Archives May 2017

Here’s what the new Tilden MS will look like

As reported in Bethesda Beat:

Architectural plans for a building combining Tilden Middle School and Rock Terrace School show a multi-part structure with shared recreation and learning spaces.

“We want to make this building one building, but we also want each school to have its own identity,” architect Paul Falkenbury told members of the Montgomery County school board this week.

The initial plans show Tilden Middle occupying a three-story space, while Rock Terrace would claim another portion of the roughly 235,000-square-foot building in Rockville. The middle school would be arranged around a central courtyard to provide natural lighting, and the building would allow for a future 12-classroom addition.

Tilden Middle and Rock Terrace would have separate entrances, different window designs and distinctive exterior masonry to set them apart from one another, Falkenbury said.

The building’s two sides would connect through a shared space that would include gym space and special and alternative education areas.

Plan for new Tilden Middle School and Rock Terrace School. Credit: Samaha Associates.

The board of education gave unanimous approval to the early designs for the project at 6300 Tilden Lane.

Rock Terrace Principal Kathy Lertora said the preliminary plans line up with her school’s mission, to serve students who have a range of cognitive disabilities. Plans for a greenhouse, culinary arts space and woodworking area would support Rock Terrace’s programs, Lertora said.

Tilden Middle Principal Irina LaGrange acknowledged that the project has seen some pushback but said the designs incorporate input from the community.

“We’re confident as we continue to work through the process, feasible solutions will continue to be explored to design an amazing school for staff, students and the communities that represent both of our schools,” said LaGrange, whose school of about 900 students is now based at 11211 Old Georgetown Road in Rockville.

The school board’s 2015 decision to collocate Tilden Middle and Rock Terrace drew opposition from residents in the surrounding Luxmanor neighborhood, who claimed the proposal would create too much traffic. Some parents were also uncomfortable dividing a building between middle schoolers and Rock Terrace’s roughly 90 students, who range in age from 11 to 21.

However, MCPS staff said the buildings will run independently and both schools will benefit from the shared spaces.

The new building will replace the holding school that currently exists on the property, and MCPS officials are shooting to complete the project by August 2020.

Proposed entrance designs for Tilden Middle School and Rock Terrace School. Credit: Samaha Associates.

Walk with us on Walkable Wednesdays!

Come join Friends of White Flint and Coalition for Smarter Growth on two special walking tours on Walkable Wednesdays. Learn what makes it pleasant  … and what makes it more difficult … to walk safely around the Pike District/White Flint area. This informative and fun tour is part of our Pike District Pedestrian Campaign. (Feel free to share this unique opportunity with your friends and neighbors!)

Our first walk is Wednesday, June 7 at 7:30 pm. I know you won’t want to miss it!

Check out these photos from our behind-the-scenes tour of Pike & Rose

Thanks to Dean Evangelista for these terrific photos, and thanks to Federal Realty for the fascinating tour.

What happened at last week’s marathon White Flint 2 work session

During a 3 1/2 hour work session (yes, you read that correctly– it was a long but productive session), the planning staff and board as well as property owners and community members discussed the following Executive Boulevard, Parklawn South, and Montrose North District issues:

Pickford Properties

Everyone was in agreement that the idea of building residences on top of light industrial was a novel one that should be pursued and executed.  The question is how to zone the Pickford Property on Parklawn Drive so that no new zone-types are created yet still allow for this innovative development.  Planning staff was charged with figuring out the appropriate zoning.

Wilco Property

The Planning Staff recommends that the 21-acre Wilco property on Executive Boulevard next to Pike and Rose be zoned at 2.5 FAR with a height of 200′. The developer is requesting a higher FAR.  The office buildings currently on the property would remain, and the property owner would infill new development. The board split 2 to 2 over the question of increasing the FAR to 3.0 and will take a final vote when there is a new Planning Board member.

Guardian Property

The staff recommends a height limit of 150′ for this property on Executive Boulevard. The developer is fine with that except they would like a 200′ height for the building at the corner of Executive Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road. Guardian asserts it is the architectural gateway to Executive Boulevard and topographically sits 30′ lower than the Pallas apartment building.

Guardian also wants to build a 150-unit senior living center at the part of the property that faces the stream. There was a long discussion about whether the staff-recommended 75′ buffer of woods is essential between that building and the homes in Luxmanor. The developer said that a 50′ buffer would still permit the construction of the senior living center, and there seemed to be consensus around the 50′ buffer.

Executive Boulevard South

There was quite a long conversation about whether or not to increase density and change the zoning from EOF to CR/CRT for the properties at the bend in Executive Boulevard.  Chair Casey Anderson told developers that if they want commercial-residential zoning, they need to show the board what they’ll do with such a zoning. Casey also suggested that it might make sense to have an overall limit of residential units on Executive Boulevard, and whoever builds first would get that residential capacity.  This would help prevent overburdening schools and the infrastructure with too many residential units.

Wilgus Property

Trees, woods and green space dominated the discussion about the Wilgus Property on Montrose Parkway. The developer talked about how he wanted to build affordable housing, which he believes the county needs more than a narrow three-acre forest. Arborists testified that the forest strip has much decay and disturbance and is full of tulip poplars, apparently not a prized tree. (The things one learns at a White Flint 2 work session.) Cherrington advocated for keeping the strip of forest behind their townhomes.  The board decided it preferred having a large, activated park on the main Wilgus Property and decided to allow townhomes to be built behind the Cherrington townhouses, replacing the strip of woods. The board asked the property owner to come back with a new design that included a large, activated park.

