Notes from the last Friends of White Flint Meeting

** The following are draft minutes of the meeting held on September 3, 2014 of the Board of Directors of Friends of White Flint.  These minutes will remain in draft form until approved at the next Board meeting.  In the meantime, please email suggested edits to Info@WhiteFlint.org **

 

Draft of Minutes of the September 3, 2014 Friends of White Flint Board of Director’s Meeting
2014 Board of Directors Meeting
September 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Georgetown Village Condominium Community Room

 

Board members include Howard Feldman, James Schaeffer, Chad Salganik, Amber Tedesco, Suzanne Hudson, Francine Waters, Bill Carey, Barnaby Zall, Todd Lewers, Brian Downie, and Kristi Smith.  Staff members include Lindsay Hoffman and Rebecca Hertz. Board Members not in attendance: David Freishtat, Eric Grosse, Evan Goldman, and Rob Eisinger.

The Friends of White Flint (FoWF) Board Meeting was called to order at 6:36 pm at the Georgetown Village Condominium Community Room by Lindsay Hoffman.

Ed Reich began the meeting by saying he and Georgetown Village Condominium are happy to host Friends of White Flint. It gives them the opportunity to show off their wonderful community.

Approval of Minutes from May 29, 2014 Board of Directors Meeting.
Lindsay called for the approval of minutes from the May 29th, Annual meeting. Suzanne Hudson motioned for the approval of the minutes and Barnaby Zall seconded the motion, all approved.

Updates from Friends of White Flint:
Friends of White Flint set new Board of Directors at the end of the annual meeting and over online correspondence. The new directors include two Property Owner/Developer representatives- Brian Downie from Saul Center and Rob Eisinger from ProMark; one Business representative- Bill Carey from Strathmore; and two Resident representatives- Amber Tedesco and Erin Grosse.

After the annual meeting, the Board of Directors voted for new officers and co-chairs. Resident representative co-chair is Chad Salganik. The Business representative co-chair is David Frieshtat. And the Property Owner/Developer representative co-chair is Evan Goldman. The officers are Barnaby Zall is the Treasurer and Amber Tedesco is the Secretary.

Treasurer’s Report
Barnaby Zall mentioned that FoWF receives no government funding. FoWF funding comes from membership dues and fundraising. As of August 30th, the bank balance was $26,700, which means it has been a good year for FoWF. Currently, the burn rate is $4,000 a month, which means FoWF will carry the same reserves as last year.

Membership update:
Over 30 individuals joined FoWF since the last Board of Director’s meeting. Willco Residential joined as a Property Owner/Developer. Willco has many properties among Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike. In addition, two new Business members joined, Strathmore and Dr. Jay Samuels, DDS.

Becca attended Bike to Work Day in March for FoWF. We attended many community meetings with the Randolph Civic Association, Action Committee for Transit, and Bethesda Urban Partnership. Also, Grovesnor Park Condominium meeting with Goddard School soon.

Lindsay will host a walking tour in White Flint in November along with National Building Museum. If anyone has ideas, Lindsay is putting route together now, please let her know. The walking tour will take place on November 8th at 10:00 am-12:30 pm. Lindsay has done 4 tours around the White Flint sector so far.

In July, along with Communities for Transit, FoWF hosted a happy hour at Paladar Latin Kitchen about the rapid transit program coming to the county. We had a strong turn out.

FoWF added a new element to the website: a list of business members, property owner members, and developer members. There are links to the websites of each of the businesses/property owners/ developments/ condominium associations. The hope is to be as transparent as possible. There have been 11,850 unique visitors to the website since the last Board of Director’s meeting, as well as 33000 page views. The email list is now at 1053 people. Our emails’ have a high open rate as well, which is great news.

Also, the board recommended that a resident advisory board should be launched. The resident advisory group will be a sub group of friends that will help FoWF figure out more of the resident perspective. Laura Jaffe a new member of FoWF will lead this group. The group will begin by complying an email list. She will put the lists together and see what is the most efficient way to move forward. The feedback will come to the board through Laura and will act on it as a larger group as it is warranted.

