All development, improvement, and maintenance are governed by the Capital Improvements Program (CIP). The CIP is prepared every two years to cover a six-year cycle. The CIP includes new or renovation projects costing over $30,000 with a useful life greater than 15 years. It also includes smaller planned lifecycle asset replacement (PLAR) projects that increase the life of assets.
The most recent CIP for fiscal years 21-25 was approved by the Montgomery County Council on May 21, 2020. The County’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) maintains information about prior CIPs on their website, where you can explore OMB’s interactive Open Budget publications.
Projects considered for inclusion in the CIP evolve from various sources, including but not limited to:
- Variety of plans and studies, e.g. master plans, functional plans, needs plans (Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan [LPPRP] )
- Approved facility plans
- Citizen requests at public forums, letters, etc.
- Planning Board directives
- County Council directives
- CIP requests submitted via an intra-departmental on-line CIP Request Form
- Land acquisitions and developer park donations
There are two major types of capital development projects in the CIP: (1) Stand-Alone Projects and (2) Level-of-Effort Projects.
Projects which have completed and approved facility plans
- Include large park renovations or construction of new parks
- Budget and appropriation are required to be approved by County Council once created
- More than likely have operating budget impact
- Closeout once appropriation has been spent and the project is complete
Example: Development of Greenbriar Local Park
Smaller projects that do not require extensive planning and design. Projects are reviewed each fiscal year and re-prioritized as necessary
- Include mostly infrastructure maintenance projects
- Generally, less than $300,000
- Supported by a consistent annual funding level
- Less likely to have an operating budget impact
- Stay active indefinitely
Example: Planned Lifecycle Asset Replacement of Playground Equipment
Other examples of Level-of-Effort projects include:
- Ballfield Initiatives: ballfield lighting, and reconfiguration and upgrades of existing fields.
- Minor New Construction: a variety of new park amenities, such as new picnic shelters, dog parks, stormwater management, and drainage upgrades, parking lot expansions, retaining walls, and sewer improvements.
- PLAR (Planned Lifecycle Asset Replacement): improvements to various existing park amenities such as playgrounds and tennis courts.
- Pollution Prevention and Repairs to Ponds and Lakes: continuing efforts to update and maintain our existing facilities to meet today’s environmental standards.
- Restoration of Historic Structures: the repair, stabilization, and renovation of some of the important historical structures and sites that are located in the parkland.
- Resurfacing Parking Lots and Paths: the lifecycle renovation of parking lots, entrance roads, and paved walkways.
- Trails: Hard & Natural Surface: Design & Construction: design and construction of new trails and extensions or connectors to existing trails, trail amenities, signage, and renovations along existing trails.
The purpose of a facility plan is to produce a well-reasoned project cost estimate and takes the project through 30% design as required by County Council. Also known as “preliminary design,” a facility plan often includes a program of requirements (POR), engineering and environmental studies, feasibility studies, concept plans, and park management plans topographic surveys, traffic studies, conceptual site plans, schematic drawings, cost estimates, and most of all…public input.
The CIP also includes funding for the acquisition of land for purposes of park development and conservation of open space. The following is a list of the different types of acquisitions as they are captured in the CIP:
- Acquisition: Local Parks: Acquisition of land to develop urban, local, and neighborhood parks
- Acquisition: Non-Local Parks: Acquisition of land to develop regional, recreational, stream valley, conservation, and special parks
- Bethesda Park Impact Payment: A capital project that receives funds from development for new facilities and new parks within the Bethesda Downtown Plan boundary
- Legacy Open Space: Acquisition of land of countywide significance that may be of exceptional natural or cultural value
- Legacy Urban Space: Acquisition of valuable open space in the county’s most densely populated areas with a methodology for more equitably linking parks to populations in urban areas
- ALARF (Advance Land Acquisition Revolving Fund): Revolving acquisition fund used to acquire rights-of-way and other property needed for future public projects
- Park and Planning General Obligation Bonds
- County General Obligation Bonds
- State Bond Bills, Grants, and Loans
- Program Open Space
- Contributions and Donations
- Federal Grants
- Enterprise Funds
- Current Revenue
Factors to Consider
CIP Projects are prioritized based on several factors, including:
- Planning Board criteria, including safety and environmental factors
- Infrastructure Condition Assessment Study priorities
- Facility planning evaluation matrices
- Priorities assigned by field staff
- Priorities assigned by a CIP evaluation committee, consisting of senior management
- Public needs
- New projects versus renovation projects
CIP capacity is limited by the following:
- Fiscal Capacity
- Available funding sources
- Spending Affordability Guidelines (SAG)
- Local Projects – SAG limits on Park and Planning Bonds
- Non-Local Projects – All Montgomery County agencies compete for the same funding and SAG
- Balancing a growing backlog of projects with new priorities and needs
- County Executive’s Readiness Criteria
- Implementation capability (limited resources, including staff)
- Operating budget impact (OBI)
Once the preferred plan and cost estimate are approved by the Department, Planning Board or Montgomery County Council, as applicable, a detailed set of construction drawings and specifications are developed. The drawings and specifications outline all materials and processes necessary for construction. This phase includes:
- All construction permits are applied for and obtained from the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) in Rockville.
