Friday, August 22, 2014

Advisory Board asks for study of Bethesda's one-way streets

The following is the text of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board's August 1, 2014 letter to County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Council President Craig Rice concerning one-way streets in downtown Bethesda:

Dear County Executive Leggett and Council President Rice:

We respectively request that Montgomery County initiate a study of returning some one-way streets in Bethesda to two-way traffic. Two-way streets simplify navigation for drivers. They are more successful for retailers. They are also considered more pedestrian friendly.  

Streets that should be studied for two-way traffic include:
  • Woodmont Avenue (from Old Georgetown Road to Hampden Lane)
  • Old Georgetown Road (from Commerce Lane to Woodmont Avenue)
  • Montgomery Lane (from Woodmont Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue)
  • North Lane (from Woodmont Avenue to East Lane)
  • East Lane (from North Lane to Montgomery Lane)
Such a study should include a robust process of public comment. It should also analyze the positive and negative impacts on nearby intersections, including Wisconsin/Commerce, Wisconsin/ Montgomery, and Wisconsin/East-West/Old Georgetown. 

Changing these streets to two-way traffic could improve Bethesda’s urban fabric and make Bethesda easier for visitors to navigate. With the Bethesda Downtown Plan in process now, we believe this is the right time to study this change.

Thank you for considering the Board’s advice on this matter.

Sincerely, 

James A. "JAD" Donohoe, Chair
Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Public Safety Update

The following is a publicsafety update from Captain David Falcinelli, Commander, Montgomery County Police, 2nd District (Bethesda, North Bethesda, Potomac).

Dear 2nd District Residents:

Tuesday night was National Night Out and the 2nd District was fortunate to take part in two very successful events highlighting the partnership between the police and the community. For the last two years, I have worked to stay abreast of crime trends and deploy resources quickly and appropriately to address them. After speaking to several residents last night, I wanted to send out a couple reminders of just how important it is for each of you to practice good personal safety practices and how it contributes to keeping our crime at manageable levels.

Crime updates:

In July, we had only one robbery in the entire district bringing the total for the year to 22, which is the exact same number at this time last year. However, also in July, we had 123 vehicles entered where property was removed. Of these 123, 88% were left unlocked. In the others where force was used to gain entry, it was primarily because expensive items were left in plain view such as laptops, wallets, purses, etc. We are up 7.7% in this category so far this year. We have reviewed suspects on video and watched as they try door handles, then move onto to the next car when they find it locked. We have talked to suspects after they are arrested and they will tell us that they like to commit this crime here because "most people leave their cars unlocked and there is good stuff inside."

Also in July there were 19 residential burglaries. Of these burglaries, 6 involved property such as bicycles taken from open garages.

In June, 30% of stolen cars were taken with a spare key left inside the car.

While I will continue to deploy my resources to those areas most affected by crime trends, there is still a lot of work we need to do together to deter and prevent many of these crimes from occurring. The first step is to make sure you are doing what you need to do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim by simply locking your car, not leaving spare keys inside your car and closing and locking your garage doors, especially at night.. The second step is to be a good neighbor – call your neighbor when you see a garage door being left open, share the stats on thefts from cars and what needs to be done to prevent this crime and deter criminals from coming back to our neighborhoods, and call the police when you see a strange car or person in the neighborhood especially late at night.

I am very excited about my new District Community Action team which is a team of 7 officers that focus on hot spots only. They are not tied to the police radio for the constant calls for service, but rather go to areas that have experienced crime trends and provide a visible deterrent to discourage future activity and make arrests if possible. In June, this team arrested three different suspects operating stolen cars or attempting to steal them. I am also very pleased to have a new Petty Crimes Detective. This officer’s responsibility is to look mostly at misdemeanor property crimes such as thefts from cars, credit card thefts, etc. and put the pieces of the puzzle together to identify trends and suspects. Just last week, a suspect that had committed thefts at various country clubs was arrested after the Petty Crimes Detective pieced together evidence from three different crime scenes to identify the suspect responsible for them.

Traffic updates:

Cedar Lane is now re-opened. Woodmont Avenue through the business district is scheduled to be completely re-opened on August 15th.

Officers have been asked to provide extra patrol to MacArthur Blvd. for parking violations that mainly occur on the weekends in the area of Great Falls Park access points. Officers are also continuing to enforce distracted driving violations such as texting and cell phone use. Pedestrian safety and enforcement operations will continue throughout the year at marked crosswalks throughout the district. Montgomery County school buses are now equipped with cameras that will record and ticket those who pass on the flashing red.

After almost three years as your commander, it is abundantly clear that we cannot do our job without your help. We need to continue to work together to make the 2nd District a great place to live, work and play. I have two community services officers that are more than willing to conduct free home or business security surveys, or speak at a neighborhood meeting about crime and/or safety issues. They can be reached at 240-773-6700 and ask for the CSO. Please help us by doing your part to protect our community!

Sincerely,

Captain David Falcinelli

Commander – 2nd District