The White Flint post office is not open yet. The site is nearly complete but it was found that the post office boxes don’t fit properly, so new ones were ordered. When we get the date for the opening, we will update everyone on the website.

Property Owners and Developers update:
**Ed Meder, Gables Residential.
Gables submitted their preliminary site plan in August. They will go forward with Development Review Committee on September 28th, 2014. Gables Residential has been in numerous conversations with the county to get Executive Boulevard re-routed or abandoned. The surface parking lot surrounding the Aquatic Center will be transformed into a large public park, Wall Park, in the long term. Before the lot can be transformed, however, the shared parking garage for both the Gables property and the Aquatic Center will be developed. Ed Meder mentioned that the community, especially residents should provide their support for the Wall Park approval, which is planned to be the largest green space in the county.

**Jay Corbalis, Federal Realty Investment Trust
Pike & Rose development is progressing nicely. Per Sei apartments are open with people living there now. This fall, Phase 1 of retail will open. There will be about 4 restaurants, IPic movie theatre, Amp by Strathmore venue, and Sport and Health Fitness. Starbucks and Bank of America are open now. Del Frisco Grille plans to open around September 22nd. IPic movie theatre plans to open in the beginning of November, a few weeks before the next installment of the Hunger Games movie.

**Francine Waters, Lerner Enterprises
Lerner Enterprises is working on the preliminary plan and site plan.

**Kristi Smith, The JBG Companies
North Bethesda Market II site plan will be bought to the Development Review Committee on September 29.

**Brian Downie, Saul Center
Saul Center received sketch plan approval for all three properties in the White Flint sector. They hope to file their site plan late this year. They will have a pre-application community meeting before they file their site plan, to incorporate community input.

County Executive’s White Flint Implementation Coordinator Report
Dee provided a presentation on pedestrian and biking safety. She focused much of her presentation on the Western Workaround area. She mentioned it is important to start with the network grid of streets, which includes the changes coming to the Western Workaround. Currently, the County doesn’t have control of some roads owned by private properties, as the roads were to be dedicated by property owners, which was discussed during the planning process of the Sector Pan.

As part of the changes, the road near the North Bethesda Conference Center property/parking lot will be shifted, which will take away parking spaces. There must be a solution to replace parking so that is the idea behind the structured parking garage, which will be constructed in coordination with the streets. The design of roads and garage are taking place now.

The county is working with Gables Residential to get project to go further. There are a lot of issues the county has to work out to make sure traffic can still flow through the area.

County council passed the Hoya Street/ Town Avenue plan will be included in first phase.

As part of the new street grid, Executive Boulevard will crossover Rockville Pike and will continue to the north side of the White Flint Mall property and connect with Nebel Street. The county is working on design of this currently. In addition, Chapman Avenue/Maple Avenue construction will hopefully start in 9 months and it will connect with Old Georgetown Avenue. This will be another alternative to Rockville Pike, defusing traffic. A new fire station and senior affordable housing is already programmed in the county budget. These will be on the west side of Chapman Avenue.

Andrew Bossi- County DOT
Andrew focused on the relationship between county bus stops and crosswalks. Crosswalks cannot be put at every location. Elements such as speed limits and sight distance can effect the placement of bus stops.

Andrew and Ken Hartman mentioned that the flashing light at Bethesda Trolley Trail have been permanently placed and will continue to improve site distance.

Woodglen Drive bikeway was presented at last White Flint implementation meeting. There will be a cycle track on the west-side of the road way, similar to those along 15th Street Northwest and 1st Street Northwest in D.C. Cycle tracks allow cyclists to go two directions side by side on the side. They hope to start construction on the cycle track in October and should be a pretty quick project. The cycle track will start at the intersection of Edson Lane and Woodglen Drive to Nicholson Lane on Woodglen Drive. The idea is to extend the cycle track up to the White Flint Metro. Sidewalks will not be involved- will remain as it is.

