Friday, January 30, 2015

Advisory Board Welcomes New Members

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board is pleased to welcome four new members: Hrant Jamgochian, Ann Marie Mehlert, Jonathan Sachs, and Carrie Wofford.  Mr. Jamgochian, Mr, Sachs, and Ms. Wofford were appointed by County Executive Leggett in January as residential representatives on the Advisory Board.  They were confirmed by the County Council on Tuesday, January 27.  Ms. Mehlert joined the Advisory Board in October as a business representative and representative of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.

Hrant Jamgochian is a health policy expert who currently serves as the Executive Director for the national patient advocacy organization Dialysis Patient Citizens. He brings over 20 years of public policy experience to the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board. Hrant received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law as well as his Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Global Health Law from the Georgetown University Law Center. A member of the Bradley Boulevard Citizens Association, Hrant has called Bethesda his home for more than a decade. He enjoys spending time with his wife and young son. 

Ann Marie Mehlert is a real estate attorney at Lerch, Early & Brewer in Bethesda, Maryland who works with real estate developers, investors and owners on all aspects of commercial real estate. For more than 25 years she has negotiated and documented transactions from acquisition and financing through development, leasing and sales. Ann Marie received her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Boston College and her Juris Doctor cum laude from The American University Washington College of Law. She is admitted to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She currently serves on the executive board of Montgomery Women and as general counsel for Round House Theatre. Ann Marie also is a past president of the suburban Maryland chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). After years of spending weekend mornings on soccer fields throughout the country (her husband is a former Division I National College Soccer Coach of the Year and her three children are all former Division I college soccer players), Ann Marie now enjoys Saturday and Sunday mornings from the comfort of her couch, watching English Premier League games on television.

Jonathan Sachs is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County and currently lives in downtown Bethesda. He works in health care in the county, focusing on public policy issues and advocacy. Jonathan previously served as a member of the Montgomery County Nighttime Economy and Transit Task Forces. In the summertime, you can probably find him at the ballpark cheering on the Washington Nationals. Jonathan graduated from the University of Maryland with high honors in Government and Politics. While at the University, he served as President of the Student Government Association.

A resident of the Town of Somerset and a mom of two MCPS boys, Carrie Wofford brings two decades of experience in public policy, having served as Senior Committee Counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as director of new policy ideas for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and policy advisor in the Clinton White House and the Labor Department under Secretary Robert Reich. Educated at Bryn Mawr College and Yale Law School, Carrie also practiced law at WilmerHale LLP for a number of years and founded a non-profit organization to protect veterans from predatory for-profit colleges.

The Regional Services Center and Advisory Board would like to thank all of our outgoing members for their service to their community, particularly past Advisory Board chairs Delegate Marc Korman and Heather Dhlopolsky, chair-elect of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Leggett to Host Final FY16 Operating Budget Public Forum; Residents’ Input Crucial in Determining Priorities

UPDATE - Due to inclement weather, the Budget Forum is rescheduled to February 2.

Leggett to Host Final FY16 Operating Budget Public Forum; Residents’ Input Crucial in Determining Priorities

About 150 attended last week's County budget forum with County Executive Leggett hosted by the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.  120 attended the Mid-County Advisory Board forum last night. 

The County Operating Budget is the document that maps out how tax dollars are spent.  The forums are one opportunity for the community to learn about the fiscal climate, ask questions, and let your priorities be known.  Your input is critical.  

Next Monday's forum with County Executive Leggett is hosted by the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board.  The forum begins at 7pm at the BCC Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane in Bethesda.  There is plentiful public parking under the Regional Services Center which is located immediately adjacent to the Bethesda Metro station. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

History of the Pike District

The following is a "history of the Pike District" developed for the upcoming website.  

Pre 1800

Native American peoples traveled along an ancient route known as the Seneca Trail which today is approximately followed by Old Georgetown Road (MD 187).  Portions of General Edward Braddock's army followed the Seneca Trail from Alexandria, VA, to Cumberland, MD, during the ill-fated Braddock Expedition of 1755.


