WHAT'S UP THE PIKE: Burtonsville ripe for redevelopment; Indian Spring redevelopment to include new school; ParkView development on Greencastle to expand.
Selected community members inspect maps of the Purple Line at Tuesday night's focus group.
Over one hundred anxious residents packed the Oakview Elementary School cafeteria Tuesday night for the second Purple Line focus group in the Downcounty. Maryland Transit Administration officials discussed three potential routes the controversial transitway between Bethesda and New Carrollton could take through East Silver Spring.
After years of debate, many who attended the meeting were frustrated with the lack of trust some residents have for MTA. "I . . . was frustrated by the amount of people who had made up their minds not to listen to the presenters," says Queen Anne's Drive resident Vickie King, a Purple Line supporter. "People just kept shaking their heads at the presenters and applauding audience members who made predictions of doom that seemed to be purely conjecture."
Unlike last week's more open focus group, Tuesday's meeting introduced a table at the front of the cafeteria where representatives from civic associations and local businesses could examine the State's documents in detail. Project director Mike Madden noted that those at the table seemed to be suffering from stage fright.
"You all have to look alive now," says Madden, gesturing to the audience, "pretend these people aren't here."
so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .
The Maryland Transit Administration invited dozens of civic association presidents and local business owners to represent the community at a more structured focus group meeting.
Among those seated at the table were Karen Roper of the East Silver Spring Civic Association (whom JUTP interviewed last summer), who has been skeptical of the project; and Jim Johnson of the Long Branch Neighborhood Initiative, which supports the Purple Line as a means of redeveloping the Flower Avenue shopping district.
"We have a lot of density in isolated areas," says Johnson, a Flower Avenue resident. "People have to walk a long distance or catch the bus [for groceries] so we bring people to the amenities."
While the general audience didn't have as much access to State officials as they did last week, Purple Line opponents made their opinions clear. In an e-mail to JUTP, King relayed an incident where a member of the audience claimed the Purple Line would create pollution; an MTA official who suggested otherwise was "shouted down with 'where do you live?'" from the audience.
Rebecca F. Motz, executive director of the Springvale Terrace retirement home on Wayne Avenue, suggested that the MTA wasn't listening enough to local concerns. "Hasn’t anyone learned that building something new is not always the better solution?" asks Motz. "How about fixing what we already have since we know it works and is not disrupting those who live here?"
Discussion centered on a proposal to route the Purple Line on Wayne Avenue, taking lanes currently used for auto traffic. Many asked project director Mike Madden why the transitway couldn't be placed underground similar to another alignment on Silver Spring and Thayer avenues. Frustrated with his refusal to consider their demands, Seven Oaks residents Carol and Allan Leventhal brought their complaint to several Montgomery County Council members in an e-mail sent this morning.
"It would appear that no serious consideration is being given to this alternative because of the cost involved," laments the Leventhals in the e-mail. "What is sacrificed in the process is the cost to this community."
Many residents seemed well aware of the Purple Line's potential costs to East Silver Spring. "We're all for the Purple Line," says Johnson, referring to the Long Branch Neighborhood Initiative. "But we realize it'll probably gentrify the community."