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City of Rockville 2023: Year in Review

JANUARY

  • Barack Matite, city manager for the City of Eudora, Kansas, became Rockville’s deputy city manager. Matite served as city manager of Eudora from August 2016. He had joined Eudora in 2012 and served in several roles for the city. He was chosen from a strong field of more than 100 applicants nationwide.
  • Rockville scored 100 marks for the city’s commitment to the health, welfare, safety and equality of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in its sixth year of participating in, and the 11th year for, the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.
  • Rockville started the search for artists to design and create murals for City Hall and the Rockville Senior Center.
  • The Mayor and Council initiated a public review process for changing city code and the zoning ordinance related to accessory apartments and accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.
  • Tyree Davis IV, Rockville’s advisor to the city manager for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, in January presented to the Mayor and Council a report on his first six months in the post, and outlined his plans for the future. Davis was hired in June 2022 to fill the first-of-its-kind role for the city, leading the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Division under the City Manager’s Office.
  • The Mayor and Council and members of the city’s senior staff showcased the City of Rockville for county elected officials during a meet-and-greet at Glenview Mansion.

FEBRUARY

  • Voters in Rockville’s election were given the opportunity to vote for seven members of the city’s elected body, following the unanimous vote of the Mayor and Council on a resolution to add two seats to the council.
  • Rockville began developing a Historic Preservation Work Plan, a 10-year program that lays out a series of recommendations to assess and update the city’s historic preservation program. The plan, endorsed by the Mayor and Council in May, is the first step in updating how the city approaches preserving its history.
  • The Rockville Planning Commission and Chief of Zoning Jim Wasilak presented “Zoning 101,” an introduction for the community about Rockville’s zoning ordinance rewrite, on the city’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/cityofrockville. This will be a major city project over the next 18-24 months. (See the article on page 2 for an update on the process.)

MARCH

  • City police began issuing citations for vehicles exceeding the speed limit on a segment of Veirs Mill Road where the city had recently installed speed monitoring cameras.
  • Rockville ranked eighth overall and fourth among small cities in the U.S. for its ethnic diversity, once again placing highly in an annual WalletHub study. More than one-third of Rockville’s residents were born outside of the U.S.
  • More than a year on from Rockville’s adoption of its first Climate Action Plan, many of the plan’s 42 initiatives had made progress, with several action items completed. The Mayor and Council initiated the plan in January 2022 with the goals of equitably reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and improving community and city resilience to extreme weather. They were updated on the plan’s progress in March.

APRIL

  • The City of Rockville hosted four interactive listening sessions to kick off outreach and engagement for the Town Center Master Plan update, which will help guide the area’s success in coming decades. The most recent master plan for Rockville Town Center was adopted in 2001. The goal of the master plan is to create a cohesive vision for the Town Center area that meets the city’s goals regarding climate action, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and racial equity and social justice.
  • State aid for schools, legislation addressing transportation needs and a grant to renovate restrooms at a city community center were among wins for Rockville during the Maryland General Assembly session that concluded April 10.
  • Managers and leaders from the City of Rockville attended a first series of meetings as part of a one-year commitment to the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.
  • Rockville Housing Enterprises, the city’s public housing agency, acquired Scarborough Square in the city’s College Gardens neighborhood, which provided and preserved 121 affordable housing units in the City of Rockville.

MAY

  • The Rockville City Academy returned, offering members of the community an opportunity to better understand how the City of Rockville operates with a closer look at city departments and services. The academy was comprised of four sessions that connected participants with city staff who help keep Rockville running.
  • The city’s Traffic and Transportation Division held two virtual meetings to discuss upcoming projects to improve mobility and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the city’s Vision Zero Action Plan
  • The two-day Hometown Holidays Music Fest, featuring local flavor, two stages of entertainment by local acts, the Taste of Rockville and activities for kids, returned to RedGate Park.
  • A long-planned major road project crossed the finish line in late spring as the city completed construction of improvements to Baltimore Road. The project makes the connection between Rockville Town Center and the city’s east side more convenient, safe and accessible for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. The improvements, which span more than a mile-and-a-half, create a more consistent roadway design, add pedestrian safety measures at several intersections and offer easier access to the Rockville Metro station.
  • Rockville welcomed Joyce Tian, winner of the “If I Were Mayor … ” essay contest, to City Hall. Tian, a fourth-grader at Beall Elementary School, earned the right to serve as Rockville’s Mayor for a Day, doing an on-camera interview with Rockville 11, visiting the Rockville City Police Department, the Department of Public Works Equipment Show and Croydon Creek Nature Center, and having lunch with Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton.

