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Jul 20 16

Montgomery Parks and Montgomery County Recreation Department Begin 2017 Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan

by Melissa Chotiner

Parks Department seeks public input to predict future needs and determine how to put the “right parks in the right places,” and steward natural and cultural resources.


SILVER SPRING, MDMontgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is starting the process of preparing the 2017 Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan. Park planners will present an outline, schedule and outreach strategy for developing the PROS Plan at the July 28th Planning Board meeting. The presentation will be given in the morning at around 10 a.m.


Ideas and comments from the public are welcome throughout the planning process, and may be submitted online, by email to the project manager,, at public meetings and by mail to Brooke Farquhar, Montgomery Parks, 9500 Brunett Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20901.


“Parks, recreation, and open spaces are essential to the high quality of life for Montgomery County residents,” said Brooke Farquhar, Supervisor, Park and Trail Planning in the Park Planning and Stewardship Division of M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks Department. “One of the greatest challenges is balancing the need for recreational facilities with stewardship of environmental and cultural resources. The 2017 PROS Plan will help guide us in this challenge.”


The PROS Plan provides a framework for the next decade for how Montgomery Parks and Montgomery County Recreation Department will balance the need for open space and recreational facilities in a county that is becoming increasingly urbanized. The plan will address a variety of factors impacting parks and recreation including:


  • Planning for urban parks, trails and athletic fields
  • Methods to achieve social equity, health and conservation


The 2017 PROS Plan will build upon and expand the work of the 2012 PROS Plan, which introduced a new methodology and typology for urban park planning, service delivery strategies for 27 facility types, funding priorities for historic resources, and resource-based recreation.


About the 2017 Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan

The 2017 PROS Plan is required under State law, and completed in conformance with Maryland State Guidelines. The PROS Plan was last updated in July 2012. The schedule mandated by the State requires the 2017 Staff Draft PROS Plan to be submitted by December 31, 2016, with final completion by July 1, 2017.


About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks

Montgomery Parks manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 417 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. The M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the involvement and participation of all individuals in the community, including those with disabilities, in the planning and review processes.  In accordance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M?NCPPC) will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs or activities.  M?NCPPC works to make its facilities and materials accessible and to hold public meetings in locations that are, likewise, accessible. M?NCPPC will generally provide, upon request, appropriate aids and services and make reasonable modifications to policies and programs for qualified persons with disabilities (e.g., large print materials, listening devices, sign language interpretation, etc.).  For assistance with such requests, please contact the M-NCPPC Montgomery County Commissioners’ Office, at least a week in advance, at (301) 495-4600 or at .  Maryland residents can also use the free Maryland Relay Service for assistance with calls to or from hearing or speech-impaired persons; for information, go to or call (866) 269-9006.



Jul 1 16

Montgomery Parks Begins Pesticide Reduction Program

by Abbigail Irelan

Program includes Pesticide Alerts, Pesticide-Free Playgrounds, and Pilot Program for Pesticide-Free Parks

SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will introduce a pesticide-reduction program beginning July 1, 2016 in accordance with Bill 52-14, legislation passed by the Montgomery County Council regarding the use of pesticides on county-owned property, parks and private property.
In accordance with this legislation, Montgomery Parks is embracing new ways to manage their parks while still working to protect the health of trees, shrubs, and ornamental beds, wildlife, and the people who use our parks.
Beginning July 1, 2016, Montgomery Parks will:

  • Inform the public of pesticide applications via advanced notifications on the Montgomery Parks website Notifications will be placed on the website at least 48 hours in advance of pesticide applications.
  • Inform the public of pesticide applications via signage. Pre-application signage will be placed at the location of the application at least 48 hours in advance of the pesticide application. Post-application signage will be placed at the location of the application for at least 48 hours after the pesticide application.
  • Discontinue the use of pesticides on all playgrounds in Montgomery Parks.
  • Begin a pilot program to eliminate the use of pesticides in 11 of our local parks.
  • Develop and implement new pesticide usage protocols in our parks, with the goal of reducing pesticide usage (other than listed pesticides) where possible.

