Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Neighborhood websites for Wheaton area -- Join now!

I would like to invite you to join the website "Nextdoor." It is like a neighborhood listserv but in website form.  More like message boards for each neighborhood with nearby neighbors being able to view the boards from other areas nearby.

To the right are some of the areas currently covered by groups. There are certainly more areas covered than that but I couldn't find a way to see them all.  Join your group now to see what your neighbors are talking about!

If your area isn't covered, you can create a neighborhood group yourself easily!

I joined recently and am very much enjoying it.  It works by someone setting up a neighborhood on Nextdoor, designating what borders make sense from their perspective, and creating the group.  They invite people to join it and after 10 people inside the boundaries join Nextdoor will mail postcards to the rest of the residences in the hood asking them to join.

Moving to Wheaton from DC, the vibrant neigbhorhood listserv that I left behind was one of the things I missed the most.  Hopefully this will fill that void.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wheaton Summer Fun Series - Tonight and each Friday in August

Wheaton TGIF 2014 Summer Film Series
The grassy Wheaton Triangle will feature the Lego Movie tonight.  Here's a sign by the Metro station advertizing it. Concerts with live music are 7:00-8:30 PM and the films start at dusk.  Free!  Bring your blanket or lawn chair to sit upon on the grass.

Summer Series 2014 Lineup:
July 11 Frozen (G)
July 18 Invitation Band (Top 40)
July 25 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13)
August 1 The Lego Movie (G)
August 8 Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13)
August 15 Grupo Latino Continental (Latin)
August 22 John Stone Reggae Band (Reggae)
August 29 The Nighthawks (Roots Rock, Blues)

In other news, the construction at Randolph Rd and Georgia Ave (just south of Glenmont metro station) is going strong.  The land in the southwest and southeast corners of the intersection has been bulldozed and is ready for digging!  I hope the construction process goes smoothly and that the resulting intersection is indeed more friendly to all modes of transportation (vehicles, bicycles, and walking), as we have been promised.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rec Center in the Spotlight Again: Led Zepplin

The film "Led Zeppelin Played Here" is now showing at AFI Silver Spring.  This WaPo movie review is entertaining and makes me want to go see it.  I wonder if the demolitionists are sad yet that they campaigned for the building the be destroyed and won...  Here's info from the AFI website:

LED ZEPPELIN PLAYED HERE Opening June 27 for an exclusive one-week engagement!
"Led Zeppelin Played Here"

Q&A with filmmaker Jeff Krulik on June 27 & 28, at the 7:45 show!

1969. Man lands on the moon. Half a million strong at Woodstock. SESAME STREET makes its debut...and Led Zeppelin perform in the gym of the Wheaton Youth Center on Georgia Avenue in front of 50 confused teenagers. Or did they? Filmmaker Jeff Krulik explores an enduring local legend, which doubles as microcosm of what was happening nationwide as the rock concert industry took shape. Featuring interviews with rock writers, musicians and fans, and several who claim they were there witnessing history that night.

DIR/SCR/PROD Jeff Krulik; PROD John Heyn, Brad Dismukes. US, 2013, color, 81 min, digital presentation. NOT RATED.  Official website

Monday, June 23, 2014

Someone Please Open a Yoga Studio in Wheaton

I was shocked upon moving to Wheaton, MD and realizing that there are no yoga studios here!  It makes me feel like the people who live here may be more focused on their kids than on their own health and well being.

There in a dance studio (pictured here) in the Wheaton Triangle and a martial arts studio just off of Georgia Avenue and Blueridge.  There are two yoga studios in Kensington (Ally and Core), but those are not near enough to be convenient for the thousands of people who live in and near Wheaton.

There is a Wheaton Community Recreation Center on Georgia Avenue near the library that doesn't offer yoga either, although they do offer tai chi for adults (also relaxing and good exercise but not the same!).

Hopefully a studio will open in one of the many vacant storefronts around town. The market is here and will just grow with all of the new apartments and luxury condos that are newly open!

The front entrance of Wheaton Studio of Dance, February 11, 2013

Friday, June 13, 2014

Don't miss June 28-29 Heritage Days in MoCo Parks

Get ready for Heritage Days! Slogan: "Hm! History where you least expect it!" LOL. At various sites around the county Saturday-Sunday, June 28-29, 2014. From a MoCo newsletter:
The last weekend in June, Montgomery Parks joins with historic organizations throughout the county to celebrate Montgomery County Heritage Days with a series of FREE events and activities for all. This two-day, county-wide festival offers visitors an opportunity to sample numerous sites representing the history, culture, and natural beauty of the county. For more information call 301-650-4373.
One of the sites with historic reenactment is inside Wheaton Regional Park.  I checked it out last year and thought the people in period dress did a great job explaining life there in the late 1800s.  It is on the north side of the park behind the Nature Center.  There's a parking lot or you can walk through the park to get there from any point in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Harper Cabin in Wheaton Regional Park, from this Flickr page.
Harper Cabin at Brookside Nature Center
1400 Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton
Saturday – 10am-5pm and Sunday – 1-5pm

Visit this mid-19th century log cabin with period furnishings. Learn how many newly emancipated African American families lived in the late 1800s including raising chickens and grinding grains.

