I’m Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director of Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit group that represents the residents, businesses, and property owners of the White Flint/Pike District area.
Overall, we are quite pleased with the Planning Board approved plan for White Flint 2. We are delighted they decided to include many of our suggestions, including a pedestrian-bike crossing over the CSX tracks and equity between the White Flint 1 sector and the western part of White Flint 2. In our written testimony, you can read about the many components of the plan we support.
Today, though, I’d like to address three items that can significantly improve the White Flint 2 plan.
First, we are strongly against the notion in the staging plan that if NADMS goals are met, mobility amenities do not have to be built. This not only dramatically complicates implementing the special taxing district; it also eliminates incentives and certainty for creating essential features such as separated bikeways, a second metro entrance, shuttle busses, and a revitalized Rockville Pike, etc. Those mobility amenities are a vital part of the Pike District regardless of NADMS goals. The language in the current plan results in a troubling lack of parity between White Flint 2 and White Flint 1. Conceivably, both White Flint 1 and 2 could meet NADMS goals, but White Flint 1 development would be forced to stop while White Flint 2 development could proceed if certain transit projects are not built.
Second, we believe that creating a walkable, bikeable community is critical, so we very much hope the plan will encourage sidewalks wide enough for four pedestrians to walk comfortably, a minimum of ten feet across. We also believe that creating on-street parking would make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists by slowing traffic among other benefits.
Third, in regards to schools, we applaud the plan for emphasizing the need for both a new elementary and middle school. We also applaud the Planning Board for including urban school designs in the plan. To encourage those schools to actually be built, we believe that there must be adequate and fair incentives for developers to redevelop and provide sites for schools. Merely designating a particular site in no way ensures that site will ever be turned into a school. Sites in Rock Spring and WMAL should be considered as well as sites in White Flint 2, all of which are part of the WJ Cluster.
Thank you for your time and consideration and for working to create a vibrant, walkable, transit-oriented community in the White Flint area.