by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer
Silver Spring Gazette
October 7, 2009
In 1995 the vacancy rate for office space in all of Silver Spring was 39 percent. About 500,000 square-feet of vacant office space resided in south Silver Spring, which also hosted the crime that often comes with those vacancies, Stith said.
But with new residents come more feet and eyes on the neighborhood’s many alleys and side streets, and “when there’s people on the streets going places, people feel safer and want to join them,” said Kay Weston, who has lived in south Silver Spring since 1980.
While the new residents sparked local business and discouraged crime, most were living in insular high-rises and most were renting. Community involvement didn’t come easy, said Evan Glass, president of the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association.
“Every apartment building is a world unto itself, and you need to establish relationships with them as well,” said Glass, 32, who lives in the Aurora. SSSNA, which has a Facebook page and an active blog, encompasses residents west of the Metro/CSX tracks and south of Colesville Road.
But increasing amount of condominiums in the neighborhood has helped, Glass said, because those that own property usually have a greater stake in the community. The association began in 2004 as an e-mail list among residents and only held its first official meeting in 2006, Glass said.
And the nature of the residents – young, liberal-minded parents raising children in a difficult economy and sending them to rapidly crowding public schools – lends some veracity to the neighborhood association’s efforts.