Silver Spring Advisory Board – Operating Budget Priorities
January 28, 2010
Represented by Darian Unger and Mark Woodard
We understand that there will be cuts in many programs during this difficult budget year, and are deeply concerned that some in particular will undermine the improvements we have made to make our Silver Spring community safe and livable. We call special attention to the following priority items for our community, which are among the most vital. These should be spared for the good and for the safety of the Silver Spring region.
Public safety. Silver Spring is still a developing area, and our community is deeply concerned about crime rates, which affect our safety and quality of life. Silver Spring is the densest and most urban region in the county. Increasing crime rates would curtail our development at a fragile time of population and commercial growth. Long Branch was targeted for a police substation cut last year, and soon Silver Spring will lose its police station, raising local concern. Pubic safety takes several key forms, including police, fire/rescue, and general neighborhood security. Please do not diminish public safety through reduced police presence or the imposition of fees for emergency services.
Transportation. Our community supports many of the less expensive, non-automotive improvements to the Silver Spring transportation network that are often given second priority by DOT. Important local priorities include the Pedestrian Safety Initiative, completion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the introduction of speed and red-light cameras to improve safety, and the redesigning of key intersections to improve walkability. Because we are the biggest transit hub in the county, there is strong favor for the adequate funding of public transit to allow people to commute and travel without additional cars.
Urban District. The Silver Spring Urban District facilitates safety, cleanup, and many other aspects of Silver Spring which makes the commercial area attractive to families, a social hub, and a commercial success. For example red shirt workers add enormously to public safety and maintenance. Concert and parade activities create street level vitality, serve as both cultural touchstones, and serve as pillars for business development. The near-completion of the new Silver Spring Civic Building requires operational support to make it a vibrant community center rather than simply a shell. Several community and volunteer organizations will step up to help, but local operational funding is necessary, including funds from our own parking lot district.
Youth programs. We want to focus on crime prevention as well as enforcement. Youth programs and community centers need adequate funding and pay social dividends in development and reduced crime.
Where cuts are necessary, we urge that they focus on non-vital spending, such as the subsidization of free library parking. Parking reimbursement uses funds better spent elsewhere. They also encourage driving over other forms of transportation, and are a less necessary expense than library and other county operations.
Thank you for considering the combined urban and suburban needs our area carefully in your budget deliberations.