Pesticide-Free Parks Pilot Program

An important component of Montgomery Parks’ pesticide reduction program is a Pesticide-Free Parks Pilot Program, which will create 11 pesticide-free parks in the Montgomery Parks system. Citizens will gain access to pesticide-free parks while staff will gain valuable information about the impact and best practices associated with maintaining parks without pesticides. The following parks will be part of this pilot program:

It is important to note that Montgomery Parks will make every effort to make playgrounds and Pesticide-Free Pilot Parks completely pesticide free; however, Bill 52-14 includes provisions whereby pesticides may be applied in a playground, pesticide-free park, or elsewhere. Exemptions allowed under law permit pesticide application in these areas for the control of weeds, invasive species, pest control while engaged in agriculture, the maintenance of a golf course, to protect human health or to prevent significant economic damage. In the case of such a situation, the area may be closed for a brief period while the emergency is managed and re-opened as soon as possible afterwards. Notices will be posted via signage at the location for at least 48 hours after the application is made.

Athletic Fields
Montgomery Parks is also making plans to transition to pesticide-free athletic fields. Per the pesticide legislation, Montgomery Parks’ goal is to develop a plan for maintaining athletic fields with only listed pesticides by September 2019 and to transition to the maintenance of all playing fields with the use of listed pesticides only in the year 2020 (contingent on the results of the pilot study, 2019 Athletic Field Plan and available budget). Montgomery Parks’ plans to begin a pilot program at five athletic fields starting in 2017, while maintaining all other playing fields with an Integrated Pest Management Program.

As a result of Montgomery Parks’ efforts to reduce pesticide usage in parks, you may expect to see staff using techniques like hand pulling and mechanical pulling of weeds, additional string pulling, propane flame weeding, and the use of listed pesticides on the National Organic List and the Minimum Risk Ingredients List, which are approved per the legislation.

For more information on Montgomery Parks’ pesticide reduction program, up-to-date pesticide application alerts, frequently asked questions about the program and more, visit

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About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks
Montgomery Parks manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 420 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. The M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems.

Apr 6 16

Planning and Parks Departments Presented Spring 2016 Semiannual Report to County Council on April 5

by Bridget Schwiesow


Report highlights plans and projects completed over past six months, and outlines ongoing work and future initiatives

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Parks and Planning Departments, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, presented their Spring 2016 Semiannual Report to the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The report, available online for review, summarizes key projects and plans from the past six months and work that will be completed over the next six months and beyond.

Review the Semiannual Report.

This progress report was submitted by Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson, who emphasized the need for effective planning strategies to attract residents and businesses to Montgomery County. He explained the three themes of the report – New Suburbanism, Engaging Communities and Strengthening Economic Competitiveness – as key to managing County growth and reaching goals for multi-modal transportation, community outreach, affordable housing and mixed-use development.

Planning Department’s Notable Achievements

The spring 2016 Semiannual Report highlights the following accomplishments, achieved by the Planning Department over the past six months:

-The Montgomery Village Master Plan was approved by Council, and Council will vote on the Westbard Plan late this month. Significant progress was also made on plans for Downtown Bethesda and Greater Lyttonsville.

-Work began on the plans for Rock Spring, White Flint 2 and the MARC Rail Communities of Boyds and Germantown.

-The Countywide Bicycle Master Plan was launched with community meetings and interactive maps to gain public feedback about current bike lanes, roads and levels of stress while riding.

-Collaboration with the Washington, DC chapter of the Urban Land Institute in December 2015 resulted in a Technical Assistance Panel review of the Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard areas in North Bethesda to develop strategies for revitalizing these office parks.

-New ideas about transportation and school capacity are influencing the update of the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly the Growth Policy) to set rules for County infrastructure as a result of new developments. This policy will be reviewed by the Planning Board this summer.

-The Department’s first Design Excellence Award competition was launched last year, resulting in the October 2015 design celebration to honor the Silver Spring Civic Building with the top prize.

-County history was documented through a digital map of historically African American places and publication of a book tracing the development of mid-20th-century modern neighborhoods and buildings.

Planning Department’s Future Projects

The Spring 2016 Semiannual Report presents future plans and projects, including:

-Proposed plans for South Silver Spring, Montgomery Hills/Forest Glen, Veirs Mill corridor and Grosvenor Metrorail station area.

-Completing studies looking at evolving retail and employment trends in the County.

-Co-sponsoring the Makeover Montgomery 3 conference with the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth from May 4 through May 6, 2016.

-Holding the second annual Design Excellence Award competition this summer with another design celebration and awards presentation scheduled for October 20, 2016.

