Bethesda Bonfire2021-05-28T13:28:28+00:00

Invasive plant exhibit to open at former White Flint Mall site

After sitting mostly vacant for many years, the former White Flint mall site will finally see some welcome action. Property owner Lerner Enterprises has announced a new exhibit, “Invasive Plants of Maryland,” on the expansive 45-acre site.

The White Flint area has struggled with its identity and redevelopment in recent years, but local residents, officials, and organizations are hoping this announcement will help to activate the area. “We felt like this would be a great placemaking initiative and really take full advantage of this large site, perhaps even more so than the Amazon HQ proposal would have” said a Lerner representative. Local advocacy group Friends of White Flint promoted the announcement on their website and noted “by offering the land for this innovative educational purpose, the community benefits and the property owner qualifies for additional tax credits.”

“People flocked to the outdoors during the pandemic; we expect that trend to continue,” predicted Councilmember Andrew Friedson. Planning Chair Casey Anderson added that “being so close to a Metro station, next to a future BRT stop, and near a planned bike lane will allow visitors easy access to the exhibit.”

Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) officials indicated the exhibit is the first to take advantage of their new “Weeds to Wallets” economic partnership program. MCEDC spokeswoman, Wanda Overly, said she hopes the exhibit will become a regional attraction and a boost for the local economy. “We hope that people check it out, head to the gift shop, and then go grab lunch or dinner nearby.”

The program has teamed up with the chef at Seasons 52 across Rockville Pike in North Bethesda to incorporate several fresh invasive cuisine menu items; and Hank Dietles across Rockville Pike in Rockville to offer a special brew made with plants foraged from the site. In addition, during the summer months, classic movies will be projected on the side of the vacant Lord & Taylor building during the evening, starting with Little Shop of Horrors on June 20th.

Local naturalist, Lucy McDonalds, said she was impressed with the site’s variety of non-native offerings, “from Tree of Heaven and Norway maples, to Japanese Honeysuckle and Garlic Mustard, to Mile-A-Minute and Kudzu, this site has everything!” Local garden club member, Mary Wallflower, enthusiastically added “there are even a few native wildflowers, like daisy fleabane, on exhibit” but then specified, “until the aggressive non-natives push them out.”

During inventory of the site, botanists also discovered a new invasive plant species. They are currently debating which scientific name to assign it – Rockvilius Southis, Bethesdicus Northis, Flinticus Whitis, Bezonian Amazonenis, or Planty McPlantface – and have created a poll to generate excitement about the finding and to obtain public input on the name.

*The exhibit and gift shop will be open seven days a week from 9AM until sunset. Botanists will also lead weekly public tours of the exhibit. Additional special events will be announced soon. Visitors are prohibited from taking specimens to replant at home. Visitors are also encouraged to wear bug spray and check for ticks.*

By |June 9th, 2021|

Facebook introduces “Cicada Censor” to block indecent insect sex tapes

An explosion of indecent online posts showcasing gratuitous up-close photos of cicadas having sex has led to swift action by Facebook.  The social media giant announced today a new feature allowing users to block posts and comments that mention the word “cicada” from appearing in their news feed.  An advanced algorithm also detects photos and videos, blocking those as well.

The action was triggered by users fed up with the constant droning on about cicadas by friends, families, and neighbors they didn’t really know and had only interacted with once but accepted their friend request anyway. “I couldn’t take it anymore. Photo after photo of those beady bug eyes just staring at me,” newly minted North Bethesda resident Alan Winger brooded. “Like a suburban North Bethesda wife who found out her husband voted for Trump, apparently cicadas have mastered the art of not looking at their mate during sex.”

Child safety groups and parents alike noted the adult nature of these posts. One online advocate, Mrs. Grundy, exclaimed “indecent R-rated sex videos are wholly inappropriate for children.” She added, “I know butt stuff when I see it so don’t pee on me and tell me it’s raining,” immediately grossing everyone out who clicked on the link.

Nextdoor and Instagram were quick to follow up with their own “Bugout” blocking feature to be released within the next week or so. “It’s not just the controversy,” explained Nextdoor spokesperson Matt Prattler, “but the hundreds of identical posts per neighborhood were putting a strain on our servers and clogging up our feeds.”

Twitter pushed back on the idea of copying the move, stating “We’re a wide open platform and we make sure not to censor anyone in any way. No matter how loud and annoying they may sound.”

The new keyword filtering feature is expected to be expanded to include additional annoying conversations, blocking keywords such as “overhead helicopter” and “fox sighting.”

By |May 27th, 2021|

Friends of the Library applies for strip club license to skirt COVID closures

With public libraries still closed as seemingly everything else reopens in the County, library advocacy group Friends of the Library yesterday applied for Montgomery County’s first adult entertainment license. While historically it has been notoriously difficult to permit and open a strip club in Montgomery County, library manager Page Turner noted that “we’ve looked into all our options and this process will be far faster and easier than trying to convince the County to reopen all libraries.”

Montgomery County Public Libraries Head Librarian Belle was excited, “It’s extremely important that children are exposed to literature – there’s a great body of work out there that kids today just aren’t in touch with.” She added, “we set up a reservation website and ‘Hot for Teacher’ has been our number one request so far. I’ll have to see who the author is for that one.”

As of this morning, a line was already forming outside the proposed location in a city parking lot in Takoma Park currently being utilized by the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op. Many in line had set up chairs and pitched a tent in anticipation of the opening. TPSS Co-op representatives were not as excited about the choice of location, insisting “we keep getting screwed.”

