Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Developer proposing to move tributary of Minnehaha Branch creek in Bethesda
According to the MDE, the topic will be the relocation and restoration of that tributary, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has previously said cannot have a new structure built within 100 feet of it. A mysterious developer, 6789 Goldsboro, LLC, plans to construct 19 townhomes on the site, which currently is home to the supposed ruins of a mansion where actress Ilona Massey lived until 1974. She was a star of Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. That mansion will be razed.
Attendees will be able to comment on the impacts of the so-far-unspecified changes on the waterway and 100-year floodplain. It sounds like this is being done to facilitate development and private profit, rather than for an environmental benefit. Along with the stream, a significant stream buffer of green space runs along the rear of the 5.5 acre property.
The changes planned will affect 7921 SF of the stream, and 12007 SF of the 100-year floodplain. If you have a property near this site, you will definitely want to attend, as would watershed advocates. The Minnehaha is a significant feeder into the Potomac River. The stream already has flooding issues along Goldsboro during storms; one driver self-rescued from rising water Monday night south of River Road.
Minnehaha Branch also has a significant historical value. It once ran under the now-gone amphitheater at the Glen Echo Park site and was used to power a pipe organ and speaker system there, when it was a Chautauqua from 1891 until 1900, when it was leased to build an amusement park on the property.
I can't comment on the environmental impacts of the proposed stream changes yet. But the loss of the mansion itself is another failure of historic preservation in Montgomery County. This property has always been an impressive vista making the climb up from MacArthur Boulevard by car or bicycle.