Friday, November 30, 2018

Dr. Bear making house calls at Bethesda Row this holiday season (Photos)

The doctor is in at Bethesda Row. Dr. Bear has appeared outside the Amazon Books store for the holiday season. When you make a donation to Children's Hospital, Dr. Bear lights up, filling passersby with holiday cheer. Text LIGHT25 to 50555 (see photo below to double-check) to donate $10 to Children's Hospital, and light up Dr. Bear.

Repairs continue at South Street Steaks (Photos)

A construction crew continues to repair the South Street Steaks building on Cordell Avenue, which has been closed for months after a car struck its exterior wall for the second time this decade. They have removed the outer brick facade from the wall in the affected area, and are rebuilding that portion of the wall.

Springfield Civic Association elects new officers

Several incumbents, including President Brent Mickum and 1st Vice-President Cynthia Green, were reelected by members of the Springfield Civic Association last night. In contested races, Steve Schultz was reelected as 2nd Vice-President, and new officers Carol Anderson and Michael Robinson were elected Secretary and Newsletter Chair, respectively.

There were competing amendments for each of two proposed updates to the association's bylaws on the ballot. However, none received the required majority to pass. 

Pedestrian struck and killed on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda

A pedestrian was struck and killed on Old Georgetown Road near the Capital Beltway last evening around 5:30 PM. Montgomery County police say that Dona Cicy H. Amarasekara, 74, of Rollins Avenue in Rockville was crossing the northbound lanes of Old Georgetown at Kingswood Road, when she was struck by a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee. If I recall correctly, there is no crosswalk there, despite the location of bus stops on either side of Old Georgetown.

The victim was transported to an undisclosed local hospital, where she passed away. Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact the MCPD Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

WSSC will make noise all night tonight at Woodmont & Fairmont Avenues

Residents of the Bainbridge Bethesda, 7770 Norfolk and Fairmont Plaza got a sample of what's ahead tonight last night, as a WSSC crew worked on a noisy water main project overnight. They'll be back again tonight between 9:00 PM and 5:00 AM. Expect lane closures on Woodmont and Fairmont Avenues around the intersection of the two streets near Veterans Park.

The WSCC says it is replacing a section of its water main there, as well as a fire hydrant. Backhoes, generators, saws and pumps will be among the players in the nighttime noise orchestra again tonight. If driving in the area, as you might deduct from the video above, it would be wise to detour around this on Wisconsin or Norfolk Avenues.

Frozen Stuff on a Stick, Untuckit open at Westfield Montgomery Mall (Photos)

The upcale popsicle stand I reported about a few weeks ago underwent a last minute name change to Frozen Stuff on a Stick, and has opened at the outer edge of the Dining Terrace at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. In addition to handmade gourmet frozen pops, they also sell high-quality coffees, teas and kombucha. All of their beverages are locally-sourced from veteran-owned Cascade Beverage Company in Lorton.

In other mall news, Untuckit is now open, as well. The apparel retailer specializes in shirts for men and women that are designed to be worn untucked, if the name didn't give it away.

Meanwhile, Schokolat & Unique Treasures looks like it could open as soon as today. Shelves and window displays are stocked with chocolate treats in the form of horseshoes, a golf ball and clubs, a cyberpunk weapon and even Thor's hammer. We'll have to see if they deliver the promised chocolate gun and chocolate handcuffs, but they do have licensed Harry Potter and Star Wars gifts.

Clark Enterprises files for judicial review of Brookfield's 4 Bethesda Metro Center approval

Clark Enterprises is still vigorously fighting developer Brookfield's redevelopment plan for a parcel next to Clark's downtown Bethesda headquarters, despite the plan having already received approval from Montgomery County. Under the entities Clark Office Building, LLC, and Clark Enterprises, the construction giant filed for judicial review of that Planning Board approval on November 15 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The source of contention has largely been where the Brookfield tower should be placed on the plaza at Bethesda Metro Center. Brookfield's approved plan has it closer to Wisconsin Avenue, while Clark prefers it be placed further back as to not block its headquarters from view. Brookfield owns the exclusive development rights to the parcel in question.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

MoCo NAACP grapples with Moses African Cemetery issue

Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice (D - District 2) and County Housing Opportunities Commission Executive Director Stacy Spann appeared at last night's meeting of the Montgomery County NAACP chapter at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Rockville, to discuss affordable housing and the ongoing controversy over the desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda. Their comments aligned with a new narrative County officials debuted this fall, which attempts to downplay the status of Macedonia Baptist Church as the sole contemporary party to the cemetery so far, and tie the specific story of these graves to a more general narrative about black cemeteries countywide. Under this narrative, there may be an effort to memorialize the cemetery, but the potential remains for bodies to be removed for development under existing Maryland law, or for a sham study to declare no remains exist due to the extreme depth at which many of the graves now lie - far beyond the range of ground penetrating radar.