For information about the Parks Department and its projects, go to the Parks website.

Feb 23 16

Interactive Map of County-Designated African American Historic Sites and Districts Launched to Honor Black History

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Online map produced by Montgomery Planning and Montgomery Parks and initiated by County Councilmember George Leventhal, shows historically designated sites, parks, trails and buildings that commemorate African American heritage.

Silver Spring, MD – In honor of African American heritage in Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Planning Department, in coordination with Montgomery Parks, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, have launched a map of historically African American places included in the County’s formal register of architecturally or culturally significant buildings and places. This project was initiated at the request of Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal to mark the 2016 celebration of Black History Month.

“The goal of this online resource is to raise awareness about the rich and storied past of the County’s historic African American communities and buildings,” says Councilmember Leventhal. “It is my hope that this tool will encourage our community to learn more about the County’s African American history in an accessible, easy and interesting way. Thanks to former Councilmember Cherri Branson, who now serves as the director of the County’s Office of Procurement, for proposing to create this resource and the Planning Board and Parks and Planning Departments staff for working with us to make this map a reality for our residents.”

View Montgomery County’s Locally Designated Historic African American Sites and Places Online Map.

24 historical African American sites mapped initially

This map currently presents only a small sampling of African American history in the County. The project uses GIS technology to present information about two dozen buildings and places representative of the history of African Americans in Montgomery County. All of these sites have been added to the Master Plan for Historic Preservation by the County Council. Several are managed by Montgomery Parks as part of historical resources or public museums.

The Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation lists historically and architecturally significant resources protected by the County’s historic preservation ordinance. For more information about the Master Plan for Historic Preservation, go to

More information about Department of Parks cultural resources is available at

Each historic site on the map includes a photograph, a text summary and web site links to foster appreciation of the resource’s historic significance.

The list of places included in the map is not exhaustive. The project was designed so that the map could be expanded over time to include the location of additional culturally significant African American communities and sites within the County. Councilmember Leventhal will continue to work with residents to identify those places that hold special value and help tell the rich and varied history of the African American experience in Montgomery County. Through this community-driven process, the content of the map can be enhanced over time to present a larger historical narrative.

“We are pleased to partner with Councilmember Leventhal on this project,” says Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. “Our Historic Preservation Office, along with our GIS team and the Department of Parks Cultural Resources Stewardship section, have worked hard to begin developing an historically accurate and visually appealing resource in the hopes that the information will make an impact on Montgomery County residents and visitors.”

List of historic sites on map

The following historically designated sites in Montgomery County are featured on the online map:

  1. Welcome
  2. Elijah Church Cemetery, Poolesville
  3. Howard Chapel and Cemetery, Laytonsville
  4. Boyds Historic District, Boyds
  5. Hawkins Lane Historic District, Chevy Chase
  6. Good Hope Methodist-Episcopal Church and Cemetery, Silver Spring
  7. Warren Methodist and Martinsburg Negro School, Martinsburg
  8. Norbeck Rosenwald School, Rockville
  9. Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park, Olney
  10. Zion School, Brookeville
  11. Odd Fellows Lodge, Sandy Spring
  12. Gibson Grove AME Zion Church, Bethesda
  13. Poplar Grove Baptist Church, Darnestown
  14. Pleasant View Church and School, Gaithersburg
  15. Black and White Inn, Gaithersburg
  16. Sarah Posey House, Gaithersburg
  17. Scotland AME Zion Church, Potomac
  18. Button Farm Living History Center, Germantown
  19. Sharp Street Church, Sandy Spring
  20. Smithville Colored School, Silver Spring
  21. Tobytown Cemetery, Potomac
  22. Josiah Henson Park, Bethesda
  23. Underground Railroad Experience Trail, Sandy Spring
  24. Thomas Harper Cabin Brookside Nature Center, Wheaton
  25. Sandy Spring Slave Museum and African Art Gallery, Sandy Spring

For questions or comments about the online map, email or call 240-777-7811.

About the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office
The Historic Preservation Office supports the Planning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission by providing for the identification, designation, and regulation of historic sites in Montgomery County. Historic Preservation staff also maintains an archive and library of documentation on historic resources in Montgomery County and provides preservation outreach and guidance on preservation best practices to the public.

If you are interested in historic buildings, sites, and programs in Montgomery County Parks, please visit Montgomery Parks.

