Will Apartments Overcrowd GMSD Schools?

Recently, the issue came up as to whether GMSD has adequately planned for growth in the event of a full build-out in the city of Germantown. Specifically, will new apartments overcrowd our schools?

Parents and the community members can rest assured that GMSD officials are continuously reviewing data and monitoring student enrollment. They have identified our district’s needs based on Germantown’s projected growth and expected demographic changes. Armed with this information, GMSD has implemented the necessary capital improvement plans to meet our needs as a growing district.

Take a look below for more specific information.

Q & A with Superintendent Manuel:

What’s the current enrollment at GMSD schools?

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What is the difference between programmatic and optimal capacities?

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What are the capacity issues for our schools?

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What is being done to alleviate K-5 overcrowding?

Check out this link to see GMSD’s newest school being built.

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Will all portables be removed in the near future from GMSD campuses?

“Yes. We will be removing all portables once the new school is built and school numbers will be able to accommodate optimal staffing.”

See the link from GMSD’s website

 

What space will be available for growth when the new elementary school opens? 

“You can see the total amount of space available once we open [the new elementary school]. Please look at the attached link below. It shows our forecasts for total build out in the city.”

See the link from GMSD

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In the event of a total city build-out, could GMSD still accommodate all students?

“Even if the city was completely built out. We would have capacity at k-5. See chart below.”

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What about middle school students, what are your plans for them?

“We do not have any capacity at the middle school level and need a wing and additional gym at Houston Middle school.”

 

These numbers are all based on a demography report, are you sure it is accurate?

“The demographer was very accurate in his forecasts for all schools. In the first year after his study, he projected within 5 students in the k-5 grade band. The second year after his study, we had 57 students less than projected because the district reduced the number of transfer students we accepted.”

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Looking for more info? Check out this link from GMSD.

Barzizza, Brown, & Sanders Supporter Violates GMSD Policies with Sign in the Carpool Line

Farmington Elementary School parents were no doubt surprised to see a campaign supporter of mayoral candidate John Barzizza, Aldermen candidates Jeff Brown and Scott Sanders in the Monday afternoon carpool line. As parents waited to pick up their children from school, they were met by a woman carrying a large yellow protest sign that read, “No More Apartments. Vote Barzizza, Brown, Sanders.”

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While there is a time and a place to voice your political opinion and support your choice of candidate, it just isn’t appropriate to trespass onto Farmington School property to protest apartments and campaign for John Barzizza, Jeff Brown, and Scott Sanders. We have to draw the line here. This type of political activity goes too far and threatens the very safety of our children.

Having someone wave a large sign in the carpool line distracts drivers at a time when they need to be watching out for children, not political signs. It disrupts the school campus and causes alarm especially in this world of school shootings where we are all very concerned about who has access to our children. No parent wants a disgruntled person to trespass onto their child’s school campus and protest a political issue or push a candidate’s campaign agenda. We never know when such things could draw other protesters, spiral out of control, or even become violent.

GMSD has implemented school policies to regulate campaign activities on school property. Candidates and their supporters are not allowed to bring any political sign onto school campuses except poll workers may hold signs on Election Day. And a candidate’s promotional materials are likewise prohibited from being placed on school premises. That means that candidates for Germantown Alderman may not place their campaign brochures on the cars parked at Houston High School during the season’s first home game or for that matter, any other school campus.

It’s sad to see out of control politics affecting the safety and well being of our schools. We hope GMSD resolves this issue soon and sends a strong message to political candidates that we will not tolerate such disruption to our children’s education.

Has the Public Safety Education Commission Gone to the Dogs?

This is a story about how the Germantown Public Safety Education Commission went from McGruff, the Crime Dog to Dean, the Watch Dog and almost became John & Jon, the Twin Attack Dogs….

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THE BACK STORY…

Several months ago, longtime Germantown resident, Al Gabriel came forward with some startling complaints about Alderman Massey, the BOA liaison for the Public Safety Education Commission. As a result, Gabriel, who served as Chair, sent a private request to the mayor and City administrator asking that Alderman Massey be removed.

