A certain amount of celebration is in order after this morning’s unanimous Montgomery County Council vote approving the White Flint Sector Plan. After all, it’s been a long, hard four years. Planning, and planning, and talking, and discussing, and arguing, on and on into many nights. Literally hundreds of meetings; some nights we had three meetings being held simultaneously. Thousands of area residents discussed this Plan; sometimes we had a few people in big, empty rooms, and other times we had dozens packed into tiny rooms. And after all that, it felt good to have the biggest push over with this morning, didn’t it?
Except we’re not quite done. Not to throw cold water on the celebration but Dave Freishtat, who is the representative from the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce on the Friends of White Flint Board of Directors, reminds me that there is more to do. And, as always, Dave is right.
I see three important near-term things that still have to be done:
First, there are some diehard opponents who are using the Growth Policy and old automobile-oriented traffic measurements to try to kill the Plan. There’s yet another public hearing before the Council, beginning in a few minutes, on that attempt. Ken Hurdle, a Luxmanor resident who is also the Secretary of the FoWF Board, will speak on behalf of Friends of White Flint. His testimony concludes: “Hundreds of us, working over four years, using some of the finest walkability and sustainability consultants, have finally crafted a modern community for White Flint. There is consensus in the community on the goals and designs of the Plan. Sustainable. Walkable. Pedestrian-friendly. Transit-oriented. Let’s not use an automobile-centered growth policy to condemn it before we even start.”
Second, the financing for the Plan is not yet done. How do we pay for all this? Crucial question. We have had discussions and lots of options presented. We have formed a general consensus on a development district, but the devil’s in the details. The financing piece of the Plan is not complete.
And finally, not to be overlooked in the euphoria of Council passage is the old fear: will the County fulfill its promises? That’s always been the Achilles heel of any modern plan in this County; even though the White Flint Plan is innovative, it still depends on the County doing its part. That came through loud and clear even during today’s discussion, with the unanimous passage of an amendment by Councilmember Roger Berliner to make more detailed reports on the County’s own commitments and failures available to the Council. Monitoring the commitments.
So there are those three things left in the near term before we can claim that the White Flint Sector Plan is really off the ground.
So, enjoy the moment, but let’s keep our eyes on the target ahead.