Wheaton Coalition Sets Sights on Fall Advocacy

Wheaton Coalition Sets Sights on Fall AdvocacyAwaiting the results of key jobs and parking loss impact studies, the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton is poised to continue its advocacy work this Fall on behalf of small business owners, renters, and day laborers in Wheaton.

In May, members of the Coalition delivered copies of the Small Business Pledge to Montgomery County Councilmembers in advance of their vote on the FY13 Capital Improvements Program Budget for the Wheaton redevelopment project. Council members unanimously voted in support of investing $66 million of public taxpayer money to jump start Phase 1 of the Wheaton redevelopment project, which includes relocating the headquarters of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission to Wheaton, a new town square, and underground parking.

Coalition small business leaders, including Filippo Leo, Raymond Rose, Luis Bonilla, and Kofi Sillah, met with Wheaton representative Councilmember Nancy Navarro to discuss outstanding issues important to small businesses, including maintaining accessibility of Triangle Lane during construction and adequately funding the Small Business Assistance Program. The Coalition also presented more than 100 petition signatures in support of the Small Business Pledge from May's Taste of Wheaton festival. The Coalition has collected more than 1,000 signatures in support of efforts to protect small businesses, create local job opportunities, preserve affordable housing, ensure quality community services, and a multicultural town square.

Kofi Sillah, owner of Wheaton small business Global Cafe African Grill, shared his enthusiasm for the Coalition’s work to activate new voices in the Wheaton community to become more involved in the significant decisions that affect his community. He reinforced his hope that the redevelopment project slated to begin in 2014 will ultimately benefit the existing community, including small businesses.

"I want to be able to say that I was there when all of this began," Sillah said.

Additional small business members’ priorities include an adequate transition plan for parking, a "Wheaton is Open for Business" marketing campaign during construction, and a request to review and advise regarding the proposed rules and regulations governing how small businesses will be able to access funds through the assistance program before final Council approval.