The Commission is a group of 12 Germantown citizens who serve in an advisory capacity regarding public safety and health issues that affect our City. They provide educational and informational activities including the annual “Take Back Day” for prescriptions drugs, giving residents a safe way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

Gabriel, who has worked with a number of different Aldermen Liaisons over the past several years on the Commission, complained that Massey was using his position to spread political rhetoric and furthering an agenda that involved discrediting the Germantown Police Department as well as City officials. Specifically, Gabriel alleged that Massey insinuated that the police department was not accurately reporting crime statistics and that City officials were manipulating public information for their own benefit. Gabriel went on to say that Massey was demanding details about ongoing criminal investigations, claiming that the Commission ought to be overseeing how the police investigated crime.

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So, when Gabriel reported Massey’s conduct, he also requested that Massey be removed as the BOA liaison for the Commission. Massey responded by publicly posting a copy of Gabriel’s email onto his “Massey for Germantown” Facebook page (pictured above) along with this commentary:

The friction between Massey and the Commission continued to build until a month later, when Massey once again took to his Facebook Page to complain about the Commission. This time, he publicly accused its secretary, Denise Walls, of destroying official records. Walls, who recorded Commission meetings to assist her in writing the Minutes, deleted the recording from her personal device after she finished preparing the Minutes. Massey claimed this was done intentionally to hide the Commission’s activities from the public.  “Without a voice recording, it makes it impossible for the public to know what actually occurred during the meetings. The mayor’s supporters can say whatever they choose to say, manipulate the record and smear any elected officials they choose to smear.”

The problem with Massey’s contention is that commission meetings are open to everyone. Nothing is done in secret, it’s all open to the public. And anyone can record it. Anyone. You can. I can. Massey can. We all can. Alderman Massey and his supporters know that they can attend and record Commission meetings. They know it and they do it.

But the crux of the problem is that Alderman Massey has no control over what goes into the Minutes. He is not an actual member of the Commission so, he has no say in the Minutes, no vote on any of the business of the Commission. His role is to observe the meetings and report back to the BOA on the work of the Commission. And that’s it.

And that was made clear in Al Gabriel’s resignation letter. “The past few meetings have been nothing more than a series of arguments leading to, what I consider to be, a dysfunctional commission. Mr. Massey is not a voting member of the commission, yet he has continued to argue his way through our meetings.”

Discontent with his limited role on the Commission, Alderman Massey butted heads with the Chair and in a predictable manner, brought politics into the situation, calling the Chair, a “mayor’s supporter.” He calls everyone he doesn’t like a “mayor’s supporter” whether they support the mayor or not. Then, as usual, he launches into a tirade of accusals. So many people, from the police department to city officials to commission member, are all accused of some nefarious wrongdoing by Massey.

And the accusations are unending….

Just recently, Alderman Massey took to Facebook to accuse somebody of throwing a black substance onto the rear bumper of his car. Looking at the picture he posted, it seems like he might have just driven through some fresh tar, probably the result of recent street paving on Poplar. But oh no, he insists that someone did this to him, someone splattered his car and his driveway with a black substance.

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Who would do such a dastardly deed?

Why, of course, it has to be the “mayor’s supporters.” Actually, he says, “I can’t prove that this was a malicious act, but since the mayor’s supporters have recently engaged in so many other intimidation tactics, I wouldn’t put it past them. They will only get more aggressive and unstable as we get closer to the election. It’s very sad. Some of the mayor’s operatives are driving around and harassing people….”

There’s more and you can read his post in its entirety below.

Massey’s pointing of an accusatory finger towards “mayor’s supporters” lead one lady to comment, “I dare them to come to my house and try to intimidate me and my family.”

And just like that….

Everyone with an “I like Mike” magnet on their car is a black substance slinging, yard sign stealing, blankety blank…. Public Enemy Number One.

THE CURRENT MESS…

After the resignation of both the chair and the secretary, the Public Safety Education Commission was faced with two vacancies and a pending motion to remove Alderman Massey as the BOA Liaison.

