Here are the updates from the White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee meeting from Tuesday, October 14th:
- North Bethesda Market II and Gables Residential White Flint went to the development review committee about 2 weeks ago.
- As mentioned before, the Western Workaround has been broken up into 2 phases. Right now, Phase I of the Western Workaround is on hold.
2) Discussion of Western Workaround
- Nkosi Yearwood mentioned that the County Council introduced an amendment on Tuesday, the 14th, for the Old Georgetown Road segment between Grand Park Avenue and Towne Road for the CIP. The discussion around the amendment will take place in January 2015.
- For the past month, many have expressed concerns that the design of the Western Workaround segment and that it is not consistent with what was discussed in the Sector Plan. David Frieshtat asked the committee to endorse the segment as written in the Sector Plan, as it is time for this part of the community to raise their voices. It is important to know that Old Georgetown Road is a state road so SHA will make the final decision on the plan for anything related to Old Georgetown Road.
- Bruce Johnston mentioned that MCDOT had a traffic study done of the WF sector. White Flint Partnership created another traffic study. The studies started with using very different land use assumptions, which is why the numbers that each study found varied some. The study done by the WF partnership makes use of every road in the WF Sector, while the MCDOT’s study did not. They have submitted both studies to SHA and now they are waiting on the comments from the SHA. Federal Realty did a local study of Old Georgetown Road.
- Bruce Johnston says the design is at 30% design, so the current design includes 2 eastbound lanes, 2 westbound lanes, and 2 turning lanes, one on each side. According to Bruce, if a pedestrian were to walk across Old Georgetown Road at the crosswalk within this segment, they would cross 6 lanes but if one were to walk in the middle of the road/block, they would cross 8 lanes. But down by the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Grand Park Avenue, it will be 7 lanes. As the Hoya Street extension was added to the CIP FY2015-2020, it will be designed according to state standards. Bike lanes will be included and the hope is to connect Montrose Parkway and will continue all the way to Towne Road, which will hopefully take traffic off Old Georgetown.
- The plan for the segment between Grand Park Avenue and Towne Road was always in the Sector Plan but the funding was not. It became funded during the last CIP budget designation, which became effective on July 1st.
- The design for the segment is not set in stone, so MCDOT is open to changes, especially with what was introduced by the county council last week. Ultimately the design is up to SHA, as they have the decision power. The SHA controls Old Georgetown Road but it is up to the county to fund any projects or changes to the road. The county is working with the state to agree on a mutually beneficial plan, which will be based on all the studies and reports completed on the area. Right now, the area is forward funded, which means money is being taken away from other projects that could be funded now. MCDOT hopes to have the design done by the end of this fiscal year. The construction will take place in different phases because traffic will still need to flow through the area so the construction cannot be done all at once.
- The county wants to push towards having some sort of bike facility whether that will be a bike lane, a shared-use path, or something else.
- Brian Downie focused on the need for a united front when we bring the design to the state. It will take the county (MCDOT, County Council), the Planning Board, the Implementation Committee, and community members coming together to show that the new design is important for the change we want to create in the White Flint sector. In addition, a committee member mentioned it is necessary for the county to bring a complete application/design to the state, which means that the county has completed all the necessary studies and reports and analyzed them sufficiently.
- Brian Downie also mentioned that creating the street grid or network is the most important part of the change for the White Flint sector, so all stakeholders in the changes need to remember this.
- David Frieshtat made a recommendation that we engage the Planning Board/Planning Chair to make sure what is implemented in the White Flint sector is what was put forth in the Sector Plan.
3) Downtown Advisory Committee Update from Ken Hartman
- They hope to launch the website for the White Flint sector by Thanksgiving. It will include a directory of restaurants, employers, and businesses in the area as well as social networking connections with a newsfeed and Twitter updates. The leading domain right now is MetroWhiteFlint.org but the final decision on the domain has not been made yet. Alongside the branding discussion of the sector, they will make the necessary adjustments with the name when the final decision is made about the brand. They want to launch the website as soon as possible to start engaging the economic development of the region and promoting what already exists.
- In addition, they are working on the beautification plan for Rockville Pike. This plan includes landscaping for green spaces along the Pike as well as flower planting.
- Furthermore, they are working on the streetscape plan for the White Flint Sector. They want to develop a plan to incorporate different types of features that can be used by developers when they design the facades of their buildings. Each developer may want to use varying features so they want to make a comprehensive plan that will include many features.
4) White Flint Implementation Coordinator report from Dee Metz
- The Woodglen Drive cycle track is coming along nicely and is in the middle of construction. The weather has postponed the pavement marking but this week the flex posts, green striping, and bike detecting devices will be put up. They hope to be done with the cycle track construction by the end of the month.
- The county is working on the site plan amendment for the parking garage for the North Bethesda Conference Center.
- Gables Residential White Flint is trying to move forward with their plan. The county is doing completing a study right now to see if it is possible to close part of Executive Boulevard and detouring the traffic elsewhere. The county and Gables continue to have productive meetings with SHA and VOB. They hope to get advanced funding for the plan with the possibility of early dedication of the land. The state is cooperating now and trying to work towards the creation of a plan, however it is a very complex issue.
- The county is working with the state on the fire station property with the senior housing co-located in the building. They hope to have the plan finalized by the end of the year. The county is working on the issues with the utilities along Chapman Avenue extension, where the fire station will be located (north of Old Georgetown Road). The hope is to have road construction started by Spring 2015.
- The Nebel Street bike facilities are still in the study phase.
5) Update from Cindy Gibson, Chief of Staff for Councilmember Roger Berliner
- Councilmember Berliner is working on a possible interim use of Wall Park before the development occurs. They want to create a productive use for the park that will include low cost alternatives and will activate the park in the short term. The interim use will not affect the long-term use of the park. The county council seems open to the idea of an interim use.