What the Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting Discussed Last Week

What the Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting Discussed Last Week

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee met last week for their monthly meeting, and here’s what they discussed.

Ken Hartman, Director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Center, reported that crews have been working on cleaning up the medians and other areas in the Pike District.  He also reported that the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board met at the Shriver Aquatic Center last month.

Dee Metz, White Flint Coordinator in the County Executive’s office, said that the Conference Center Garage goes for mandatory referral May 12.  SHA agreed to off-road separated bike lanes on Towne Road with an FY18 construction start date.  The Western Workaround is projected to be completed in 2020.

Peggy Schwartz of the Transportation Management District reminded everyone that Bike to Work day is May 20. There are 83 pit stops, including 12 in Montgomery County and an expected 15,000 participants.

Nkosi Yearwood, a Planner at Montgomery Planning Department, said the Saul Centers West Phase One Site Plan will come before the planning board on June 2.

Committee Chairman Brian Downie, said County Executive Ike Leggett got an update on the Downtown Advisory Committee.

Cliff Cohen, Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, reported that the business improvement district legislation didn’t get out of committee at the state legislature.  Next year, he suggested, we will need to better educate delegates, especially the MoCo delegation, about the need for new business improvement legislation. He added that there are other Bethesda Urban Partnership-like entities across Maryland which lessens the demand for the legislation.  The strategic planning committee will work on determining what services we need in the White Flint area.

Brian Downie said that the Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel had many interesting, innovative ideas. The panel took a tour of the area, held a roundtable discussion, hunkered down to discuss how to brand and identify the area, and asked for additional information via email before presenting their thoughts on how to create an identity for the Pike District.  The panel ended up focusing on the spine of the area, Rockville Pike, rather than being concerned with the borders of the area. The panel suggested that the White Flint area be broken down around major developments and intersections.  Whimsical artwork on the Montrose Parkway bridge is one example of what could be done to visually identify this area. The goal is to create gathering places, focusing on Route 355 first then branching out.  The ULI staff will write the final report which will be done in a few months, then the Advisory committee will start to work on implementation. The panel had suggested the White Flint Partnership be a leader in the implementation, but Brian suggested this needs a great deal more thought since community support and lots of public/private partnerships will be critical to its success.

Tom Murphy, Chair of the Communications Committee, said that the Advisory committee participated in the BCC Chamber Big Event. The committee will include a postcard with Fall Fest and Pike District information in all Pikes Peak materials to promote the area.

Francine Waters, Chair of the Fall Fest Committee, said that the committee is working hard to make the Fall Fest a great kick-off event, including food trucks, the Nighthawks, volunteers from WJ High School, and other all-age activities.

Amy Ginsburg

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