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Montgomery legislators consider bike-sharing, defibrillators at public pools

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The Montgomery Council is considering legislation that would require defibrillators at public swimming pools and a measure that would allow county officials to use special tax revenue to pay for bike-docking stations throughout the county.

The bills were introduced Tuesday at the first council meeting following the summer recess. Council members also unanimously approved a ban on pavement products containing coal tar, a known carcinogen.

Council members Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) and Valerie Ervin (D-Eastern County) sponsored two bike-sharing bills: one would allocate transportation impact taxes to pay for the docking stations and another would make it easier for developers to build the stations on their properties.

County officials hope to build a system of 350 bikes and 50 stations by next year. The initial cost of the program is estimated at $2.15 million, and the county has secured about $1.5 million from state and private grants and a state bond. Council officials say they would make up the rest through the impact taxes and private investment.

To help pay for transportation projects, such as bike stations, the county taxes new residential and commercial buildings and additions to commercial properties — $2.8 million in fiscal 2010. But while the tax funds bike paths and lockers and other projects aimed at reducing congestion, it can’t pay for the stations because they aren’t explicitly included in the county code.

A second measure would allow developers to secure county permits for docking stations more quickly and cheaply. The bill would also make it easier for developers to secure permits for repairs and renovations.

“We have been pushing very hard to move forward very aggressively so we have as robust a bike-share program as any in the country,” Berliner said Monday.

Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) introduced the defibrillator bill, which would require at least one staff member at pools to be trained to use the equipment. Each violation carries a $50 to $75 fine.

The legislation is intended to “save lives,”Leventhal said at the meeting. He cited the death of Connor Freed, a 5-year-old who had a heart attack in 2006 at a country club in Anne Arundel County. A defibrillator was on site, but the parents said lifeguards were not trained to use it, Leventhal recalled in a memo to colleagues.

Council member Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) proposed the coal tar product ban when unusual amounts of a compound found in coal tar was found after dredging at Lake Whetstone in Montgomery Village.

At the meeting, Rice said the legislation is a “preventative measure” to make sure “we are protecting all of our county residents.” The maximum penalty for violations would be $1,000 per infraction.

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