The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee met again on November 12th to continue discussing how to make the area a great downtown destination. In fact, Jeff Burton, deputy executive director of the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) came to the meeting to discuss just that with members of the committee. The discussion started with the Bethesda Streetscape Plan, created in the early 90s to give Bethesda a specific feel. Jeff explained that the plan was developed to create uniformity and consistency in the area, and was formed with the idea that there would be a group like BUP to maintain.
Like the streetscape plan, the conversation got very specific as to what makes a great downtown feel, from what materials are best for sidewalks to how many different types of trees should be planted and where. Some of the main themes included:
**Brick sidewalks – this is what is in Bethesda. Jeff explained that brick sidewalks are relatively easy to maintain, though it may take a few years for the material to settle. A big focus of this discussion was making sure the sidewalks are easy for everyone to use, particularly people with disabilities. What materials should be used for other amenities, such as benches, was also discussed. Aesthetic qualities as well as ease of maintenance should be considered.
**Trees and other plans are critical in creating a sense of place. Planters offer a relatively inexpensive to make a big impact in the look and feel of an area.
**Maintaining a clean, pleasant environment is crucial. Having a downtown management team for maintenance is extremely important. One thing that we will have to be aware of in White Flint is the space between the various developments, and making sure these areas don’t get forgotten about.
Ultimately it’s going to take a lot of coordination between the many different developers and property owners as well as the State Highway Administration to create a great looking streetscape with a unified theme that is also interesting and easy for everyone to enjoy. These finer details, from sidewalks to trash cans are critical in creating a true sense of place – a wonderfully unique White Flint.
The Downtown Advisory Committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 8am at the Conference Center. However, the group will not have their normal meeting in December, as they will be on a half day retreat. In the meantime, we understand that those who represent the county (Dee Metz and Ken Hartman) have been hard at work with the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) budget, which includes White Flint projects in various stages. Additionally, the Department of Transportation is looking at Marinelli and Nebel street areas for more comprehensive safety features. Finally, some members of the committee are working to get a zip code for the White Flint area, including writing to/meeting with Representative Chris Van Hollen’s office.