** These minutes will remain in draft form until approved by the Board of Directors at their next meeting. Until then, please email any edits to Info@WhiteFlint.org ** **Updated May 29, 2013, to incorporate comments found in italics below** ** Updated October 16, 2013, to remove “draft” status as the Board of Directors approved this version on September 19, 2013 **
Minutes of the May 23, 2013 FoWF Board of Directors Meeting
2013 Board of Directors Meeting
May 23, 2013, 7pm
Federal Realty Investment Trust Offices, Rockville MD
The Friends of White Flint (FoWF) Board Meeting was called to order at 7:04pm at the Rockville offices of Federal Realty Investment Trust. The agenda was prepared by Lindsay Hoffman. Present were Directors Barnaby Zall, David Freishtat, Mike Springer, Suzanne Hudson, Mike Smith, Evan Goldman. A quorum was present. Lindsay Hoffman and Amy Donin, staff from Friends of White Flint were in attendance. Also present were guests and members Dee Metz, Paul Meyer, Theresa White, Tommy Mann, Bernard Regaick, NK Spickler, Shiva Zargham, Chad Salganik, Mandy Lippman, Linda Greenwald, Ronda Taitz, John Olguin, John Robinson, Aaron Kraut, David Neumann, Maureen Neumann, John Malone, Francine Waters, Rachel Newhouse. Not present were directors Todd Lewers, Ken Hurdle, and Greg Trimmer.
Approval of Minutes from February 21, 2013, Annual and Board of Directors Meetings
Draft minutes of the February 21, 2013, meetings were circulated via email, posted on the blog and available in hard copy. The motion to approve the minutes as written was made by Mike Springer, seconded by Suzanne Hudson and unanimously approved.
Barnaby Zall gave the Treasurer’s Report in lieu of Greg Trimmer. While there was a net loss for the first quarter of 2013 and FoWF has dipped into its reserves, this was to be expected given the relatively nonactive 2012 year. The organization’s finances are still in better shape than they were this time last year. In addition, some organizations owe money to FoWF.
Transfer of Administration of FoWF to CityBlock Solutions
Lindsay Hoffman announced the transfer of the administration of FoWF to CityBlock Solutions, a sole proprietorship in her name. She announced that there would be no change in staff or staff’s pay rates, but there would be fewer administrative hurdles for staff to receive more timely paychecks. The motion to transfer administration was moved by Mike Smith and seconded by Mike Springer, and was unanimously approved. Lindsay explained that the contract with CityBlock Solutions expires on July 24th, and the next Board meeting would not be until August or September. The motion to holdover administration of FoWF to CityBlock Solutions until the next board meeting was moved by Mike Smith and seconded by Suzanne Hudson, and unanimously approved.
FoWF Update from Lindsay
** Website/Social Media Traffic – since the last meeting on February 21st, 2013, there have been 14,704 page views and 4142 unique visitors to the website. Additionally, FoWF now has 105 Facebook followers and 106 Twitter followers.
**Membership – Since February 21, FoWF gained 56 new residential members and two new business members. Lindsay is in talks with a couple of other businesses in the area. Lindsay noted that it has been easier to engage new businesses coming to the area, rather than older, more established companies who may be wary of redevelopment. She asked that members connect FoWF to the area businesses they frequent, so FoWF can grow its network.
**Events – Lindsay recapped the events FoWF has either held or participated in since the last meeting: a promotional event with SweetFrog, an online contest with a Seasons52 gift certificate, a monthly presence at the Central Pike Farmers Market, a morning breakfast panel on social media engagement with Montgomery Housing Partnership, a walking tour with Coalition for Smarter Growth and a development showcase at the North Bethesda Market Whole Foods. When looking at sponsorship opportunities, efforts will be made to not favor one business over another. Lindsay noted that White Flint in general has also been mentioned during a variety of conferences over the past few months.