JUNE

  • The 34th Annual Rockville Public Safety Awards at Lakewood Country Club, honored several Rockville City Police Department officers.
  • Rockville joined Montgomery County for a Juneteenth celebration at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.
  • Rockville City Police Department’s 66 officers responded to 16,265 calls for service in 2022, or 65% of all calls within Rockville’s city limits to city or county police or the county sheriff’s office, according to an annual crime report prepared by RCPD. Overall, between 2021 and 2022, crimes against people, which include homicides, assaults and sex offenses, increased 13%, from 530 offenses in 2021 to 599 offenses in 2022.
  • A city program that seeks to stop commercial facilities from polluting storm drains and streams recently took high honors in the Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s Best Urban BMP in the Bay Awards. Better known as the BUBBAs, the program bestows the prestigious regional awards every other year on stormwater projects using BMPs, or best management practices.
  • Bryan Barnett-Woods, a principal transportation planner with the City of Rockville, was named the Roland B. Sweitzer Municipal Employee of the Year for the state of Maryland. Barnett-Woods, who serves as the city’s Vision Zero coordinator and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation coordinator, was honored by the Maryland City and County Management Association and the Maryland Municipal League

JULY

  • A ribbon cutting rededicated Clarence “Pint” Isreal Park at 357 Frederick Ave. The newly upgraded park includes a new pavilion, walking path, benches, a walkway to the tennis courts and open space for play.
  • The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority awarded the City of Rockville grant funding to study the Avery Road Colored Cemetery and Benjamin Franklin Smith Family Homestead, located within the footprint of today’s Croydon Creek Nature Center and John G. Hayes Forest Preserve.

AUGUST

  • Rob DiSpirito resigned as Rockville’s city manager.

SEPTEMBER

  • Rockville’s Mayor and Council once again proclaimed September as National Recovery Month, part of their continuing campaign to shine a spotlight on the nationwide impact of opioid addiction. The focus of the Rockville Goes Purple campaign includes raising awareness, honoring those in recovery and lost to overdose, reducing stigma, and providing resources and education.
  • Rockville marked the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, remembering county residents who lost their lives with a ceremony at Courthouse Square Park, at the corner of East Jefferson Street and Maryland Avenue in Rockville’s downtown.

OCTOBER

  • The 27th annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival honored author Jonathan Franzen with the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature.
  • The Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show, a city tradition for six decades, rolled into Rockville Civic Center Park.
  • Rockville’s Education Commission has developed three focus areas for its future work drawn from information gathering and listening to the community, the committee told the Mayor and Council as it presented its annual report, which covers the committee’s activities since it was created by the Mayor and Council in April 2022. Those areas are: keeping Rockville schools safe and secure; improving teacher retention and recruitment; and strengthening partnerships between businesses and schools.
  • The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments awarded the City of Rockville a 2023 Climate and Energy Leadership Award, recognizing the city’s Flood Resiliency Program as a climate stewardship program that engages and serves the region’s underserved communities and neighborhoods.

NOVEMBER

  • The city held a vote-by-mail election for mayor and six councilmember seats. See page 1 for more information. Monique Ashton was elected mayor. Six councilmembers were also elected: Kate Fulton; Adam Van Grack; Izola (Zola) Shaw; David Myles; Barry Jackson; and Marissa Valeri. The new administration, Rockville’s 67th, held its inauguration and first meeting this month.

DECEMBER

  • See December’s highlights in this edition.

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Rockville Reports is the official publication of the City of Rockville, published at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850-2364.