The biggest news was perhaps the historic, first-in-Maryland-history Vote by Mail election, and plenty of other happenings made 2019 a hectic year in the City of Rockville!

JANUARY
Judson Smith’s 1938 mural of Sugarloaf Mountain in the lobby of the Rockville City Police Department station became part of the U.S. Postal Service’s 2019 Forever Stamp series.

Rockville’s Mayor and Council bid farewell to Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr, who had been elected to serve in the Maryland House of Delegates.

The city stepped up to support furloughed federal workers from Rockville who were impacted by a government shutdown, delaying payment, with no penalties, on certain city services, such as summer camp registration, preschool and before- and afterschool care, water bills and even animal registration fees.

FEBRUARY
Lobby and locker room modernizations were greenlit at the Rockville Swim and Fitness Center with the award of a bid to City Construction LLC of Washington, D.C. The construction, depending on the weather, is expected to be completed this winter.

MARCH
Rockville launched a communitywide effort to fight back against the opioid crisis gripping communities across the United States. The city’s awareness campaign kicked off with a program featuring Chris Herren, a former professional basketball player and recovery advocate who founded The Herren Project.

The Mayor and Council adopted a master plan change for Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County properties on Stonestreet Avenue as follow-up to the Stonestreet Corridor Study.

Niles Anderegg was named Rockville’s new deputy city clerk in the City Clerk/Director of Council Operations Office.

The city announced it had installed seven new bus shelters to add to the comfort and accessibility of bus stops with high ridership along Rockville Pike, Veirs Mill Road and Taft Street, adjacent to David Scull Park.

Chief of long-range planning, David Levy, was named assistant director of planning and business improvement, and also to act as an ombudsman and point of contact for Town Center.

Rockville police officer Jan Seilhamer was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, becoming the first woman to attain command level at Rockville’s police department.

APRIL
Results of the 2018 Community Survey were delivered. Rockville residents said they believe their city has high-quality, secure neighborhoods where they can raise children and retire, that Rockville is respectful to different cultures and beliefs, and is a city committed to creating a welcoming community for all backgrounds.

Rockville launched a telephone hotline and website for community members to report potential fraud, waste and abuse related to city government services and employees. For more information, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/fraud-waste-abuse.

Thomas Farm Community Center celebrated its 10th birthday with an open house.

MAY
The City of Rockville heard from the public about what they’d like to see happen at the Rockshire Village Center, a vacant 7.32-acre former shopping center at the corner of Wootton Parkway and Hurley Avenue.

Rockville continued taking steps to improve pedestrian safety in Rockville Town Center at Beall Avenue’s intersections with Gibbs Street and Maryland Avenue. Flashing signals and street lights were installed, trees removed for better sightlines, and speed limits were reduced, among other initiatives.

JUNE
Laura Lanham became Rockville’s deputy chief of police. Lanham came to the city with 28 years of law enforcement experience from the Montgomery County Police Department.

A newly created Pedestrian Advocacy Committee began work to address concerns about pedestrian safety and walkability in Rockville. About 30 residents attended the committee’s first meeting at City Hall, including city civic association leaders and Richard Montgomery High’s cluster coordinator, a representative from the city’s Traffic and Transportation Commission, and the chief of the city’s Traffic and Transportation Division.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s pilot for e-scooters and e-bikes rolled out to areas of the county, including Rockville.

The Mayor and Council voted to use a master planning process, with significant involvement from the public, to help determine future uses for the former 18-hole RedGate Golf Course. However, the Mayor and Council said they will wait until an ongoing strategic planning process for the city’s recreation, parks and facilities is complete before making final decisions on the approach to the master planning process.

JULY
A panel of Urban Land Institute experts visited Rockville for two days to explore and offer recommendations for enhancing the vibrancy of the city’s Town Center. Nine panelists from varying backgrounds and areas of expertise toured the area, conducted interviews, worked on recommendations and made a public presentation.

John Foreman, a professional planner with more than a decade’s experience, was selected to lead a new customer-focused services center in the Planning and Development Services Department. The section’s mission is to improve Rockville’s development review and permitting processes.

AUGUST
Friends and neighbors of all fitness levels and abilities gathered at Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park for an afternoon of Bankshot basketball and fun awards.
Mark Landahl arrived in the Rockville City Police Department to serve as the city’s emergency manager, where he is tasked with creating an emergency preparedness plan for all city departments, and strategies to help the city mitigate, respond to and recover from emergencies.

SEPTEMBER
Formally kicking off election season, 15 candidates were certified to run in Rockville’s Vote by Mail Mayor and Council election — two for mayor, 13 for council.

The Urban Land Institute panel delivered a 42-page report detailing their recommendations on ways to strengthen the vitality of the Town Center area. Among them: Retaining significant employers; attracting anchor uses; building density in Town Center without compromising character; strengthening relationships and connections with Montgomery College and the Montgomery County Board of Education; and redesigning both East Middle Lane and North Washington Street to make them friendlier to pedestrians, bikers, drivers and others.

More than 100 people attended as Rockville cut the ribbon on four brand-new pickleball courts at Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park.

OCTOBER
The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival honored “The Joy Luck Club” author Amy Tan with the 2019 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature.

More than 38,000 ballots were distributed through the mail to voters in Rockville’s historic Vote by Mail election.

NOVEMBER
Voters re-elected Bridget Donnell Newton as Rockville’s mayor and council members Monique Ashton, Beryl L. Feinberg, David Myles and Mark Pierzchala in the first Vote by Mail election in state history. Rockville’s 66th Mayor and Council were sworn in Nov. 17 and held their first meeting Nov. 18. See the article on page 1.

Rockville made WalletHub’s annual list of Best Small Cities in America for 2019. See the article on the sidebar column of this page.

DECEMBER
Read about December’s events in this edition of “Rockville Reports.”