Tired of referring to downtown Silver Spring’s civic building as “downtown Silver Spring’s civic building”? Then slap someone’s name on it, peeps with MoCo exec Ike Leggett’s office suggested.
At Monday night’s citizens advisory board meeting, Chuck Short, a special assistant to Leggett, tossed around the idea of naming the place after James Gleason, Montgomery County’s first exec.
“We need to name an important and substantive building after this first county executive,” Short told the board inside ye olde library’s basement. Gleason, he added, “is a worthy individual to have his name associated with this building.”
So who was James Gleason?
Besides being the first county exec (before him, the county had only a legislative branch), Gleason was a World War II vet and Woodmoor resident. As county exec, he set up a system of regional centers to serve as his boots on the ground outside Rockville (Silver Spring’s was the first). And he could be tough to work with, Short said.
Gleason was also the guy who got the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to stretch the Red Line past downtown Silver Spring and into Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont, The Washington Post wrote. He managed that in 1977 by withholding $32 million in essential funding until the feds agreed to fund the project.
And Gleason was a Republican, the only one so far to serve as MoCo exec, The Post wrote.
While Gleason’s name has been tossed around Leggett’s office, it hasn’t been officially proposed, nor is it a done deal. “In the end, this is your building,” Short told the board.
A few more names have been floating around. State delegate Jane Lawton, who represented Chevy Chase, Kensington and parts of Silver Spring, is one of them. The Praisners — county council members Marilyn and Donald, who represented the northeastern end of Silver Spring — are also out there, Short said.
And then there’s the idea of naming the place after former county exec Doug Duncan. Some in the hood credit Duncan for the area’s economic revitalization, citizens advisory board member Alan Bowser said. Duncan was also the guy who couldn’t bring The Birchmere music hall to downtown Silver Spring, but managed to take it with him to College Park when he joined the University of Maryland’s administration.
Residents can pitch their own ideas formally to the county, though Short wasn’t sure if naming rights were reserved for publicly elected officials only. Any proposed name then goes through the naming committee wringer.
Short told advisory board members that there was no rush to name the building.
Rendering courtesy of the county’s department of general services.