At last Monday’s BOA meeting, Massey recommended John Peyton and Jon Riley to fill the two openings. Interestingly, these two candidates had not submitted applications back when the City initially sought citizens to serve on the Commission. Instead, they applied for the positions after the current vacancies arose and Alderman Massey “picked” them.

So, why did Massey pick Peyton and Riley?

Well, I can say from writing past blogs critical of Massey that these two are extremely defensive of him and will attack anyone who says anything negative about him. I never had a problem with either one of them except when it came to Alderman Massey. They have assumed the role of being Massey’s attack dogs who protect him from any form of criticism. And, their attacks are personal, ugly, untrue, and posted on various social media platforms.

So… Someone dropped the dime on them.

Comments made by these two applicants on social media were apparently copied and sent to the Mayor and Board of Alderman in what seems to have been an anonymous manner. I don’t know. The mayor and BOA may know the identity of who sent the screen shots and are choosing not to disclose the name. Or maybe, it was done anonymously. I really don’t know.

But I do know that some are speculating over whether it was me who told on them. It wasn’t. I did not send anything to the Mayor and Board of Alderman. And neither did anyone in my family, nor did I direct anyone to send anything to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. I have no problems confronting people directly and demanding an apology for comments made about me. As far as I am concerned, I received an apology, which I accepted, and bygones are bygones.

The Board of Alderman, however, has a greater responsibility. It is their job to see to it that the each of the City’s commissions operates with integrity. When the chair of the Public Safety Education Commission requested a change in liaisons, that matter went before the Commission for a vote. The Commission decided it needed a cooling period and tabled that heated decision until the end of the year.

When deciding who will fill the vacancies on the Commission, it is imperative that BOA does more than rubber stamp Massey’s picks. They must consider the current climate of the Commission and wisely choose candidates who will protect the integrity of the Commission and its work.

In the decision not to approve the applications of John Peyton and Jon Riley, Forrest Owens was the most out-spoken of those Aldermen voting against the appointments. He first asked Alderman Massey if he would like more time to consider his recommendations in light of the information that had been provided to the Board. He also asked if Alderman Massey might like to have any other applicants considered for those openings. Massey refused.

Owens, omitting a detailed description, then described comments made on social media as “derogatory.” He questioned whether such behavior by the candidates would be conducive to them serving on a Commission. He expressed concerns over a commission already in disarray being subjected to further controversies.

Barzizza, who voted in favor of both applicants, dismissed the derogatory remarks, saying, “it goes both ways.” “Both sides made disparaging remarks.”

“Sides,” huh?

Alderman Barzizza went on to say that a political race was underway and everyone needed to settle down and be kind. He mentioned yard signs appearing and disappearing. And he persistently kept calling for people to settle down. Settle down. Settle down.

Click here to see the full video of 8-13-18 BOA Meeting

The Aftermath…

Well, Alderman Barzizza, you should know that you can’t divide a city into sides and expect people to settle down, settle down just because you say so. We can already see the sides lining up after the BOA rejected the applications of Peyton and Riley.

A witch hunt has ensued….

Divorce papers are being posted. Emails are being copied. A search is on for every social media comment ever made. Your “side” is so angry about the rejection of the two appointments that they are on a mission for retaliation. And that’s the very reason that Peyton and Riley’s applications were denied.

The decision to deny their applications was not about someone saying a bad word on social media or even being rude. It was about retaliation. Your fellow aldermen had to do what you lacked the political courage to do. They had to protect the citizens who serve on Public Safety Education Commission and that Commission’s integrity from the fringe element in this City that will ruthlessly attack anyone and everyone who dares to question or criticize Dean Massey.

Leadership Germantown Under Attack by Alderman Massey

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At a recent, Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meeting, an item appeared on the agenda to authorize a budgeted grant to Leadership Germantown (LG) in the amount of $13,600.

Leadership Germantown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1996 by the Germantown Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the City of Germantown. It is composed of an 18 member board that operates an annual six month leadership training program “designed to develop well-informed, effective leaders in our community.” The City budgets money for an LG grant every year; although, the amount may vary from year to year.

As usual, the grant was approved again this year.

