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 →
The City of Rockville has announced that Capital Bikeshare is coming to Rockville in early fall with 13 bike stations through a partnership with Montgomery County. Capital Bikeshare is a network of bicycle-sharing stations that provides access to bikes and offers an alternative to driving. Check out a bike for your trip to work, run errands, go shopping, explore a neighborhood, head to a park, or visit friends and family.
Through bikesharing, cyclists can rent a bike from a designated station and drop it off at any other station within the Capital Bikeshare network. The program currently has more than 1,800 bikes at over 200 stations in circulation across Washington, D.C. and Virginia. It’s been incredibly popular in Washington, DC with both residents and tourists, and I’m happy to see it come into Rockville.
The bike stations in Rockville will be some of the first locations for Capital Bikeshare in Maryland. Proposed locations in Rockville include:
- Campus Drive and Mannakee Street
- Piccard Drive and West Gude Drive
- Rockville Metro – East
- Rockville Metro – West
- Courthouse Square and East Montgomery Avenue
- Fallsgrove Drive and West Montgomery Avenue
- Fleet Street and Ritchie Parkway
- King Farm Boulevard and Piccard Drive
- King Farm Boulevard and Pleasant Drive
- Monroe Street and Monroe Place
- Spring Avenue and Lenmore Avenue
- Taft Street and East Gude Drive
- Fallsgrove Boulevard and Fallsgrove Drive
I’ve plotted these locations (plus Shady Grove Metro, which is outside of Rockville but will be part of the BikeShare network) on a bike-route-version of Google Maps to better understand the impact on and benefit to Rockville. Google Maps can identify bike routes, with a Continue reading →
A weekday farmers market sponsored by The JBG Companies will open in Twinbrook May 7, bringing an array of new fresh food choices to the community and to the many daytime employees that work in the busy area.
First offerings in the market will feature farm fresh fruits and vegetables from Twin Springs Fruit Farm, handmade artisan breads from Upper Crust Bakery and traditionally cured meats from MeatCrafters. More farm vendors are expected, along with artists and their wares. The arrival of the farmers market will complement the growing presence of mobile food trucks, which are also adding new food options on weekdays in Twinbrook. Both initiatives result from the desire of Twinbrook residents and area workers for a variety of attractions as new offices and residential options arrive.
“Twinbrook is fortunate to have the bones of strong neighborhoods, good transit, roads and workforce,” said Rod Lawrence of The JBG Companies, a major real estate investment and development firm based in Montgomery County. “If we can contribute to the daily working and living experience here with new food options, that’s an extra dimension that makes Twinbrook an even better community.”
The new farmers market will be open from 9:30 to 1:30 every Tuesday, May through November in the courtyard between 5625 and 5635 Fishers Lane, just east of the Twinbrook Metro station.
JBG recently hosted a Saturday clean-up of Rock Creek Park at its Twinbrook edge, removing more than 5,000 pounds of debris from the stream bed and hillsides. The company has also scheduled a pit stop on Bike-to-Work Day on May 17, at the east end of Fishers Lane. More than 60 people have already signed up for that event and more are welcome by registering at www.twinbrookurbanbynature.com.
Nearly sixty people gathered this morning for an illustrated lecture on the history of Twinbrook by Dr. Richard Longstreth of George Washington University. In the 1940s and 1950s, Joseph Geeraert developed Twinbrook on a 200-acre farm that spanned Viers Mill Road. Geeraert’s Twinbrook was roughly south of Broadwood between Rockville Pike and Baltimore Road, although today Twinbrook is considered to be much larger and runs up to First Avenue (much to the consternation of those who live in the neighborhoods of Viers Mill Village and Silver Rock).
Geeraert was born in Belgium but came to America as a young man, getting started in construction in Takoma Park. Although he had many projects around the Washington, DC region, Twinbrook was his largest, longest running, and most complex development. He built as funding came available and eventually these small developments interconnected to become the neighborhood of houses, schools, churches, library, post office, and shopping centers that we know today. Most people who drive through Twinbrook assume the houses are all the same, but Geeraert modified and enlarged the designs over time to appeal to the changing tastes of buyers.
After the lecture, the audience discussed the names of streets, racial discrimination, and evolving construction practices. Then about half of the group went on a short walk around the neighborhood to see various types of houses and take a stroll on a hidden walkway. It was great to see so many current and former Twinbrookers (including some who lived here for 50 years!) and to hear their stories of living in the neighborhood.
