Monday, November 23, 2009

what's up the pike: they make trees see-through now

- It won't be finished for nearly two years, but check out these images of the new White Oak Community Recreation Center anyway. At 33,000 square feet, it'll be the largest such facility in the county. In addition to the standard fare (gym, game room, etc.), the rec center will have a skate spot and a nice big deck overlooking the woods and the Paint Branch for social events.

- Meanwhile, the Mid-County Community Recreation Center in Layhill should be done by New Year's, according to the page where these nice construction photos are found. Like the White Oak facility, it was designed by Calverton-based Grimm + Parker Architects and will be seeking LEED certification for its environmentally-sound construction. Speaking of which, Mid-County's parking lots are in back, making it more convenient for visitors coming by foot or bus.

- Park Hills Civic Association is holding a meeting tonight about the Purple Line and its controversial proposed stop at Wayne Avenue and Dale Drive. County and state elected officials will be there, along with the principals of nearby schools and Mike Madden from the MTA. The meeting will be at 7:30pm Monday at Silver Spring International Middle School, located at the corner of Wayne and Dale.

- From the listservs: residents in East Silver Spring say a pot dealer's moved in, with reports of cars "parked . . . with the engine on with no driver inside" and "increased activity" at the corner of Gist and Takoma avenues, where men in "dark jackets" have accosted young children. If you've got any tips, it never hurts to call the Police Department's 3rd District station on Sligo Avenue.


Thomas Hardman said...

About the mid-county Rec center...

I was at many of the meetings where neighborhood people disclosed their feelings about this, and generally the sentiments were:

1) Located too far from the highest-density and lowest-income parts of the neighborhood. Generally speaking, most folks would have rather had it closer to Peppertree, perhaps on the large lot at the corner of Homecrest and BelPre.

2) Absent new signals, dangerous to get to by foot, especially from the high-density low-income neighborhoods.

Generally there seemed to be a sentiment that the place was not designed for, and would turn out to be exclusive of, neighborhood kids and youth; that the facility was meant to draw in people from "richer neighborhoods" who would arrive by private auto, creating a traffic hazard for the local folks who would in any case tend to be discouraged from using the facility.

Thus, some locals saw this facility as disrespecting their neighborhood, which was chosen as a dumping ground, with additional disrespect added of making it mostly accessible only by car and putting it both away from the concentrations of people with the greatest need for after-school/summertime rec/educational access, and putting it additionally across a road that is very heavily trafficked at the times most likely for locals to attempt to use the facility.

Hey, I wanted it right across Connecticut Avenue from North Gate Park, but of course nobody ever listens to me. Additionally, all discussions in the neighborhood were of the type where the County officials show up and tell you what they're going to do, and accept "input" only as a pro-forma gesture. And of course nobody's happy but for the officials.

Dan Reed said...

Maybe the solution is just to build a rec center for the affluent single-family neighborhoods and one for the low-income apartments. That's what they did in Burtonsville. The Praisner Rec Center and East County Rec Center are barely a mile apart, but this way, nobody has to associate with people who aren't like them. Problem solved!

Thomas Hardman said...

Dan, the Rec Center on Bauer Drive at MD-28 has been there for about 20 years. The thing is, a lot of the "locals" using that facility are the Flower Valley folks and they've always been pretty aggressive about "access denied and you'll be sorry you tried" (illegal and unofficial) policy implementation even against the Rock Creek Manor folks who live closer to that Rec Center than do the Flower Valley folks. I can't imagine how they'd treat the poor folks from Layhill.

Yet when you read the statistical studies supporting Mid-County, it reads like the documents used to plan the customer base for large shopping malls. Mid-County was never about any of the locals, it was designed to draw people from as far away as Blake HS, Glenmont, and even West Wheaton. The intended clientele are mostly drivers.

The neighbors of the facility mostly didn't want it there, and the HOC and low-rent folks on the other side of Layhill want it there, but not there at the current site. If you want more insight on how the near neighbors feel about it, mail Chris Paladino.

As I said, I wanted it between the North Gate Park and Strathmore Elementary School, there's already a "green axis" traversable by the general public (which Gate of Heaven Cemetery is not) and Aspen Hill's "apartment city" is long overdue for any sort of amenities that will put the public on the street instead of isolating themselves at home when not at work or school.

And yes, you're right, I am still on a one-man crusade to improve the place, even though of course any facility they build here is likely to be one from which I'll be excluded.