Hey, it looks like we're getting a tropical storm this weekend. As we prepare for those big, fat raindrops to hit the ground, here's a look at some more drops and rises in East County:
- The Planning Board's approved plans to redevelop a third of the Falkland Chase apartments while preserving the rest of the New Deal-era complex at 16th Street and East-West Highway. Developer Home Properties proposes replacing the North Parcel, which contains 182 apartments, with a high-rise apartment building that may have over one thousand units.
As I've said before, redevelopment of the Falkland North site may be inevitable, but Home Properties' current plans - a giant tower in a superblock - is completely inappropriate for a site in the middle of Downtown. Here's hoping that when the project goes up for design review, the Planning Board encourages a more urban, pedestrian-friendly project.
- InterCounty Connector construction crews were awarded nearly $560 million to build the segment of the highway between Georgia Avenue and Columbia Pike, over $100 million more than originally anticipated. The cost of the entire eighteen-mile toll road between Gaithersburg and Laurel was supposed to total $2.4 billion, a price that's increased dramatically since the project was resurrected by Governor Ehrlich in 2002.
BeyondDC points out that this overrun alone would've paid for the entire Columbia Pike streetcar . . . in Virginia. (No telling when our light-rail along The Pike, first proposed nearly forty years ago, will ever happen.)
- SAT scores are falling across Montgomery County, with especially big drops seen in the Northeast Consortium high schools. Blake's average SAT score this year was 1490, sixty-nine points less than it was last year; Springbrook's and Paint Branch's scores dropped fifty-four points and nine points respectively. School superintendent Jerry Weast blamed the drops on the growing racial gap between the scores of white and Asian students and their Black or Hispanic counterparts.
The racial gap may be a major reason why Blake's scores have fallen. Until two years ago, the school was required to admit a certain amount of students on free and reduced lunch, circumventing the "choice process," which allowed East County eighth-graders to pick between specialized programs at each school.