But….

After he lost the vote…

After every other Alderman voted against him…

After, the meeting had ended…

Alderman Massey took to Facebook to post inflammatory allegations against Leadership Germantown:

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While I can appreciate someone having a different point of view than me, I don’t appreciate someone twisting the facts. So, let’s set the record straight.

Leadership Germantown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operated by an 18 member volunteer board that produces a six month leadership training program that focuses on the City of Germantown. The organization is funded by fundraising, donations, a City grant, and a one-time tuition payment from participants.

Leadership Germantown Alumni Association (LGAA) is a different nonprofit group. It is separate and independent from Leadership Germantown despite the similarities in name. LGAA is an autonomous organization operated by a four member volunteer board that is completely self-sustaining through donations and membership dues. Unlike, Leadership Germantown, LGAA is a membership based organization with annual dues. It does NOT receive City funding.

Alderman Massey has continuously confused Leadership Germantown with Leadership Germantown Alumni Association in an effort to mislead the public into thinking that LG members should finance the work of their organization through membership dues.

But let’s be clear…

Leadership Germantown is a training program run by a volunteer board. It is not a club nor an organization that can be joined. It does not have members. It does not have membership dues. So, Alderman Massey’s repeated references to the “members” or its “membership” is misleading.

And since, there are no members; no memberships; no annual dues then, Alderman Massey’s proposal that Leadership Germantown should finance its leadership program through a $2.52 increase in membership dues simply doesn’t work.

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I know, you want to give him benefit of the doubt because after all, the two organizations can be easily confused.

But during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Natalie Williams introduced herself as the current president of Leadership Germantown Alumni Association. She specifically told the Aldermen that LGAA was a separate organization from Leadership Germantown. She clarified that LGAA received NO City funding. She also said she would be happy to answer any questions about the Alumni Association.

We know Alderman Massey was in the room and present during Ms. Williams’ remarks. We also know that he thought enough of the citizen remarks to make note of them in his FaceBook post. He even listed the time on the video in which they began because he wanted you to hear them too.

We also know that he has been repeatedly corrected on Facebook. Yet, Alderman Massey continues to argue that the two organizations are the same, taunting people who dare to correct him with inflammatory comments.

Take a look:

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But the truth is… Leadership Germantown is not the same as Leadership Germantown Alumni Association.

Think of Leadership Germantown as a school. Not everyone who graduates from Leadership Germantown joins the LG Alumni Association, just like not everyone who graduates from college joins their college alumni association. It’s a voluntary club and it’s up to the graduates to decide whether or not they want to become dues-paying members.

While an alumni association can certainly help support its school. We all know that it can not raise enough money to fully fund the educational programs. That’s why the City’s help with Leadership Germantown is so important. It goes to offset the program costs. And this keeps tuition affordable.

As a stay-at-home mom at the time, I appreciated the affordable tuition and the half scholarship that I received. If tuition goes up or scholarships decline, I worry that many qualified candidates will not be able to afford the program. And despite Alderman Massey’s assurances that LG participants are all well-to-do, rich people—I am here to tell you, that it is not the case.

In his post, Alderman Massey is quick to dismiss the good works of LG and the benefits it provides our community. But any good business person will tell you that you have to look at ROI when investing your resources. And the LG ROI is a tremendous benefit for our City.

My LG Class of 2016 rescued the beloved Saddle Creek fountain. As a side note, you should know that the fountain was not City property and was not located on public land. So, when its owner disposed of it, the City bought it for $1 and put it in storage. And that is where my LG Class found it, broken from the removal process and in disrepair. Our class, using the training we received from LG, was able to work together to raise the money and provide the resources necessary to restore and relocate the fountain onto City property adjacent to the Pickering Center. We also donated over $21,000 to the eight public schools located within the City of Germantown.

Pretty good ROI for a $13,600 investment, huh?

Oh, but there is more….

LG graduates leave the program with a new leadership skill set that will benefit the businesses, the charities, the service organizations, and the administration of our City. After being exposed to the many facets of the City, we are definitely encouraged to plug into our community and find a way to serve Germantown.

