Montgomery County Parks and Planning Departments Showcase Accomplishments from Past Six Months with Spring 2018 Semiannual Report

March 21, 2018

Spring 2018 Semiannual

Report to Montgomery County Council highlights plans and projects emphasizing progress of visions being realized

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery Parks and Montgomery Planning Departments, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), presented their Spring 2018 Semiannual Report to the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The report, available online, showcases key projects, activities and plans for each department from the past six months and work that will be completed over the next six months and beyond.

View the Spring 2018 Semiannual Report.

Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson introduced the progress report by emphasizing the ways in which the principles of New Suburbanism, an anti-sprawl approach that emphasizes mixed-use, walkable and transit-oriented communities, are being carried out in the county.

“Recommendations in plans for White Flint 2, Rock Spring and the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area are already being achieved in development projects in those communities,” noted Anderson. “We are also planning new parks in densely populated areas like Bethesda where people can enjoy outdoor activities and socialize.”

Planning Director Gwen Wright reinforced this message, pointing to the newly proposed Marriott International headquarters in Bethesda, phase two of Pike and Rose, Viva White Oak campus and other developments as the latest manifestations of planning goals being realized. She explained the three themes of the semiannual report – New Suburbanism, Engaging Communities and Strengthening Economic Competitiveness – as key to managing county growth.

Wright and planner Leslye Howerton highlighted the Bethesda Downtown Monitoring and Tracking program, an online tool used to ensure approved projects meet the cap on development set forth in the Bethesda Overlay Zone. This program, created in coordination with the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, will be available on the Planning Department website to inform the public about the progress of the sector plan and will be used in reporting to the Planning Board about development in downtown Bethesda.

“Our approach to planning is based on data,” said Wright. “Taking a closer look at how our plans are being realized incrementally can help steer future efforts in managing growth.”

Director of Parks Mike Riley emphasized the role of placemaking and public parks as a vital component to create healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities.

“Our new Energized Public Spaces Functional Master Plan, recently approved by the County Council, provides a roadmap to assuring our most densely populated neighborhoods have walkable access to public spaces as a venue for active, contemplative and social gathering experiences,” said Riley. “Our recent acquisition of parkland in downtown Bethesda for the future Capital Crescent Civic Green Urban Park is a great start toward implementing the goals of the plan. Our pop-up park activation program is entering its third year with several new and exciting programs.”

Planning Department’s Notable Achievements

The Spring 2018 Semiannual Report highlights the Planning Department’s following accomplishments over the past six months:

-Planning Board public hearings were held in January, February and March 2018 for the Bicycle Master Plan, Master Plan of Highways and Transitways and MARC Rail Communities Plan. After Planning Board work sessions are concluded, the plans will be reviewed by the County Council.

-The Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan and Forest Glen/Montgomery Hills Sector Plan focus on the county’s Vision Zero policy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030. Both plans aim to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and better connect neighborhoods along busy arterial roads.

-Studies of retail, employment and senior housing trends will be released in spring 2018 and will inform future plans.

-Planning for the General Plan update has begun. This seminal planning guide for Montgomery County, the General Plan, was adopted in 1964, revised in 1993 and is proposed to be updated in 2019 to reflect more current approaches to planning and reflect demographic and social changes in our communities.

-In October 2017, the Planning Department won the Best of the Best Award in Excellence in Quality Land Use and Collaboration in Urban Design from the DC-Maryland chapter of the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP).

-In March 2018, the Planning Department concluded its three-part Winter Speaker Series, devoted to the economic future of the suburbs, with a session on placemaking led by Ethan Kent of the New York-based Project for Public Spaces.

Department of Parks’ Notable Achievements

The Spring 2018 Semiannual Report highlights the following accomplishments achieved by the Department of Parks over the past six months:

-In December 2017, Montgomery Parks finalized a significant urban park acquisition as recommended in the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan with the purchase of a half-acre property in downtown Bethesda that will become the Capital Crescent Civic Green Urban Park.

-In January 2018, Montgomery Parks broke ground on the first phase of a new trail connecting the Muddy Branch Stream Valley to South Germantown Recreation Park. The project is a partnership with Pepco and the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts.

-The Marye Wells-Harley Dream Scholarship will provide funding and opportunities for more than 20 children to experience a Montgomery Parks summer camp.

-Montgomery Parks launched a six-part speaker series in 2018 to focus on the safety, development and planning of urban parks. The events are drawing national and international experts to discuss trends and needs in cities and suburbs.