Archives January 2016

Email County Council to Create a Park Paradise in the Pike District!

According to the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, Wall Park next to the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center is supposed to become a park paradise. The plan creates an eight-acre park with room for sports, heart-healthy walks, quiet contemplation, a children’s playground, public events, and maybe even a dog park.

To create this essential community amenity, we need to pull up the parking lot that covers much of Wall Park. To replace the surface parking, a garage will be built immediately behind the swim center with plenty of safe, convenient parking for the park and the aquatic center.

Montgomery Parks requested funding in the County’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget to build the garage. Unfortunately, the County Executive did not include the garage funding in the CIP budget he presented to the County Council. But that does not mean that the garage can’t be built.

Friends of White Flint is launching an important advocacy campaign focused on the County Council to include funding for the garage in the CIP budget. If the County fully funds a convenient, safe Wall Park Parking Garage in the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), we can have a park paradise in just two to three years.

Why should we build the Wall Park garage now?

  1. The County can realize significant savings and construction efficiencies if the Wall Park garage is built at the same time as Gables builds their apartment garage.
  2. There is currently very little park space for residents to enjoy in the Pike District, and the thousands of people in the White Flint area deserve a full-fledged park. Green space is an important promised feature of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.
  3. The White Flint Sector Plan is transforming this area, and green space is one of the most attractive amenities to both residents and businesses. Wall Park’s Great Lawn, which is part of the approved White Flint Sector Plan, is essential to attracting the people, retailers, and offices needed to create a thriving, successful White Flint community.
 Here’s how you can help create a Park Paradise in the Pike District:
  1. Attend the Council Capital Improvements Program (CIP) hearing on February 9th, 7 pm, Third Floor Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850. (We’ll have Wall Park T-shirts for folks to wear.)
  2. Email council members. While we have an email template you can use which you can find here, it is more effective if you draft your own email.
Your email should be short and to the point and be sent to each of the council members at the addresses below. The key points to include in your email are: 
1) Constructing the Wall Park Garage now is cost-effective and the best use of County land and funds.
2) Wall Park is a vital community amenity that is important to you and essential to creating a thriving Pike District/White Flint area.  
Here are the email addresses for the council members. Please send your email urging funding of the Wall Park Garage to all of them and please copy us at 
Will you join our fight for a park paradise in our neighborhood? Will you urge the Council to “un-pave paradise and pull up the parking lot?” Will you tell your friends and neighbors about this campaign and urge residents to become involved? We won’t succeed without lots of support from community residents.
Please don’t hesitate to contact executive director Amy Ginsburg at for more information and to learn how you can be part of this campaign. You can also visit for more information.
Thank you very much for your time and help!

Happy Anniversary, Dietle’s

The Pike District isn’t only about the new; there’s also the historic. Hank Dietle’s Tavern on Rockville Pike is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year. Dietle’s opened in 1916 as Offutt’s, a general store and filling station.  Hank Dietle took over in the 1950s when the tavern served as a pit stop for drivers making their way down Rockville Pike. Deitle’s received the first beer and wine license ever issued in Montgomery County.

Washingtonian Magazine wrote a terrific feature about Dietle’s Tavern that you can read here.


Living near Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s? Your home is worth more.

According to a study performed by Zillow,  homes grow more rapidly in value if they are closer to a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Between 1997 and 2014, homes near the two grocery chains were consistently worth more than the median U.S. home. By the end of 2014, homes within a mile of either store were worth more than twice as much as the median home in the rest of the country.

“Like Starbucks, the stores have become an amenity in their own right – a signal to the home-buying public that the neighborhood they’re located in is desirable, perhaps up-and-coming, and definitely improving,” said Zillow Group Chief Economist Stan Humphries. “Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the stores may actually drive home prices. Even if they open in neighborhoods where home prices have lagged those in the wider city, they start to outperform the city overall once the stores arrive.”

“The grocery store phenomenon is about more than groceries,” said Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff. “It says something about the way people want to live – in the type of neighborhood favored by the generations buying homes now. Today’s homebuyers seek things in neighborhoods that weren’t even in real estate agents’ vocabularies a generation ago: walkability, community, new urbanism – and maybe we should add words like sustainable seafood and organic pears.”

