Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Management Contract Renewed

Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Management Contract Renewed

Group prepares for impact of building, transit line construction

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Bethesda Urban Partnership has received another five-year deal to manage programs and services and promote programs in downtown Bethesda.

The County Council on Tuesday reauthorized the nonprofit’s contract, its fifth since it was started in 1993.

With 35 employees, BUP manages and markets activities in downtown Bethesda and is responsible for services such as trash removal, beautification, street sweeping and maintenance of the free Bethesda Circulator shuttle bus.

BUP is funded mainly through county government funds that come from parking revenue, contracts and the Bethesda Urban District fund. Revenues for fiscal 2018 totaled $5.1 million and expenses were $5 million. An audit released in December from the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight found that revenues had increased from $4.6 million in 2014, the last time BUP was reauthorized.

The next five years will bring disruptions to downtown, between the construction for Marriott International Inc’s new headquarters and the planned Purple Line station nearby. Both projects are scheduled to be completed in 2022.

BUP Executive Director Rick Ammirato said the organization is preparing for the effects of the construction by listening to the concerns of those impacted.

“We’re really focusing on how we can work with residents, business people get them the services that they need when they have a downtown that’s gone through a significant transformation,” he said.

Ammirato said plans for the next five years include incorporating more art into public spaces, and possibly adding an east-west route to the Circulator. The new route is part of ongoing discussions with the county’s Department of Transportation, which has the ultimate approval authority.

The Circulator expansion was included on the 2017 Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, which was approved by the County Council.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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