Category Archives: Neighborhoods

Mayor and Council focus Priorities around Development

PriorityThe Rockville Mayor and Council recently engaged the Novak Consulting Group (who aided in the search for the new city manager) to help refine their list of 23 priorities created in 2016—far too many to get things done.  As a result, the Mayor and Council identified the priorities among their priorities, coming up with a list of twelve which are overwhelmingly focused on city planning and development, and may just be wishful thinking: Continue reading →

Twinbrook Swimming Pool festivities on Saturday, June 3

Twinbrook PoolThe Twinbrook Swimming Pool (TSP) opens for the summer season on Sunday, May 28 but the following Saturday, June 3 will have a day full of activities including a craft fair and yard sale from 8 am to 1 pm, and a community day from 12 noon to 6 pm for $6 per person.  I recently stopped by to find volunteers getting the place ready for opening (photos below). Along with 50-meter swimming lanes and diving pond, there’s a sand volleyball court, a deck for special events, picnic tables, dozens of lounge chairs, a “bar of snacks,” restrooms, and a playground for young kids.  For children who are serious about swimming, TSP hosts the Ducks, a competitive swim team for kids and teens that’s part of the Montgomery County Swim League.   To join, membership rates range from $345 (individual) to $605 (family) along with a special introductory rate of $128. For more details, visit TwinbrookPool.org.

You may have never noticed the pool because you can’t see it from the street— Continue reading →

Opposition to Carver Bus Depot Grows

The effort to stop the creation of a school bus depot at the Carver Center in Rockville continues to grow with community meetings, presentations at City Council meetings, collecting more than 1,700 signatures on petitions, and hiring an attorney.  Montgomery County Public Schools wants to consolidate several bus depots around the county that provide parking, equipment storage, and maintenance for school busses to one central location in Rockville.  It doesn’t make sense considering the size of the county—should 100+ busses come and go from Rockville to transport students in Poolesville and Silver Spring?

If you’d like to learn more:

  • Visit the Carver Coalition web site at CarverCoalition.org
  • Attend the Community Meeting on the plans for the depot hosted by Montgomery County Public Schools on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:30 pm at College Gardens Elementary School
  • Attend the Carver Coalition meeting on Tuesday, May 17 at 7:00 pm at the Rockville Unitarian Universalist Church at 100 Welsh Park Drive.
  • Read the latest flyer from the Carver Coalition.

There’s a bigger issue that continues to gnaw at me, however.  MCPS is one of the largest school districts in the country with a billion-dollar budget.  It’s considered one of the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, but does that mean it’s also well governed?  The school board seems to be continually tone-deaf when it comes to local issues, such as the bus depot, and the County Council seems to be unable to have any influence, despite being the major funder.  Is it time to split the school district into manageable parts and have more local control?

 

Two Very Different Candidate Debates This Week

Rockville-Election-UpdateThe campaign season has moved into high gear with the community forums (aka candidate debates) underway.  This week two very different debates at two very different times will be held in Rockville:

Senior Citizens Commission Candidates’ Forum on Wednesday afternoon, October 14, 2015 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive. This debate will address specific issues affecting seniors, in addition to some questions of general interest, as time allows, with the final hour reserved for one-on-one conversations with those attending.

West End Citizens Association (WECA) on Thursday evening, October 15, 2015 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Rockville Presbyterian Church, 215 W. Montgomery Avenue. Most likely this forum will focus on issues that affect the West End, such as traffic, development, commercial/residential balance, historic preservation, and pedestrian safety, which may be similar to other residential neighborhoods.

Both forums are free and open to the public, and no reservations are needed.

IMG_4392Last week about seventy people gathered at the Thomas Farm Community Center to watch the first candidate forum (watch on YouTube).  Hosted by the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, the questions focused on issues that were important to the business community, such as the impact of the new developments on the north (Crown) and south (Pike and Rose), the future of the APFO, building heights and street widths on the Rockville Pike, and if the non-residential tax base should grow to support city services.  This was the community’s first chance to see all the candidates together and assess how they handled a variety of questions in a very controlled environment. If anyone expected sparks to fly, the minute-long responses don’t lend themselves to much content that generates controversy.  Many fell to vague pat answers such as Continue reading →

Rockville Candidates Missing the Forest and Trees for the Rocks

Last week, I received the following email message from Joe Jordan, who is closely associated with Bridget Newton‘s election campaign:

Max, there have been at least two occasions where Clark Reed has been seen wearing a handmade name tag that reads “Rockville City Council – Clark Reed”. It was pointed out to him at the MPT showing on Friday, yet he wore it again at RTS on Saturday. Recalling two years ago, I recall how you were concerned about integrity and propriety and following election guidelines, and while nametags may not be covered under them, I am sure you can see how misleading his nametag can be.