As you know, the Pike District (which includes both the White Flint 1 and White Flint 2 sectors) has both a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  Zillow CEO Rascoff emphasized that walkability, community, and new urbanism are qualities sought by homeowners. Sounds like he’s saying the Pike District is exactly what many homeowners and renters desire.

Poignant reminders from a perfect snowstorm

Snowzilla — more than 2 feet of light and lovely snow. The power stayed on, thankfully, so we could be toasty warm and well-fed while we watched the flakes drift down. Most importantly, I love how neighbors tromped through the un-plowed roads, stopping to chat with both old friends and ones just met rather than hurrying to the metro or car with barely a hello. I love how children … of all ages … spontaneously gathered to sled and toss snowballs, no play dates required.  And I loved how communities usually dependent on cars suddenly morphed into walkable neighborhoods.

Snow days remind us of the importance of neighborhoods and of walkability. The corner store open to re-supply us with wine and munchees just half a mile away becomes the most significant retail establishment. Pedestrians take over the streets since it takes longer to shovel two feet of snow from sidewalks than to plow a road. People take walks in twenty degree temps simply to see the snowy world that surrounds them and hear the magical quiet of a snow-covered land.

During a storm everyone wishes they lived in a walkable community with restaurants and retail. Someday the Pike District will be that walkable community.

What happened at last night’s FOWF community meeting

Whew — I’m impressed at how much we accomplished last night at our community/board meeting. Thanks to the fifty or so people who attended and participated.

  1. We approved a $53,300 budget for 2016.
  2. We voted to launch an advocacy campaign to “un-pave paradise and pull up the parking lot” in Wall Park. We are asking the County Council to include $6 million in funding for the Wall Park Garage and creating an 8-acre Park Paradise at Wall Park. Everyone’s participation in this campaign will be essential to its success — appearing at hearings, submitting testimony, and sending emails.  Look for tomorrow’s e-blast for details. You can also learn more at
  3. MCDOT showed us plans for Towne Road/Hoya Street that include a cycle track, on-street parking, 7-and 8-foot sidewalks, and cafe seating. You can see the plans here.
  4. We voted to support the County Executive’s CIP budget request for $600,000 to finish the planning study for Rapid Transit.

Thanks again to all our speakers and participants!

Please attend tonight’s FOWF community/board meeting

Board/Community Meeting

January 19, 2016   6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center


Before the meeting at 6:10 pm: Tour of Wall Park and new Wall Park Garage Site (Montgomery Parks, Eddie Meder).

6:30 pm       Approval of minutes from November board meeting (Amy Ginsburg)

6:35 pm       2015 Financial Report and 2016 Budget (Eric Grosse)

6:45 pm       Development Update (Property Owners)

6:55 pm       Wall Park Advocacy Campaign “Un-pave paradise. Pull up the parking lot.” (Amy Ginsburg, Montgomery Parks)

7:20 pm       Hoya Street/Towne Road design (MCDOT)

7:35 pm       Rapid Transit System along Route 355 in the Pike District (Francine Waters)


7:50 pm       Other Business


Service Projects in the Pike District on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Montgomery County will host its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 18, 2016.  During this Day of Service they have over 3,000 volunteers who come out to participate in community service projects that help individuals, children, families in the county, as well as international organizations serving those in need.  The main project site is in the Pike District.
MAIN EVENT: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, Monday, January 18, 1 to 3 p.m.
5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda
  • Hunger Free Zone /“100K in a Day” project: Participants will help package 100,000 meals for area food banks and assemble snow day boxes for Meals on Wheels.
  • Additional Service Projects: More than 40 activities benefiting more than 40 non-profit organizations in the County.
  • Volunteer Fair: More than 35 nonprofits will have representatives on hand to discuss their organizations’ missions and volunteer opportunities.
  • iDream iPledge: KID Museum will offer youth an opportunity to discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and develop their own dreams to load into the Dream Machine.
Here are some photos from last  year’s service project.

