Daily Journal (June 21, 2012): Child Care, Green Fleet, Glenstone

I met with Michelle Green, the new Executive Director of the Montgomery Child Care Association. Like many families in Montgomery County, my wife and I struggle with finding quality and affordable care for our children near our home. We’ve been wait-listed at numerous facilities and we spend a huge share of our income – more than our mortgage by far – on child care. I think a lot about how families struggle with this challenge and if there are problems that the county government can solve that would boost the availability of quality affordable care.

This is why I was especially excited to meet with the Montgomery Child Care Association today. Montgomery Child Care Association has 14 locations throughout the County and they look at the child’s needs without letting finances be a barrier to accessing their services. They supplement vouchers, including the County’s Working Parents Assistance program, provide an emergency family fund, and also provide summer care.

In addition to their services, we also talked about the demands for affordable child care, licensing versus accreditation, and coming up with measurable criteria for determining quality child care services. I’m interested to hear from child care providers about their needs and am also curious to hear from other families about their experiences with finding quality child care in their neighborhoods. I think we can do more to make facilities available where providers can locate and I am looking into that issue.

In the afternoon I had a T&E Committee meeting on the county’s use of alternative fuels for its vehicle fleet. We are working to find the optimal and affordable approach to managing our vehicles and fuel that will reduce our emissions. Our county has long been a leader in this area. We also asked our excellent Department of General Services to present some ideas about how we could use our fleet management services to leverage economic development (for example, electric vehicle charging stations located in commercial districts?) and to explore how to collect better data about the fleet in order to inform our management decisions.

Next I met with Mitchell Rales along with his brother Joshua Rales and their lawyer Barbara Sears, about a museum that Mitchell and his wife are building in Potomac, called Glenstone. Mr. Rales has purchased over 100 acres of land and removed this land from residential development, instead building a word class art, architecture and landscape museum. They’ve opened the museum to the public, receiving over 10,000 visitors so far (if you have not visited, plan a few hours for a visit and you’ll never forget the experience).

The Glenstone Foundation is proposing to expand the museum using best practices for environmental management, saving trees and reducing runoff significantly from the residential development levels that would have otherwise occurred on the land (60 homes and septic systems, for example). Their “impervious” level is very low, about 15%, which basically means that only 15% of the property would generate stormwater run-off. This is much lower than residential uses and it would set a tough benchmark for institutional uses to meet.

Finally, we heard from residents at a public hearing on Glenstones’ request for plumbing.