16 September 2013

Message from the Chair - Wheaton Redevelopment

     On September 18th at 7pm, the Montgomery County Government is hosting a community event at Wheaton High School with developers StonebridgeCarras and Buzzoto who will propose a development plan for the Wheaton Redevelopment Program. The community is being asked to provide input and feedback on this proposed design and determine whether StonebridgeCarras and Buzzoto move on to the final stage for consideration as the developer of the town square and office and retail space. Regardless of how you may feel about the delays, change of plans, and other twists and turns that have plagued Wheaton redevelopment, it is important that the community continue to come out in force and ensure that their voices are heard.

    It should be made clear that StonebridgeCarras and Buzzoto have not been selected as the final developers for Wheaton redevelopment. Under this latest iteration of the process, the developers have received the highest rating by the county and, in turn, can present a concept and design to the community for its approval. If the county determines that the majority of residents and interested parties of Wheaton approve of the concept design(s), the next step is contract negotiations between the developers and the county to finalize a deal. Although the language of the meetings implies otherwise, the developers have not been selected or finalized. Community members have the opportunity to voice their support or opposition to the concept design, the developers or both which will be taken under consideration by the county selection committee. County officials will explain the details of the process during the meeting. Therefore, it is not only important that the community attend this meeting to lend its voice to the Wheaton redevelopment plans, but also to understand and participate in the selection process.

     The Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee (WUDAC) has taken a proactive approach to Wheaton redevelopment. Committee members will be in attendance, and I intend on speaking on behalf of the group. I encourage all Wheaton residents and business owners to not only attend the meeting on September 18th, but also find any and every way to have a say in this process. WUDAC and a few interested parties cannot be the lone voice for all of Wheaton. Individuals and small business owners are just as important to this process. 
     I admit that it has been a long and at times frustrating road toward Wheaton redevelopment. Regardless, we as citizens and interested parties should not be discouraged and must continue our active participation in the process. WUDAC has voiced its frustration with past decisions; however, we remain dedicated to a transparent and open process that involves community input throughout. Wheaton redevelopment is long overdue and despite the setbacks, WUDAC is committed to ensuring that we get to a place of finality where members of the community can one day be part of and witness to a revitalized Wheaton. I encourage all residents, regardless of personal doubt and reservation, to persevere and continue to lend their voice to the process.

Henriot St. Gerard