What you missed at the White Flint Implementation and Downtown Advisory Committee Meetings

Mark your calendars! The next Friends of White Flint board/community meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 19th at from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center.

And speaking of meetings, here’s what was discussed at this week’s White Flint Implementation Committee and Downtown Advisory Committee Meetings.

Monday’s White Flint Implementation Committee Meeting

New members of the committee were introduced: Abbie Milstein of Luxmanor, Kristi Smith of JBG Companies, Michael Krathaumer of The Wisconsin, and Jay Corbalis of Federal Realty.

Development Activity: not much going on right now with East Village, Pike and Rose, Saul Centers Phase 1, and Gables Pike District.

MNCPPC is in the midst of drafting the White Flint 2 sector plan. The next public meeting is February 1 at 7:00 pm at Luxmanor Elementary.

Dee Metz reported that SHA has come around in remarkable ways in striving to make the Pike District bike and pedestrian-friendly. They have agreed to ten-foot lane widths, 30 mph speed limits, and 6″ curbs.

Patricia Shepherd of MCDOT presented the plans for the cycle track on Nebel Street. It’s at 90% design and covers Nebel Street from Randolph to Marinelli.  This is a retrofit/interim design that also improves handicapped ramps.

Bruce Johnston of MCDOT presented the proposed design for Hoya Street/Towne Road.  The road features ten-foot driving lanes, 30 mph speed limits, and 6″ curb heights.  The plan features a cycle track, sidewalks for pedestrians, on-street car parking, and cafe seating. MCDOT is working closely with SHA on this project.


Tina Benjamin presented the plans for the Bethesda North Conference Center parking garage.

White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee

Ken Hartman of the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center reported there were 110 people at the County Executive’s budget forum. Some of themore popular issues people brought up were overcrowding at Ashburton Elementary and other Walter Johnson district schools and the County liquor authority.  Ken also reported that 85 bags of refuse were recently collected in the Pike District.

Peggy Schwartz of the Transportation Management District reported that they are helping businesses to understand the new transit benefit law which requires parity with parking benefits. She also mentioned that the commuter survey results will be available in a few weeks.

Dee Metz acknowledged the good success the County is having working with DOT and SHA on Pike District roads, like the western workaround and Towne Road.

Ken Hartman said they interviewed a number of good candidates for the position of Downtown Advisory Committee Manager and hope to select someone soon.

Tom Murphy said the communications committee is working on a refresh of the website.

Francine Waters asked everyone to put the Fall Fest on their calendars. It will be held on October 8 from 12 noon to 2 pm at Marinelli and Rockville Pike.  A ribbon cutting, live bands, and food trucks will be the highlights of the Fall Fest. Other properties in the Pike District may have their own festivals starting at 2:00 to add to the fun of Fall Fest.

Cliff Cohen reported that the strategic planning committee will start its work by determining what services a potential BID might offer, essentially creating a value proposition before looking at funding.

Brian Downie announced that the committee is hosting a ULI Technical Assistance Panel January 27 and 28 to examine how we start to identify the Pike District, including wayfinding, signage, streetscape, etc.

A great looking new garage at the Conference Center

At last night’s White Flint Implementation Committee Meeting, Tina Benjamin, Chief of Staff at Montgomery County Economic Development, presented plans for the new parking garage for the Bethesda North Conference Center. The new garage is necessary because many of the surface parking lot spaces behind the Conference Center will disappear as the Western Workaround is constructed.

The six-story garage will have 650 spaces in a double helix design. Electric car chargers and bike parking are part of the design as well. A pedestrian bridge connect the second floor ballroom to the garage so there will no longer be a need to stumble through a slippery parking lot in formal wear and heels. Construction will take twelve to fifteen months, and they break ground this summer. The new garage will have entrances from both Executive Boulevard and Market Street which will run parallel to Marinelli Road and Old Georgetown Road. Some of the new roads that are part of the Western Workaround will be build at the same time that this garage is being constructed.

Thanks to creative work and dedication by the County Executive’s Office, the County will not incur any expenses for the new garage.

While there will still be some fine-tuning to the design, below are three images of this good-looking garage.