- Permits include, but are not limited to building permits, stormwater/sediment control permits, grading permits, electrical permits, etc.
- The construction project is then publicly advertised and bid on by private contractors.
- Some smaller projects are completed by M-NCPPC’s Facility Management Department.
It can take several years to complete a new park, park facility, or a major renovation. The length of time needed for preliminary design through construction varies by project. It depends on the project’s scale, the complexity, and also on available funding. If funding is not available at the time of the approval of the plan, the Montgomery County Council will set the schedule and the funding at a later date.
Once construction is complete, we can prepare the site for use by the public.
There are several opportunities for the public to participate in the CIP process:
- Montgomery County Planning Board (MCPB) and Recreation Advisory Boards Joint CIP Public Forum (Spring of odd years)
- Council CIP Public Hearings (February each year)
- Public hearings for master plans and facility plans, and other MCPB hearings
- Letters to MCPB, County Council, Park, and Planning staff
On the Horizon: the Next CIP
The Planning Board approved the FY21-26 CIP in October 2019 and submitted it to the County Executive and County Council on November 1, 2019. The Parks Department began this effort in December of 2018 which involved a lot of engagement with Department staff, the public, and several strategies and work sessions with the Planning Board.
What has been going on already?
Department work includes:
- Staff submission of project ideas in the Department’s Enterprise Asset Management System
- Public Feedback
- CIP Forum, June 13, 2019
- Online Open Town Hall, May/June 2019
- Citizen Advisory Board (CAB) forums, April-May 2019
- Summary (see p.5)
- Meetings of the Department’s CIP Evaluation Committee (April-June 2019) – Department directors and division chiefs review new capital project submissions and discuss where they fit in the priorities of existing projects and the Planning Board’s CIP strategy.
- Planning Board Work Sessions
- Strategy Session #1, April 4, 2019 – Staff report – Watch
- Strategy Session #2, July 25, 2019 – Staff report – Watch
- Work Session #1, September 5, 2019 – Staff report – Watch
- Work Session #2, September 12, 2019 – Staff report – Watch
- Adoption Session, October 3, 2019 – Staff report – Watch
- Submission of the Department’s FY21-26 CIP to the County Executive and County Council, November 1, 2019 via the County’s BASIS system.
- County Executive review of the CIP and transmittal to the County Council with some recommended changes
- County Council approval of the FY21 Capital Budget and FY21-26 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), Resolution 19-466, May 21, 2020. This includes revised Project Description Forms for several projects submitted by the Department on November 1, 2020.
What’s coming up?
On June 15, 2020 the County Executive informed the Planning Board Chair that he would be recommending a revised spending plan for fiscal year 2021 and requested that M-NCPPC participate. On the Capital Budget side, he has requested that M-NCPPC reduce the FY21 Capital Budget by $628,000 (funding sources: either GO Bonds or Current Revenue). This is in addition to a requested reduction to the FY21 Operating Budget of 6%.
Commission staff reviewed the FY21 Budget and potential spending reductions with the Planning Board in Roundtable Discussions on July 2, 2020 and July 9, 2020 for the Planning Department, Parks Department, and Central Administrative Services. Staff transmitted the FY21 Savings Plan to the County Council on July 9, 2020.
The County Council will also begin reviewing the FY21 Revised Spending Plan Plan in its Planning Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee On July 15, 2020, “FY21 Budget Savings Plan – M-NCPPC.”