FoWF has also been advocating for certain projects in the White Flint area. We kept the community aware of the possible closure of Montrose East Parkway at the railroad crossing. The Planning Board has stated their preference to keep the crossing open, and Theresa White from WRIT explained that the State Highway Administration is planning to comply but must go before the Council with final engineering plans. FoWF’s Amy Donin testified at the Planning Board’s public hearing for the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan in favor of BRT, specifically for dedicated lanes on Rockville Pike. Francine Waters explained that the Master Plan of Highways does not currently reserve the most effective right of way for transit, meaning it may be difficult to include ideal transit in the future. A new group in the area, Communities for Transit, will also be participating in advocacy activities.
Updates on White Flint Projects from Property Owners/Developers
** Dee Metz from the County Executive’s Office explained that the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will be presenting the 35% design in the western workaround at the June 10th Implementation Advisory Committee meeting.
**Theresa White from WRIT explained that the design for Montrose parkway extension is at 30%. Cars will be able to go over the CSX tracks, but won’t connect with the Parkway; however it will connect to Nebel Street.
**Evan Goldman from FRIT told the group that they are continuing to make progress with an office building, movie theater, retail and garage. FRIT also broke ground on a 19 story high-rise; residential leases may begin in April of next year. They are 72% leased on retail, which will open in September of next year. The recently-announced Strathmore venue will overlook the Pike and Rose park and will be available for all seasons. There will be a mix of restaurants from fast/casual to cafes to sit down. FRIT will be breaking ground on phase 2 of their project in February, which will include a hotel. Leasing on the second phase is going very well and FRIT expects to be at the Planning Board this fall for approvals. Additionally, FRIT is working on a way to keep the food trucks available at the Pike Central Farmers Market once the restaurants begin operating.
**Mike Smith of LCOR reported that the residential building, the Aurora, has reached 13 of its 18 stories. The NRC building remains an issue and is now the subject of congressional hearings. GSA is also involved with that. MC-DOT has recently informed LCOR that they will no longer plan to build the bridge of the Metro station. As preferred by WMATA, LCOR will now build the bridge, which will require a new design as Metro has expressed concerns about winter weather effects. The bridge will be an important east-west connector in the sector plan and will be at pedestrian scale with possibly three lanes. An MOU process with the county is still outstanding. Board Member Suzanne Hudson noted that the bridge offers a great opportunity to incorporate the “pedestrian promenade” concept we see in the Sector Plan. It would be the perfect glimpse into what the future White Flint will resemble.
**Francine Waters from Lerner said that the mall property is moving toward a site plan, but nothing is finalized yet. There is still no date for when the mall will be demolished.
**Rachel Newhouse from Montgomery County Parks explained that they recently finished renovating the playground at Wall Park. Additionally, Parks is still designing the new Wall Park and is accepting any ideas and suggestions from the community. They want to get more ideas, and possibly use FoWF as a resource to do charrettes or have the community vote on ideas. Parks is working with their engineers to save the trees currently in the park, perhaps moving them to the edges with a trail through them. The Parks Department is filling out project description forms for Wall Park for the FY 2015-2021 CIP Budget. Also, a new policy allows parks to be named after sponsors, so there may be funding opportunities through that route. The first phase of the project will deal with parking, then green space, then facilities. Traffic studies are underway to determine how many spaces will actually be needed at Wall Park. The Parks Department will also be in front of the Planning Board in the next couple of weeks with a facility plan for Josiah Henson Park.
**John Malone from Gables Residential explained that they will have a sketch plan for their property in early June, and will go in front of the Planning Board with a site plan in early fall.
**David Frieshtat reported that the Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC) has created a new steering committee. The next meeting will be on June 10th and, as mentioned before, topics will include the western workaround and a new project from Foulger-Pratt. Issues on biking have been delegated to the Downtown Advisory Committee. The groups are still working on delineating which organization will be in charge of certain aspects of the implementation/planning process.
