During the hour-long virtual discussion on whether to change the name of the White Flint Metro Station, the approximately 60 people in attendance went from expressing a fairly even split to reaching a consensus to change the station’s name to something that included the two words – North Bethesda, according to Friends of White Flint Executive Director Amy Ginsburg.
“When I was growing up, this area really didn’t have an identity. I think the fact that we are trying to create an identity is a really good thing,” she said.
When the discussion started, half the participants saw no need to change the name while the other half said they didn’t feel White Flint reflected the community now that the White Flint Mall has been demolished, she said, adding that the conversation throughout the meeting was interesting and civil. Participants ranged from college students to someone who has lived in the area for 50 years and also included small business and property owners.
During the meeting, “Most people thought White Flint meant the mall, but the mall is not there,” Ginsburg noted. Soon, several people changed their preference, opting for North Bethesda-White Flint or North Bethesda-Pike District.
Councilmember Andrew Friedson told MyMCM that he received “good feedback” at the meeting. He noted that his objective “has always been to facilitate consensus around a name change to help advance our broader placemaking and economic development vision for the area. “I think it’s a good time to make a change,” he added.
Executive Marc Elrich also favored changing the name, opting to have one that reflected the future of the area and its biotech companies, according to Ginsburg.
Friedson explained that the next step is to weigh the options and then to speak with the county executive staff. If the county decides it wants to change the station name, it must then make a request to Washington Metropolitan Area Authority Transit. The county will seek state funding to help offset the cost, he said.
The March 31 meeting was sponsored by Friends of White Flint, Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, Elrich and Friedson
Should the name of the White Flint Metro station be changed? Montgomery County, Maryland, community leaders met virtually with residents Wednesday night to discuss the possibility.
Amy Ginsburg, executive director of the group Friends of White Flint, hosted the virtual meeting.
Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson pointed out that Metro is open to the name change, and the cost would be mitigated due to several factors, including potential access to state funding to help.
Much of the meeting was devoted to residents’ thoughts and comments on the potential name change.
Adam supported a name change for the station, saying, “It can only help.” The goal, he said, is to drive business to the area.
Chris, who has been working with Montgomery County to promote the term “Pike District,” hoped that name catches on. She likened it to names of Business Improvement Districts like NoMa, Golden Triangle and Southwest Waterfront.
Heidi liked the North Bethesda name.
“What I like about North Bethesda is that it is a geolocation,” she said, “so it does immediately say to people, ‘Wherever I’m going is north of Bethesda.’”
Steve called North Bethesda the most parsimonious name, given that the designation is already on Google Maps and Redfin, and he added: “The census, itself, recognizes it.” So, he said North Bethesda makes more sense than Pike District.
Ginsburg suggested the combination “North Bethesda-Pike District” would work. She said it “better fits the area as the county and stakeholders are working to redevelop and rebrand our area.”
WMATA said there’s a June deadline to decide on a name change. There will likely be more discussion before a decision is made.