Review the Places from the Past book produced by the Montgomery County Planning Department Historic Preservation Office which inventories designated historic sites and districts in the County.

Learn more about research and designation by the Historic Preservation Office.

Feb 4 16

Civic Groups, Homeowner Associations and Property Owners Share Perspectives for White Flint 2 Area at Public Forum on February 1

by Bridget Schwiesow

white flint image

Speakers addressed schools, transportation, parks and new developments within White Flint 2 Sector Plan boundaries at evening meeting

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held a public forum on Monday, February 1, 2016 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Luxmanor Elementary School (6201 Tilden Lane, Rockville, MD) for the White Flint 2 Sector Plan.

This event allowed civic and homeowner associations, including representatives from the Luxmanor, Garrett Park, Cherington and Randolph Hills neighborhoods, to share ideas with planners and the approximately 40 meeting participants. The discussion focused on public schools within the Walter Johnson cluster, transportation and new parks and open spaces.

In addition, developers from Federal Realty Investment Trust explained their initial concepts for redeveloping the Montrose Crossing Shopping Center and the owner of Randolph Hills Shopping Center also presented his suggested renovation plans.

Local representatives of the Sierra Club presented the benefits of such development, including the provision of more affordable housing in proximity to transit, as well as ways to improve the energy efficiencies of buildings and sites.

View the video recap of the meeting.

Background on the White Flint 2 Sector Plan

The White Flint 2 Plan aims to close the gap between the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, Twinbrook Sector Plan and the pending City of Rockville plan for Rockville Pike (MD 355). Its land use, zoning and transportation recommendations will apply to properties in a bow-tie-shaped area between the boundaries of these already established Plans. White Flint 2 will link common elements between the Plan areas, including Rockville Pike and the proposed network of bike lanes and public open spaces.

Planners will be looking at parcels along Executive Boulevard, west of Old Georgetown Road; east of the CSX rail tracks, between Randolph Road and Nicholson Lane; and north of Montrose Parkway along Rockville Pike to the city limits of Rockville. Nicholson Court, which was a part of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, will also be included in the proposed plan area.

Issues confronting the White Flint 2 planners

  • How should the City of Rockville and County officials coordinate their efforts in redesigning Rockville Pike?
  • What transportation policies should be introduced or amended?
  • Should the White Flint Special Taxing District extend to White Flint 2?
  • How can uses on both sides of the MARC station and CSX tracks be integrated?
  • What is the role of the proposed MARC station?
  • How should properties outside of the 2010 White Flint Plan be developed?
  • Should light-industrial-zoned properties be retained?
  • What would the school capacity impacts be if significant numbers of new residential developments are approved?
  • What are the impacts associated with bus rapid transit (BRT)?
  • What is the potential for infill to create a mix of uses and promote walkability?

For more information about the White Flint 2 Plan and February 1 public forum, contact:

Lead Planner Nkosi Yearwood, tel. 301-495-1332, email

Stay connected with the latest information about the WF2 Sector Plan
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Dec 1 15

December 14 Community Meeting on Rock Spring Master Plan Will Focus on Future Development in the Area

by Bridget Schwiesow

Rock Spring Logo rev 2
Planners will discuss approved and proposed projects, and encourage community feedback about transportation, parks and placemaking at event being held at Walter Johnson High School

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is holding a community meeting on December 14, 2015 for the Rock Spring Master Plan. The planner-led event will be held at Walter Johnson High School (6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda) from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the goals of the Rock Spring Master Plan and development in the planning area.

RSVP for the December 14 meeting.

This meeting builds on the October 28 community meeting, which focused on development projects planned for Rock Spring. Already approved for the area is 1 million square feet of mixed-use development, including 210,000 square feet of new retail, a 200-room hotel and more than 800 residential units.

At the December 14 meeting, staff will discuss an approved mixed-use project on the Ourisman Ford site as well as potential plans for the Wildwood Medical Center site. In addition, planners will present possible ways of transforming Rock Spring Drive and Fernwood Road into more hospitable boulevards. Attendees will have the opportunity to provide feedback during break-out sessions focused on transportation, recreation, parks and placemaking.

View the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work presented to the Planning Board on October 8.

