Archives August 2016

North Bethesda Market Hosts Montgomery County’s First Tomato Festival September 10

Maryland’s tomatoes are in season, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy all things tomato – from zesty sauce and heirloom varieties to inspired chef creations. To celebrate this flavorful fruit, North Bethesda Market will host its first Tomato Festival Saturday, September 10, 2016 from 12 noon to 5 p.m., rain or shine. The event is free and open to the public.

A schedule of activities is below. More information is available by calling 888-632-6176 or visiting http://www.nobetomatofestival.com.

10:30 a.m. to 12 noon
VIT (Very Important Tomato) BRUNCH
Support the arts during this brunch to benefit VisArts, Rockville’s non-profit arts center
Hosted by Seasons 52
$25 per person. To purchase tickets: https://tomatofestbrunch.eventbrite.com

12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
LIVE CONCERT
Enjoy a free performance by the popular Scott Kurt & Memphis 59 (modern country rock)

1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
“TOMATO TOSS UP” CHEF COMPETITION
Cheer your favorite top chefs as they compete for best tomato inspired dish.
Chefs representing Paladar Latin Kitchen, Seasons 52 and BRIO Tuscan Grille

2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
SPAGHETTI EATING CONTEST
Compete for a title and a prize and eat your pasta too!
Free registration required in advance online at http://www.nobetomatofestival.com
Sponsored by BRIO Tuscan Grille

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
LIVE CONCERT
Enjoy a free performance by local favorite Durham Station (bluegrass)

ALL DAY (12 noon to 5 p.m.)

PEOPLE’S CHOICE SAUCE TASTING COMPETITION
Taste sauces made by some of the county’s top chefs, then pick your favorite!
Chefs representing BRIO Tuscan Grille, Seasons 52, American Tap Room Rockville,
Carluccio’s, Sug Osteria, Quincy’s Bar & Grill, Gusto Italian Grill, Summer House and Stella Barra

YOUTH ART DISPLAY & ART ACTIVITIES
Discover colorful, tomato-themed art by local youth on display
Participate in free tomato-themed kids activities the whole family can enjoy
Hosted by VisArts

REYKA VODKA STATION
Sip and savor Bloody Mary drinks and other specialty cocktails to your heart’s content.
For guests 21 years of age and older. Valid ID Required.
Sponsored by Reyka Vodka

CENTRAL FARM MARKETS
Sample tomatoes and tomato products from Central Farm Markets coming on site for the Fest.

Plus, enjoy a friendly cornhole tournament presented by Spotluck, register to win fun prizes, and sample various varieties of tomatoes. Additional food offerings will be available for purchase.

If there was a magic pill that made you happier, healthier, more connected, richer and safer, would you take it?

Well, that magic pill does exist. It’s called “walkable streets.” (I’m certainly glad that we’re enhancing walkability in the White Flint area because I definitely would love to be healthier, happier, richer, more connected to people, and safer.)

Here’s a list of 50 positive effects from creating walkable communities from an article in Fast Company.

1. It helps people live longer
Inactivity is the fourth leading cause of mortality around the world; physical activity dropped 32% in the last four decades in the U.S., and 45% in less than two decades in China. For people over 60, walking just 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of dying by 22%.

2. It helps people lose weight
A 30-minute walk can burn 100 calories; for every 12 blocks or so walked a day, your risk of obesity drops 4.8%.

3. It reduces the risk of chronic disease
Regular walking may reduce the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. Inactivity is a primary cause of most chronic diseases.

4. It makes people happier
Someone with a one-hour commute in a car needs to earn 40% more to be as happy as someone with a short walk to work. On the other hand, researchers found that if someone shifts from a long commute to a walk, their happiness increases as much as if they’d fallen in love. People who walk 8.6 minutes a day are 33% more likely to report better mental health.

People who walk 8.6 minutes a day are 33% more likely to report better mental health.

5. It improves traffic safety
More than 270,000 pedestrians are killed around the world every year; better street design, and policies that reduce speed, can obviously help reduce the risk of crashes. Just shortening a long crosswalk can reduce the risk of pedestrian deaths 6%.

6. It brings back “eyes on the street”
While some countries invest in security cameras for streets—like the U.K., with 5.9 million cameras in public spaces—encouraging more people to walk is a cheaper way of increasing surveillance and making streets feel safer.