In the early 19th century, much of the area was a 3,700-acre tobacco plantation owned by the Riley family.  One of the Riley’s slaves, Josiah Henson, kept a memoir which inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.  The plantation's kitchen (in which Henson is known to have slept) still stands at 11420 Old Georgetown Rd.
In 1806, the Washington Turnpike Company began improvements to the old Seneca Trail, by then known as the Georgetown-Frederick Road.  The Rockville and Georgetown Turnpike (Rockville Pike) opened in 1818 and by-passed Old Georgetown Rd. through the Rock Creek stream valley.  The Turnpike became part of the National Old Trails Road – the route taken by settlers heading west.  From 1829 to 1887, a toll booth stood on Rockville Pike near at today’s Strathmore Avenue.
By the mid-19th century, the small community of Montrose grew up near Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike and included a Post Office and one-room school (built in 1868).  Montrose’s population skyrocketed with the completion of the B&O Railroad in 1873 and by 1879, school enrollment was more than 50 children.  The two-room Montrose School was completed in 1909 and housed classes from the 1st to 7th grades.  The school building still stands on Randolph Road near Rockville Pike and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
During the Civil War, the area saw skirmishing associated with Confederate General Jubal Early’s raid on Washington and the Battle of Fort Stevens.  On the morning of July 11, 1864 Confederate General John McCausland advanced south on Rockville Pike, headed for Fort Reno.  Not far south of Rockville, McCausland was met by a small Union force.  Outmanned and outgunned, the Union troops fell back to the location of modern-day Bethesda where they checked McCausland’s advance.
From the late 19th century to the 1930s, the area was served by a trolley service connecting Georgetown and Rockville operated by the Tennallytown and Rockville Railway.  The trolley route is now used by the Bethesda Trolley Hiker-Biker Trail. (map)
Tenallytown to Rockville Trolley

1900 on

In 1919, Georgetown Prep School moved to its current location on Rockville Pike from its original site in Old Georgetown Heights where it had been established in 1789.  In 1920, the present-day Strathmore Mansion was the estate house for Charles Corby, who helped revolutionize the baking industry.  Much of the Corby estate later became the site of the Holy Cross Academy and the Music Center at Strathmore.
Dietle’s Tavern, located on Rockville Pike directly across from White Flint Mall, has been in operation since 1916.  Dietle’s holds Montgomery County’s first beer and wine license.
Rockville Pike became part of the US Highway System in 1926 as part of US Route 240.  As the Washington National Pike (now I-270) was completed in stages beginning in the early 1950s, the routing of US 240 was moved over and Rockville Pike was designated MD 355.  During this time, Rockville Pike was transformed by suburban shopping centers into a retail destination.  
The Grosvenor neighborhood is named for Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, former President of the National Geographic Society and editor of the National Geographic Magazine. Grosvenor was hired in 1899 as the first full-time employee of the Society by Alexander Graham Bell, the Society's President at the time. He eventually was named Director, and later President of the Society, and remained Editor of the magazine until 1954. Grosvenor married Elsie May Bell, the daughter of Alexander Graham Bell. Grosvenor's estate "Wild Acres" can still be found on Grosvenor Lane, just west of Rockville Pike.

The first known use of the name “White Flint” was by the White Flint Country Club which opened in 1930 on Rockville pike near Nicholson Lane. The name was derived from quartz rock - sometimes bearing gold - found in the area. 

The name Twinbrook or Twin-Brook came from the developers who originally established the City of Rockville's Twinbrook subdivision in 1946. The name was a reference to the two tributaries of Rock Creek that traversed the original 200 acres of the development. 
In 1960, Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy established “Camp Shriver” nearby at Timberlawn - a short distance from today's Wall Park.  Camp Shriver was a fun place where children with special needs and intellectual disabilities could receive one-on-one attention and be physically active in the summertime.  Camp Shriver eventually morphed into the Special Olympics, a worldwide organization that serves 4.2 million athletes in 170 different countries. 
The Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station opened on July 24, 1984. On December 15 of that year, the White Flint and Twinbrook Metro Stations were opened. The openings marked the completion of the western leg of Metro’s Red Line which also included stations at Rockville and Shady Grove. 
Montrose School House

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bethesda's New Capital Crescent Garage is Now Open

The new County public parking garage at Woodmont Avenue and Bethesda Avenue reopened today, Tuesday, January 20. It was closed in September 2013 to enable construction of The Flats and The Darcy mixed-use buildings on the site of County parking lot 31, across from Barnes & Noble in Bethesda.

The attractive, well-lit underground parking garage offers 960 parking spaces for the public. Vehicle entrances are on Bethesda Avenue, just east of Woodmont Avenue and on Woodmont Avenue, just south of Bethesda Avenue. Pedestrian access can be found on Woodmont Avenue and from the Capital Crescent Trail.