Can I be confident in the fact you will bring this to his and Sima [Osdoby]’s attention, and ask that, at a minimum, he and all slate candidates use the wording “candidate for” if they are not incumbents.

Thanks for your attention to this important matter.

Name badgesMr. Jordan is correct that name badges are not specifically addressed in Rockville’s election code (although it addresses nearly everything else: “any pamphlet, circular, card, sample ballot, dodger, poster, advertisement or any printed, multigraphed, photographed, typewritten or written matter or statement or any matter or statement which may be copied by any device”) and that I value transparency, honesty, and accuracy in government (and in business and personal relationships).  I’ve passed his message onto the candidates of Team Rockville, but just to clarify, each candidate that is part of the Team is responsible for his or her own campaign (I don’t manage individual campaigns, just the Team’s; and this blog is mine, not the Team’s).

More important, though, I am growing increasingly concerned with the topics deemed important in this election.  Richard Gottfried sent out the first campaign mailer of the season and accused his opponents of associating with “fat cat developers” without providing any evidence.  On the Twinbrook Listserv a couple weeks ago, Brigitta Mullican complained about the inaccuracies in my blog post (I said Beryl Feinberg worked in the county’s office of management and budget) and that she wasn’t allowed to post comments, then recruited Beryl Feinberg to pile on:
Continue reading →

Asian Retail Expands in Downtown Rockville

This just in from the JBG Companies:  they’ve fully leased their retail space at 275 North Washington Street, a new mixed-use building in downtown Rockville anchored by Bank of America (where the Giant Grocery store once stood).

Reflecting the growing international flavor of the surrounding area, four Asian-owned businesses have signed for the remaining retail spaces adjacent to Rockville Town Square. They are French-Asian cafe Lavande Patisserie, Kung Fu Tea, Quickway Hibachi Grill and Amber Door Day Spa. In addition to 12,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, JBG’s 275 North Washington Street includes 12,000 square feet of available Class A office space on a second level.

“This area offers a unique multi-ethnic dining and shopping experience that adds flavor and choices. It’s a draw for Rockville residents and for those living outside the city,” said Anthony Greenberg, a JBG principal. “There are several Asian markets and authentic Chinese restaurants near 275 North Washington Street, and we are pleased to be a part of an organically emerging district.”

Lily Qi, director of special projects for the Montgomery County executive, said Rockville is known as the Chinatown of Montgomery County because of its high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and Asian businesses. Rockville’s central location and accessibility makes it a magnet for amenities that cater to the everyday living needs of this population, as well as to the tastes of the broader community who enjoy a diversity of cuisines and retail choices.

Retailers are moving into their spaces this month and expect to open this spring. Bob Liang, founder of regional Quickway Japanese Hibachi, said he chose the location because of the area’s diverse demographics and proximity to Rockville Town Center. The restaurant, which features fast casual Japanese, will be the 10th to open in the D.C. region.

Lavande Patisserie, owned by mother and son Julie Yi and Andrew Liang of Gaithersburg, is a farm-to-table café and will serve breakfast, lunch and French pastries with an Asian twist, such as kumquat fruit tarts. Lavande will butcher its meat in-house, mill its own flour, make its own creams. “Everything is fresh and purchased within 50 miles, nothing is store bought or pre-processed,” said Liang. Kung Fu Tea is a national franchise from New York that serves specialty tea drinks. The Rockville location will be the first in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia area. Amber Door Day Spa is locally owned and will offer spa packages that include massages, facials, body treatments, makeup and more.

Continue reading →

Twinbrook Parkway now extends to the Internet

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.

If you’re seeking general information about the Twinbrook neighborhood, subscribe to the Twinbrook Neighbors listserv or  join the Twinbrook Citizens Association.

Twinbrook Coming Out of Snowstorm

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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.

Is the new Children’s Resource Center right for Twinbrook?

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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 →

New Mark Commons is not So Common

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It was a beautiful day to explore New Mark Commons, the exceptionally well-designed mid-century neighborhood west of downtown Rockville.  Hosted by Peerless Rockville, a standing-room only crowd of about 60 people gathered in the Clubhouse to hear an illustrated lecture by Dr. Isabel Gournay of the University of Maryland.  Rose Krasnow, a longtime resident and former administrator of New Mark Commons, provided the introductory remarks.  Afterwards, about half the group walked the neighborhood to visit a single-family house on Radburn and a townhouse on the lake–plus a surprise invitation to visit a second townhouse.   Two more neighborhoods will be visited in the next month–the Americana Centre and King Farm–so if you’d like architecture and local history, these are a perfect way to enjoy both.