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

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|

Montgomery Parks Changes Logo in Honor of 4/20

In solidarity with the 4/20 movement, Montgomery Parks has unveiled a new logo… at least for the day.

While smoking marijuana is illegal in county and state parks, Maryland in general allows for medicinal use of marijuana and efforts have been underway to legalize recreational use. Legislation in the Maryland General Assembly sponsored by Senator Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery County) didn’t advance this year, but lawmakers are hoping to pass it next year.

Reached for an interview via zoom, Montgomery Parks spokesperson Mary Jane Smith offered her blunt analysis as she put on a pot of tea to go with her brownies and described how she hashed out details of the dope rebranding effort. “It’s high time marijuana got its due. After the legislation failed to pass this year, it’s the least we could do for the cause.”

A representative from the Parks Foundation commented, “it’s no coincidence that the 4/20 holiday and Earth Day, a much beloved celebration for parks departments everywhere, fall in the same week.”

Not to be outdone by their Parks counterparts, the Planning Department immediately announced that 4.20% of a development application’s green roof requirement could be met by growing Cannabis plants.

Old Montgomery Parks LogoOld Montgomery Parks Logo

*Again, smoking weed in public parks is illegal. Bethesda Bonfire supports responsible, legal use.*

By |April 20th, 2021|

County Council passes pet DNA registration and feces testing bill ZTA-K-9

In a bold effort to curb excessive dog poop left on sidewalks and front yards, the Montgomery County Council today passed bill ZTA-K-9 requiring pet owners to submit DNA samples for registration. This mandatory DNA database will create a registry of pets which can be easily compared against feces left unattended. Any uncollected feces will be sent to the county’s Canine Special Investigations lab in Poolesville, and if a match is found the owner will be sent a $75 ticket through the mail. Unpaid tickets will be flagged by the MVA and count towards administrative action, where a driver’s license or vehicle registration may be withheld.

With many residents adopting “pandemic puppies,” dog ownership in Montgomery County has doubled in the past year – and so have the complaints about poop.

The bill was the collective effort of frustrated homeowners tired of picking up after others. “Dozens of e-mails bombard [County Councilmember] Evan Glass’ office every week,” explained his legislative aide. Glass, the bill’s primary sponsor, explained, “As a fellow dog owner, I know that the current laws are all bark and no bite. We wanted to put forth legislation that would actually solve the problem – something with a little teeth.”

Comments about un-neighborly neighbors and their furry friends frequently spilled into online neighborhood groups such as Nextdoor and Facebook, with often contentious interactions. Messages ranged from civil discussion to fiery exchanges. “It’s in my yard, on the sidewalk, in the street, on the playground – dog poop is everywhere! I can’t step foot outside without stepping in it!” exclaimed Arlington Road resident Max Barker.

The issue of “right of way” comes up frequently, referring to the several feet of property adjacent to the street that is owned by the County but required to be maintained by the homeowner. “If it’s my duty to take care of this property, then I sure as heck have a right to complain about your dog taking a crap on it,” stated another commenter.

Despite numerous passive aggressive efforts to make peace, Bradley Hills resident Buddy Wagger felt like his message was falling on deaf ears – “I just don’t understand why my vague non-targeted general complaints about dog poop aren’t working. Why aren’t these dog owners changing their errant behavior?”

Glass explained that “[with this bill] dog owners will finally be held accountable for their actions. The threat of consequence is finally going to change behavior. Bad dog? More like bad owner!”

By |April 19th, 2021|

Delegate Marc Korman celebrates sine die by responding to 432 constituent e-mails in 24 minutes

It’s the day after sine die, those widely spoken and hash-tagged words of respite marking the end of the legislative session for the Maryland General Assembly, and Maryland District 16 Delegate Marc Korman is hardly content to sit on his laurels and relax. By 9am Tuesday morning he had already replied to a record 432 constituent e-mails, hitting the final SEND button just 24 minutes into his early morning e-mail routine.

