From resident Dale Lawrence
The analogy of the “bowtie” shape for the proposed newly gerrymandered district to include North Bethesda is apt.
The proposed district with North Bethesda on one end and Takoma Park on the other is in no way a contiguous geographic entity. I drive back and forth between N Bethesda and Takoma Park through Silver Spring many times a week. I have family there, and I use resources of the Walter Reed Annex at Forest Glen which is accessed by that same road, Forsythe Ave in the Forest Glen Park area. I have traveled the route connecting our end of the new proposed district with the other end a thousand times over 30 years.
Let me share my appreciation of the geographic absurdity of the proposed district to include us. First, review the map showing all districts as currently proposed and notice that in every other district, persons residing within the district are able to travel over dozens or hundreds of routes within and across their district. Their proposed districts display contiguity, enable sharing common and convenient resources, and promote a sense of a shared community.
In horrible contrast, the “bowtie” that links N. Bethesda to its proposed sister communities (Silver Spring and Takoma Park) has exactly 1800 feet of connection at the pinch point at the isthmus of the proposed district.
But even worse, the I-495 route blocks any streets, save one, at the point of the pinched “knot” of the “bowtie.” ONE street, with one lane in each direction, is left to connect the two ends of the “bowtie.” It leads to a steep hill with no sidewalk. The street is so narrow, it requires oncoming vehicles — including the No. 5 RideOn buses, school buses, trucks, private vehicles and bicyclists — to pass at a speed under 10 mph. Pedestrians, without a sidewalk, cannot walk on this short road.
The single, dangerously narrow street connecting the new district’s ends is emblematic, of course. Other routes can get one to Silver Spring, etc.; however, if left unchanged, the current design makes a mockery of the contiguity principle. Indeed, by gerrymandering it makes a loud statement that the County Council is content to discourage the communities of N Bethesda and Silver Spring/Takoma Park from getting to know each other, develop shared purposes and or have any common resources.