County initiative aims to resuscitate local nightlife

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Jane Zankman

By Jane Zankman, Chief Production Manager

Bright lights, music, dancing and food trucks—upon reading these words, your mind probably jumped to the image of a night in New York or even downtown D.C, but the Montgomery County Nighttime Economy Task Force (NETF) wants residents to associate these ideas with local cities like Bethesda and Silver Spring.

The NETF was implemented earlier this year with the mission of researching and exploring various nightlife options for Montgomery County. They also want to learn how to increase employment and business opportunities in the area. As many students have seen, Potomac and other areas around CHS tend to shut down by 10 p.m., even on weekends, making it hard to find anything to do at night.

“County executive [Isaiah] Leggett started the new Montgomery Initiative earlier this year, one of which was our task force,” said NETF chair Heather Dlhopolsky.

The initiative also includes pedestrian safety and positive youth development.

Since it was established, the task force has discussed and approved many recommendations to improve local nightlife from economic development to liquor control and the police station.

“My main goal is to get people talking,” Dlhopolsky said. “We have a good daytime economy, but we need to improve our nighttime as well.”

While the goal of this initiative is to develop a stronger night economy, it is not all about money.

“I think it would create a stronger community,” Dlhopolsky said. “It provides a sense of place.”

Areas of focus include Bethesda and Silver Spring, and while they both are already filled with restaurants and shops, there is not much to do other than eat.

Students at CHS agree that there is a lack of nightlife in Montgomery County.

Sophomore Ashli Dove enjoys going to the mall and the movies but feels that there are no options outside of that.

“If there were more options offered, I am sure more people would go out,” senior Catherine Nardi agreed.

Students are not the only ones who believe that there is a lack of nighttime activities. A poll taken in August by Council member Hans Riemer’s office, revealed that two-thirds of people under the age of 40 picked D.C. as their favorite nighttime hangout.

The poll, which received 1,831 responses, also revealed that people’s main concerns when it comes to going out in the evening are quality food and parking.

According to Dlhopolsky, while some of what the task force must do involves legal changes, a lot can still be done in the short term.

The NETF wants to improve awareness of parking through advertisements so more people will come to Bethesda.

According to Dlhopolsky, “liquor is not the most important recommendation,” rather it is “transit and safety.”