont, deputy director of the Department of General Services for Montgomery County, presented an update on the progress of the Wheaton Library and Recreation Center project, which would combine the two facilities on Georgia Avenue into new building.
Ossont told the advisory committee that the county has decided to use Grimm + Parker, an architecture firm with offices in Calverton, MD, and McClean, VA. Grimm + Parker is already under contract with the county.
Redevelopment advisory committee members expressed displeasure that the county did not seek more community input when selecting the firm and voted to send a letter of concern to the county executive.
No specific project contract has yet been signed with Grimm + Parker.
Small Business Survey and Redevelopment in Lot 13
Peter McGinnity of the county's Wheaton Redevelopment Program presented results from a survey of small businesses in Wheaton. He told WRAC that after a similar survey in 2005, the county offered programs and resources to support the small businesses, but there was low participation.
The 2012 survey shows that overall attitudes toward redevelopment have not changed that much. What has changed, McGinnity said, is a sense of urgency, now that the county council has approved construction of an office building on top of a central parking lot used by customers of many of the small businesses in the heart of Wheaton.
Ash Kosiewicz, lead organizer for the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton, asked the advisory committee to write a letter of support for Wheaton’s small businesses. The Coalition wants the county to pledge to protect small businesses through the redevelopment process, in part by funding the Small Business Assistance Program established in April by Bill 6-12.
The office building will be shared by the Department of General Services and the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. Both agencies must negotiate a memorandum of understanding for the county council before plans can proceed. The DGS and M-NCCPC must also determine how much square footage they need in the building. Oudens Knoop Knoop + Sachs Architects is advising them during this first phase of developing programs of requirement.
WRAC, an advisory committee to the county executive, meets the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m in the Mid-County Regional Services Center at 2424 Reedie Drive in Wheaton. (Note: The committee would have met on Nov. 21, according to its regular schedule, but the meeting was rescheduled to Nov. 28 due to the Thanksgiving holiday.)
[Editor's Note: Grimm + Parker Architects was misspelled in an earlier version of this article. We regret the error.]