County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed capital budget includes increased funding for school construction and roads and good news for fans of redevelopment in White Flint.
Leggett’s recommended Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for fiscal years 2015-2020 includes funding of a new Main Street/Market Street, a realigned Executive Boulevard and a reconfigured intersection of Old Georgetown Road, Executive Boulevard and Hoya Street known as the Western Workaround.
The new street grid would pave the way for apartment development from Gables Residential, which would in turn allow Montgomery Parks to expand and rebuild Wall Park near the Shriver Aquatics Center.
Leggett’s proposal also includes another $169 million for the Montrose Parkway East and Chapman Avenue Extended projects and the relocation of the White Flint Fire Station. The county is exploring plans to build a new parking garage on the existing surface lot of the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, where a realigned Executive Boulevard would run.
Leggett’s proposal said the garage will include retail and affordable housing and will be forwarded straight to the County Council for approval.
Dee Metz, the county’s White Flint Coordinator, told members of the White Flint Implementation Committee on Monday that she was hoping for upward of $100 million in funding for the new street grid.
Some of those projects will eventually be paid for by the developers in a new White Flint special taxing district, though the county has collected only about $3 million in district taxes so far.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Leggett emphasized the record levels of school construction funding in his proposal.
The $4.49 billion CIP recommends $1.2 billion for school capital projects, $1.1 billion of which would be dedicated to school construction. It’s an increase of 13 percent, or $129.5 million, from the FY 13-18 CIP.
“That’s an unprecedented number for our school system,” Leggett said. “I justify that based on the priorities.”
To get to those numbers, Leggett proposed the county increase its borrowing capacity to $324 million a year. The overall CIP would be a 2.3 percent increase from the last CIP.
Leggett’s proposal also includes the addition of the Josiah Henson Historic Park project, which would use $2 million in private funding to help Montgomery Parks rehabilitate the historic Riley/Bolton House and add a visitor center and museum.