Rockville, Silver Spring fix-ups called important to entire state

February 19, 1993|By Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS -- Montgomery County legislators want $6 million in state aid to help resuscitate ailing downtown Rockville.

"After 5 [p.m.] you might as well roll up the streets in Rockville. There's no one there," said Del. Michael R. Gordon, D-17th District and sponsor of the measure.

The $6 million in state-backed bonds would be combined with county, city and developer money to tear down Rockville Mall, open up dead-end streets and create five city blocks of new office buildings, restaurants, shops, theaters and apartments.

The $300 million center would be adjacent to the Rockville Metro station, off Hungerford Drive.

The demolition of the 25-year-old Rockville Mall would come first. Mr. Gordon said the mall owner, Rockville Center Inc., has lost more than $40 million in the last two years because of slow business.

Montgomery County Sen. Ida G. Ruben, D-20th District, said this project and a revitalization proposal for Silver Spring are needed restore the state's economy.

The fiscal 1994 budget includes $4 million for the revitalization of Silver Spring's downtown.

"Montgomery County has become an economic engine for the state and it needs a boost to get on a faster track," said Ms. Ruben, who chairs the county's Senate delegation.

But Del. Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said, "The question is, can we do both Silver Spring and Rockville?" He added, "The governor already supports Silver Spring, which means millions of dollars just for the first phase."

The Rockville proposal is one of many jockeying for a piece of the $15 million in state construction funds set aside this year to finance Maryland legislators' projects.

Montgomery County legislators say they will have to work among themselves to set priorities for the county's most pressing projects. They've introduced proposals adding up to $14.6 million.

"We have to pare it down," Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-15th District, said of the list.

All of the capital construction requests will be reviewed by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, which Mr. Levitan chairs, and by Mr. Rawlings' Appropriations Committee.

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