As Montgomery County residents know, Montgomery Co. is facing a record $779 million gap for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1, 2010. County Executive Ike Leggett has had to make difficult choices in his proposed operating budget, including a recommended 13.5% or $14.5 million reduction to the budget for Montgomery Parks. Such a drastic cut is a real threat to the quality of services you have come to know and expect at parks and park property within the county limits. With these cuts, it will be harder to keep service at its current level, and within Montgomery Parks, other affects may include closing parks and facilities, postponing new parks and upgrades to current ones, shortened hours, higher use fees, and staff reductions in most categories and by staff reductions you are safe in assuming that that means the Park Police and the maintenance staff.
Beautiful, safe, accessible parks, and an outstanding school system are the two most popular reasons people and businesses give for locating in Montgomery County. We have enjoyed strong support from our political leaders in the past, and appreciate that they are faced with difficult decisions to balance the needs of our community.
Now what does this mean for us as a cycling community? Imagine trying to commute on the Capital Crescent Trail or on Beach Drive or Sligo Creek Parkway, and now imagine that because of budget cuts police officers have been laid off and now there aren’t enough units to adequately patrol these trail ways. Not only that, but because of cuts, they’ve laid off maintenance staff and now the trails and roads aren’t being properly maintained. How would this affect your feeling of safety? I know lots of people who park their vehicle in our parks to go for bike rides. Would they still feel safe doing that knowing that the parks aren’t able to be as frequently patrolled as before? The Capital Crescent Trail is already a handful for the patrol units that we have, so how would customer service improve by taking away those patrol units. This also affects groups like MORE who frequently host trail rides on park property. This affects rides like the Goon Ride that meets at Veirs Mill Park and stays on park property the entire ride. The 7am and 10am ride meets at East West Hwy. and Beach Dr., where several people park their vehicle on park property.
If you are a resident of this county, I respectfully ask that you write a letter to the County Council, thanking them for their past support of Montgomery Parks and encouraging them to continue their financial support at the highest possible level.
Petitions or other written material may be mailed or delivered to the Council's Office of Legislative Information Services, 5th Floor, Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. All written material becomes a part of the public hearing record.
If you would prefer to call or send an email message to your Councilmember, following are phone numbers and email addresses:
• Phil Andrews, 240/777-7906, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Roger Berliner, 240/777-7828, email@example.com
• Marc Elrich, 240/777-7966, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Valerie Ervin, 240/777-7960, email@example.com
• Nancy Floreen, 240/777-7959, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mike Knapp, 240/777-7955, email@example.com
• George Leventhal, 240/777-7811, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Nancy Navarro, 240/777-7968, email@example.com
• Duchy Trachtenberg, 240/777-7964, firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that that’s done, time to get back to racing!