But instead of appreciating citizens for giving their time and talent for the betterment of our community, Alderman Massey casts aspersions on them. During the recent Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Alderman Massey made wild accusations of political self-dealing and cronyism in response to the citizens who came forward in support of the grant to LG.

Alderman Massey took to Facebook to reprise his inflammatory allegations and insults. He accuses LG supporters of being part of a “hijacked” organization that operates as “a good ole boy club.” And while he tries to make the case that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen favors LG alums, this just does not hold up as true. When a vacancy occurred on the Germantown School Board, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed over several LG alums to select someone who has never been through the program.

He further attempts to substantiate his claims against LG with “evidentiary exhibits.” Photo copies of various communications and a copy of the City Commission application referencing LG were posted on his page as “evidence.”

One letter is from Mayor Mike Palazzolo asking LG Alumni Association members to renew their membership and pay their annual dues as well as make a donation to LGAA. Remember LGAA is not the same thing as Leadership Germantown. And LGAA does NOT receive any City funds. Essentially, the mayor is doing what Alderman Massey condones in his opening paragraph on our Country’s founders. The mayor is asking members of a private organization to fund the organization through dues and donations.

Isn’t that what Alderman Massey wants them to do? Fund their own organization?

Well, not exactly. Alderman Massey wants LGAA members to fund their organization AND Leadership Germantown too. Anyone who has a different opinion is called out by name on his Facebook page with taunting comments.

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Another piece of “evidence” cited by Alderman Massey is an email from Laurie Whitney, Chairman for the Leadership Germantown Board of Directors. It essentially explains to the Aldermen the purpose of Leadership Germantown, its history, and benefits to the City. I have no idea why he posted this on FaceBook but it does show that he is aware that Ms. Whitney is the head of Leadership Germantown. That bit of info will be pertinent when reading the next paragraph.

Among Alderman Massey’s most inflammatory allegation are his suppositions that Leadership Germantown is engaging in political cronyism. To prove the allegations, he produces a two year old email from Rick Bennett. He incorrectly identifies Mr. Bennett in his Facebook post as being the president of Leadership Germantown. We know that is not true because we know from the “exhibit” described above that Laurie Whitney is the head of Leadership Germantown.

So, who is Rick Bennett and why is his email on FaceBook?

Rick Bennett is the former LGAA president who sent an email to his “friends” two years ago telling them his picks for Aldermen in the 2016 election. He liked Rocky Janda and Dave Klevan, Alderman Massey’s opponent in the race.

It’s important to note that the email did not mention Leadership Germantown or Leadership Germantown Alumni Association at all. It is just signed “Rick Bennett” and there is no indication that it was sent out to LGAA members. Of course, it would be wrong to use a 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s resources to benefit someone running for office as we all know from when the Germantown Football League sent out a letter endorsing Nischwitz for Alderman. But unlike the GFL letter, Mr. Bennett’s email has no letterhead, does not mention any organization, and is addressed only to his friends.

It seems a little disconcerting and a chill to free speech for a sitting alderman to post a two year old email from a citizen that supported his opponent in the last election. Then, use that email as justification to vote against funding for an organization that provided leadership training to that citizen years ago.

But even more disturbing is knowing the vote has already been cast yet the railing continues on Facebook.

Has this become personal?

It would appear so. Much of the criticism of LG centers around people who Alderman Massey perceives as not supporting him or those who are criticizing him. After bragging about beating an LG alum in the 2016 election, Alderman Massey laments about how he was “condemned,” “ridiculed,” and “judged as unworthy” for public office because he did not participate in Leadership Germantown. But he never tells us just who exactly made those strong statements or why that would matter in a vote on an LG grant.

We know from experience that if you get on Alderman Massey’s bad side, he will block you on FaceBook. We know he talks about people on FaceBook who he has blocked leaving them unable to respond or defend themselves.

Now, we know that if you didn’t support his election campaign, he will broadcast that on his FaceBook page and use it to justify a vote against an organization he has wrongfully confused as your organization.