Korman’s wife smiled, “the instant Marc receives an e-mail from a constituent his face lights up. To be honest it’s a little nerve wracking when we’re out grocery shopping and he gets a message and drops the bag of oranges, scattering them all over the floor and our son is running around fielding them like a shortstop for the Orioles at batting practice.” Korman laughed, “the D16 team probably wins a few more than the O’s, for what it’s worth.”

“The smaller or bigger the problem, the more excited he gets,” Korman’s legislative assistant added. Korman noted, “it can be hard to move the big needle, and just as hard to thread the small needle, but it’s nice when the needlepoint gets done.”

Local neighborhood policy expert Karen Walters shared with Bethesda Bonfire, “Marc’s two-page single-spaced response to my minor complaint about a transportation right of way issue came at the speed of light, within 30 seconds of my hitting send. He had already contacted SHA and MCDOT, and agency representatives said they would be on site in 15 minutes.”

Korman represents District 16 in Montgomery County, along with his colleagues. When he’s not busy legislating the crap out of a bill, he can often be seen with his son at Orioles games, begrudgingly at Nationals games, watching movies, reading books for fun, reading transportation legal volumes for fun, helping neighbors, taking dino safaris at National Harbor, enjoying scavenger hunts, and enjoying breakfast and breaks with his wife. Which begs the question – does this guy ever sleep?

By |April 13th, 2021|

Installed Capital Crescent Trail counter will double as new EZ Pass toll collection station

The recent unveiling ceremony of a digital trail user counter for the increasingly crowded Capital Crescent Trail at Bethesda Avenue was met with much fanfare. However, local pundits and organizations expressed considerable skepticism about Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s plan to also widen the trail from Bethesda to the DC line with toll lanes utilizing EZ Pass payment technology built into the digital counter.

The Hogan Administration said the plan was an effort to balance his 270/495 widening project, which only serves automobiles. At a press conference following the digital counter unveiling, Hogan proclaimed, “Maryland is committed to expanding multi-model transportation and widening both the Capital Beltway and the Capital Crescent Trail using our proven public-private partnership model and toll lanes.” He added, “this initiative brings one more benefit to Maryland state EZ Pass users, in a program that I alone planned, marketed, and pushed to success for my Maryland constituents, including Montgomery County residents, which someone reminded me are also my constituents.”

The Sierra Club immediately condemned the plan, bashing the so-called “Peloton Pass” that would allow well-to-do citizens a “fast trail lane” while regular residents would be stuck in the “slow trail lane.” The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail noted “the trail should be equally available to all, and we vigorously oppose such a proposal.” The state argued the opposite, saying these new managed lanes will “offer a less crowded trail experience for all.”

Maryland Department of Transportation spokesperson, Barry Wheeler, said toll charges would be set at $1 per pedestrian and $2 per bicycle, stroller, or scooter. Recumbent bicycles will cost $3. Public-private partnership operator HR Promotions indicated the contract allows for peak hour flexible pricing up to double the rate, plus a factor for inflation and cost of living adjustments each year.

Although often at odds with the Hogan administration, local officials present at the unveiling ceremony were not completely against the idea and offered mixed reactions.  County Councilmember Hans Riemer indicated “a sore need for innovative funding.” Planning Chair Casey Anderson noted, “Either way, the trail is a vital component of Montgomery County’s commitment to multi-modal transportation. We even included a photo of it in the draft Thrive 2050 Plan.”  Montgomery Parks director Mike Riley added, “we manage 37,000 acres and 421 parks. Money doesn’t just grow on trees next to our trails, so we’re always happy to explore funding options.”

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich seemed surprised at the announcement, indicating “it’s no surprise that the State chose to inform its biggest taxpayer of its plans via the press.”

Perfect politician” County Councilmember Andrew Friedson who was also present for the trail counter unveiling smiled and noted, “There’s no perfect answer. There were more than 125,000 pedestrian and 25,000 cyclist trips here since January 1. At $1 per person, that goes a long way to pay for both the new trail lanes and what’s sure to be cost overruns to rebuild the rest of the trail to Silver Spring.”

By |April 11th, 2021|
Bethesda Bonfire

We here at the Bethesda Bonfire quite clearly understand that if democracy dies in darkness, why not light it all on fire with the biggest bonfire this side of the DMV!

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