Category Archives: Recreation

REI Moving from Rockville to White Flint in April

REI store in Rockville.

REI store in Rockville.

REI, the outdoor sports store at the southern edge of Rockville at 1701 Rockville Pike, has announced it’s moving south about 1500 feet to become part of the new Pike & Rose mega-shopping center/experience in White Flint. With the loss of Sports Authority and Hudson Trail Outfitters in recent years, this neighborhood’s remaining sports stores are smaller specialists: Revolution Cycles, Performance Bicycle, and Road Runner Sports.  REI has announced the following schedule:

  • March 18, 2017: Garage Sale
  • April 15: Last day accepting shop work
  • April 23: Last day in Rockville
  • April 25: Opening at Pike & Rose in White Flint
  • April 28-30: Grand opening events

Competition for tenants along the Rockville Pike continues to intensify as the internet becomes a more popular place to shop and customers seek more interesting and engaging experiences.  The simple stripmalls that line Rockville Pike will be with us for a while but the richer social environments of Pike & Rose and Rockville Town Square will be more attractive gathering places.  JBG‘s efforts around the Twinbrook Metro Station is expected to follow this new model, however, it seems that development has stalled for the last year and doesn’t have sufficient gravity to attract a sustainable customer base (Terano and Galvan, the last major projects, opened in 2015).

Twinbrook hosts Bicycle Drive on Sat., June 11

wall-sport-green-bikeThe Rockville Bike Hub (RBH) will host a bicycle drive on Saturday, June 11, between 3 and 6 p.m., during the Bikes, Brews and Barbecue event outside Revolution Cycles at 5750 Fishers Lane adjacent to the Twinbrook Metro. All bikes will be accepted but the critical need is for bicycles for children in first through fifth grade. Adult bikes will be used for education and volunteer training or donated to Bikes for the World.

In partnership with the City of Rockville, the non-profit, RBH recently gave away more than 30 bicycles to local elementary school children as a reward for performing a small service project. “In general, a bike gives a child a sense of independence and freedom and the ability to broaden the area that they can explore in their neighborhoods,” said Rockville Bike Hub Board President Steve Andruski. “Our hope is that, it turns into a lifelong activity and they become connected to the bicycling community.”

In addition to collecting bikes, the Rockville Bike Hub will be Continue reading →

Hometown Holidays on Memorial Day Weekend Features 30 groups across 6 Blocks

More than 30 groups will take to four stages across six city blocks in Rockville Town Center for the city’s Hometown Holidays Music Fest on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, 2016. The weekend will once again feature favorite food from local restaurants at the Taste of Rockville, kids amusements and the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade on Monday, May 30.

Two hometown area bands will headline the 28th annual festival on Sunday. Baltimore’s Kelly Bell Band will play at 6:30 p.m. and then join the original “Bad Boys of Bethesda,” The Nighthawks, at 8:30 p.m. in the headlining slot on the Bud Light Stage. Other artists on the Bud Light Stage include:

  • Alternative band Knox Hamilton at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Soul/rock band Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Flow Tribe, playing funk, rock and psychedelic at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
  • “BluesAmericanaRock” artist Ted Garber at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Additional acts include rock band Radio Birds, reggae favorite Jah Works, the roots rock of The Alternate Routes, and the U.S. Navy Band Country Current, playing country and bluegrass. Find a full schedule of performances at www.rockvillemd.gov/hometownholidays.

The festival is just a five-minute walk from the Rockville Metro station. Festival-goers who drive or bike will find parking in the City Hall lots, Montgomery County Council office building garage on Fleet Street and the Metro station lots.

Learn more at http://www.rockvillemd.gov/hometownholidays or at “City of Rockville Hometown Holidays” on Facebook.

What is Senator Kagan Doing in Annapolis?

Cheryl KaganThe Maryland General Assembly is about halfway through its 90-day annual grind through more than 2,500 pieces of legislation along with the State’s budgets.  State Senator Cheryl Kagan provides a regular email that lists her current activities, but it’s incomplete because so much is happening.  To see the entire picture, you have to visit the General Assembly website to discover that she’s shepherding 78 bills, 10 of which she is sponsoring and 67 she is co-sponsoring.  As a sponsor of a bill, she’s the one who introduced the legislation.  Sen. Kagan is the primary sponsor of the following bills but note that they are subject to numerous revisions in the legislative process (so what you read here may change):

SB0001: Health Insurance – In Vitro Fertilization – Use of Spouse’s Sperm – Exception. This bill alters the required conditions for health insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by creating an exception to the required use of the spouse’s sperm. For a patient whose spouse is of the opposite sex, the patient’s eggs must be fertilized with the spouse’s sperm, unless (1) the spouse is unable to produce and deliver sperm and (2) the inability does not
result from a vasectomy or other method of voluntary sterilization. According to the Department of Budget and Management, State plan expenditures increase by an estimated $216,310 in fiscal 2017, or approximately 0.025% of annual State plan spending. The State plan currently covers IVF. Expenditures reflect increased utilization of IVF and medical claims associated with the resulting pregnancies.

SB0028: State Government – Web Sites – Language Access. This bill requires specified State departments, agencies, and programs to take reasonable steps, beginning October 1, 2016, to operate and maintain, for Continue reading →

Enjoy Fall While It’s Here

Lake Frank, just east of Rockville, Maryland in October.

Lake Frank, just east of Rockville, Maryland in October.

It’s fall in Rockville and if you haven’t enjoyed it enough, head out to Lake Frank east of town. Created by Montgomery County to control flooding along Rock Creek in the 1970s, it’s an off-the-beaten path destination for those who love nature, walking, birdwatching, and dog walking. Today was especially nice because the trees are at their peak and their colors are reflected in the water–and we only ran into a half dozen people in the hour we were there.

