One of the most common stories in local news for the last few weeks is the drama surrounding the relocation of the county school bus depot.
Currently residing in the Shady Grove corridor, where it has been for years, the county school system has to move the bus depot by the first of next year because the county is trying to develop the area around the Shady Grove Metro for retail outlets and suitable living space.
Part of the so-called “Smart Growth” move to encourage such development around the county’s red-line Metro stops, the county has been planning this move for years.
And that, sadly, is the problem.
The county has planned additional development which will further stress its infrastructure without taking care of the infrastructure it already needs to handle the development it already has.
The school system is stuck right in the middle – between angry residents who don’t want the bus depot anywhere near them – and the county council which has punted the issue down the road without addressing it adequately.
Years ago the county developed its planning strategy and the council knew something would have to be done with the school system’s bus depot – home to some 400 school buses.
The centralized bus depot allows for less expensive maintenance of the buses, helps to insure safety and on cold days the MCPS “Cold Start” team can get the buses up and running in a timely fashion.
As it sits now, the county plans a stop-gap temporary measure of parking buses at various schools around the county.
This is a problematic solution. Schools surrounded by private housing will certainly spur some contentious reaction from residents if those residents are greeted with the sounds of dozens of buses starting up at 4 a.m. on a cold winter morning.
Safety is a problem as it will be at the very least far more expensive to keep adequate security on site at the various schools to guarantee no one vandalizes or otherwise compromises the buses being park on location. Let’s not talk about back to school nights or sporting and music/theater nights at these schools.
The school system may be able to work around these problems in the short-term, but there doesn’t appear to be a long-term solution available.
The Blair-Ewing school site seems to be fading fast into the realm of “Bad ideas gone really wrong” and there seems to be nothing but bad solutions left to ponder.
This is a problem entirely of the county’s own making.
Council members were told years ago there was no real alternative to the centrally located Shady Grove bus depot.
But the council – intent on making money and blinded by its short-sighted “Smart Growth” Mantra completely missed the boat on this issue.
More Rockville Follies
The Rockville City Council apparently is still unconvinced that city manager Barbara Matthews method of pay raises and the study of comparable salary structures in nearby municipal governments is the answer to the problem of pay in the city.
The City of Takoma Park, Matthews’ last post before joining Rockville, is considering reinstituting stepped-pay increases and is one of a very few in the area that doesn’t have such a device for insuring adequate pay.
It is well known and documented we believe Matthews is not up to the task for the job she has in Rockville and her continued bullying of police in Rockville only goes to show she’s in way over her head.
Her pay plans look like protection for favored employees – some of them questionable managers themselves – and the police out on the street are still left out in the cold.
We feel the pain of the police department – whose officers are paid less than many mediocre managers sitting on their flaccid rumps in the safe confines of City Hall.
We understand the concerns of others who work in the city and believe their city management has been hijacked by those of questionable intelligence, character and ability.
We’d like to say we see a light at the end of the tunnel, but it may just be an oncoming freight train.
Mayor Bridget Newton thinks the recent compensation and classification study of salaries in the city doesn’t hit the mark. She’s right.
But city management staff also doesn’t hit the mark and the city manager is the biggest problem facing the city.