King Farm Task Force Seeks Community Support to Oppose Major Impacts
By Kate Gould, King Farm Community Garden President
The City of Rockville Mayor and Council plan to discuss possible future uses of the King Farm Farmstead on July 18, which may have a significant impact on the future look, feel, and activity within our community.
The King Farm Community Garden, located on the historic Farmstead Park, has formed a Task Force to save the Farmstead and Garden, and hopes to work with the Mayor and Council to find uses for the site that will not change the essential nature of the Farmstead and historic district.
The city commissioned a report to identify future uses of the site which could generate money to pay for rehabilitating and maintaining the farm buildings. (A copy of the report can be found on page 36 of the 4/4/22 meeting agenda – via this link – https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_04042022-6553). The report focused on revenue-generating uses for the Farmstead. The Task Force is concerned that commercial uses would fundamentally change the ability of Rockville citizens to enjoy the Farmstead for recreation. The park is King Farm’s only permanently designated park, as Mattie Stepanek and King Farm parks are designated as possible future school sites.
According to the report, most revenue generating uses would require an additional parking lot to be built. An additional parking lot is suggested for the green space between the Dairy Barns and Grand Champion Drive. This could require relocation of the current community garden away from the Farmstead. Forty household units representing the diverse population of Rockville and King Farm are gardening at the Farmstead, raising vegetables and flowers. Over the years many pounds of food have been donated to Manna and shared with the community by the garden. Relocating the garden would mean starting over again, removing rocks and working over the years to condition the soil.
The Task Force has pointed out that the King Farm Village Center commercial district is underutilized, and questions the prospects for an additional commercial ventures in the community. The task force supports recreational use of the buildings. The report (page 22) states “Recent changes in Montgomery County Public School policies limit the City’s ability to lease space in school buildings, resulting in unmet needs. Shifting some of these programs to the King Farm Farmstead property could provide a community benefit for King Farm and other city residents.” According to the report, (page 31) “The City’s current recreation programming for indoor fitness classes, including exercise yoga and dance, recover 70 to 100% of program costs and often pay a reasonable rent to MCPS. Shifting some of the City’s Recreation and Parks programs to the Farmstead could reduce the need to develop alternative space for those programs.”
The Task Force recognizes the significant budget to bring the buildings into usable condition but has said it is willing to work with the city to support finding those monies. The report points out that once the buildings are brought up to code, the cost of maintaining buildings that are in use is much lower.
For FY 2023 the city budgeted to bring water, sewer, and electricity to the Farmstead buildings. Additionally, the city negotiated with the developer, EYA (who will build a new community north of the site), to construct 47 parking spots. The purpose, according to the city, of making these improvements is to make the site more attractive to potential uses. The 47 parking spots currently in the planning phase would not be sufficient for some of the revenue-generating uses identified in the report. The Farmstead is a short walk from the Mattie Stepanek parking lot, which is believed to be underutilized.
We are seeking the community’s help to encourage the Rockville Mayor and Council to find uses that will not change the essential nature of the Farmstead and Community Garden and oppose commercial uses of the site and the creation of additional parking lots.
To participate in the Mayor and City Council hearing on Monday, July 18th, go to the agenda center at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/agendacenter and look for the July 18th meeting agenda which should be posted around July 11th. There are three ways to participate in this discussion:
- You can testify at the hearing in person or by phone. To speak, call the City Clerk’s Office at 240-314-8280 by 10 AM July 18.
- You can submit a written testimony. Written testimony can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To write to the Mayor and City Council outside of the public testimony with your thoughts, send an email to: email@example.com.
For more information on the King Farm Community Garden Task Force, contact Task Force Chair, Pat Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the King Farm Community Garden President, Kate Gould (email@example.com).