Background on Rock Spring
Once considered a premier office location, Rock Spring has been particularly hard hit by the current downturn in the office market.  Single-use business parks without access to transit, like Rock Spring, are struggling with the highest office vacancies. The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 23.7 percent, higher than the County’s overall vacancy rate of 15 percent.  In recognition of the changing preferences of employers and their workforce for locating in transit-served locations with a dynamic mix of uses, this planning effort will explore ways to reimagine Rock Spring.

The 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan recommended some mixed-use zoning in the Rock Spring area, and one residential development of 386 multi-family units has been completed and a new 168-unit townhouse project is under construction. Much of the property in Rock Spring was converted to the Employment Office (EOF) zone when the Countywide rezoning became effective on October 30, 2014. The Rock Spring Master Plan effort will allow for a more detailed and nuanced assessment of the area’s zoning.

In addition, the 1992 Sector Plan also recommended construction of the North Bethesda Transitway to connect the White Flint area with Montgomery Mall via Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. The Transitway is included in the approved 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan (CTCFMP) and provides a framework for re-evaluating Rock Spring.

Challenges confronting the Rock Spring planners include:

-Reinventing an auto-centric suburban office park.

-Identifying opportunities for improved connectivity.

-Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.

-Introducing residential and retail uses into predominately non-residential development to create a mixed use environment.

-Identifying sustainable environmental measures.

-Analyzing the impact of potential new residential development on the public schools.

-Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.

Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, contact the planners:
Don Zeigler, tel.301.495.4638, email
Michael Bello, tel. 301.495.4597, email

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:

Sep 15 15

M-NCPPC “Best in Nation” with Unprecedented Sixth Gold Medal Award Win

by Abbigail Irelan

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) today won the prestigious 2015 National Gold Medal Award for excellence in Parks and Recreation Management. The Gold Medal is one of the highest professional awards available to parks and recreation agencies throughout the country and involves a stringent qualification and judging process.  The Gold Medal Award is presented annually by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

M-NCPPC has a long history of Gold Medal successes, winning the prize in 1973, 1977, 1984 and 2003. M-NCPPC won its fifth Gold Medal in 1983 for leadership in special recreation and outstanding community achievement in serving people with disabilities. This year’s win secured the agency’s sixth Gold Medal. No other agency in the country has ever won six.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary with NRPA, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition. Gold Medal Award winners were selected from finalists in five population classes, and Grand Plaque recipients were announced today, September 15, during NRPA’s Annual Congress & Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“The Commission is extremely honored and privileged to receive this unprecedented, sixth National Gold Medal on behalf of the 1.8 million residents we serve in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, and on behalf of our talented and creative staff members and unselfish volunteers’” M-NCPPC Chairman Elizabeth M. Hewlett said. “In partnership with our actively engaged citizens, M-NCPPC has worked diligently throughout our 85-plus year history to successfully deliver outstanding, affordable parks and recreation opportunities and experiences for all.”

“This award is a product of the hard work and dedication of our staff,” M-NCPPC Vice Chair Casey Anderson said. “I’m thrilled that they are getting the recognition they deserve. They know that we need to innovate and adapt to meet the challenge of being the best, and I am proud to work with them.”

“We continue our commitment to delivering outstanding parks and recreation services to the residents of Prince George’s County,’” said Ronnie Gathers, Director of the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation. “Recognition by this distinguished organization honors the dedication of our staff and motivates us to continue to perform at the highest level.”

Michael F. Riley, Director of Montgomery Parks, said, “This prestigious national award reflects the high standards of excellence we strive for. This award also reflects that hard work and commitment of our talented staff and community volunteers who support our mission as well as our parks, facilities and programs. We are both honored and humbled by this award, and are committed to continuing our efforts to protect and provide excellent, safe and accessible parks and programs to the residents of Montgomery County.”       

Established in 1927 by state law to acquire, develop and maintain park land and open space, and to plan for the orderly development of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, M-NCPPC has grown and evolved to keep pace with the growth and diversity of the bi-county area it serves. Under direction of its Montgomery County Department of Parks and Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Commission today maintains more than 57,000 acres of parkland and open space, operates more than 200 recreational facilities, and attracts more than 25 million visitors each year. 

