As we’re contemplating a new Rockville Pike Plan, it’s always useful to step back in time to see how decisions were made in the past and created the community we live in today.
In 1988, the Rockville Mayor and Council dramatically lowered the height of buildings along the Rockville Pike, rejecting the advice of the planning commission for improving the “traffic-choked corridor.” After six years of study (sound familiar?), the Planning Commission recommended reducing the maximum building size from 200,000 square feet (sf) to 35,000 sf for a 100,000 sf parcel but would allow up to 300,000 sf (a bonus) if developers provided certain community amenities, such as pedestrian bridges, plaza areas, and day care centers. The City Council accepted the lower size but rejected the bonus, effectively decreasing the size to one-sixth of what was currently allowed. Mayor Doug Duncan believed it would, “keep the retail strength of the plan. . .large office buildings [are] not in the interest of the community.” Planning Commission Chair Richard Arkin countered that “without the bonus system, the plan would lead to more small, unattractive shopping strips and few of the kinds of amenities that could transform the pike into an attractive road that is accessible to pedestrians.” Now that 25 years have passed, what was the result of their decisions? Who was more prescient?
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, read the entire story, “Building Curbs Supported for Rockville Pike” from the April 28, 1998 issue of the Washington Post.
The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed an ordinance that amends the county’s urban road code to make sure new or reconstructed streets in urban areas are safe and attractive for all users. Co-sponsored by Councilmembers Riemer and Berliner, it requires:
- Narrower lane widths of 10’ to slow traffic and reduce accidents (it may sound contradictory, but wider lanes for cars result in more frequent and more serious collisions with pedestrians and cyclists–it’s all about the speed of a 2,000 pound car).
- A 25 mph maximum speed for urban areas
- Pedestrian bumpouts and smaller intersections, which will mean safer turns by drivers and a shorter distance for walkers to cross.
- Stronger requirements to build sidewalks during road construction.
Perhaps something like this needs to be adopted in Rockville. We often promote cycling and walking, and yet overlook the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in the strangest ways. For example, at the Twinbrook Recreation Center, it was years before a sidewalk was laid for pedestrians connecting it to the street. During construction around Twinbook Metro, sidewalks are often blocked and people have to walk in the street.
Want to learn more about what makes safe, complete urban streets? Check out this great infographic from our friends at the Active Transportation Alliance.
DCist recently listed the best places to get dumplings in the DC region, with seven of the nine restaurants listed in Rockville. Although restaurants in Rockville are barely considered by the Washington Post and Washingtonian magazine, the food scene is growing deeper and bigger, which is evidenced in part by this dumpling study. Many Chinese restaurants include dumplings on their menus, but these restaurants focus their menus around them or serve an extraordinary version of them.
If you haven’t tried Chinese dumplings, there are many types of choose from but usually are ground pork or shrimp wrapped in dough and then steamed. The portions are usually big (think 6-12 dumplings per order) and I always bring my own bottle of sweet chili sauce to add some zing (these are simple homey restaurants, so they’re not offended if you bring your own condiments).
Here’s the line up from DCist:
- A&J Restaurant: 1319 Rockville Pike (in the green and white Woodmont Station shopping center down below next to Hertz car rental; cash only)
- China Bistro: 755 Hungerford Drive (in the blue and white Flagship shopping center)
- East Dumpling House: 12 N. Washington Street (in the strip mall downtown with Apollo and Woodside Deli)
- Bob’s Shanghai 66: 305 N. Washington Street (near Dawson Avenue, not to be confused with Bob’s Noodle 66 up the street)
- Joe’s Noodle House: 1488 Rockville Pike (along the side of the strip mall with the Yekta and Mi Rancho restaurants)
- Shanghai Taste: 1121 Nelson Street (in the Woodley Gardens shopping center with Good Times Cafe and Carmen’s Ice Cream)
- Sichuan Jin River: 410 Hungerford Drive (at the back of the office building next to the fire station)
You can figure this out for yourself at CrimeReports.com. The Montgomery County Police Department shares their crime reports (which includes the City of Rockville) with CrimeReports, a private firm based in Utah, which combines it with police departments from around the country to display the information on an interactive map.
