Friday, March 7, 2014

Metro’s Spring Break

I want to take a moment to spread the word about our upcoming Spring Break!  I learned of it in this Express piece.
"Between March 22 and April 13, Metro is pausing its “aggressive rebuilding efforts” to accommodate the extra traffic anticipated for cherry blossom season. That means no station shutdowns, no single tracking and no obscenely long waits (if all goes according to plan)."
Time to take the Metro on the weekends and enjoy the Cherry Blossoms!  Also remember that it is free to park in Metro parking garages on weekends and federal holidays, and it is always free to park bicycles and motorcycles at Metro stations!
Photo from the Wmata website.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wheaton Recreaction Center/Library Renewal - Comments on Planned Construction

There is a huge construction project planned for Wheaton that I haven't touched on yet -- the construction of a new Library and Recreation Center.  There is a debate about whether to demolish the old Rec Center's building or save it.  I hadn't formed a strong opinion one way or the other -- until the past couple of days.

Yesterday JUTP published a nice piece about December's 50th anniversary celebration of the current Rec Center building mentioning its history and artistic attributes.  The building does look unique with its Japanese-style rooflines.

Near the end of the article it is mentioned that there is "a list of 13 organizations willing to take over the building" and reuse it for other purposes" (the arts, theater, a cultural center) and here's a proposal for how the site could be used to include both the existing and new buildings. 
How the new recreation center and library (right) could fit in with the old one. Image from Montgomery County Planning Department and from JUTP blog.

That is pretty convincing. This sounds like the perfect solution.  Instead of just letting a group use it, the county should auction the old building off.  Why not have the 13 interested groups make offers?  It could include in the contract that the group that gets the building has to bring it up to code as well as keep the historic facade.  That way the county could make some money on it, the building is reused instead of being demolished (remember Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?), historic preservationists are happy, a community group has a space which also adds more life to the community vs a grassy open lot where that building used to be.

This ideas is so logical it boggles my mind.  It doesn't matter if the building is auctioned off cheaply -- at least it isn't given away.  And the community group that gets the building gets to choose their own renovation plans and do whatever they want inside, as long as it passes safety inspections.  Some community groups might be able to renovate the building cheaply using volunteer/donated labor.  More power to them!  I see no reason to demolish a building that can be renovated.


Personally, I use the library a lot more than the rec center.  The library is very well used so I hope it can be rebuilt as quickly as possible once the construction project begins.  I don't mind the delays in beginning the construction because that means I get to use the library longer before it is temporarily closed, and I'm sure the crowds studying and using the computers there every night agree.  The library serves a vital role in the community -- people fill the tables reading and studying while other people occupy all of the computer terminals every time I go there in the evenings.

I hope the newly constructed library will be more spacious to accommodate all of these people along with the book stacks, children's area, and used book store.  There is clearly a need in Wheaton for study/computer lab space.  It will be sad when our library is temporarily closed to be rebuilt, even though I know it will be nice to eventually have a new building.

I hope the sidewalk outside the library and rec center can remain open during the construction so people don't have to cross the street to avoid it as they did when the Wheaton Safeway was under construction.  That was a major inconvenience.

Also, during the construction I hope the authorities lay a new sidewalk that is set back from the street so it is more pleasant for walking. They should then remove the old sidewalk and plant grass and trees in the area between the new one and the road, as is already the practice in other locations in Wheaton.  See my post about this here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fence to keep Metro Patrons from Safeway, Lack of Snow Removal, and Ava Wheaton Planned Construction

It has been quite a while since I wrote a post.  I think about things to write quite often as moving around Wheaton, but have been busy and not able to write them down and upload the photos.  This blogging experience has given me a new admiration and respect for journalists.  It is hard to keep writing about a topic. 

One things that struck me tonight is an apparent fence that is being built in the vegetation median down the center of the street.  The issue is that the Metro station entrance/exit is directly across Reedie Drive from an entrance to the new Safeway grocery store.  So naturally people take the most direct route, walking across the street.