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit or

About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks

Montgomery Parks manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 420 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. The M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks

Oct 9 14

Montgomery Parks and Planning Present Newest Achievements to County Council

by Bridget Schwiesow

Semi Annual report fall 2014

New Zoning Ordinance, affordable housing, urban parks and deer management are highlighted in Fall 2014 Semi-Annual Report

SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery Parks and Planning, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, presented its Fall 2014 Semi Annual Report to the Montgomery County Council on October 7. The report features accomplishments from the past six months as well as work that will be completed over the next six months. Some of the key initiatives for the Planning Department include implementation of the county’s new zoning ordinance and revamping the development review process to be more efficient. The Parks Department highlighted their urban parks initiative and expansion plans for park trails. The 36- page Fall 2014 Semi-Annual Report is available online for review.

This progress report is the first to be submitted by Chair of the Planning Board Casey Anderson, who was appointed to his current position by the County Council in July 2014. Anderson outlined several initiatives aimed at meeting the county’s demand for housing and jobs in close proximity to retail and public transit, as well as the creation of recreational spaces and protection of natural resources.

In addition, the report focuses on both Department’s major goals for the coming months, including the following:

-The Planning Department is providing extensive training to staff, citizens, developers, and others as it begins to  implement the county’s new Zoning Ordinance, which takes effect October 30. The revised code provides more understandable and coherent regulations that are easier to use and to enforce. It offers a better organization of uses and zones, greater certainty to the approval process, and incorporates modern principles of planning and design.  As part of this effort, non-residential areas of the county were remapped to enable more mixed use zones..  The new official zoning map, which also takes effect on October 30, will be digital for the first time.

-In line with the stringent new processing times required by the new Zoning Ordinance, the Department is working to revamp the development review process in order to make doing business in Montgomery County more predictable.  A specific, written schedule for each development project will allow review of the project to be accomplished in 120 days. A voluntary concept plan process will allow plans to be reviewed at a very early stage so that major concerns can be identified early so as to not slow down the review process.

-One of the county’s toughest problems, the lack of affordable housing, is being addressed by the Planning Department in a study of rental units. This report will examine the factors contributing to increasing housing costs and recommend potential changes to current policies and programs to guarantee long-term affordability of rental housing.

-Better forecasting of traffic conditions is being advanced through new performance metrics that will evaluate transportation adequacy in existing and emerging transit-oriented developments.

-More comprehensive design guidelines are being developed to improve streetscapes, amenities and public spaces through the Planning Department’s Design Excellence Initiative. As part of this effort, a Director’s Advisory Panel on design issues, similar to the current panel for reviewing public art, is being considered.

-County planners are experimenting with new ways to reach out to community members who do not typically participate in the planning process. Social media, participation in happy hours and interactive presentation tools are being used to improve the quality and quantity of public engagement, making participation in the planning process more informative, interesting and meaningful for citizens.

Master planning efforts highlighted in the Fall 2014 Semi-Annual Report include:

-The White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan, approved by the County Council in July, reflects policies aimed at the investment and job creation in the life sciences.

-The Clarksburg Master Plan Limited Amendment, adopted in April for the protection of the Ten Mile Creek watershed, reinforces the county’s commitment to preservation of natural resources and environmental health.

-The Aspen Hill Minor Master Plan Amendment, presented to the Planning Board in July, demonstrates a willingness to adapt to the county’s changing local office and retail market.

-The Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan public hearing draft, approved in July by the Planning Board, shows an appreciation for mixing land uses in a rural village setting while preserving the area’s cultural history.

-Work on the Bethesda Downtown Plan is building on the success of the area’s vibrant, walkable district. Scenarios for several areas were advanced through feedback from happy hours attended by millennials at several local restaurants.

-The Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan is considering ways of preserving the village character of the area while upgrading the transportation network and residential neighborhoods. Innovative engagement efforts, including events aimed at business owners and families, helped guide the planning efforts.

-Technical assistance provided by the Department of Planning for the Purple Line and the inclusion of pedestrian-oriented streetscapes in area master plans are improving the quality of the public realm while offering new transportation options.

Parks initiatives over the past six months include:
-The Urban Parks Initiative is being implemented to plan, construct, renovate and activate public parks in Bethesda, Germantown and other county communities.

-New revenue sources to support renovations at Brookside Gardens and educational components at Josiah Henson Park are being created through the Montgomery Parks Foundation.

-Responding to the need for urban parks and new amenities in the county, a dog park abutting downtown Silver Spring was approved and the Carroll Knolls Neighborhood Park was opened.

