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Local student receives new scholarship named for late Gaithersburg activist

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Linda Hanson Gburg Mayor Jud AshmanThe late Linda M. Hanson and Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman, seen here in 2015 receiving a certificate of recognition. Ashman joined members of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club on Monday to honor the first recipient of a scholarship named for Hanson. COURTESY PHOTOGAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Jud Ashman joined members of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club to honor the first recipient of a scholarship named for a city resident and activist. They named Kiana Taylor, a recent graduate of Quince Orchard High School, the winner of the Linda M. Hanson Scholarship. 

Hanson, a professional music teacher who passed away in January 2017, was an active member of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club, had served on the Gaithersburg Olde Towne Advisory Subcommittee, and at the time of her death, was executive director of Gaithersburg HELP, a nonprofit organization that provides food, transportation and medical services to underprivileged citizens and families.

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Gaithersburg bugged by pesticide concerns

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Gaithersburg Govt logoGAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s work session, Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council received recommendations pertaining to the city’s use of pesticides and herbicides.

Gaithersburg’s Sustainability Coordinator Dyan Backe, Landscape and Forestry Supervisor Mark Kober, and Operations Maintenance Manager Charles Reed presented the results of a pilot program the city implemented to test new means of weed removal and plant care.

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Immigration advocates push Gaithersburg to be Freedom City

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Gaithersburg SealGAITHERSBURG — Members of the immigrant advocacy group United We Dream came to City Hall Monday night to urge Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council to designate Gaithersburg as a “Freedom City.” 

The group’s organizers cited as an example Austin, Texas, which recently declared itself a Freedom City in response to the state legislature passing Senate Bill 4, which permits police to ask the immigration status of anyone arrested or detained. Austin passed an ordinance requiring officers who ask immigrants their status to also state that these questions need not be answered.

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Gaithersburg considers code changes

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Gaithersburg logoMembers of the Gaithersburg Planning Commission joined Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council at Monday night’s meeting to discuss a proposed amendment to the city code to clarify the types of businesses allowed to operate in the city’s Central Business District (CBD). The CBD includes all of Olde Towne, a historic neighborhood on Gaithersburg’s east side. The economic revitalization of Olde Towne has long been cited as a priority by city officials. 

Tom Lonergan, Gaithersburg’s economic development director, and Laura Howell of the city’s Planning and Code Administration discussed the proposed change to Chapter 24 of the Code.

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Gaithersburg Council Responds to Olde Towne Concerns

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Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s meeting at City Hall, Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council responded to public concerns about the economic condition of Olde Towne. The revitalization of this neighborhood on Gaithersburg’s east side, which includes City Hall, has long been cited as a priority by the city’s elected officials and staff.

During the public comment period, Monica Lozada, a resident of the Deer Park neighborhood, addressed Ashman and the Council.

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G-Burg authorizes Kelley Park negotiation

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Gaithersburg SealGAITHERSBURG — The Gaithersburg City Council voted unanimously to grant City Manager Tony Tomasello the authority to negotiate with Montgomery County Public Schools over the proposed construction of a new elementary school on Kelley Park.

On March 22, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the superintendent’s recommendation for the construction of a new elementary school on the grounds of Kelley Park, a city-owned property on the east side of Gaithersburg, which features a playground, walking trails, a tennis court, and baseball fields that are used in the summer by the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The school is intended to reduce overcrowding in the Gaithersburg cluster, where several of the elementary schools that serve city residents are operating well over capacity.

The vote and the prospect of the new school have been divisive issues in Gaithersburg. Some residents feel that the school would provide much-needed relief to the city’s elementary schools, whereas others have argued that the construction and operation of the school would deprive residents of a valued community gathering and recreational area, negatively impact property values, worsen traffic congestion as a result of parents picking up and dropping students off, and provide negligible relief to the schools.

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Gaithersburg residents discuss pros and cons of closing Kelley Park

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Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — On March 22, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the recommendation from the Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith to construct a new elementary school on the grounds of Kelley Park which abuts the Saybrooke neighborhood of Gaithersburg.

As the park is city-owned property, Mayor Jud Ashman and the Gaithersburg City Council will have to give final approval for the school construction.

The proposal has provoked mixed reactions from city residents. While some feel that the school would benefit the city and relieve overcrowding, others fear that it would deprive the surrounding neighborhoods of a valuable community space and negatively impact their quality of life.

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Immigrants plead case to Gaithersburg government

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Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — Several immigrants and their advocates came to City Hall Monday night to ask Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council to pass a “restoring community trust” ordinance to provide protection to immigrant communities and assuage their fears of interacting with government agencies.

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Gaithersburg Receives Legislative Update

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Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG With one-third of the state legislative session remaining, Gaithersburg officials were alarmed by the recently-introduced General Assembly bill to strip local governments of their authority to regulate placement of small cell towers. 

Monday night Legislative Affairs Manager Monica Marquina joined lobbyist Moira Moynihan to brief Mayor Jud Ashman and the rest of the City Council on legislative issues of concern to the City.

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G-Burg fathers take retreat to discuss city’s future goals

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Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — At Gaithersburg’s annual planning retreat, held Monday night at the Casey Community Center, the heads of various city departments presented Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council with their goals and strategies for the coming fiscal year.

Britta Monaco, director of the Communications and Public Relations Department, said her department would focus on new means, such as increased social media presence, to promote the city’s activities. But one of her department’s objectives – leveraging existing community groups such as homeowner associations, neighborhood watches and other groups as “Citizen Influencers” to promote city events – sparked some questions from the Council.

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