Monday, May 22, 2017

"Justice Tuesdays" moves Westbard cemetery fight to the night this week

Macedonia Baptist Church's Justice Tuesdays campaign has gotten results, but the fight to save the African-American cemetery on the Westwood Tower site from development isn't over yet. There will be no protest this Tuesday morning. Instead, protesters will be attending the Montgomery County NAACP meeting Tuesday night, May 23, at 7:00 PM, at the Carver Education Services Center, located at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner will be addressing this regular NAACP meeting, providing an opportunity for protesters to ask him what he is doing to protect the cemetery, and about the cover-up of the cemetery by the Planning Department.

There was an important editorial by Clarence B. Jones in the Metro section of the Washington Post yesterday about black cemeteries, which strangely cannot be accessed through Google. Jones was an adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is a quote from the print edition:

"African-Americans were segregated even in death, often buried in off-the-beaten-path black cemeteries that, over the years, received little funding and fell into disrepair...These neglected cemeteries are often hidden from public view. People need to recognize that this is a problem that exists in too many places, perhaps even in their own communities, and mobilize others to learn about the problem and act to fix it. It requires a partnership between government, philanthropists, businesses, communities and nonprofits. Most of all, it requires a commitment to reclaim these fading pieces of our nation's heritage before they are lost forever."

Tuesday night is a chance, especially for those who - understandably - have been unable to attend the daytime protests during work hours, to exhort our elected officials to make that commitment.

Cordell-St. Elmo Garage to be partially closed today and Tuesday in Bethesda

Users of the Cordell-St. Elmo Montgomery County public parking garage in downtown Bethesda take note: Parts of the garage will be closed today, May 22, and tomorrow, May 23. Crews will be performing regular cleaning and degreasing operations inside the garage both days. Watch for wet surfaces when walking or driving through the garage.

Plaza-to-bus bays escalator out at Bethesda Metro station (Photos)

Oh, no, not again! "Give us $15 billion more" WMATA can't even keep the often-repaired escalator between street level and the bus bays at the Bethesda Metro center operating. Metro says the escalator is expected to be back in service by Wednesday.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Attempted burglary on Westlake Dr., suspicious person on Executive Blvd. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on May 19, according to crime data:

Attempted forced entry/apartment/condo. 10500 block Westlake Drive.

Suspicious person. 6100 block Executive Boulevard.

Protective order violated. 3500 block Taylor Street.

Mental transport. "School" in 6300 block of Wilson Lane.

U.A. Salon and Day Spa to add beer & wine, mall garage adds Toyotas (Photos)

U.A. Salon and Day Spa at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda is requesting a liquor license, taking advantage of the so-called "Drybar law" that allows salons to serve clients beer and wine during their appointments. The law was nicknamed for the first business to request the right to do so, Drybar at Bethesda Row.

The salon will have their license hearing on June 1. U.A. Salon and Day Spa is located on Level 2.

Meanwhile, mall neighbor Jim Coleman Toyota is now using part of the first level of the garage off of Nordstrom and Sears to store vehicles. Previously, I have seen some of their Cadillacs in there. Among the vehicles are some of my favorite Toyotas, the Sienna, the Avalon and the Prius.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Assault on River Rd., drug bust in Randolph Hills + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on May 17-18, according to crime data:

May 18

Assault and battery. River Road (block number not given by police, but zip code was 20816).

Theft from vehicle. 5100 block Manning Drive.

May 17

Possession of marijuana/hashish. 11300 block Schuylkill Road (Randolph Hills).

Theft. 10300 block Westlake Drive.

Attempted burglary. 5100 block Newport Avenue at 9:05 PM (Glen Cove).

Recycling Day at Westwood Shopping Center today 1:00-3:00 PM in Bethesda

Recycling Day at the Westwood Shopping Center. This doesn't refer to Perkins Eastman recycling their architectural design for the McMillan Sand Filtration Site in D.C for the future Westwood Shopping Center, but rather an opportunity to shred documents and recycle a number of accepted electronic items today, Saturday, May 20, from 1:00-3:00 PM.

You can also donate gently-used towels and linens for a good cause - they will be distributed to those in need by the National Center for Children and Families.

Reward your generosity and environmental stewardship by buying lunch from the Rolling Brick Pizza truck that will be on hand, or dessert from the Kona Ice truck. There will also be games like cornhole and life-size checkers, and live music by the Ken Fischer Duo.

Most of all, don't forget to patronize the many small businesses at the shopping center while you are there, ranging from Anglo Dutch Pools and Toys to Westwood Pet Center. Get a haircut at the famous Westwood Barber Shop, or drop off some dry cleaning at Fashion Craft cleaners.

The event will be located in the parking lot near Rite Aid.