It was unclear why those waiting consisted mostly of men, but Belle was excited at the idea of anyone reading at all. County Councilmember Hans Riemer, a vocal proponent of reopening libraries, was first in line. “I’ve always pulled for both literacy and improving our nighttime economy.”

The Little Free Library has also been partnering with bars throughout the County to install their popular miniature libraries anywhere the County has allowed to open. The bartender at the Barking Dog noted, “Parents can finally go out and have a drink after being cooped up in the house with their kids for the past year. The kids can come along too and pick a book to cozy up in the reading corner we’ve set up by the dance floor.”

By |May 20th, 2021|

Following court ruling, Purple Line completion expected by next cicada cycle

Purple Line supporters cheered on today’s appeals court decision, striking down the third (and final?) lawsuit brought against the (popular?) mass transit project. The ruling noted that the Purple Line did not violate the Clean Water Act.

In reaction to the lawsuit’s conclusion, Purple Line officials optimistically announced that the project can continue at its current pace. Project Manager Mark Miwurd excitedly exclaimed, “We should definitely maybe have our trains up and running by the next Brood X cicada cycle.”

Assistant Project Manager James Smith noted “We’re giving ourselves plenty of time to find the right contractor.” The 17-year completion timeline was apparently also coordinated with the MDOT fiscal team to coincide with exhaustion of the Town of Chevy Chase’s budget surplus. Smith was overheard stating, “We are hoping their legal funds and patience will be gone by then.”

Frustrated residents, who have been living along the stalled construction route from Bethesda to New Carrollton, breathed a sigh of relief that they were finally provided a realistic completion date. “With the pandemic, 2038 is probably the soonest I will feel comfortable riding mass transit again anyway,” noted Bethesda resident John Weary.

At the University of Maryland College Park, which hosts several stops along the future Purple Line route, holes in the ground and cicada nymphs from the current emergence could be seen around the campus and on Instagram posts. Ben Evers, a professor in the UMD Department of Entomology, commented that “the cicada has the longest lifecycle of any insect, and by the time it is finished the Purple Line might have the longest construction cycle of any light rail project.”

In an internal email obtained by Bethesda Bonfire, Penelope Kidd, Assistant to the Assistant Project Manager, wrote to the team that there would be an “added benefit if the rail line debuted at the exact same time as the next peak 17-year swarm because adjacent residents won’t initially be able to hear the new trains over the cicada’s 100-decibel sex song.”

Purple Line opponents remained steadfast in their opposition, responding, “while the court ruled that the water (H2O) and shrimp (Stygobromus hayi) may not be negatively impacted, some people say there may be harm to future broods of cicadas (Magicicada). We may need to scientifically examine that in another lawsuit just to be completely sure.”

 

 

 

 

By |May 13th, 2021|

New Bethesda dog park relocated to lower level of parking garage 49

A hotly contested dog park proposal has taken center stage among the most important issues plaguing Montgomery County during the pandemic.  In an attempt to avoid the controversy created by the initial proposed downtown Bethesda dog park location at Norwood Local Park, the County is now proposing to house the dog park using the bottom G4 level of garage 49, known as Metropolitan Garage. “We’ve heard the testimony and are readying our presentation for the under utilized lowest level of the garage, where no one can hear dogs barking and there are no kids walking in proximity to dogs,” exclaimed Parks Department Landscape Architect Candace Beover.

Bethesda Beat

Neighbor Complaints and Concerns

as reported by Bethesda Beat

• Noise from barking dogs
• Smell of dog waste
• Some of the open space in the park is unusable due to the terrain, and the dog park area is one of the areas that is usable
• Cost
• Replacing natural grass with artificial turf or other materials for the floor of the park
• The importance of preserving open space in an urban area
• Proximity to the toddler park
• Not enough parking space

Bethesda Beat

SOURCE: Bethesda Beat article published on 5/7

The new “Park & Bark” plan was designed to address all of the issues brought up during public testimony for the original Norwood Local Park location. Ms. Beover explained, “The underground garage location perfectly isolates noisy barking dogs 50 feet underground and away from any residents. No further natural grass is lost since we’re simply dumping mulch on top of existing concrete. There’s already drainage for the dog waste and ventilation already built-in to the garage!” She laughingly added, “I’d have to doublecheck, but is that parking level labeled red or brown?”

Parents were relieved that their children wouldn’t be exposed to potentially diabolical dogs on the walk up to and within 50 feet proximity of the dog park as was in the previous Norwood plan. Concerns of limited parking were assuaged due to the simple fact that the parking garage already has plentiful parking spaces at no additional cost. The Maryland Tesla Owners club was excited at the prospect of visiting Bethesda Row after a doggy playdate while their dogs comfortably relaxed in “Dog Mode,” a feature exclusive to Tesla vehicles which bathes the dog in air conditioning while notifying others that the dog is safe and comfortable.

Beover proudly noted that “This is another example of the County turning lemons into lemonade. We’ve adapted the frequent flooding problem into a water feature for the dogs to enjoy. Plus it saves us on regular cleaning costs.”

Chevy Chase Terrace homeowner and burgeoning legal expert Ned I.M. Bradford the 150th noted the significant difference of local parks versus urban parks and the allowed use of the estimated $500,000 in funds earmarked specifically for urban improvement. “Now this is the definition of urban that makes perfect sense for a dog park.”

All 502 surveyed homeowners who opposed the Norwood Local Park plan rejoiced in the news that the new dog park would not literally be in their backyard 200′ away.

By |May 7th, 2021|
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