Wednesday, October 12, 2016

the difference between maryland and virginia, in one photo

If you've ever flown out of National Airport, you might try to pick out the geographic landmarks you recognize: the Washington Monument, Rock Creek Park, or the Potomac River. Next time you're heading west, keep an eye on the river as it passes through Maryland and Virginia, and you'll notice one big difference between each state.

The Difference Between Maryland and Virginia In One Photo
Virginia sprawl on the left, Maryland farms on the right. Photos by the author.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

let's keep silver spring affordable by building housing at the old library

UPDATE: Sign our petition in support of affordable housing at the old library.

Montgomery County wants to turn the former Silver Spring library into affordable housing. Now neighbors are circulating a petition to make it a park instead, even though there's already a park next door.

The former Silver Spring Library. Photo from Google Street View.

Even before the Silver Spring Library moved to a new building last summer, Montgomery County has been trying to figure out what to do with its 1950's-era building and parking lot on Colesville Road.

In the past, Parks Department officials said they want to make it a recreation center. But that may not be necessary if the county goes with a proposal to build a bigger recreation center and aquatic center in a new apartment building a few blocks away.

This summer, county officials floated the idea of replacing the old library with affordable apartments for seniors and a childcare center. But some neighbors insist that the library become a recreation center and park, and are circulating a petition claiming that downtown Silver Spring has "no open space," that Silver Spring has enough housing, and that a park is the "green" solution.

Aerial of the former library site. Image from Google Maps altered by the author.

This isn't the first time some residents have raised these arguments, particularly when there's a proposal to build new homes. But Montgomery County has the right idea in using the old library for affordable housing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

just call me a YIMBY! (guest post by susan buchanan)

Lyttonsville is one of Silver Spring's oldest neighborhoods, but Montgomery County is considering a plan that calls its future into question. Last week, we heard from resident Abe Saffer about his concerns with the plan. In response, neighbor Susan Buchanan tells us why she supports new development in Lyttonsville. We happily accept guest posts, and if you've got something to say, send an email to just up the pike at gmail dot com.

My neighbor Abe Saffer expertly captured the concern of some Lyttonsville residents about the prospect of redevelopment and urban growth here with the coming Purple Line. The allowance of 2,500 new families in Lyttonsville over the next 20 years seems alarming. It’s difficult to comprehend how that many more people can fit here with the current design and use of the community. For this reason, I once agreed with Abe and others in calling for a cap of 400 new homes in the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan.

But that was before the developer, EYA, entered the picture in recent months with interest in redeveloping portions of Lyttonsville and investing in much-needed infrastructure here.

Lyttonsville's main street, Brookville Road. Photo by Thomas J. Leonard on Flickr.
EYA’s inspiring proposal demonstrates how growth can be accomplished through a comprehensive plan to modernize Lyttonsville while improving quality of life for the residents. The EYA vision, along with the potential $500 million of investment the master plan would bring to the area, have flipped me from a NIMBY to a YIMBY.

Or rather, an enthusiastic Y!IMBY! (Yes! In my backyard!)

Friday, September 23, 2016

scarred by urban renewal, lyttonsville could get a second chance

Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood has a rich history, but urban renewal nearly destroyed it. With the Purple Line coming, this historically-black community could get a second chance, but not everybody looks forward to it.

Urban renewal nearly destroyed Lyttonsville in the 1970s. Photo by Alan Bowser.

Located west of the Red Line tracks from downtown Silver Spring, Lyttonsville is one of Montgomery County's oldest neighborhoods, founded in 1853 by freed slave Samuel Lytton. The area could soon be home to a Purple Line station if the light-rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton opens as scheduled in 2022.

Over the past two years, Montgomery County planners crafted a vision for a small town center around the future Lyttonsville station, bringing affordable housing and retail options the community lacks. Some residents are deeply skeptical of what's called the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan, though it could restore the town center Lyttonsville lost long ago.