Westwood Shopping Center
5400 Westbard Avenue

CVS cleared out at Wisconsin Ave. and Bradley Blvd. in Bethesda (Photos)

Here's something I've never witnessed before - the closure and clearing out of a CVS Pharmacy store. Usually, CVS is an ever-multiplying thing in a community, like Starbucks. CVS and Starbucks stores open, they don't close. In this case, the store at Wisconsin Avenue and Bradley Boulevard essentially downsized to a pharmacy counter, and moved into the new Target store directly across the street. The vacant CVS space is now up for lease.

Ultimately, you have cocktail party discussion bragging rights to your hometown being the first place in America to prove there is such a thing as "peak CVS." Combined with the CVS stock plunge after Jeff Bezos has shown signs that will enter the pharmacy market, it's safe to say the ghost of the Marlboro Man has had a few laughs at "tobacco-free" CVS' expense this week.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Theft on Chevy Chase Blvd., possible road rage collision on River Rd. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on May 17, according to crime data:

Threatening phone call. 8600 block Old Georgetown Road at 5:05 PM.

Collision/possible road rage. 5200 block River Road.

Shoplifting over $500. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Lost property. 4900 block Sentinel Drive.

Theft from residence. 4600 block Chevy Chase Boulevard.

Bethesda construction update: Hyatt Regency Bethesda (Photos)

I believe some of these renderings posted at the Hyatt Regency on Wisconsin Avenue are new. The banner is touting the extensive renovations being nearly complete. With competitor Marriott building a new hotel a few blocks up in several years, these upgrades were needed to stay competitive.

Glen Mar Park latest neighborhood to donate to Westbard lawsuit

Glen Mar Park has announced their community will contribute $1000 to the Save Westbard lawsuit against Montgomery County. That brings the total number of contributing neighborhoods to seven, after earlier contributions by Sumner, Springfield, Fort Sumner, Wood Acres, Westmoreland Hills, and a recent donation to the cemetery fund by Brookdale. The lawsuit seeks to have the Westbard sector plan returned to the Planning Board and Montgomery County Council, to address illegalities in the process and plan itself.

Many are now looking to Kenwood to be the next to contribute something to the lawsuit, as that neighborhood will be even more directly impacted by the redevelopment than some of the communities who have already donated. Kenwood did get a temporary reprieve from some of the outsize development planned right next to it on River Road, after the Council decided to delay rezoning of that portion of the sector, likely to later maximize density with a "surprise" announcement of the Purple Line's extension to Westbard and the Shops at Sumner Place (shhhhh!). But their concerns about the design of the intersection of a realigned Westbard Avenue with their community's entrance, as well as their opposition to the outsized heights and density of the plan, were completely ignored by the Board and Council.

It's unclear if the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights will reconsider taking a position on the lawsuit, now that seven of its member organizations have endorsed it. Stay tuned for an announcement about next week's "Justice Tuesday" with Macedonia Baptist Church, as the effort to stop a parking garage - allowed in the sector plan to be built atop an African-American cemetery at Westwood Tower - from being constructed.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Westbard developers sponsor MoCo Planning Board chair's award

The Coalition for Smarter Growth, an organization backed by development interests, yesterday awarded Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson the Prince Livable Communities Leadership Award. In the award announcement, CSG specifically cited the passage of the widely-unpopular Westbard and Lyttonsville sector plans among the accomplishments for which Anderson was being rewarded.

Scroll down the event announcement, and you'll find Westbard developer EYA and the Westbard redevelopment architecture firm Perkins Eastman among the "Platinum" and "Silver" sponsors of the award. Anderson was spotted sharing celebratory handshakes with EYA executives minutes after the Montgomery County Council passed the Westbard sector plan last May. Early this morning, the PR firm representing EYA and Regency Centers throughout the sector plan process congratulated Anderson on Twitter.

Westbard development firm EYA
listed as a "Platinum" sponsor

Architectural firm for Westbard
redevelopment project listed as
"Silver" sponsor
The Westbard plan was overwhelmingly opposed by the residents of the area, yet not only passed above those objections, but incorporated virtually none of the feedback gathered from residents during the planning process. It contains postage stamp-sized parcels of green space, no new transit or road projects, and left the plan to naturalize the Willett Branch stream as a pie-in-the-sky, by-and-by pipe dream.

Of course, as you can see on the event announcement, there was a rainbow coalition of other development firms who have had - and will have - projects before Anderson for approval, chipping in to reward him.

Is governing against the will of the people something to reward? Is disrespecting leaders of a black church, and covering up (and then disregarding) the existence of an African-American cemetery laudable behavior? Should developers be able to give an award to a planning official, for "a job well done?" Is this ethical?

These are questions voters can answer in 2018.

Sidewalk work in the Woodmont Triangle (Photos)

A lot of small sidewalk repairs were made this week all over the Woodmont Triangle neighborhood in downtown Bethesda. In addition to these shown here, I also saw a crew fixing the curb along Old Georgetown Road between Wilson Lane and Cordell Avenue. By last night, virtually all of these were completed.