Nebel Street will also have some type of biking infrastructure, either buffer bike plans or cycle track. Marinelli Road will have bike lanes.

Suzanne Hudson asked about DOT’s efforts to educate the public biking lanes. Andrew mentioned that education is really important to DOT. They have the 3 e’s: education, enforcement and engineering.

The county uses similar markers to distinguish bike lanes and bike areas to those listed in the manual on uniform biking measures. Each state adopts own system of demarcation but most adopt the federal’s uniform markers.

Andrew also mentioned that he hopes many developers will incorporate space and funding for the Capital Bike Share program.  Pike & Rose development has two bike share dock areas planned but now they need to fund the docking stations themselves.

Public Concerns and Suggestions
A concerned citizen is focused on the safety of crossing over Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike. The cars are moving too fast and they believe the Pike needs to be turned into a boulevard. Perhaps, restriping and narrowing the road is just one suggestion. Maybe reducing the speed limit can help slow people down.

Another concerned citizen mentioned that our roads need to change because there have been changes in people’s priorities, with a societal shift towards alternate methods of transportation.

Ken Hartman, Director of the B-CC Regional Services Center, mentioned that a plan to extend the Circulator between the Twinbrook and White Flint Metro stations is in the works.

Many residents expressed concerns with snow removal as the season is coming again.

Suzanne Hudson mentioned there are lighting issues. There needs to be more lighting focused towards the sidewalks and the roads. DOT does have new streetlight, which will be placed throughout the county soon.

In addition, another concerned citizen mentioned that the manhole covers need to be leveled with the street on Rockville Pike, especially between the White Flint Metro station and the White Flint Mall.

Jay from Federal Realty mentioned that FoWF members should advocate for Old Georgetown Road to change from a six lane road to a four lane road.

Report from Councilmember Hans Riemer
In addition, the county is working creating bicycle and pedestrian priority areas. The White Flint sector is one of these priority areas.

White Flint is the epicenter of change, the place to achieve so many community goals.

There is a lot of support on the County Council for walkability. Currently, the council is working on the snow removal legislation. Snow removal is a challenge to biking and walkability. County can do a better job to keep mobility options open to all after it snows. In addition, we need to change the standard for building roads. He wants the council to focus again on the Road Code initiative.  The plan was sent to a work group but Hans is working with Councilmember Roger Berliner to bring the code back to the County Council this session. He hopes to have it approved by end of term in November.

In addition, the county is working on a new bicycling master plan and a pedestrian master plan, which has never been created before. The bicycling plan has not been updated in seven years.

Councilmember Riemer also mentioned that a walkability audit would be really beneficial. It will provide a space for residents to point out all their concerns. We need to have a good process to present their problems to the DOT and SHA and FOWF is good way to do this.

Coming Attractions
On Thursday, September 11th, the Branding of the Pike charette will take place at StreetSense in Bethesda.

Starting Monday, September 8th, “Give support,” If an individual donates $25 to Friends of White Flint, they will receive a $25 gift certificate to Paladar Latin Kitchen in the mail.  The fundraising event will run for month. All one has to do is go to the Friends of White Flint website, click on the Paypal icon and donate $25.

In addition, Strathmore donated two vouchers that will be distributed during our membership drive starting in the fall.

No motion to adjourn meeting. Meeting adjourned at 8:25 pm. 

What’s In and Out in White Flint

In:

Yesterday, Bethesda Now reported the news that Gaithersburg restaurant Quincy’s Bar and Grille will be opening a location in White Flint.  Featuring casual fare and live music, the newest Quincy’s will be located at 11401 Woodglen Drive, between Executive Boulevard and Nicholson Lane. It’s the mid-rise building with a shopping strip on the ground floor and it’s part of the second phase of JBG’s North Bethesda Market II.  Quincy’s is expected to be open by August 1st – read more about it on Bethesda Now by clicking here.