Schools

It was noted that large properties in White Flint 2 may very well need to have a school site on their property. Casey said that FAR could be tied to the school site.

The next White Flint 2 work session will be held on June 8.

Could we be creating bike lanes faster and cheaper and so we could have more of them in the Pike District?

Perhaps there are ways we could build bike lanes with greater ease and fewer costs which would allow us to have more bike lanes in the White Flint area … and have them faster!

People for Bikes suggests that “instead of trying to plan something for perfection from the beginning, like you’d need to do if you were building a freeway, cities advance along a spectrum of decreasingly flexible and increasingly durable materials over the course of a decade or so, gradually tweaking a street toward greater safety and comfort and fixing small issues along the way.”  It’s called a quick build, as seen below.

Here’s a comparison of the many different options for bike lanes.  (Who knew there were so many types?) Are there ones in the image belowe that would work in the White Flint area?

Pictures from a Very Fun Bike to Work Day

The 2017 Bike to Work Day North Bethesda Pit Stop was moved to Pike and Rose this year, and there were a record number of registered cyclists. We were excited to be there, and even more excited by all the cyclists who signed our #PikePeds Pedestrian Safety Petition!

Enjoy these photos from a very fun Bike to Work Day.

Pallas and Persei Residents Hold a SRO Meeting to Learn about White Flint Development

Last night, more than eighty residents of Pallas and Persei at Pike and Rose held a community meeting to learn about all the development that’s planned for the White Flint/Pike District area.  FoWF executive director Amy Ginsburg made a short presentation then answered dozens of questions about what’s going to be built in our community.

This meeting was part of the Friends of White Flint’s Resident Ambassador program.  Resident Ambassadors serve as conduits of information between their building or neighborhood and Friends of White Flint.  Educating their community about upcoming development is an important part of the Resident Ambassador initiative.  (If you’re interested in becoming a Resident Ambassador for your community or would like a presentation in your community, please email info@whiteflint.org.) Special thanks to Pallas/Persei Resident Ambassador Beth Robinson for organizing such a well-attended event.

Ride On to Hold Public Forum On Proposed New Service Along Route 355

The public will have a chance to comment on a new limited stop service along Maryland State Route 355 called Ride On extRa. This service will operate from Lakeforest Transit Center to Medical Center Station with 12 limited stops along the route. The other stops include: Summit Ave., Westland Dr., Shady Grove Metro, Montgomery College, Rockville Metro, Edmonston Dr., Halpine Rd., Marinelli Rd., Security Ln., and Tuckerman Ln. Ride On extRa is an overlay of the existing local service along MD 355 and provides a faster option for riders during rush hours.  Buses will operate every 10 minutes from 5:30 am to 9:30 am and 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Come find out about the exciting features and amenities such as specially branded buses and shelters, USB charging ports, WiFi and real time information monitors. Fares are the same as the local service; however, there will be no onboard loading of cash to SmarTrip cards to eliminate any delays.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Montgomery County Executive Office Building (Auditorium) 101 Monroe Street  Rockville, MD

Residents along this portion of MD 355 and surrounding areas are invited to share your interests in this new service.  Please visit our website to obtain additional information regarding the public forum. You will have three (3) minutes to speak if you submit your request to speak in advance. Individuals and representatives of organizations who wish to speak at the public forum are requested to provide in writing their name, home address, telephone number, e-mail address and organization to the Division of Transit Services, Ride On Public Forum, 101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850 or to mcdot.rideonpublicforums@montgomerycountymd.gov . Those wishing to speak must provide such information by three (3) days before the forum. Those who have signed up to speak must bring two printed copies of their testimony for the record.

Additionally, comments on the proposed new route may be submitted in writing, by email, or by fax by June 1, 2017 to:

Division of Transit Services

Ride On Public Forum

101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor

Rockville, MD 20850

240-777-5800

What the WFDAC discussed at its meeting Tuesday

Here’s what the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee talked about it at is monthly meeting held this week.

The committee first took a behind-the-scenes tour of Pike and Rose Phase 2.

The consulting firm chosen to help develop and guide the committee’s BID report to the council and executive said they were starting to interview stakeholders.

Dee Metz mentioned that soon the council will take up a budget amendment for Wall Park/Wall Park Garage funding at some point in the near future.  (Look for us to blog about this in more detail.)

Peggy Schwartz reminded folks to sign up for the North Bethesda Ride to Work Pit Stop at Pike and Rose.  Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 19th.

Nkosi Yearwood said that ‘bubbling up’ is a record plat for LCOR parcel G for a mid-rise residential building.  (We’ll blog more about this, too, later on.)

Francine Yearwood said that Fall Fest will be held Saturday, October 14 from 2 to 5 pm and will feature a DJ, beer, and lots of fun-filled activities for all ages.

Please note that WFDAC meetings are no longer held the second Tuesday of every month but are now staggered on either the second Tuesday or Wednesday of the month.