Progress Place Neighborhood Coalition, our first public update
Tracy Vandenbroek, ESSCA Corresponding Secretary
November 3, 2018
A cross-organizational group has come together to humanely tackle issues in and around Progress Place. This group have been convening at least monthly since Spring 2018 and consists of leaders throughout the Downtown Silver Spring community, including Shepard’s Table, Interfaith Works, ESSCA, Montgomery Preservation (B&O), South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association, Silver Spring Urban District (Red Shirts) and Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Congress with advice from Montgomery County Police, Liquor Commission and Civil Servants.
Doreen Cantor Paster, ESSCA member and Shepard’s Table Board member, responded to an ESSCA Facebook post regarding an increase in assaults near Progress Place and under the CSX Georgia Ave bridge. Doreen got the initial collective together and has led the group to work on a lot of issues, but ultimately, it’s about safety for those that live in the area, partake in Progress Place’s services, work at Progress Place, and businesses in the DTSS area.
We understand that this is a slow-moving massive project but have made some positive headway.
October 11th, the group plus a dozen affected businesses sent a letter to our Montgomery County representatives to request supplemental budget for 24/7 security inside and outside of Progress Place. Currently there is only security detail at dinner time; as a result, employees and participants are unsafe at times. You can find the letter here. Unfortunately, we have heard very little response from our County representatives.
CSX has agreed to update the lighting under the Georgia Ave bridge. These should be updated with brighter lights by end of November.
Other items we’ll be tackling: public bathroom enhancements and maps, if appropriate security and security cameras are placed around the facility, we’ll be requesting that a designated safe smoking area is placed between the building and train tracks, we will be canvassing local beer and wine stores to request they stop selling single cans of beer, stop giving store credit and not allow folks to work for beer. Obviously, there are larger issues such as affordable housing and mental healthcare that we’d love to wrap our combined brains around, but primarily we want everyone to be safe.