7. It reduces crime in other ways
Making streets more pleasant for walking—reducing trash, for example, or enforcing the speed limit—also has the added benefit of reducing crime. In one Kansas City neighborhood, crime dropped 74% after some streets went car-free on weekends.

8. It makes neighborhoods more vibrant
The same features that make streets more walkable, like a safer and more attractive design, make people want to spend more time in them generally, bringing vibrancy back to neighborhoods.

9. It enhances the “sense of place”
Spending time walking through a neighborhood, rather than driving, helps people have a better sense of what makes it unique—and more likely to want to help take care of it.

10. It’s a driver for creativity
If a neighborhood is walkable, it’s more likely to become home to public street art and open-air events; conversely, public art and cultural events can help draw people to streets where they might not have walked before.

In one Kansas City neighborhood, crime dropped 74% after some streets went car-free on weekends.

11. It’s universally accessible
While not everyone can afford a car or knows how to drive, walking is universally accessible, and even those who take the subway or drive also walk at some points during the day. The report makes the point that designing pedestrian infrastructure for those who are less mobile also helps make the experience of walking better for everyone.

12. It fosters social interaction
Walkable streets bring people together who might not otherwise meet. In a classic 1960s study, people who lived on streets with more car traffic were less likely to know their neighbors.

13. It strengthens community identity
As people interact more on streets, that also builds a sense of community. In Ireland, one study found that people in walkable neighborhoods had 80% more “social capital” than those living in car-dependent areas.

14. It connects people across generations
In the U.S., millennials prefer walking to driving by a 12% margin. In some areas, the elderly are also more likely to walk or take public transit. Making streets more walkable helps bring people of all ages—including children—together.

15. It builds inclusiveness
Traffic infrastructure, such as highways, can physically separate and segregate neighborhoods; better design for walkability makes the whole city more accessible to everyone. For the lowest-income people, who might lose a job if their car breaks down, it can help build a social safety net.

16. It boosts the economy
Making neighborhoods more walkable increases the number of people who shop there. Pedestrians may spend as much as 65% more than drivers. It also boosts employment; in Dublin, a redesigned pedestrian-friendly neighborhood led to a 300% increase in employment. Overall, biking and walking provide an estimated return on investment of $11.80 for every $1 invested.

17. It helps local businesses
In Brooklyn, redesigning a parking lot into a pedestrian plaza boosted retail sales 172%. People who visit street markets in a city are also more likely to shop at stores nearby. The less that people drive, the more money they also have available to spend locally; an economist estimates that because people in Portland, Oregon, drive 20% less than the rest of the country, they save more than $1 billion, and much of that goes back to local businesses.

18. It helps make people more creative and productive
Research suggests that walking boosts creative output an average of 60%. You’re also more likely to be productive, improve memory, and make better decisions after exercise. Walking during work also helps: One internal study at a company found that people felt more energetic, focused, and engaged after walking meetings.

19. It improves a city’s brand and identity
Making a city more walkable and liveable can also give it a stronger identity, and make people want to visit. Barcelona, which has worked on improving public spaces and walkability since the 1980s, has seen its number of annual visitors grow 335% over the last two decades.

20. It increases tourism
For tourists, walking is one of the best ways to experience a city, and improving walkability makes more people interested in visiting. In London, Trafalgar Square saw a 300% increase in visitors after pedestrianizing.

21. It encourages more investment
After cities invest in walkable public space, it can encourage more investment in the same area. The High Line in New York led to $2 billion in private investment in the neighborhood around the park.

22. It attracts the creative class
Skilled professionals tend to migrate to walkable areas; the most walkable neighborhoods have much higher GDPs per capita, and more college graduates.

Pedestrianizing a street can make home values go up $82 a square foot.

23. It increases land and property values
When neighborhoods become safer, more accessible, and more liveable, property values rise. Pedestrianizing a street can make home values go up $82 a square foot. It’s also good for landlords, if not tenants: Rents can rise $300 per month.

24. It activates the street facade
Walkable neighborhoods are less likely to have a lot of vacant storefronts. In New York City, expanding the pedestrian space in Union Square reduced commercial vacancies 49%.

25. It shrinks the cost of traffic congestion
The more people walk and the fewer people are stuck in traffic on roads, the more that benefits the economy. In the Bay Area, for example, businesses lose $2 billion a year because employees are stuck in gridlock.