Instead of building a crosswalk there for the citizens walking across the street, the county or the state or someone is apparently building a fence.  I just hope the fence is pleasant to look at, because the trees and ornamental grasses that are planted there are pleasant and lots of people wait at the bus stop outside the Metro station.  They are entitled to a nice view and convenient route to their destinations.  Why does urban planning often go against logic the way I see it?
View down Reedie Drive from Georgia Ave intersection, showing the new black fence posts.
View of the Safeway entrance and the fencing company truck.

View of the nearest crosswalk at the corner downhill.
The following photos show Wheaton's unshoveled sidewalks after the last snowstorm. These two were taken February 18, well after the original storm.  The snow had been completely cleared from the street but was still covering the sidewalk in many places.

I wish the police would ticket these people who don't clear their sidewalks.  This is alongside a parcel that will be redeveloped soon, so apparently the owners aren't concerned about the safety of those who live nearby now.
Snowcovered sidewalk on Georgia Ave north of Blueridge Ave.
This stretch of sidewalk goes very close to the road and a big area of grass is isolated with chainlink fence for no apparent reason alongside.  I wish this fence would be removed so people and animals can use that grass.  Why is a big empty area fenced off??  And why didn't whoever owns it clear the sidewalk alongside?  I hope they were ticketed.
Snowy sidewalk a little bit farther north on Georgia Ave.
Here is the development application notice for Ava Wheaton, the large apartment building that someone wants to build at Georgia Ave and Blueridge Ave, next to the unshoveled sidewalk. Here's a story from October about that development.  It will be designed to attract millennials by consisting of smaller than normal apartment sizes and seeing like nice places to live without including high end appliances. This keeps the cost lower.  It will be in a nice location, near Wheaton's restaurants and only about a block from the library.
Development Application Notice for Ava Wheaton

For sale sign for big parking lot next to the proposed Ava Wheaton - This sign is gone as of 2/27/14.
I have more photos to share but these are the most recent. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter has arrived

Snow on Sunday of about 3 inches in Wheaton. Followed by ice all evening and night, as predicted. Here are some photos.
On Trail in Wheaton Regional Park, Sunday, December 8

Baseball Fields in Wheaton Regional Park, Sunday, December 8

Pine Lake in Wheaton Regional Park, with Enhancement by Google

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Construction Update: The Exchange Safeway Building in Wheaton

The Exchange at Georgia Ave & Reedie Dr, with luxurious new sidewalks.
I am excited to share these pics taken last night. The sidewalk is finally open around the building!!  This is big news for those of us who walk or bike past there a lot and have been crossing Georgia Avenue twice each trip due to the complete closure of these sidewalks!

This is an update to my post from last winter, which included photos of the building under construction.

Another view facing Georgia Ave, with Safeway Now Hiring sign.
A friend of mine is looking for a new apartment so inquired about the rental options here (with my encouragement).  He learned that the first tenants will start moving in this
November Friday, before all floors are completed. [All are expected to be completed this December, according to the blog comment below.]

Nice new landscaping on Reedie Drive and Exchange Now Leasing sign.
He & his wife are in the market for a two-bedroom but probably won't be moving to the Exchange because they think the floorplan layouts are odd.  I think they designed them this way to be modern, but they think it results in some wasted space since a lot of the 2 bedrooms have wide hallways running down their middles.  They love the indoor pool located on a high floor, but think it was designed way too small since there will be so many people living in the building with access to the pool.  This couple is used to having a big outdoor pool at their DC apartment and it gets crowded in the summer, so they looked at the size of the Exchange's indoor pool and just imagine it overly packed.  They did really love the idea of a rooftop deck to lounge on with DC views, the views off in the distance from the apartments, and the big windows and decks in the units.

