SILVER SPRING — The Neighborhoods Subcommittee of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board met to discuss their second annual tour of Silver Spring.
On June 24, the Neighborhoods Subcommittee met for their last meeting before the summer break to set out preliminary stops for a bus tour of the area.
The advisory board is tasked with providing advice specific to issues that are important to the Silver Spring area. Their recommendations go to County Executive Marc Elrich and the county council.
Their recommendations can center on issues of transportation, economic development, environment, housing and youth activities. The Silver Spring area includes the city of Takoma Park and Four Corners.
The neighborhoods subcommittee, however, focuses on issues such as schools, community relations, public health planning, community redevelopment, housing and the arts.
The goal of the bus tour is to familiarize members of the advisory board with areas of Silver Spring they do not know well or have never been to.
“This is just a way to make sure that our members know the areas we are discussing in meetings,” said Lysette House, who serves on the neighborhoods subcommittee. “So, for like the purple line, where will the purple line be? You know we talk often about Long Branch, or where the borders are in our area. It’s an opportunity for us to see these places and then to frequent them.”
She said that the bus tour is scheduled to last about four hours. The group spent their meeting time deciding which locations would be best to highlight for new and returning members of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.
House suggested some locations that would showcase the cultural and entertainment elements of Silver Spring, such as the Silver Spring Library, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center and the Fillmore.
John Seelke, who also serves on the neighborhoods subcommittee, suggested that the bus tour make stops at centers that provide services for the community. For instance, he suggested, making a stop at a center that specializes in immigration services.
Silver Spring has a high number of immigrants. According to the Census Bureau, Silver Spring is comprised of about 37% foreign-born persons, a rate that is higher than the state of Maryland as a whole by about 14%.
Seelke also suggested the tours make a stop at one or more of the local schools if only to see the grounds and talk about school boundaries.
Neighborhoods subcommittee member Katherine Lucas McKay agreed that a school stop and discussion about school district boundaries could be beneficial for advisory board members.
“School boundaries is something that is really important to Silver Spring, especially when you factor in school resources, which are dependent on boundaries,” said Lucas McKay.
Seelke said that he has two elementary school-aged children at home who go to Silver Spring schools. He noted that a school’s quality seems dependent on which resources parents already can provide for their children.
“Often Takoma Park families feel like since they live in Takoma Park and pay Takoma Park taxes, they have the right to go to Takoma Park schools,” Seelke said.
Funding for schools is also dependent on property taxes in the area. So, a school in a more-affluent or expensive neighborhood would receive more funding than a school in a lower-income neighborhood.
Finally, the subcommittee discussed a stop that would highlight resources for the homeless in Silver Spring. They noted that Progress Place in downtown Silver Spring provides the most services and housing for the homeless outside of Rockville.
Progress Place is owned by Montgomery County and offers meals, a clothes closet, eye clinic and showers, among other services for the homeless.
The committee agreed that making a stop at Progress Place would tie in nicely with a stop at the local library because many residents of Progress Place go to the library during the day.
The bus tour is scheduled for July 13 and will be open to members of the committee; it is not open to the general public. However, the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board encourages the public to attend their meetings, which are held monthly.