Task force aims to turn up Montgomery County nightlife

ROCKVILLE, Md. – It’s already a great place to live and work, and now the goal is to turn Montgomery County into a hot entertainment destination.

“We’ve got to change some of our rules, and we’ve got to make it a priority to create really fantastic, fun places for people to have a good time,” Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer tells WTOP.

“That will help us retain the young people that we educate here in the county and attract new ones, which is an important part of our economic competitiveness in the region,” he adds.

Riemer helped organize a Nighttime Economy Task Force that’s been meeting for months.

“When you look at all the jurisdictions and what share of their population is young, Montgomery County is ranking near the bottom. And that’s not surprising. We’ve been a suburban, sort of family, public school-oriented community for a long time, but the era of being able to rest on your laurels with that is over,” says Riemer.

“D.C. is an incredible place for people to live, Northern Virginia is an incredible place for people to live. We’ve got a lot to offer here, but we’ve got to do just as much as some of our competitors have done to market ourselves and to make sure that there are really no hindrances to our having great dining and entertainment.”

The task force meets on the third Monday of every month, and the next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19 at the Rockville Library.

Riemer said one part of the issue involves public transportation.

“I think a lot of people want to go out for a night on the town and they don’t want to have to worry about driving home. So those are some of the challenges that we have to work on,” he says.

Riemer said the task force is also discussing possible changes to county and state laws.

“There are some controversial issues embedded in this. For example, the question of whether you can buy beer and wine at the grocery store,” says Riemer of the fact that most county supermarkets do not sell beer and wine. “I’d like to know if residents in the county really care about that.”

The councilman expects the task force to come up with recommendations sometime this fall, possibly by October.

Before that happens, Riemer is asking Montgomery County residents to fill out an online nightlife survey to share their ideas and concerns. The survey, available via this Google Docs page does not ask for your name or any other identifying information.

More information about the program can be found on Montgomery County’s Nighttime Economy Task Force web page and Riemer’s blog.

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