I hope other people appreciate the modern layouts and the building is filled soon -- if not, the unusual layouts are likely the reason.  If they have problems renting the space maybe they can redesign some of the units to have more conventional layouts that take full advantage of the space in each unit.  He loved the balcony and views and thought the materials used were solid and attractive.  The location across one small side street from the Metro entrance, and on the Red Line, is also a big draw.

Want to see the new units for yourself?  The Exchange is having a Grand Opening event Saturday, October 26, 1-4 pm.  This will include the drawing in a contest for free rent for a year!

No word yet about when the Safeway Grand Opening will be, but I'll certainly post an update when we know!  I'm looking forward to this new store.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Food Truck Festival (Curbside Cookoff) Coming to Wheaton Triangle this Saturday!

A deer in Wheaton Regional Park
This is becoming such a happening hood!  As reported by Good Eatin' in Wheaton, there will be a food truck extravaganza in downtown Wheaton this weekend!  It will have 19 or 20 of the regions food trucks (some gourmet) and a craft beer garden.

Of the trucks that will be there, the only one I've tried is Dangerously Delicious Pies, and it was good. They now have a cafe in Union Station and I'm happy to see they're sticking close to their roots with the truck.

It will be noon to 8pm Saturday 9/28.
A deer in a Wheaton front yard

In other news, there are a lot of hungry deer around Wheaton right now! Last week I saw several of them during my bike rides to and from the metro.  Here are two different deer from September 16...

In other other news, I did not make it to the community meeting last week (we can thankfully read about what happened in the WaPo) but I hope to make it to the Sligo Park community cleanup day this Sunday 9/29. Will I see anyone from the internet there?...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sligo Creek Park Community Cleanup Next Weekend: Sweep the Creek Sat-Sun Sept. 28-29

Sweep the Creek fall 2013 meeting sites near Sligo Creek
Sweep the Creek fall 2013 meeting sites near Sligo Creek Park
Yesterday I saw signs up for this event along Sligo Parkway and it should be fun to help out and meet some neighbors.  It is called:

Sweep the Creek and Celebrate National Public Lands Day!

There is no need to sign up ahead of time and "all you need to bring is your community spirit."  The event will feature trash pick-up from inside the parkland (something that is fun and rewarding to do!) and invasive plant removal.  Instructions will be provided on-site.  Friends of Sligo Creek will provide "gloves, bags, water, and guidance on what help is most needed in each section."

The sites near Wheaton are labeled 8, 9, and 12 on the map and are happening both Saturday and Sunday (some each day).  Here are the details:
Saturday, September 28, 9-11amCreek Sections 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10 Middle, 10 Lower and 12 
Section 12: Wheaton - Glen Haven Park. Windham Lane dead-ends at the park coming from the east or west.  This small park features mature trees and is peaceful and pleasant. Can be accessed easily from Wheaton by walking or bicycling.
Section 8: Whitehall Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge - on Sligo Creek Parkway in between University Blvd. W and Dennis Ave.  This will be at "Whitehall Bridge," a short distance north from the Sligo-Dennis Avenue Local Park and Activity Building. The path going over the bridge connects Gridley Lane/Sligo Middle School fields to the west, and Whitehall St./Tenbrook Dr. to the east. There's a small parking turnout here along the parkway that is readily visible and the site can be accessed easily from Wheaton or Forest Glen by walking or bicycling..
Sunday, September 29, 1-3pmCreek Sections 4 and 9
Section 9: Upstream from University Blvd W - Sligo Creek Park here is behind the Kemp Mill Shopping Center, which is at the intersection of Arcola Ave. and Lamberton Dr.  The cleanup group will meet between Shalom Kosher Mart (which will be open that day) and the walking/biking path in the park.  This is a perfect opportunity to use the path to get to the cleanup! 
The website has more details about exactly when and where the clean-ups will be taking place, including a link to a nice map of the meeting sites (a copy of their map is provided in this post).  Which ones will you join?