Let's get out there and learn about our county's history. Besides Heritage Days weekend, other historical events are listed here at HistoryInTheParks.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Early Voting Starts Today at Wheaton Community Recreation Center and Other Spots

Update: the primary election is tomorrow, Tuesday June 23!  Get out there and vote if you haven't already.  I will be voting in the morning before work.

Polls are open 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM and you can look up your polling place here by street address.

This article today about Takoma Park development makes me question my stance on voting for Heather Mizeur and Elrich, but it strengthens my desire to vote for Hans Reimer.

So for Council that would be Reimer and Leventhal for sure. Maybe I'll also vote for Malloy since her staffer was kind enough to read and comment on this post.


If you want to check out the historic Wheaton Rec Center building before it is demolished, take the opportunity to vote there early for the June 24 election!

Early Voting will be June 12-19, 10 AM - 8 PM at the rec center.  I will vote there early to avoid having to figure out how to get to my official polling place, which is far from the metro.

Regarding County Council, 4 at-large council members are up for reelection and there are 2 new challengers for the 4 seats. I won't be voting for Beth Daly.  She is 1 of 2 non-incumbents running and seems to be the anti-public transit/biking/walking/metro-centric growth candidate.  She is described as having views just like Marc Elrich, which makes me wonder about him, and lives way up by Sugarloaf Mountain.  How is that area even part of the same county as Wheaton?  The area is much too large and I don't think someone who lives up there really identifies with the urbanites of Wheaton.  She obviously doesn't share my values according to her answers on this questionnaire on transit issues.

I'm not sure about incumbent Nancy Floreen. In this Post article, Nancy Floreen said she likes suburbia and wants to preserve bedroom communities.  I'd rather have mixed use with people walking to places they need to be.  Bedroom communities are like deserts with nothing you want or need nearby, and recipes for car-dependent obesity if you ask me.  However, the WaPo endorses her and her Twitter feed links to some articles that I support wholeheartedly, like this recent one on why walking in Scandinavia is so much nicer than in the US.  I want to put their principles into practice.  I'm also not sure about challenger Vivian Malloy.  It looks like she lives in Olney, which is a pretty non-urban place, so I'm leaning against voting for her.  The WaPo article didn't mention her at all for some reason.

The other 3 candidates look fine... I like Hans Reimer because he focuses on young people, bicycling and walking-friendly communities.  I like George Leventhal because he wants to bring fresh food into the schools and improve services for homeless people (and he's advertizing on Pandora!).  Marc Elrich lives in Takoma Park and the WaPo likes him because he is the only current member of council who stands up to real estate developers.  I think developers need to really make a case why their new buildings are needed to avoid wasteful development.

Regarding the MoCo state delegate race for District 18, I have met Emily Shetty twice so far (at Taste of Wheaton and in the Wheaton metro station).  She is also the only candidate who lives in Wheaton, so may be a good pick to get more attention to our local issues.  I also met Rick Kessler, but wasn't impressed with him overall -- he gave off the impression of a smooth talking politician.

For governor, I'll probably for Heather Mizeur, even though she is an underdog.  She has a good plan to lower income taxes for people who aren't super high income, plus the other two candidates have things that make me not want to vote for them.  For Brown it is the horrible waste of money on the Maryland health exchanges, of which he was in charge.  For Gansler it is his abuses of police power as attorney general; that stuff will just increase as a person gets more power.

Here's a flier that someone handed me June 9 outside the Silver Spring Metro Station with more info about early voting.  Get out and vote!!

Taste of Wheaton 2014 Wrap-Up

Taste of Wheaton on Sunday, June 8, seems like it was a very successful event! Crowded but it was still possible to move around and listen to the music on two stages, taste the food samples, talk to people running for office in the June 24 election, and watch the kiddos on rides. Here are my photos from the event. Looking forward to it next year already!
Fifa Brazil World Cup mascot!
Grandview Avenue by Wheaton Triangle closed to cars.
The food booth areas with lots of local restaurants.
Rides for the little kids.

Watch music on the main stage. Lots of room for lawn chairs.

A row of booths for local organizations.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New North-South DC Streetcar Could Almost Reach Montgomery County

If you, like me, often end up in downtown Silver Spring for various amenities (splash fountain, yoga studios, organic groceries, etc.), you may be interested to learn that DC is building a streetcar from downtown to...possibly Silver Spring.  It could end in Takoma, so we all need to voice our concern that Alternative 1 or 4 be chosen so it goes all the way to Silver Spring.

The DC government is having community meetings this week to discuss the 4 route options.  2 of the 4 make it to the DC/MD border at Georgia Ave/Blair Rd/Eastern Ave.  The other 2 poop out at Butternut Street near Takoma Park.