The map show various colored and lettered icons so you can quickly spot where things happened in your neighborhood. For example, A is for Assault, TV is Theft from a Vehicle, and R is Robbery. You can also choose the time period to examine as well as zoom in or out (or check out what’s happening elsewhere in the country–it’s a national database). If you know something about an incident or crime, you can share an anonymous tip.
Do be aware there are some weaknesses in the map:
- There seems to be a 24-48 hour delay. If something happened today, it probably won’t show up until tomorrow or the next day.
- Locations are not exact. It records where the report was taken, not necessarily where the incident occurred. For the sake of victim privacy, all crime addresses have been rounded to the block level (e.g. 800 block of Viers Mill Road).
- There are no details. For example, it’ll tell you the approximate location and time of an assault or robbery, but not identify the victims, mention if anyone was arrested, what was stolen, or the extent of injuries (e.g, punched? stabbed? hospitalized?). CrimeReports relies on individual law enforcement agencies to provide details on crimes. Each agency is different and may provide more or less crime information than others. At minimum, CrimeReports requires four items of information when mapping crimes: type, location, date, and time. All additional information is voluntarily supplied by individual law enforcement agencies.
- It may not be complete. On Monday, July 21, Janice Land and John Land of the 1600 block of Crawford Drive were arrested with two counts of vulnerable adult abuse and attempted false imprisonment (keeping their twin 22-year old autistic sons locked in the basement). The incident made national news, but doesn’t show up on the map at all. Maybe tomorrow?
If you want further details, contact the Montgomery County Police Department at (240) 773-5330. Thanks to Crime Analyst Sherri Hendry of the Rockville Police Department for sharing this resource.
According to the criteria used by Movoto Real Estate, Rockville, Maryland ranks among the top ten snobbiest small cities in America. Palo Alto, California (in Silicon Valley) tops the list with our neighbor down the Pike, Bethesda, coming in second. Is that good or bad company? According to Movoto:
Tied with Encinitas [California], this Maryland locale had some seriously snooty stats keeping it in the ranking for best hometowns for the highbrow. For starters, locals can send their little ones to elite private schools, the fifth most per capita on our list. And once Junior has accrued all this handy knowledge,they can flex their artistically-inclined minds at one of the numerous art galleries or museums in the area. More than that, people who live here are likely to continue on to academic greatness, with over 61 percent of the population gaining at least a college degree. With all of that education and study going on, is it any wonder that the elite locals make an average household income of almost $90,000?
California has the greatest number of snobbiest small cities (five, all of them along the Pacific coast) and Maryland has the next most frequent number (two, both along the DC coast). The ranking is based on median home price, median household income, percent of population with a college degree, number of private schools per capita, performing arts per capita, art galleries per capita, and fast food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better). Of course, there’s nothing scientific here and these “top ten” rankings are just different ways to think about places. Perhaps “snobbiest” isn’t the best term, indeed, Movoto clarifies the definition by describing them as places that are “just more comfortable for what society calls ‘snobby’ folks.” If not “snobby,” based on our ranking on these criteria, what would you call it?
Twinbrook Parkway is only two miles long but it serves as major connecting street between Rockville Pike, Veirs Mill Road, and Baltimore Road; part of the RideOn Bus Route 45; and is a shorthand for the southeastern boundary between the City of Rockville and Montgomery County. It contains a mix of uses, including residences, offices, schools, churches, stores, and a Metro station. Although Twinbrook Parkway was constructed just over fifty years old as part of the much larger Twinbrook development, it’s part of a county heritage area and passes by several historic sites, including “Great Gatsby” country estates and a graveyard connected to the Revolutionary War.
This complexity prompted the creation of TwinbrookParkway.com, a hyperlocal website and blog to inform residents, business owners, property owners, and users of Twinbrook Parkway and encourage them to help improve or enhance this parkway. During the next few weeks, various pages will be built around around major topics but we’ll also be posting news as needed, but the current hot topic is the proposed Children’s Resource Center (CRC) by Montgomery County.
If you want to stay informed, please subscribe and receive an email every time something new is posted. Your email address stays private and won’t be sold or given to others, and you can easily unsubscribe with a click of a link (details with every email). From time to time we may allow comments, but we’ll stay fairly conservative at the beginning to reduce the need to moderate comments.