Issues for Discussion
**Washington Gas Tower – Washington Gas is proposing a 145-foot communications tower in the center of their property on Nebel Street (currently zoned as industrial). However, the properties around the area are changing and the communications tower will have an impact on them. Lindsay has spoken to the engineer in charge at Washington Gas; that person was not aware the planned redevelopment in White Flint. The county’s Tower Committee will be the ultimate approving body, but first approval is needed from the FAA (regarding air rights) and the FCC (to assure no duplication). Lindsay will be meeting with Kelly Caplan, community outreach representative for Washington Gas, next week and to discuss the community’s concerns. One of the main reasons why Washington Gas wants the tower at their property on Nebel is because it is in the line of sight of two existing towers (on Hungerford and Wisconsin). No one is sure how the current and pending construction in the area will affect the line of sight. The tower will not be used for private use; its main use will be to improve internal communication for Washington Gas in times of emergency. Lindsay will also reach out to Roger Berliner’s office to make sure he is aware of the situation. If the tower ends up being installed, many suggested trying to make the tower look as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
**Roads and Department of Transportation Issues – Lindsay asked the group if anyone felt a need for FoWF to get involved on these issues. It was agreed that getting from 35% design to 100% as soon as possible will be critical. If the design isn’t ideal, FoWF may need to advocate and get more Council members involved to make roads in White Flint a priority in the county. Dee Metz explained that there is enough money in the current CIP to continuing designing, and road design for White Flint will go through the full CIP process (as opposed to just being an amendment); she is currently meeting with the County Executive on this issue. However, as costs go up for this project, the money will need to come from other projects. CIP budget season begins in March, and FoWF/community members will need to lobby. Evan Goldman suggested that FoWF get as many businesses and residents involved as possible, so when budget season comes we are ready. There is a community concern about how much the tax base will be increased. Currently, it is estimated that after 40 years, there will be a $7billion impact. White Flint has a transportation tax district, but right now it collects less than $1million a year (it will increase as improvements happen). The western workaround is already costing $100million, and there are issues with facilities, stormwater management, etc. In this sense, White Flint is competing with other projects in the County such as the Great Seneca Science Corridor/Belward Farm. Lindsay said that in the meantime, FoWF will discuss the complete streets model on the blog more to educate the community.
Resolution to Amend the Bylaws and Expand Board Size to a Maximum of 15
Barnaby Zall proposed a resolution to amend the FoWF bylaws and expand the board size from 9 to a maximum of 15, with the composition of the board (equal representation from the three categories of residents, businesses and developers/property owners) remaining the same. He explained that FoWF has a fairly stable board with a lot of institutional memory. However, the organization is growing. The motion was moved by David Frieshtat and seconded by Mike Springer. As raised over email by Greg Trimmer and Evan Goldman, an amendment was proposed to change the maximum from 15 to 12, explaining that one day FoWF may need 15 board members but right now that number might be too large and unwieldy. The amendment was passed unanimously, and the amended resolution was passed unanimously. There will be an open call for nominations for the three new seats. Nominees can present to board members before the next board meeting, and then there will be an election. The new board members will have their first year be a stub year, and then will go into the regular election cycle.
Vision Discussion: What impact do you see FoWF having over the next year?
Lindsay explained the three main facets of FoWF: education, engagement and advocacy. Members agreed that programming has been very important. The venue for events should move around, and there should be an effort to have elected officials come to provide more opportunities for advocacy. Evan Goldman suggested growing residential membership. The issue of what to call the new White Flint came up again, and the example of Tysons in VA came up. Residents can put pressure on the postmaster for the area to have its own zip code, like Tysons (currently there are about 4 zip codes in the area). Some members from the community said that the area shouldn’t be North Bethesda; Mike Smith explained that LCOR already has invested in the name North Bethesda, as the consensus 10 years ago was that the area should be North Bethesda.
WSSC is upgrading stormwater pipes in the Luxmanor area in Cabin John as part of their EPA requirements. FRIT is also upgrading some sanitary pipes, which will be rerouted along Executive and Montrose, to avoid taking property from single family homes.
John Olguin from the Timberlawn HOA explained that his community is concerned about the lighting on the Trolley Trail. Members have talked to Montgomery County about these concerns and is trying to strategize. One idea is that the community is willing to pay for the light installation if the county will pay for the lighting and maintenance. Cost is a major concern. Dee Metz explained that there are several trails around the county, and once you light one you have to light them all. Members from the Timberlawn HOA would like Lindsay to come to speak about White Flint.
Evan Goldman motioned and Suzanne Hudson seconded to adjourn the meeting; adjournment was unanimously approved at 9:01pm.