SPEAK OUT: Is Rockville Creating an ‘Enclave’ of Public Housing?

Mayor and councilman offer contrasting views of Rockville Housing Enterprises’ proposed purchase of the Fireside Park Apartments.


The Rockville City Council’s 3-2 vote last week to put city money toward Rockville Housing Enterprises’ proposed purchase of the Fireside Park Apartments creates a problem, Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said in an interview with Rockville Patch. 

The council had “such a drive to do this without all the risks really considered,” said Marcuccio, who joined Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton in voting against the deal. “One of the risks is to put all this public housing into an area—you’re going to have an enclave.”

The approval allows Rockville Housing Enterprises, which administers public housing in Rockville, to proceed with the $37.5 million purchase of the 236-unit garden-style Fireside Park Apartments at 735 Monroe St.

Supporters said it was a good deal with almost no risk or cost to the city, but Marcuccio disagreed.

“You don’t put this cluster of low-cost housing there without having problems,” she said.

She cited other affordable housing on or near Monroe Street, including, The Fields of Rockville, the under-construction Victory Court Apartments and other Housing Opportunities Commission-subsidized housing for seniors in Rockville Town Center.

“We have created a low-cost housing corridor on Monroe [Street],” Marcuccio said.

That stands in contrast to city planning principles regarding low-cost housing, she said. “It’s always been our desire in the city to make sure it’s spread around,” she said.

The approval of the deal with Rockville Housing Enterprises is “really an issue of making an area of the city low-cost housing,” Marcuccio said. “You don’t do that if you’re smart.”

Councilman Tom Moore took issue with the characterization of the council creating an "enclave."

“This deal doesn’t create anything,” Moore said. “This deal preserves what’s there.”

RHE is proposing that 60 percent of the complex’s units (142 units) be rented at the market rate. The remaining 40 percent of units would rent at rates affordable to families with incomes of about $64,500 or less—equal to 60 percent of the Area Median Income.

RHE Executive Director Ruth O’Sullivan has said that the proposed mix is roughly equal to what exists at Fireside Park now.

Residents who live near Fireside Park have testified that they like Fireside Park being there and that “they’re good neighbors,” Moore said.

He recalled the debate over Victory Court, which drew strong opposition from some neighbors of the project. That opposition died down once the council approved the project, Moore said.

“I think that’s what’s going to happen here as well,” he said.

SPEAK OUT: Is the city creating an “enclave” of low-cost public housing? Do you agree with the city's purchase of the Fireside Park Apartments? Tell us in the comments.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misquoted Councilman Tom Moore as saying residents who live near Fireside Park told the City Council that RHE is "good neighbors." The residents said residents of the apartments were "good neighbors," but "were less thrilled with the prospect of RHE arriving," Moore said in an email. Rockville Patch regrets the error.

Brigitta Mullican November 12, 2012 at 10:48 PM
To begin with: 1) capital gains tax, 2) payroll tax, 3) estate tax, 4) inheritance tax. Not sure where the Obama Health Care tax will show up. I am sure there will be State tax increases. Hope the links work for you. There is a lot of tax information on the Internet. Individual income tax rates will revert to 15, 25, 28, 36 and 39.6 percent. Capital gains and qualified dividends will be taxed at 20% for singles taxpayers with income over $200,000 ($250,000 for married filing jointly). The 3.8% and 0.9% additional Medicare taxes would apply as set forth above. "With President Obama’s PROPOSED Deficit Reduction Plan, the proposal reduces the tax benefit of itemized deductions and other tax preferences to 28%. The provision would apply to single taxpayers with income over $200,000 ($250,000 for married filing jointly). " 1. Capital Gains Tax http://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2012/01/24/capital-gains-taxes-are-going-up/ 2. Payroll Tax http://kenhoma.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/pssst-your-taxes-are-going-up-on-january-even-if-youre-not-a-millionaire-or-billionaire/ 3. Estate Tax http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2176757/Estate-tax-set-rise-55-2013.html 4. Inheritance tax Currently, the inheritance tax is 35 percent with a $5 million exemption per estate. On January 1, the rate jumps to 55 percent with a $1 million exemption. Of course, this is a tax I don't need to worry about since I don't have any wealth.
Piotr Gajewski November 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Brigitta, Thanks for the info, but I do know the talking points. If you are indeed making over $200,000 per year (congratulations!) I understand; yes, your taxes are going up. My taxes have gone DOWN substantially under Obama and while they may go up at some point, as best as I could tell, they would have gone up much more under Governor Romney’s proposal (the one he floated in the last debate limiting deductions to a capped amount).
Piotr Gajewski November 13, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I am happy to flatter you Mr. Slavin; you are a thoughtful commentator. Presently, I am sorry your approach to affordable housing is not working out. First Beall’s Grant goes down; now, the Fireside Park is moving forward – you seem to find yourself on the losing side no matter which way the wind is blowing. With respect to my view on Fireside – since leaving public office I am not longer down in the weeds on the issues, but I remain very interested in promoting affordable housing, and having served with Mark Pierzchala on the Council, I trust him as a financially conservative and thoughtful leader and defer to his judgment (as well as that of Mr. Moore and Mr. Hall) on the appropriateness of this deal at this time.
Temperance Blalock November 13, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I could go on at more length about this, but I'll just say here that I am very disappointed with the Mayor's condescending attitude about Rockville Housing Enterprise. What she should be doing is to work in collaboration with them, instead of sneering at them and implying that they're not competent enough to handle the responsibilities of this project.
Lydia D York July 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Judging by the Yelp reviews since they took over, they're not.


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