Monday, August 6, 2007

down briggs chaney: east county's forgotten road

ABOVE: light pollution from the Montgomery Auto Park on Briggs Chaney Road at night.

From cornfields swaying in the breeze to condominiums in sprawling parking lots, Briggs Chaney Road has a little bit of everything. Less than six miles long, this twisty two-lane highway has wiggled its way into the consciousness of every East County resident driving out of town. It's even been immortalized in song by two different local bands, Aberdien and The Spotlight.

Yet behind the legend lies the reality of communities faced with change and decay. The densely populated Briggs Chaney neighborhood, centered on Briggs Chaney Road and Route 29, has become a symbol of everything that's wrong with East County: crime, disinvestment, and nasty traffic.

This week, Just Up The Pike takes a look at Briggs Chaney - what it is and what it will become:

MONDAY: What is Briggs Chaney Road? This slideshow explores what comprises the Briggs Chaney area - what works and what doesn't.

TUESDAY: Rocked by tragedy, a Briggs Chaney apartment complex opened their arms to the community - and the community answered. JUTP looks at the East County Community Day and what it means for the future of East County.

WEDNESDAY: JUTP checks out the new, high-end developments popping up in some of East County's poorest neighborhoods. Are these projects really improving the community? We'll find out.

THURSDAY: A local punk legend is stabbed outside of his Briggs Chaney condo. How can your own neighbors turn against you? JUTP sifts through the facts.

FRIDAY: JUTP interviews Sean Ruppert, a local builder who took a chance on Briggs Chaney with some outlandish townhouses. While the market's biting, County policies might prevent him from returning to the area.


rtsind said...

Hmmmm -are we suggesting that the community that you are referring to(crime, disinvestment etc) was built with attracting criminals-perhaps a mecca for the criminally minded- or are you suggesting something else.

The section of Briggs Chaney from 29-New Hampshire Ave- consists of big homes on lats of land- some ethnic churches99Buddahist, Hindu are just two of them--and just off of this section some iother nice neighborhoods.

Don't condemn Briggs Chaney Road based on the observation of one small enclave.

S. said...

I have to comment on this. I think that the greater BC area isn't really "forgotten" as far as crime goes. The issue simply is there are not enough police officers to cover it. Remember: this is part of 3D, a beat that spans from downtown Silver Spring and the DC line to Briggs Chaney/US29 up to the Howard Co. line. 3D sports only 50 officers when fully staffed. I think this is more of an issue to be addressed in Rockville. Briggs Chaney needs to be a separate beat given all the development in just the last year.


Down by the River

Dan Reed said...

The focus is on Briggs Chaney Road between Route 29 and the County line. Of course, Briggs Chaney west of 29 is a nice area. The only problem is people who live over there don't pay attention to what's over here, and so on.

I don't think Briggs Chaney is a mecca for criminals. I do think, though, that concentrating so much low-income housing in one place doesn't make a strong community, and I wanted to look at how the BC area is changing in this series.

I doubt these three pieces will be the end of the Briggs Chaney series.

Anonymous said...

The County put this problem on themselves by encouraging such low-income high rise development. Route 29 is not a major corridor and should not be developed with high-density residential such as The Enclave when there never will be a rail line built up the corridor. They need to make the core of the Briggs Chaney area a "hotspot" with its own police beat. If security is an issue, surveillance cameras are the answer.

S. said...

But the question is who decides where police beats are? If, as residents of this area, we attempted to petition to have the BC area made a separate police beat; to whom would said petition be directed?

Down by the River

Silver Springer said...

It should be mixed use, once again this proves my point of how concentrating so much residential in one place is a very bad idea.

Where are th jobs? Housing is just way too dominate on the Route 29 corridor, that's why traffic is so bad. Howard co doesn't help either cause all they like to do is build houses too.

Yet once again we repeating the mistakes of the past.

It's amazing how Montgomery Co., likes to dig itself into a hole.

Anonymous said...

As a 30 year resident of the area, I feel qualified to say that it is not the substantial addition of housing that has led to the decline of the Briggs Chaney area. Brace yourself because here comes a little is LOW INCOME HOUSING AND SUBSIDIZED HOUSING that has led to the decline of our community. While there are exceptions, some of which are notable, there is no denying that the culture that pervades in these communities has been very detrimental to our neighborhoods and our schools.

Dan Reed said...

I agree. Ten percent of Montgomery County's MPDUs are located in the Fairland planning area, which includes - you guessed it - Briggs Chaney. There's absolutely nothing wrong with building low-income housing. If anything, we need more of it. But when it's concentrated in one place - that's when problems occur.

Briggs Chaney needs a better mix of everything - higher-income housing, more offices and higher-quality retail, etc. When the ICC comes, it will become an extremely valuable area. Just watch.

Anonymous said...

What? We need more low-income housing? Low-income housing is the source of the problem, whether in small doses or large doses.

I don't think the ICC will induce high-priced homebuyers (and, for that matter, high-end retailers) to locate in an area with terrible schools, high crime and marginal shopping. Don't get me wrong, I support the ICC because I think we need to improve east-to-west traffic flow. I just don't expect it to improve the schools or make crime go away.

Anonymous said...

To Courtyard...regarding your earlier post, those of us on the west side of Route 29 are well aware of what is going on in the Briggs Chaney area east of 29. It's hard to ignore the impact that your side of 29 has had on our community.

Dan Reed said...

How so? Tell me more.

Anonymous said...

Come know the answer to your question.

Anonymous said...

You may want to move up 29 to Howard County. They are going to start giving free health insurance to everyone!

Anonymous said...

I pay for my own healthcare, thank you. I suspect the folks who are looking for free healthcare are on the east side of 29. Unlike Montgomery County, Howard County isn't falling all over itself to provide its residents with free housing, healthcare... I guess that's why Howard County has such great schools and is, overall, a better place to live. It is regrettable, but true.