26. It saves money on construction and maintenance
While building and maintaining roads is expensive—the U.S. needs an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020 to repair existing infrastructure—sidewalks are more affordable. Investing in sidewalks also brings health and air quality benefits worth twice as much as the cost of construction.

27. It reduces health care costs
Inactivity leads to huge health care costs. The U.S. spends $190 billion on obesity-related illnesses alone.

28. It decreases dependency on nonrenewable resources
Experts estimate that the world may only have 56 years worth of oil left; cars waste most of the gas they use. Walking, by contrast, can actually generate energy if cities install energy-harvesting sidewalk tiles.

29. It minimizes land use
Sidewalks and bike paths are more compact than roads; they also enable people to easily live in denser neighborhoods, unlike traditional car-dependent suburbs.

30. It reduces air pollution
On a single car-free day in 2015, Paris cut smog by 40% in parts of the city. Over the long term, pedestrianization can improve health as the air grows cleaner, and can help cut a city’s carbon footprint.

31. It cuts ambient noise
With fewer people driving, cities get quieter. On Paris’s first car-free day, sound levels on main roads dropped three decibels. Plants and trees—which make streets more walkable—also reduce ambient noise.

32. It helps improve urban microclimates
While paved roads contribute to the urban heat island effect, making cities hotter, shaded, plant-lined sidewalks can help cool neighborhoods down from 9 to 35 degrees.

Plant-lined sidewalks can help cool neighborhoods down from 9 to 35 degrees.

33. It can improve water management
Sidewalks designed with permeable surfaces can help suck up water during heavy rain, reducing flooding.

34. It makes cities more beautiful
Roads and sidewalks typically make up the majority of public space in cities; in Chicago, for example, they make up 70%. Making public space more walkable—with landscaping, public art, and other interventions—also makes it more attractive than a typical road.

35. It increases active use of space
In walkable neighborhoods, people are also more likely to make use of parks and public squares, and other outdoor spaces. In Copenhagen, as the city became more pedestrian-friendly over the last few decades, the number of people sitting in squares and otherwise making use of city space tripled.

36. It makes better use of space
Streets that are redesigned to become more walkable also tend to incorporate underutilized space next to roads. In New York, one study found 700 miles of underused public space under elevated structures.

37. It encourages people to drive less
When Copenhagen pedestrianized its main street, foot traffic increased 35% in the first year. In many cities, a large number of trips are only a short distance, and better design makes it more likely that people will prefer to walk or bike.

38. It also promotes public transit
People using a subway or bus to commute to work have to get there from their home—and a better walk makes it more likely that they’ll want to use public transit instead of driving.

39. It increases permeability
Walkability can also make cities more “permeable,” or easier to move around, creating a walking network that may even be easier to use than driving.

40. It bridges barriers
Pedestrian infrastructure can reconnect parts of the city that may have been disconnected by older infrastructure. In Rotterdam, a crowdfunded pedestrian bridge stretches over a busy road and old train tracks.

41. It makes cities more competitive
Walkability is directly connected to liveability. When Melbourne redesigned its center for pedestrians, it saw an 830% increase in residents, and it was recognized as The Economist’s “world’s most liveable city” five years in a row.

42. It builds political support
After the mayor of the Spanish city of Pontevedra decided to go car-free in 1999, the public loved him: He’s now in his fifth term.

Every added 10 minutes of commuting cuts community involvement 10%.

43. It builds engagement
As people spend more time outside in their neighborhoods, they’re more likely to feel attached, and to engage in improving the city in general. Crowdfunded public projects are growing in many cities.

44. It encourages more stakeholders to participate
Every added 10 minutes of commuting cuts community involvement 10%. In L.A., where commuters waste 64 hours a year in traffic, the city is building more participation by helping neighbors transform underused roads into pedestrian spaces.

45. It inspires civic responsibility
Walkability brings people together with other community members, which increases a sense of responsibility. Mexico City’s self-appointed pedestrian “superhero,” who defends pedestrians on city streets, helped build political support for the city’s new commitment to zero traffic deaths.

46. It promotes sustainable behaviors
In Canada, a study found that if people drove one less day a week, it could reduce 3.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year. As cities become more walkable, it can enable a cultural shift away from driving. Though the report doesn’t mention it, taking one sustainable action can also lead people to take others.