Out:

The White Flint Staples, on Rockville Pike and Nicholson Lane, has closed.  Back in March, the corporation announced its plan to contract its retail presence, focusing more toward online sales.  No word on what will occupy the space, which is slated to be part of Saul Centers’ redevelopment but not in the very short-term.  We hear that Staples’ lease is still in effect despite their decision to close but I’m hoping the space won’t sit empty for too long.  But, for your Staples fix, you need only travel 1.6 miles north on the Pike for their nearest location.

 

Updates from May White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee Meeting

Nkosi Yearwood began the committee meeting by discussing updates on the various development projects:

  • Saul Centers’ White Flint sketch plan was approved April 17th by the Planning board.
  • North Bethesda Gateway development is moving forward after the sketch plan was amended last year. The preliminary site plan was amended 3 weeks ago and will be coming to the Planning Board in the near future.
  • Gables Residential– White Flint will be presenting their site plan at a public meeting tonight, Thursday May 15th at Wall Local Park/Shriver Aquatic Center. This project is moving forward as well.
  • North Bethesda Market II- JBG met with the Planning Board and is amending their sketch plan and preliminary site plan.  JBG has decided to keep the multi-family building but change the office building. Hopefully, they will be submitting the amendments to the Planning Board this fall.
  • A plan for Hillery Way – a road behind the former Addie’s building, near the Crest of Wickford residences – has been designed to add 6-8 townhouses.  This is a small project but the preliminary site plan was given to the Planning Board, with more to follow.
  • At Pike & Rose, an amendment for Phase I was approved to provide clean-up of the construction of Buildings 10-12 and streetscape changes. In addition, the Building 13 plan was amended to include changing the corner appearance by adding a façade.
  • Public projects- North Bethesda Conference Center and Parking Garage plan design was approved for money under the CIP budget.

Next, Ken Hartman, Director of B-CC Regional Services, provided updates from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee. The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee advises on services provided in the White Flint area that include, pedestrian safety programs, homelessness programs, public safety coordination, and the weekender cleaning team. The committee hopes to build services to eventually set-up an urban district, which can provide maintenance of urban space. Many individuals worked on completing the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant application to get a share of the grant money provided by the Federal Government to complete a study on the BRT system. The Downtown committee is also focused on the Nebel Street plan to provide bike improvements. The committee hopes to hold joint meetings with the Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee to focus on common interests both committees have.

On the marketing side of development, they are working on the Metro White Flint destination website that will provide information on where to shop, eat, and live in the White Flint district and further information on development projects and economic development of the area, as well as a newsfeed option to access information from social media websites.

The committee, along with the Regional Services Center, hopes to work towards achievables. Right now, they have a goal to work on decreasing the speed of Rockville Pike by using strategies such as beautifying the streetscape on the Pike to slow down traffic and provide more open space and parks. One of the locations with a possible site to create a park is the Water Tower. Right now, there is $20,000 allotted to changing the street-scape of Rockville Pike but the committee is asking the Montgomery County Council to provide an extra $75,000 for marketing, the weekender team and for the street-scape plan. The committee hopes to have the street-scape done this summer.

The County Council has a funding reconciliation list of projects the council wants to fund but may not be covered under the budget currently. On May 15th, the council will decide on what projects will be funded under this reconciliation budget. Right now, the street-scape plan ask is being supported by Councilmember Roger Berliner. The budget resolution will be finalized on May 21st, which is when the funded projects will be announced. Another project the committee is working on is the need to create a unified White Flint zip code and unified White Flint district name. Stay tuned for more information on this.

Francine Waters then provided the committee with an update on the TIGER Grant program. The TIGER Grant is program run by the Federal government that provides funding for transportation projects or studies in communities and localities. The grant can be used for either planning or for construction. MCDOT together with the State of Maryland, Maryland State Highway, and Montgomery County Council of Governments agreed to apply for a preliminary engineering planning study of the BRT system on Rockville Pike. The 95 page application asked for $3 million dollars, as Montgomery County has never received more than $3 million for planning from the TIGER Grant in the past. The grant has received support from varying organizations and individuals throughout Montgomery County including Friends of White Flint, Congressmen Chris Van Hollen, and NIH. The Department of Transportation will not make their decision on the recipients of the grant until September so Francine is asking individuals or groups that are in support of the grant for Montgomery County to show their support by writing a letter of recommendation.