This lecture is the first in a series on Rockville’s recent neighborhoods, so check Peerless Rockville’s website for the times and dates of upcoming events, as well as a two new interpretive maps of Twinbrook.
In a series of illustrated presentations and walking tours this spring, Peerless Rockville will explore several of Rockville’s modern neighborhoods, including Twinbrook, New Mark Commons, and King Farm.
Free and open to the public, the series will highlight five neighborhood communities from the early postwar housing boom to mid-century planned development to the “new town” movement popular at the end of the century. The series will culminate in an evening lecture and panel discussion at Rockville City Hall on the factors that influenced modern development, the significant elements of each time period, and the special features of each community that have contributed to its success and left lasting imprints.
The schedule for the upcoming series:
Building Houses, Creating Community: Joseph Geeraert and Twinbrook, featuring professor Dr. Richard Longstreth of George Washington University, Saturday, March 23, 10 am at the Twinbrook Community Center Annex.
Woodley Gardens: A Traditional Red Brick Neighborhood with a Modern Feel, featuring Continue reading →
“Walkability” is an increasingly popular measure of a community’s quality of life. By enhancing the convenience and ease of walking, it reduces traffic, improves health, increases community involvement, and puts more eyes on the street for safety. So how does Rockville rate? Walk Score calculates walkability on a block-by-block basis, generating color-coded maps. In the map of Rockville, green indicates the areas that are most walkable (such as downtown) and red the least walkable (such as Horizon Hill west of 270). Around town, they’ve calculated how the following locations fared on a scale of 1-100:
- 85 Very walkable: Maryland Avenue and South Adams (West End)
- 75 Very walkable: Baltimore Road and Grandin (East Rockville)
- 66 Somewhat walkable: Twinbrook Parkway and Viers Mill (Twinbrook)
- 65 Somewhat walkable: Fallsgrove Boulevard and Fallsgrove Road (Fallsgrove)
- 65 Somewhat walkable: Redland Boulevard and Pleasant (King Farm)
- 63 Somewhat walkable: West Montgomery and Laird (West End)
- 48 Car dependent: College Parkway and Princeton (College Gardens)
- 35 Car dependent: Falls Road and Kersey (Horizon Hill)
I’m sure this will generate controversy and prompt comparisons between neighborhoods (what!? Twinbrook rated the same as Fallsgrove and King Farm? Not possible!) but I’d really like to encourage a discussion about making our community more bike and pedestrian (and sometimes car) friendlier.
What makes a neighborhood walkable? According to Walk Score, the more of the following characteristics it has, the better:
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
- People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
- Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
- Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
- Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
The City of Rockville recently received federal funds to develop “complete streets” near the Twinbrook and Rockville Metro stations, so scores for those locations (and pedestrians using those locations) should improve as a result. Any suggestions to make your neighborhood more walkable? Should walkability be a goal for Rockville?
It’s been a month since the powerful thunderstorm–a derecho to be specific–knocked out power to most of Rockville and the Mid-Atlantic. But let’s call a spade a spade–it was a massive power outage, a blackout, during the hottest days of summer. Most lost power for days, some for a week. As we discovered, if you lose the internet, you’re back in 1979; if you lose electricity, you’re back in 1879. Anger boiled over in the days that followed, but now it seems nearly forgotten. Before our memories fade, what did we learn? Here’s my list, culled from talking with neighbors, reading the newspapers, and scanning the listservs:
1. Pepco doesn’t know your power is out unless you tell them. Don’t assume they have some fancy computer system that notifies them automatically that you’ve lost power, assume that your neighbor has called, assume it’ll fix itself, or assume that they’re busy and you don’t want to trouble them (poor dears!). Call them at 877-737-2662. Write this number down and put it on your fridge–another power outage will occur and you’ll want this handy. Many people said they called but Pepco thought their power had been restored, so call daily to ensure they have the correct information. David Greene noted that he used his mobile phone to, “monitor the Pepco outage map, and they marked our power as restored several times during the week when it was not actually restored. I called them many times to get us back on their map.”
2. Pepco prioritizes work based on the number of outages. That makes sense–first tackle the jobs that will benefit the most people–if they have the correct information. But if you and your neighbors don’t call Pepco, they will assume everything is okay (see #1 above). You might want to visit your neighbors and check to see if they’ve called.
3. If you have FIOS, your “landline” phone won’t work. How disappointing to have the latest technology and discover it’s useless in a power outage. My FIOS system came with a battery backup, but Continue reading →