Although schools, government, and most businesses are closed today due to last night’s snowstorm, it looks like the residents of Twinbrook (and I assume the rest of Rockville as well) are coming out with shovels and plows to get back to work. I took a walk around a small section of Twinbrook Forest (along Twinbrook Parkway, north of Viers Mill Road) and here’s what I discovered at 10 am:
- The main roads (Viers Mill, Twinbrook Parkway) have been plowed and can be driven, but the lanes are narrow and I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s urgent.
- Some side streets have been plowed, some not. For example Pinneberg Avenue has been plowed to a one-lane width but Dorothy Lane has not plowed. Meadow Hall Road is a mixed bag. The section connecting Viers Mill and Twinbrook has been plowed but not the section leading to Carl Sandburg School and the Twinbrook Forest Condos. On unplowed side streets, snow can range from 6″-12″ deep, so I wouldn’t attempt it in a car unless it’s prepared for these conditions.
- Most sidewalks haven’t been cleared, so you’ll be forced to walk in the street. Wear boots. As you may know, it’s particularly difficult at intersections because the snow is piled high by the plows, you can trip on the hidden curb, and melted snow can be 6″ deep. If you’re driving, please be courteous to pedestrians in the street and slow down–your tires throw up snow and water even at low speeds, especially if you’re in a truck.
- Most stores are closed and the parking lots are in the midst of getting cleared of snow. In Twinbrook, open are Dunkin’ Donuts, Safeway, and the Sunoco gas station. The Asian Market and Bamboo Buffet have lighted signs saying they’re open, but the front doors are locked. More stores may open later, so you should call ahead to be sure.
For more information about conditions in Rockville, check the City website.
Montgomery County is proposing to add a new Children’s Resource Center (CRC) for the school district on the former Broome Middle School campus on Twinbrook Parkway in Rockville. There have been a series of public meetings about the project and the County held its fourth and last meeting on January 25, 2014. They presented four conceptual designs for the front elevations for review and comment. About a dozen residents attended along with City Councilmember Beryl Feinberg and the chief of staff of County Councilmember Andrews.
Basically, the building consists of two blocks of different sizes joined by a tower. The designs show different “skins” of a varying mix of materials and colors. It’s not supposed to complement the existing Broome School because that’s slated for demolition and the replacement school hasn’t been designed, so I’m assuming the design of the CRC will set the pace for the new middle school. The Gazette reported that the county believed that, “the people at the meeting seemed to prefer Scheme 2” but having attended the meeting, that’s a gross overstatement. My sense is that we were still gathering information and had lots of questions. There didn’t seem to be a preference for what we liked but rather what we didn’t like. No one was enthusiastic about Continue reading →
Rockville Town Center, LLC, the owner of the property at 255 North Washington Street (at Beall Avenue) is holding a community Area Meeting at 6:30 pm on Thursday, December 5, 2013 in the Black-eyed Susan Room in City Hall to discuss their development plans and allow the community to ask questions and provide suggestions. They propose to demolish the existing five-story bank/office building and replace it with a six-story residential/retail building that includes 280 multi-family dwelling units, 6200 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and a parking garage, as follows: Continue reading →
If you stayed up until 11:00 pm last night to watch the election returns for Rockville, you know that Bridget Newton was elected Mayor and Julie Palakovich Carr, Virginia Onley, Tom Moore, and Beryl L. Feinberg were elected to City Council. Congratulations to each of them and I wish them all much success and wisdom as they lead Rockville during the next two years.
Although Mark Pierzchala was not elected Mayor, he created Team Rockville, “to ensure that voters would have diverse choices for their next Mayor and Council” and that Rockville would have “elected officials with experience and knowledge about the issues facing the City.” Most importantly, it would “lead the City in a transparent, respectful, and inclusive manner.” With four Team Rockville candidates elected, these values will be carried into the Council chambers and hopefully create a less divisive and argumentative atmosphere than we’ve had under Phyllis Marcuccio.
So where does that leave Bridget Newton, our new Mayor? Continue reading →