County White Flint Implementation Coordinator Dee Metz then provided her report for the Committee. Two other projects on the budget reconciliation list include the Hoya Street extension all the way through to Montrose Parkway and the planning submission for the North Bethesda Conference Center garage. For the garage project, the feasibility study has been completed. In addition, we know that the Maryland Stadium Authority will design the garage and are currently looking for contractors. They will put out a request for expressions of interest and then an RFP. They hope to find one contractor for both the garage and the street outside of the conference center. They hope to have bids by the end of Summer 2014.

Also, Nebel Street traffic calming plans were discussed. MCDOT provides grants for traffic calming developments and the Planning Department hopes to receive grant money for Nebel Street developments between Nicholson Lane and Randolph Road. They want to spread the grant money among various strategies along Nebel Street including the use of curbs and biking facilities along the street. In addition, they are looking at a cycle track demonstration for the White Flint district as well. One problem they are currently looking at is what to do at intersections for biking facilities.

Updates from White Flint Sector Implementation Advisory Committee

Since the Jewish holiday, Passover, falls on the next White Flint Sector Implementation Advisory Committee meeting date of Monday April 14th, there will be no Implementation Advisory Committee meeting this month.

N’kosi Yearwood, White Flint’s lead planner, sent along updates on projects and planning happening now around the White Flint District that you can find below:

Development Projects

  • Saul Centers White Flint is going to the Montgomery County Planning Board on April 17. The Committee has twice seen this proposal. Here is a link to the staff report

http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/agenda/2014/documents/StaffReport_320140010_SaulCentersWhiteFlint.pdf

  • There are some minor amendments for Pike and Rose (Phase IB) that will go to the Planning Board soon. Most of the adjustments, such as interior building and plant list changes, pertain to modifications that have occurred during construction for Buildings 10-12.

FY 15-20 CIP

  • FY 15-20 CIP:  The Council agreed with the Executive’s recommendations and at the request of the Transportation & Environment Committee, they are considering adding an additional $7.5 million to construct Hoya Ave, also known as Towne Road, from Old Georgetown to Montrose Parkway.  That will be put on the reconciliation list and a final determination will be made before the budget is approved at the end of May. 
  • Conference Center garage: An FY14 CIP Amendment was introduced at the Council to allow us to go forward with the design of the Conference Center parking garage. This garage is needed as a result of all the parking that will be displaced by constructing re-aligned Executive Boulevard and Market Street, as well as the disposition of the part of the parking lot cut off by Executive Boulevard.  The funding is available through an earlier transaction with the Maryland Dept. of Transportation, when they allowed us to purchase and resell a former commuter parking lot that belonged to SHA.  As part of the agreement, the State dictated that these funds would be used for the replacement parking at the Conference Center, which is partly owned by the state.  A Planning Housing & Economic Development Committee worksession is scheduled for April 28 at the Council office building. Attached is a copy of the Executive’s submitted CIP Amendment. 
  • Western Workaround:  Design is progressing on track.  Right now MCDOT is working with all of the utility companies to reach agreement on the location of the various utilities within the right of way, and also on a plan to relocate the current utilities that run along the span of Executive Boulevard to be abandoned. Our greatest challenge is right of way acquisition.  The Sector Plan and projected road costs assumed that any right of way needed from private property owners would be at no cost to the County.  The timing is not working out because not all of the developers are ready to proceed at the pace we need to have that right of way dedicated.  We are looking at alternatives in the event that the right of way cannot be dedicated in time for construction. 
  • Nebel Street:  MCDOT has a grant for traffic calming measures, and one of the projects identified is Nebel Street between Nicholson Lane and Randolph Road.  As part of the traffic calming design, they are hoping to be able to afford to include bike improvements within the current curb lines.  Different designs are being explored, and will be presented to the committee in a few months.

