"What we like about Wheaton today is its diversity and its different dimensions," says Rhea Roundman, who lives in nearby Kensington Heights. "Everything has texture. Some things are bumpy. Some things are smooth. And we want to keep it that way."
The group, called 3-DIMBY (3-D In My Backyard), plans to stage a protest rally tomorrow in Parking Lot 13, located at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive. The lot, which is currently on a slope and covered in a mix of black asphalt and green grass would be reduced to a featureless white plane in B.F. Saul's plans. A Ferris wheel would be installed in the middle of the lot, while another portion would be redeveloped as a big, brown box, presumably containing a matrix of apartment units and retail spaces.
Some residents, however, look forward to the so-called "Sketchupization" of Wheaton. "I'm pretty sure it's just a drawing," says Tommy DeSquare, who lives downtown. "Even if they wanted to build that, the developer couldn't make all those colorful ethnic businesses paint their stores grey."
Yesterday, representatives from B.F. Saul sent out an e-mail to community members attempting to quell the controversy:
Clearing Up Confusion
About the Town Square
We heard from some Wheaton residents who are confused about the appearance of the Town Square in our recent “Test Layout of Taste of Wheaton” posting, so we wanted to provide some clarification.
The test layout does not reflect the way the Town Square would actually look. We posted the drawing to demonstrate that the new Town Square could accommodate community festivals, such as Taste of Wheaton, which are part of what makes Wheaton unique.
Items such as landscaping, hardscaping and pedestrian-friendly features are not shown in that layout for the sake of simplicity, but these are integral considerations in the Town Square planning and will show in the final concept plan.
We are working with community leaders to create a comfortable, green and inviting area that community residents can enjoy. We’ll continue to keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website.
Patricia Prism, member of 3-DIMBY and a resident of Kemp Mill, dismissed the e-mail. "This is just more developer double-speak," she says. "You have a cool, authentic, well-rounded place and they try to squeeze money out of it and it becomes flat and boring. Just look at Bethesda and Silver Spring."
Special thanks to reader Dave for the heads-up.