Increased Trail Traffic at Local Parks

As businesses temporarily close and teleworking increases, many residents are naturally spending less time outside their homes. In an effort to redress their daily schedules, many are visiting local parks to utilize trails and public outdoor areas. Local agencies are encouraging park visitors to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes maintaining safe distances from other visitors, refraining from participating in team sports, avoiding touching surfaces like playground equipment, and staying…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Parks & Recreation

This post summarizes the status of various parks and recreation bills that MACo took a position on during the 2020 Regular Session. County government parks and recreation department provide a range of public recreation programs for all segments of the population and maintain a large network of open spaces throughout Maryland. MACo’s advocacy seeks to support the efforts of county parks and recreation, by urging state and federal funding support and defending local determination of…

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Counties Oppose State Mandated Synthetic Turf Restrictions

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified with a panel of county Parks & Recreations representatives before the House Appropriations Committee to oppose HB 1098 - Use of Public Funds – Playground and Athletic Field Surfaces – Authorizations, Preferences, and Prohibitions (Safe and Healthy Fields Act). This bill would impose an unnecessary restriction on the use of state funds, including Program Open Space (POS) monies, for the installation of synthetic or artificial turf playing fields and…

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MACo Supports Expansion of Community Parks and Playgrounds Program

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified on February 21, 2020 to support HB 203 (CF SB 614) - Community Parks and Playgrounds Program - Baltimore County and Howard County - Expansion. The bill would allow Baltimore and Howard Counties to receive grants from the community parks and playgrounds fund, which are generally reserved for municipalities. Neither county has municipalities within their boundaries, leaving a large section of Maryland without access to these funds. From the…

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Howard County Adopts Updated WalkHoward Plan

Howard County Council unanimously adopted an updated plan for WalkHoward, which provides vision, framework, and guidance for improving walkability and pedestrian access in the county. Recommended improvements for the WalkHoward plan were rated using a prioritization method that considered access to important destinations for county residents. Equity considerations, such as income and unemployment, were also used to recommend improvements. From Howard County's website: “Following the passage of our Complete Streets resolution, it was important to…

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Scooter Sharing Development in Howard County

Howard County is developing a permit process to allow electric scooter sharing companies to operate in public areas. To enable the process and fee, Howard County will need to update the County Code through legislation, which would also add the definition of electric low speed scooters. These scooters would be allowed to operate in pathways, streets, sidewalks, and bus lanes in the County. From Howard County's website: “Over the past year, we have worked towards…

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Worcester Consolidates Departments, Aims to Streamline Operations

In an effort to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and overall operations, the Worcester County Commissioners this week voted to consolidate three standalone departments (Recreation and Parks, Tourism, and Economic Development) into a single department -- the Worcester County Department of Recreation, Parks, Tourism, and Economic Development (RPTED). “These are very important departments to our tax base, and this unification is exactly what is needed to move the County forward,” Commission President Joe Mitrecic said. “Like other…

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Smart Growth Subcabinet Answers County Questions at #MACoCon

Counties received updates on a wide array of key policy issues at the MACo 2019 December Winter Conference during the "A Chat with the Smart Growth Subcabinet" panel on December 4. The Smart Growth Subcabinet oversees and advises on Maryland’s growth policies and laws. During the panel, its members provided updates on land use, environmental, housing, economic development, and transportation issues chosen by county elected officials and staff.   Issues covered by the Subcabinet included:…

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Preview the 2020 Session “Big Picture”

A compilation of Issue Papers previews major fiscal and policy issues facing the General Assembly in the year ahead. This resource is a handy guide to the top issues that your legislators will be tackling in 2020 – a great preparation document for county officials in advance of meetings with their local Delegations. Developed by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS), the 2020 Issue Papers are an annual staple for the Annapolis policy-inclined population. They are also…

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