-Multi-use trails for walking and biking were expanded, renovated for sustainability and improved with signage to better connect people to nature.

-The county’s deer management plan was advanced through deer population surveys, with new programs proposed at Cabin John Regional Park and other locations.

Major park projects now underway include:

-Nearly $425,000 in private donations were raised for the transformation of the Brookside Gardens Visitors Center, now in the planning stages. Also, a $1 million dollar donation was secured to help construct a new growing greenhouse at Brookside Gardens.

-Renovation of the historic stone barn at the Woodlawn Visitor Center at Woodlawn Park in Sandy Spring has begun and is expected to open in spring 2015.

-Construction of Potomac’s Greenbrier Local Park, a recreational area with a soccer field and basketball and volleyball courts, will be completed in spring 2015.

-Renovation and expansion of North Four Corners Local Park is underway and expected to be completed in winter 2015.

Apr 8 14

Park and Planning Spring 2014 Semi-Annual Report Now Available

by Bridget Schwiesow

Planning Board Chair and Department Heads present before Montgomery County Council

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Council considered the Park and Planning Spring 2014 Semi-Annual Report on Tuesday, April 1. The biannual report gives a recap of the work from the past six months and highlights the work program for FY15.

The full report is available online on the Montgomery Planning Department website. The video of the Council discussion of the Semi-Annual report is available on the Montgomery County Council website.

The Planning Department is focused on the following themes for FY15:
-Moving towards “finer-grained” planning and a focus on design excellence
-Continuous improvement of the Development Review process
-A focus on innovative housing ideas, new approaches to transportation modeling, and creative use of public assets through colocation
-New ways of using technology for both analysis and communication.

This is the last Semi-Annual presented by Planning Board Chair Françoise Carrier since she has announced she will not seek a second. This is also the last Semi-Annual for Parks Department Director Mary Bradford who is retiring after serving an eight year tenure.

Learn more about the Spring 2014 Semi-Annual Report.

Oct 18 11

Department of Parks Presented with Proclamation in Honor of Food Day

by Abbigail Irelan

SILVER SPRING, MD—The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Montgomery Parks was presented with a proclamation in honor of Food Day today from Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin.

M-NCPPC Montgomery County Department of Parks Director of Parks Mary Bradford accepted the proclamation, along with David Vismara, Chief of the Horticulture, Forestry and Environmental Education Division which oversees the Community Gardens Program, and Ursula Sabia Sukinik, Community Gardens Coordinator.  The proclamation celebrates
the success of the Department of Park’s hugely popular community gardens program, which provides parkland access for Montgomery County residents to grow nutritious fruits and vegetables.

“It is an honor to receive this proclamation from Council President Ervin and the Montgomery County Council,” said Montgomery County Department of Parks Director Mary Bradford. “We just started community gardens in our parks in 2009, and Council President Ervin has been our guiding force and inspiration. Bringing neighbors andcommunities together is a major part of the program, and we’re thrilled that these community gardens provide residents with a place to grow nutritious foods they can share with friends, families and the neighbors they meet.”

In just two years, the Parks community gardens program has grown to include more than 600 community gardeners on 10 locations operated or managed by the Parks Department: Bradley Local Park, Briggs Chaney, Emory Grove Center, Fenton Street Local Park, King Street, Maple Avenue, Parklawn, Rocking Horse Center, Sligo Mill Overlook and South Germantown Recreational Park.

“Since the beginning, Council President Ervin has been a tremendous champion of our community gardens program,” added Bradford. “We thank her for her continued support.”

Montgomery Parks Community Gardens Coordinator Ursula Sabia Sukinik added, “Our community gardeners grow everything from asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce to spinach, onions, tomatoes, peppers and more. Gardening helps promote healthy living and reduces the costs for the nutritional food our family needs while bringing the community together to
share, learn and grow. We encourage all residents to take part in this exciting program in 2012 and grow healthy vegetables their family will enjoy.”

Current gardeners can apply to renew existing plots from December 1, 2011 through January 15, 2012. Open enrollment for new community gardeners begins February 1. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit to learn more.

Food Day will be celebrated with events around the nation on Tuesday, October 24th.  Events seek to bring communities together to discuss the way we produce, consume and think about
food. Learn more about Food Day and find events near you at



Abbi Irelan
Marketing and Public Affairs Manager
Montgomery County Department of Parks
(301) 495-2532