We Wheatonites and Silver Springers should tell them the need for the line to go all the way to Silver Spring.  There are multiple buses between Wheaton and Silver Spring but no direct buses between Wheaton and Takoma Park, plus Silver Spring is 2 miles closer to home if we want to bike or drive to catch the streetcar.  It would be an easy option for us to get to the U Street area and the Mall, among other places.

Here is the meeting schedule. This Thursday's "North" meeting is the closest to Wheaton, near Missouri Ave/Military Rd and Georgia Ave. As John Oliver said "seize your moment, my lovely trolls" and tell them our needs. 

Monday, June 9, 2014; 3:30 pm – 8:30 pm (already passed, sorry. I found out about this today at DCist.)
Presentations at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Banneker Recreation Center
2500 Georgia Ave NW

Tuesday, June 10, 2014; 3:30 pm – 8:30 pm (tonight!)
Presentations at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
DCRA- 2nd Floor Community Room
1100 4th St SW

Thursday, June12, 2014; 3:30 pm – 8:30 pm (this Thursday!)
Presentations at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Emery Recreation Center
5701 Georgia Ave NW

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Taste of Wheaton this Sunday, June 8

Don't miss our annual food exploration event!  There will be food and wine samples, live music, dance performances, cooking demos, kids rides, and more. 

From the website:  
Taste of Wheaton highlights the deliciously diverse restaurants in downtown Wheaton. The 19th annual event will take place on Sunday, June 8, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm in the Wheaton Triangle at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive in downtown Wheaton (one block north of the Wheaton Metro station).
Will you be there?  It will feature a world-ranging variety of cuisines, plus Ana G. Mendez University Culinary School.  I didn't know we had a culinary school in Wheaton!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

WMATA Bus Y9 on Georgia Avenue in Wheaton Not Stopping

Looking across Georgia Avenue
Today I decided to go to downtown Silver Spring for something that started at 11:30 AM.  Since I live off of Georgia Avenue in the Wheaton area, the buses that run south down it made the most sense.  They would be faster and cheaper than the Metro, and I wouldn't have to walk as far to catch it.

So I consulted the schedule and waited at the stop. I made sure to have two bus options that would get me there on time. The first bus was supposed to come at 10:45 AM so I got to the stop at 10:40 AM.  It never came.  The next bus flew past without stopping at 11:00 AM.  It at 11:00 AM .

I already submitted a WMATA customer comment form with my complaint and hopefully they will get back to me.  I wanted to share about it here too so this horrible customer service gets some attention.  Since I'm not doing the event I had planned to be doing now, I have time to write this blog post.

At 11:00 AM, I could see the Y9 bus stopped at the stop before mine on Georgia Avenue, so I made sure to stand directly under the bus stop sign to wait. As the bus approached my stop I waved my arms to alert the driver that I wanted to board.  I started waving both arms frantically as it got very near.  The driver waved and smiled at me as the bus went past without stopping.  The driver was a heavyset African American man wearing a hat.

I asked WMATA why he would do that and how I can be compensated for the waste of my time and the anger and humiliation of waiting for so long and then intentionally not being picked up.

Then I came back home instead of going to my destination because I was going to be late anyways, plus if I waited another 20 minutes and wasn't picked up again I would have started crying right there on the side of the street.

This has happened to me before at this bus stop and I think the drivers must often not stop there. I don't often take the bus, even though it would be very convenient, because I'm afraid of this sort of thing happening and how angry it makes me feel.

The drivers on the Y9 an Y8 bus lines should be reprimanded and sternly told to pick up EVERYONE who is waiting.  I don't know if he didn't like my looks or if he was in a hurry or if he was just being a jerk, but this sort of not picking people up is HORRIBLE customer service and needs to stop.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Van Ness and Wheaton -- Sister Communities

Van Ness is a neighborhood in northwest Washington, DC that has some similar issues to Wheaton, MD.  Both have a red line metro station and lots of people who get around by walking, but both are also split down the middle by some busy streets containing a lot of traffic. In Van Ness it is Connecticut Avenue and in Wheaton it is Georgia Avenue and University Blvd. 

Both have some great restaurants, grocery stores, access to lots of parkland, and a full public library nearby, however both are somewhat unknown to outsiders. I know this is off the topic of Wheaton, but I recently tried to find some nice photos of the Van Ness neighborhood and failed miserably.  So I went there and took my own photos. They are included here so hopefully they make it into the search results for Van Ness DC neighborhood pictures.

Acacia Bistro in Van Ness 4/18/14

Old growth tree, Subway and Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits, Van Ness 4/18/14

Tesoro Italian Restaurant, Van Ness 4/18/14

Land under construction at site of old Pier One Imports, Van Ness 4/18/14

Italian Pizza Kitchen restaurant, cleaners, and nail salon, Van Ness 4/18/14
The Franklin Montessori School, Van Ness 4/18/14
Giant grocery store at the Van Ness metro station with Walgreens in the background 4/18/14

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

Update 6/27/14: The film "Led Zeppelin Played Here" is being screened at AFI Silver Spring for a week!  Check it out!


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.