Something will likely be done to memorialize the cemetery, Rice told attendees, which included representatives of Macedonia Baptist Church and their supporters, as well as members of the NAACP chapter. What that will be, whether everyone will agree on its adequacy, and who will pay for it, were subjects of disagreement in the room. There were also more-fundamental disagreements between the version of events so far given by Rice and Spann, and the church's version. That led to the NAACP announcing near the end of the meeting that it would appoint two mediators from its membership to meet with Macedonia and the HOC. to see if the parties can reach an agreement among themselves and developer Regency Centers on how to proceed.

One new detail that came to light is that Regency Centers had expressed some openness to the possibility of giving HOC an easement across part of its Bowlmor site, to access the rear parking garage of Westwood Tower. Currently, drivers pass over the parking lot to the side and rear of the building, that was laid atop the intact graves outside of the Westwood Tower footprint. That asphalt is believed to rest on top of as much as 60' of fill dirt dumped on the graves by the builder of Westwood Tower in the late 1960s, who also desecrated the cemetery.

However, when Macedonia Baptist Church officials took the potential offer to HOC, they say HOC declined to respond. That is at least one point NAACP officials hope their mediation can resolve.

"This is something that deeply touches my soul, what happened to our people," Macedonia Baptist Church Pastor Segun Adebayo told attendees after Rice and Spann spoke.

Rice had suggested taxpayers would pick up the tab for whatever memorial might be erected on, or near, the site. Adebayo sharply disputed that, saying his church has sought no money, and would raise any such funds from private donors itself.

Macedonia Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry Chair Marsha Coleman Adebayo reminded attendees of just how far cemetery advocates had come on their own over the last two years. "It took two years for the County to acknowledge it was a cemetery," she said, holding up a County map of the two graveyard parcels. She noted the church and their supporters had used public pressure - through marches, rallies and other actions - to temporarily stop Montgomery County, Regency and HOC from building a parking garage on top of the cemetery.

"Everything that we've gained so far, we've gained because we had the courage to go into the street and fight for it," Coleman Adebayo said. She added that 18 American University students are now researching the cemetery, and the vanished black community that existed around it from the end of the Civil War to the 1960s. They are collecting oral histories, and any remaining physical artifacts, she said. Such materials could be archived and displayed in the museum church officials envision being constructed at the site one day.

WSSC project continues in Woodmont Triangle

The WSSC continues its work around the Woodmont Triangle neighborhood of downtown Bethesda. Last night they were digging at Norfolk and St. Elmo Avenues.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

More holiday decorations around Bethesda Row (Photos)

More holiday decorations were added over the Thanksgiving week at Bethesda Row. Some additional Christmas trees were brought in, as well as another menorah outside of Anthropologie & Co. Speaking of Anthropologie, the new department store has its own window displays, including some early gift boxes from Santa Claus. Finally, there is a selfie wall on Bethesda Lane where you and your friends can pose for your holiday Instagram shots. Similar selfie walls have appeared at other Federal Realty properties in the area, including the Wildwood Shopping Center.

Escapology to open at Pike & Rose

Escape rooms are continuing to pop up around Montgomery County, but Escapology will be the first to open at a new, "town center" development. Pike & Rose will be the first such development to lease to an escape room in the County. Escapology will be located on Old Georgetown Road, next to the NAVA Health & Vitality Center.
Escapology's escape room games will host up to eight players at once. The first game being offered at the Pike & Rose location is Antidote. Set in 2015 in the Nevada desert, the game challenges you and your teammates to find the antidote to a biological weapon virus that has infected everyone inside a secret facility - after a clumsy member of your team accidentally releases it. Locked inside the contaminated facility, you must locate the antidote and escape before the facility self-destructs.

Photos courtesy Escapology

Monday, November 26, 2018

Westfield Montgomery Mall holiday decorations (Photos)

Santa Claus is in the house
at Montgomery Mall
Santa Claus himself was on hand for Black Friday as Westfield Montgomery Mall officially launched the holiday shopping season. Here are some of the Christmas decorations spotted around the mall.