Gaithersburg, MD. City Manager David Humpton announced today that a
potential location for a Montgomery County-run employment center has been identified at Festival at Muddy Branch. The Mayor and City Council will hold a special work session on Thursday, October 12, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. at Gaithersburg City Hall to discuss the site. "A storefront at the Festival at Muddy Branch shopping center has recently become available, and could serve as an ideal location for an employment center," said Mr. Humpton. "It is centrally located in the City, public transportation is readily available, and it is easily accessible by contractors and workers. City staff feels it meets much of the criteria set forth by Gaithersburg's Day Laborer Task Force. With public support, we are hopeful that the center could become operational before the winter season."
The management of the Muddy Branch Road shopping center has provided a
Letter of Intent to lease 2,050 square feet of space at the eastern end of the center near I-270. However, until a lease is actually signed, the space will remain on the market. Time is of the essence in soliciting public comment on the potential location and in solidifying the partnership between the City and Montgomery County with regards to leasing and operating the employment center. Mr. Humpton is working with Montgomery County on a draft Memorandum of Understanding, outlining the City's expectations of the partnership. Elements of that partnership include:
- Montgomery County will be responsible for negotiating and executing a lease and paying all occupancy expenses for a site mutually agreed upon by the City and County.
- The County will also fund all costs necessary to make the leased site suitable for operation, and will select and fund a contractor to operate the Center.
- The County will use its best efforts to meet the City’s desire that the contractor be a faith-based, nonprofit organization knowledgeable of the local community.
- As necessary, Gaithersburg will provide police support to the location to ensure adherence to all rules and regulations set forth in the lease, in City ordinances, and in applicable State laws.
- The City will also promote the availability and utilization of the Center.
- The City and County will establish an Advisory Committee to assist the Center operator in addressing issues that may arise from the operation of the Center at the selected location and to provide feedback to the contractor.
- The City and the County will also develop evaluation criteria for the contractor prior to the opening of the Center, and will meet on a regular basis to evaluate the operations of the Center, the specific services provided, and the overall performance of the contractor.
It is Gaithersburg's understanding that once the City identified a suitable site that would meet the needs of the day laborers, contractors and community, Montgomery County would lease the space and operate the center, as it has done in Silver Spring and Wheaton. Montgomery County will operate this as a regional employment center, serving the needs of Gaithersburg residents and others in this area of the County. Given that Montgomery County has already funded two such centers with general tax revenue, it is appropriate for Montgomery County to provide this service to County taxpayers in the Gaithersburg/ upcounty region. The establishment of a structured employment center permits the City to address public safety and quality of life issues associated with informal day laborer gathering sites throughout Gaithersburg. It is intended to reposition the day laborers from current congregation points to a facility managed by a nonprofit organization, providing a place for day laborers to seek jobs. The center will be marketed to contractors who would recognize this as a central place to seek day laborers, with a staff dedicated to matching the laborers with part-time and full-time work. Other services offered at the center will include ESOL, referral assistance to job training and other social services including health care, cultural awareness classes and legal services addressing non-payment of wages and citizenship issues. The City believes it is important for the County to assume primary responsibility for the operation of the center. The County has significant experience in running successful centers and has the resources to do so, while the City of Gaithersburg has neither the resources nor the management experience to run such a center. Moreover, the majority of the City's elected officials have consistently maintained that the City should assume a
supporting, not primary role, for operating a center. The City, however, does remain on record, in accordance with the task force recommendation, that it prefers the operator be a faith based, non-profit organization, knowledgeable of the local community, and that Montgomery County use its best efforts to utilize a contractor that meets these criteria.
For more information please call the Gaithersburg City Manager's Office at 301-258-6310 or visit the City's website at www.gaithersburgmd.gov.