And if you try to speak up for an organization he doesn’t like or try to correct his misleading statements, he will attack, taunt, embarrass and insult you in a public forum.

Germantown Road Realignment Project

FaceBook is not always the best way to participate in a political discussion especially if you are blocked by a current Alderman who has disenfranchised you from the conversation. So, I am joining with others to provide a place for all citizens of Germantown to share our point of view on the issues facing our City.

Welcome to our first blog.

I’m Terri Harris and my claim to fame is two kids who lead me down the road of parental advocacy. Along the way, I learned that there are at least two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth. And your truth may not be my truth. But a greater understanding of other people’s perspectives leads to better advocacy.

If you are like me, you are struggling to understand the planning process that is the backdrop to the much talked about issue of the Germantown Road Realignment Project. The City says the project is dead but some citizens are claiming that’s not true because the project is still listed in the Memphis MPO 2040 Livability Regional Transportation Plan. These citizens want the Plan redacted to remove the Germantown Road Realignment project. But who has the authority to make such changes to the plan?

I decided to find out.

Not being an expert on planning stuff, I started with the mayor of Memphis because it says Memphis MPO.

5EDE1F1E-EFCD-475A-B6D0-D321A7B2DEDD[The above paragraph had to be deleted from the original blog because apparently repeating what was said to you in a popular Germantown Facebook group can get you removed from the group. Since there’s already been enough blocking and excluding people, I’m just going to redact the blog to appease the administrator in charge of that Facebook group so I won’t get kicked out. Which means I can’t tell you what was posted on Facebook but I can tell you that I have it on good authority, the Memphis MPO is not run by the City of Memphis.]

Armed with that piece of information, I continued my search to find the one with the power to redact the 2040 Livability Plan.

I reached out to Ms. Pragati Srivastava from the Memphis MPO. Ms. Srivastava confirmed that projects submitted to the Memphis MPO for inclusion in the 2040 Livability Plan come from the jurisdiction responsible for the project and that jurisdiction is the definitive source of information about the project.

That means the City of Germantown is the definitive source of information for the Germantown Road Realignment Project. So, when I asked about the project, Ms. Srivastava directed me to the City of Germantown for the most up-to-date project information.

According to the City, the Germantown Road Realignment Project is dead. A public statement to that effect was recently issued by the City of Germantown and I have included the link so you can read for yourself. Ms. Srivastava confirmed in the City’s statement that the project has been withdrawn from any plans for funding requests. 

But even though the City’s statement has made the rounds on Facebook, there are those who are still disbelieving. Rather than read all the arguing about it on Facebook, one of my fellow “blockees,” Audrey Grossman, decided to take matters into her own hands by contacting Kate Horton, a Transportation Planner at Memphis MPO whose job duties with the Transportation Improvement Program include Public Involvement and Social Media.

Ms. Horton explained that items appearing in long-range plans are not happening until they have made their way to short-range plans. In the case of the Germantown Road Realignment Project, Ms. Horton stated that this project is no longer included in any short-range plans and it lacks the federal funding necessary to move forward.

For some, most notably Ken Hoover, Pauline Lathram, and a few other vocal citizens on Facebook, the issue remains as to why the project is still listed on page 177, item 66 on the 2040 Livability Regional Transportation Plan. They suspect that by remaining on the list of long term planning items, the Project could be brought up at a future date. To nix any possibility of this project, they are insisting the 2040 Livability Plan be redacted.

So, I asked Ms. Srivastava about the possibility of redaction. She said that the Memphis MPO is currently in the initial stages of development for the 2050 Livability RTP. This new plan will have the most up-to-date information on Germantown projects.

For those TRULY concerned about the Germantown Road realignment project, my best advice to you is to be proactive, not reactive. By this, I mean, watch the formation of the 2050 plan like a hawk and be ready to oppose the road realignment if you see any indication of its revival. But don’t waste your time, trying to redact an old plan that is on its way out the door.

Be an advocate on the issues and focus on actions that matter. We all know that even if every copy of the 2040 Livability RTP could be located so big bold strike-outs could be made to item 66; there would still be those who would not be satisfied and would demand further meaningless actions.