If people drove one less day a week, it could reduce 3.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

47. It helps make cities more resilient
If people can easily walk, a breakdown in mass transit, or a gas shortage, is less of a problem. Walkability makes cities more resilient in disasters.

48. It’s a tool for urban regeneration
Making neighborhoods more walkable can spark urban regeneration. In Madrid, a walkable park along the river led to investment in new sports areas, plazas, cafes, and the renovation of historic landmarks.

49. It allows for flexible micro-solutions
A car-free or walkable street is more likely to support pop-up interventions and other cheap, simple, DIY solutions.

50. It supports cultural heritage
Pedestrianization around a cultural landmark can increase the number of people who visit, and help support efforts for preservation. As Beijing quickly modernized, the city decided to pedestrianize several ancient, narrow streets—bringing new visitors and saving part of the city that otherwise might have disappeared.

 

Download the full report here.

 

Here’s the official letter we sent to Casey Anderson about White Flint 2

August 24, 2016

Dear Chairman Anderson:

As you know, Friends of White Flint represents thousands of residents, businesses, and property owners in the White Flint/Pike District area. We have enjoyed being a part of the public discussion to create a new sector plan for the White Flint 2 area.

After soliciting input from our members, The Friends of White Flint Board of Directors met last month to discuss and review the White Flint 2 Preliminary Plan, and there is much that we like about the plan. We also have suggestions to improve the plan and to enable it to meet the diverse needs of our community and county.

The staging of the White Flint 2 sector may be the most important factor in the plan. How the redevelopment of properties in White Flint 2 is incorporated with and affect the staging and the special taxing district created in White Flint 1 is a significant issue that ought to be addressed in the White Flint 2 Sector Plan. If there are different metrics and policies for White Flint 1 and White Flint 2, there exists the potential for economic advantage or disadvantage for different property owners. We feel strongly that leapfrogging development could be damaging to the Pike District. We also believe if and how White Flint 2 property owners pay the White Flint special sector tax should be flushed out in the White Flint 2 plan so there is parity between the White Flint 1 and 2 sector plans.

We have listed below the portions of the plan we support, the portions we’d like to modify, and the items that believe are missing.

1)     We very much like that plan suggests dedicated sites for the elementary school needed in the White Flint area to address school capacity. While we are not advocating for any site in particular, we agree that dedicating a site in the plan is essential to addressing current and future school overcrowding.

2)     We strongly support the connectivity outlined in the plan, especially the bike paths along Randolph Road and Parklawn Drive.  We believe that bicycle and pedestrian connectivity is crucial to the success of this area. That said, we are quite disappointed that there was no solution to creating a pedestrian-bike track over the railroad tracks to connect White Flint 2 and White Flint 1. We would very much like to see such a connection included in the plan. While we acknowledge there are engineering and other challenges creating a bicycle-pedestrian path over the railroad tracks, we believe that difficulty is not a reason to omit a needed connection from the plan. This pedestrian-bike path should be incorporated into the future MARC station.

3)     We very much would like to see more innovative office and residential concepts included in the plan. These might include micro-units, shared housing, and condominiums/apartments that could be used for either residential or office purposes in the same building. These types of creative residential and office buildings are being constructed and leased in other areas in our region.

4)     We support the plan’s re-configured intersection at Parklawn Drive and Randolph Road to ease traffic, increase walkability, and provide a better site for the redevelopment of Loehman’s Plaza.

5)     We support the reconfiguration of the intersection of Boiling Brook Road and Rocking Horse Drive. The current intersection is confusing and dangerous for both cars and pedestrians.

6)     We endorse keeping light industrial space in the White Flint 2 area but would support plans to change the light industrial space near Randolph Hills Shopping Center to a flexible, mixed-use, higher density, residential-commercial zoning.

7)     To enhance connectivity and encourage walking between White Flint 1 and White Flint 2 area, we would like to see a sidewalk included on the east side of Route 355 along the bridge over Montrose Parkway to connect with the sidewalk that ends in front of Montrose Crossing.

8)     We recommend a signalized intersection where the new Rose Avenue intersects at Hoya Street at the Willco property. Both Federal Realty and Willco want this intersection and are willing to fund it. An intersection here is critical to achieving the goal of extending the White Flint 1 street grid into White Flint 2 while providing a much needed mid-block crossing for pedestrians and vehicles.