Bike to Work Day

  • Bike to Work Day is on May 16 and one of the official stops will again be in White Flint at NRC. Free food, beverages and raffle giveaways will be provided from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

 

 

MCDOT wants Saul Centers to scale their project back

Yesterday, BethesdaNow.com reported that the Maryland State Highway Administration and the County Department of Transportation have expressed concern about Saul Center’s proposed project on Rockville Pike.  The redevelopment of the Metro-Pike Plaza would offer three mixed-use buildings on the west side of Rockville Pike, between Nicholson Lane and Marinelli Drive.  Woodglen Drive is slated to extend north, between the Saul Property and The Grand apartment building to connect with Marinelli.

The concern stems from three streets that would run east-west from the extended Woodglen Drive to Rockville Pike – transportation officials are balking at building out these additional intersections when only one was designated in the White Flint Sector Plan.  Both county and state agencies are involved because Rockville Pike, or MD355, is a state road while the others are governed by the county.  Read the full piece on BethesdaNow.com here and see our history and information on the proposed project here.

045Saul-579x400

 

So, we want to know what you think.  The added access between Woodglen and Executive could come at a hefty price tag – millions of dollars per intersection.  Is it worth it?  Let us know.

 

Planning Board to Hear White Flint Projects

At least four White Flint projects have hearings scheduled before the Montgomery County Planning Board in coming months:

  1. North Bethesda Gateway, a project from ProMark and Foulger Pratt, will have a hearing on their Sketch Plan Amendment (32011002A) on October 3rd.  As BethesdaNow.com has reported, the amendment increases residential density and decreases office space.
  2. Federal Realty will have their Pike + Rose Phase 2 site plan and preliminary plan amendment reviewed on October 10th.
  3. Gables Residential will have their sketch plan heard on October 24th.  This is the project related to Wall Park and the Shriver Aquatic Center.
  4. Saul Centers’ sketch plan (320140010) will be heard on December 12th.  After a recent revision to increase the mixed-use of the buildings, which were initially proposed as all residential and office, the plan is considered to have improved significantly.

All hearings will be in the Montgomery County Planning Board’s first floor auditorium at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.  You may testify by signing up in advance here, or by calling 301-495-4600.  Staff reports are generally available in advance of the hearing on the Planning Board’s website (the reports for North Bethesda Gateway and Pike+Rose are linked above). If you can’t make it in person, you can always watch the Planning Board meetings online.

Implementation Advisory Committee Meeting Next Monday

Next week is the second week of the month, which means it’s time to mark your calendars for White Flint meetings!

On July 8th at 7:00pm, the Implementation Advisory Committee will hold their monthly meeting at Wall Local Park/Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center. B.F. Saul/Saul Centers, who owns the Metro Pike Shopping Center (home to sweetFrog, Dunkin Donuts, and 7-11) as well as the Staples and adjacent buildings across the street, will be presenting their sketch plan to the committee.

And, only 2 days after the Implementation meeting, the Postal Service will hold a community meeting – 4:30pm on July 10th, also at the Aquatic Center. This meeting will take the place of the July Downtown Advisory Committee meeting.

Be the First to See Saul Centers’ Plan for their White Flint Properties

Saul Centers Inc. owns some pretty prominent land in White Flint and, on Tuesday evening April 30th, we’ll get our first peek at their plans for it.   Saul owns three properties along Rockville Pike, between Nicholson Lane and Marinelli Road.

The first is Metro-Pike Center on the west side of the Pike.

saul1

Across the Pike, Saul holds the land that now houses Staples and Casual Male XL …

staples

As well as the corner parcel at Nicholson Lane and the Pike, all the way back to and including the former Fortune Star Buffet restaurant.

saul3

The public is invited to a plan Pre-Submission Community Meeting on Tuesday evening at 7:30pm at the Bethesda North Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road.  They will be meeting in the White Oak Conference Room.  Don’t worry if you can’t make it — stay tuned to WhiteFlint.org for all the latest!