Parking will be free until March 1. The parking payment system will be "pay on foot".

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bethesda serves holiday cheer at the Goodwill Dinner

Tonight was our annual Goodwill Dinner at the BCC Rescue Squad. The dinner was founded and is organized by the Regional Services Center, Greater Bethesda Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, and the Bethesda Hyatt.

Participating organizations include thes Bethesda Urban Partnership, The Children's Inn at NIH, BCC Rescue Squad, and Police 2nd District.

The Goodwill Dinner serves needy individuals and families who live in the Bethesda area. This year, close to 400 individuals were served a Holiday dinner with all the trimmings. All who attended received winter hats, gloves, and scarves. Children received toys and photos with Santa.

County Executive Ike Leggett serves at Bethesda's Goodwill Dinner



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Board asks for greater coordination on Friendship Heights issues

The Following is a November 26, 2014 letter from the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board to the County Executive and County Council regarding the need for cross-jurisdictional dialogue on priorities in the Friendship Heights central business district and Western Avenue corridor.

Dear County Executive Leggett and Council President Rice:

On October 20, 2014, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board (WMCCAB) hosted a community roundtable with residents; representatives from DC Ward 3 Area Neighborhood Commissions; and officials from the Village of Friendship Heights, Town of Somerset, and Chevy Chase Village.  Universally, community leaders and residents expressed a desire for more cross-jurisdictional communication and coordination.  As a result of this successful meeting, WMCCAB members believe there is a need to revive the long-dormant Friendship Heights Task Force, or similar cross-jurisdictional dialogue, to make productive cross-border coordination a reality.  

The Friendship Heights Task Force was established in 1998 to allow representatives from Montgomery County and the District of Columbia to coordinate planning, transportation priorities, public safety, and community projects in Friendship Heights.  It was active until 2001 but has been dormant since then.  The need for a renewed emphasis on coordination between Montgomery County and the District concerning Friendship Heights was very apparent from the roundtable discussion.  Participants, including commissioners from Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (3D, 3E, and 3G) raised issues pertaining to pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle safety; bus routes, public safety, and environmental concerns.  Some specific areas of concern were:

  • Building bicycle infrastructure in Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights, and Bethesda that connects to the DC bicycle network.  Examples offered included safe bicycle routes from NW DC to Westbard, Bethesda and Chevy Chase Lake and safe bicycle circulation in those areas. Connectivity to the District’s Oregon Avenue bicycle boulevard was also discussed;
  • Adding direct bus connections to connect NW DC activity centers and neighborhoods with activity centers in Montgomery County including future Purple Line stations;
  • Coordinating Montgomery County; Maryland State Highway Administration; and District pedestrian safety infrastructure and outreach in Friendship Heights. 
  • Resolving traffic concerns including improvements to safety at the intersection of Friendship Boulevard/Western Avenue/Jennifer Street
  • Improving dialogue on pedestrian, bike and vehicle safety at Chevy Chase Circle; 
  • Improving Little Falls Stream and Rock Creek watersheds in Montgomery County by adopting programs similar to the District’s “RiverSmart” program.

Participants also requested that the County and the District explore the establishment of a Business Improvement District (“BID”) including both the County and District portions of Friendship Heights.  Businesses on the District side of the border are already exploring the possibility of the formation of a BID.  The WMCCAB is aware that the Office of Legislative Oversight is currently investigating and researching different types of BIDs to help County communities seeking to create something other than an Urban District.  We suggest that the Office of Legislative Oversight’s report also address the feasibility of cross-jurisdictional BIDs, such as the one suggested at the roundtable discussion.    

Given the scope of cross-border issues in Friendship Heights, we urge the County Council and County Executive to re-establish a mechanism for the two jurisdictions to once again coordinate planning and transportation policies for the area.  The WMCCAB is happy to help in any way and is exploring regular annual meetings with neighboring Area Neighborhood Commissions and local municipalities. 

James A. “Jad” Donohoe, IV, Chair

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bethesda Development map reaches 100,000 views.

We are very pleased that our Google Map of development projects in Bethesda has been viewed more than 100,000 times!

Bethesda is currently undergoing the changes envisioned by the 1994 Bethesda CBD Sector Plan and its 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment.

You can take part in the future of Bethesda by following the progress of the Bethesda Downtown Plan which is now underway.