Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Art and frame shop offers postal services

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It may not be the historic post office, but a small West End frame shop is now open to postal customers.

Rockville Art and Frame, at 90 West Montgomery Ave., celebrated the opening of its contract postal unit with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.

Located on the same block as the old post office, the shop will offer those who work downtown and local residents a walkable alternative to the main branch on North Washington Street.

Residents from the West End have wanted just such a convenience since the General Services Administration closed the old post office in October.

‘‘People have been coming in and calling every day,” frame shop owner and former postal employee Roger Miller said. ‘‘They love the idea.”

Postal officials project the new postal station to gross $300,000 in the first year of operation.

‘‘It’s going to help my business,” Miller, 79, said. ‘‘Let’s not kid anybody. But I also wanted to bring something to the neighborhood that will be here long after I’m gone. Because whoever buys this business will get it as well.”

New park takes Karn name

The Rockville City Council recently named a small parcel on the corner of Evans Street and Laura Lane after a prominent family active in developing the city between 1905 and 1975.

Karn Park will get $13,200 worth of landscaping and other improvements budgeted by the council for this fiscal year.

Starting with Franklin H. Karn, three generations of the family built homes in the West End. The name was recommended by the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, the West End Civic Association and city staff.

The family dedicated the land to the city in 1958.

Main, Bryan leave City Hall

Two city employees, police Lt. James Main and Phil Bryan, Superintendent of Recreation, are leaving their Rockville jobs.

Main, a 23-year Rockville policeman, said he doesn’t have set plans, but intends to rejoin the workforce elsewhere.

Before retiring July 1, the 53-year-old oversaw the city’s criminal investigation, traffic and tactical patrol units. He also coordinated the speed camera program.

‘‘He’s straight up, straight forward,” Police Chief Terrance N. Treschuk said of Main. ‘‘Frankly, he had a great sense of humor and just got the job done.”

Bryan, 60, is taking a new job with the Howard County Department of Recreation, where he will serve as a recreation manager. He has worked for the city for 15 years.

The reason for the move? A commute to his Catonsville home that will take about 15 minutes, not the hour he has been driving to and from Rockville, Bryan says.

‘‘I would never have thought of it, if I were closer to Rockville,” he said. ‘‘It’s a great department to work for and I enjoyed every minute.”

New sidewalk policy for city

The council approved a new policy designed to prioritize sidewalk installation.

Rockville has about 64 miles of missing sidewalks, 58 percent of which has an existing sidewalk on the other side of the street, according to city staff.

The prioritization strategy is based on a point-by-point evaluation of each unpaved walkway. Unpaved areas will now be given prioritization based on things like the proximity to schools and public transportation and environmental impact.

The council directed staff to give added weight to unpaved walkways without existing sidewalks on the other side of the street.

Previously, no formal rating system existed.

Budget items approved

The council unanimously introduced and adopted a budget amendment for fiscal year 2008. The move reflects an additional $581,911 in Program Open Space funding received from the state.

The money will be split between the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park, the Swim Center and Thomas Farm Community Center.

The amendment also reflects $14,985 in carryover from last fiscal year.

The council also introduced and approved a $23 million bond issuance for capital improvement projects.

Both the budget amendment and bond authorization were approved after the council waived layover periods.

Neither included items related to a shift to the twice-weekly, semi-automated refuse and recycling collection funding the council ordered separated from the two budget items during a meeting last week.

As directed by the council, fiscal measures needed to implement the approved adopted twice-weekly policy were not considered, pending additional staff research.

Progress check

The council reviewed the quarterly progress on a series of projects Monday.

The council agreed to redirect $50,000 earmarked for the study of a vehicle crossing of Rockville Pike. Instead, the money will be used to fund the installation of street lighting, about 12 of them, in throughout the city.

City Manager Scott Ullery said Rockville is not abandoning the overpass⁄underpass issue. Consulting lobbyists indicate that project would be a good candidate for federal funding, which will be pursued, he said.

Historic homes on West End

Three West End homes are headed for historic designation from the city. Homes at 100 and 104 Lynch St. and 149 South Adams St. have all been submitted for designation by their owners.

The 1926 house at 100 Lynch Street was home to Lucy Barnsley, a longtime local teacher for whom the nearby elementary school is named. The 1904 Queen Anne-style home on 104 Lynch St. was once home to Israel and Samuel Grossman, owners of the DGS grocery store from 1920 to 1960.

No public testimony was submitted about the zoning changes during a City Council hearing last week. The Historic District Commission and Planning Commission have each unanimously recommended the applications for approval.

The City Council is expected to vote on them on Aug. 6.

Appointments to panels

*John Moser, Carole Butler, Jerry Callistein, Ken Lechter, Eileen Mader have all been reappointed to the Cultural Arts Commission until July 1, 2009.

*David Celeste was reappointed to the Board of Supervisors of Elections until July 1, 2011. His term as chair expires on July 1, 2008.

*On Monday, Kathleen Drake and Margaret Callaghan were reappointed to serve on the Animal Matters Board until July 1, 2010.