Enter from Avery Road (near Southlawn) and you’ll find a small parking lot leading to a paved path that goes around about a third of the lake. If you’re walking or on a bike, you can also enter from the Rock Creek Trail just north of Norbeck Road.

Capital Bikeshare Launched in downtown Rockville

A crowd gathers in downtown Rockville for the launch of Capitol Bikeshare.

A crowd gathers in downtown Rockville for the launch of Capital Bikeshare.

Capital Bikeshare, the popular bike rental program in DC, has jumped the Beltway and into downtown Rockville. This morning a crowd gathered near the Red Brick Courthouse to witness the launch of this fun and healthy program in our hometown.  Although the program doesn’t provide the transportation connections I had hoped for (there’s nothing in the south end of Rockville for the Twinbrook Metro station), I’m still delighted that it’s here and we’re part of a larger regional network.

Capital Bikeshare puts over 1800+ bicycles at 200+ stations across Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, VA and Montgomery County, MD.   Check out a bike for your trip to work, Metro, run errands, go shopping, or visit friends and family and return it to any station near your destination.  Join Capital Bikeshare for a day, 3 days, a month, a year or try their new daily key option, and have access to their fleet of bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free. Each additional 30 minutes incurs an additional fee of $1.50 to 2.00, depending on your membership level.

Capital Bikeshare Coming to Rockville (somewhat)

Capital Bikeshare station in Washington, DC.

Capital Bikeshare station in Washington, DC.

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
Proposed stations for Capital Bikeshare on a Google Map with bike routes.

Proposed stations for Capital Bikeshare on a Google Map with bike routes. Click to enlarge.

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 →

Is Rockville Walkable? Depends Where You Are.

Walk Score map of Rockville

“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?

Hometown Holidays in Rockville

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Hometown Holidays is one of Rockville’s biggest events and spreads out among several streets in downtown with artists, restaurants, music, kiddie rides, businesses, and local organizations.  For a few hours today I joined the volunteers in the food ticket booth in a wonderful location between Oro Pomodoro and Bombay Bistro, two great Rockville restaurants.  Oro Pomodoro brought their wood burning stove and prepared the pizzas next to me, which was fun to watch (and I ordered a pizza al funghi when I finished my rotation in the booth).  Strolling the artists’ booth, I encountered Charlie Barton of Baltimore, who creates stunning silkscreened images that merges high contrast panoramic photography with the boldness of 1960s psychedelic art.  If you collect contemporary art by local artists, he’s one to watch.

Live Music in and around Rockville

One of the gazillion bands performing at Hometown Holidays, 2011

When Rockvillians are looking for live music, their tendency is to look south towards Silver Spring, DC, or, heavens! across the Potomac.  Well, those are great places–who can argue with the concerts at the Kennedy Center, The Fillmore, 9:30 Club, Wolftrap, or the Birchmere.  But there are plenty of great places for seriously good music in and around Rockville if you know where to look and when to show up.  In no particular order, here’s my list of concert venues and presenters of good live music:

  1. The Institute of Musical Traditions may be based in Takoma Park but it holds a concert series of Celtic, folk, bluegrass, and Creole music at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church (they call it Rockville, but it’s south of White Flint on Old Georgetown Road, so perhaps North Bethesda or South Rockville).  Takes a break during the summer.  Tickets run $15-20.
  2. Unplugged on the Rooftop, a Tuesday night concert series in Town Square featuring a mix of established and undiscovered local bands, such as The Digits and Meredith Seidel.   Admission free, cash bar.
  3. Wine Down is a Thursday night series from June through August that features live acoustic music while sampling wine and food from the nearby restaurants.  Free.
  4. Friday Night Live starts the weekends from May through September with free outdoor concerts (mostly rock from the 80s and 90s) in Rockville Town Square on Friday nights.
  5. Focus Music presents concerts of acoustic traditional and contemporary folk music at three locations around DC, including the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockville.
  6. Folk ‘N Great Music hosts intimate house concerts every other month on a Saturday evening (yup, in houses around Rockville and it’s the very first unionized house concert series in the US).  Next concert in June.  Reservations required, donations encouraged.
  7. Maryland Summer Jazz Festival, now in its eighth year, includes public concerts and a jazz camp in July.  Not exactly sure of the location but I suspect it’s somewhere in the south end of Rockville judging from the list of sponsors.
  8. Rockville Concert Band, Potomac Valley Youth Orchestra, and other musical groups perform at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater in Rockville’s Civic Center Park throughout the year.  Admission fees vary and most recommend reservations.
  9. Also in Civic Center Park, Glenview Mansion hosts monthly concerts on Sunday afternoons in its conservatory.  Admission free.
  10. Music Center at Strathmore is certainly of the region’s crown jewels and just ten minutes from my house.  It has two venues:  the large new concert hall and the intimate music room in the historic mansion.  Both present amazing performances by some of the leading artists in the country as well as being a home for the National Philharmonic (Rockville’s own Piotr Gajewski is conductor), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Washington Performing Arts Society.
  11. Hometown Holidays, a regional event hosted by the City of Rockville, takes place over Memorial Day weekend with something like forty free concerts on eight stages (this year’s headliner is country singer Easton Corbin), along with lots of food, craft booths, and of course a parade.

Wow, there’s plenty here in Rockville to keep your feet tapping all year but I’d love to make it a dozen.   If I missed a local concert venue or presenter (local means within two miles of the Red Brick Courthouse), please share it in the comments below.