We haven’t talked about actions by the Montgomery County Planning Board for a while, but things are happening. At its meeting on Thursday, Sept. 16, the Planning Board will consider the Josiah Henson Park Master Plan, and a new building to replace the various furniture stores which have occupied the old Levitz store site in Montrose Crossing, the shopping center at the northeast corner of Rockville Pike and Randolph Rd.
The Montrose Crossing shopping center revision (where the Super Giant, Target and Sports Authority are) will be considered in the morning. The old Levitz store will become two smaller stores, as part of a planned revision of the shopping center to dovetail with the White Flint Plan changes just to the south. It’s not a big change, but it shows how the area is changing to meet the new circulation patterns required of the urbanizing area.
That evening, beginning at 7:30, the Board will hold a briefing on the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Park area. The park, at the intersection of Tilden Lane and Old Georgetown Road, is the site of the real cabin occupied by Rev. Josiah Henson, and immortalized in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The parks staff has prepared a planning document outlining some plans for the new park. The park has received a $100,000 grant from the National Park Service which allows for more activity than the previous schedule which limited public access to four openings a year.
The staff summarized the options to date as:
Based on public input, Staff developed four Goals. The Goals and Objectives are used to guide future operational and capital improvements.
Goal #1 – Interpret Josiah Henson’s life and the history of slavery in Montgomery County
Goal #2 – Retain the integrity of the historic architecture and landscape
Goal #3 – Create a safe, accessible site.
Goal #4 – Develop advocacy and fundraising strategies to ensure the viability of the site.
To meet the Plan Goals, Staff then developed three implementation options, Minimum, Moderate and Maximum. These options are detailed in the chart in the Implementation Options Chart (Figure 9).
The Minimum Option equates with the current level of programming. Essentially depicts the activities now taking place at the Josiah Henson Special Park.
The Moderate Option takes the park to the next level in capital improvements and interpretive programming.
The Maximum Option outlines steps for more extensive capital improvements and expanded interpretive programming.
Staff selected the Moderate Option as best meeting the goals of the public, the carrying capacity of the small park situated in a residential neighborhood, and the realities of the Department and County budgets.
A public hearing will be held on October 28 on the Plan.