9)     We applaud the plan’s goal to create 12 acres of public space. However, we would like to see innovative public space that meets the needs of residents, not just the creation of athletic fields that people from other parts of the county would drive to White Flint to use or small contemplative plazas.

10) We would like to see the plan encourage traditional and innovative senior housing options.

11) We support a lighted pedestrian path behind Executive Boulevard behind Luxmanor Elementary.

12) We support the request for Oxford Square to have a density of 1.0 F.A.R to increase the stock of low and mid-rise residential units.

13) A MARC station should remain part of the plan.

14) While we appreciate the need to have some light industrial space in the down-county area, we would like the Planning Board to consider creating a flexible mixed use zone around the Nicholson Court area.

The Friends of White Flint is happy to meet with you or other Planning Department staff to further discuss our recommendations.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Amy Ginsburg

Executive Director

Pike District in the News … Again!

Yesterday, the Washington Business Journal published an interesting story about the ULI Panel report on branding the Pike District. Titled “Branding Rockville Pike? Please, no giant ‘Pike District’ sign”, the article noted that Rockville Pike “is slowly urbanizing. The auto-oriented corridor you might know as White Flint or Rockville or North Bethesda will evolve over the years with new developments and the possible introduction of bus rapid transit.”

WBJ wrote, “The (ULI) panel urged Montgomery County to allow the area to brand organically, while “reclaiming” the public spaces with LED sidewalk lighting, enhanced and “whimsical” crosswalks, elevated road levels at intersections, and giant, colorful intersection pylons — like what one might see at Symphony Park in Las Vegas, or along 14th Street in Denver. As tall as 30 feet and illuminated at night, the Pike District pylons would serve as “placemaking archways” and meeting destinations, maps, informational kiosks, places to hang streetlights and street signs, and as smartphone charging stations.”

 

We’re off to see the Wizard …

Tonight, August 22,  is the last night of the Strathmore Hall Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival benefiting the National Institutes of Health Children’s Charities.  And the movie is on everyone’s favorite film list:  The Wizard of Oz.  Festivities start at 6:30 pm and the movie starts at 8:30 pm.  Food is available for purchase.
Grab your blankets, low-rise chairs, and small coolers and enjoy a treasured film in a treasured location.

Half of millennials and baby boomers prefer walkable communities, and they are willing to pay a premium to live in a pedestrian-friendly community.

Redfin reported that the price of a home rose with every additional point on a scale of pedestrian friendliness. Nationally, one Walk Score point can increase the price of a home by just about one percent. In Washington DC that translates into an increase in price of $4,386 or 1.22 percent for every point of walkability. In Washington DC, changing a Walk Score of 60 to a Walk Score of 80 generates a $133,000 premium for the average house.

The Redfin study noted that “fewer than 2 percent of  active listings are considered a walker’s paradise (Walk Score of 90 and above). Yet 56 percent of millennials and 46 percent of boomers prefer walkable communities with a range of housing amidst local businesses and public services. And like everything rare and desirable, walkability comes at a premium; homes highly “walkable” to amenities, everything else being equal, are more expensive than comparable homes in less “walkable” areas.”

Let’s fulfill the promise of pedestrian-friendly Pike District!

Making MoCo appealing to new, young residents in GGW

In yesterday’s blog, Greater Greater Washington asks how we can make MoCo attractive for those infamous millennials everyone is always talking about.

“… for those who want the urban experience, the county has serious competition from other parts of the region, especially the District and Arlington. And if you work in Montgomery County, particularly outside the Beltway, you’re forced to choose living in an urban neighborhood far from work or a more suburban area with a shorter commute.”

The article continues, “For years, Montgomery County has encouraged the creation of more downtowns and town centers in places like White Flint, Germantown, and White Oak, while promoting the ongoing development of urban places like Silver Spring or Bethesda. That’s great for people moving to the area … . However, we still have lots of work to do in making these places attractive to new, younger residents, from creating more walkable and bikeable streets to streamlining our liquor laws to make it easier for restaurants and bars to open here.”

Is the Pike District going to be one of those urban areas that attract new residents and millennials to MoCo? It will if Friends has anything to do with it.  (Luckily, we do!)