by Aaron Kraut
September 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm
265 5 Comments

YOLO campaign Facebook image, via MCDOT

Montgomery County on Wednesday rolled out a new campaign to discourage teens from looking at their smart phones or listening to music while crossing busy roads and intersections.

The effort, called YOLO (You Only Live Once), is being organized and promoted by the county’s Department of Transportation. On Wednesday, County Executive Isiah Leggett, MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr and other officials held a press conference to announce the initiative at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown.

In October 2012, 15-year-old Seneca Valley student Christina Morris-Ward was struck and killed by a driver as she crossed the street a few blocks from the school. Officials said she was looking down at her phone.

The incident was one of a few in the fall of 2012 and winter of 2013 that spurred a number of Bethesda parents to start a petition pushing for traffic and road changes in school zones. In February 2013, a three-month old child in a stroller was hit and dragged from a crosswalk on Arlington Road near Bethesda Elementary School.

This week, Bethesda parent Wendy Leibowitz wrote Leggett, Starr and Council President Craig Rice calling the YOLO campaign “misguided because it does not focus on the real causes of pedestrian deaths.”

According to Leibowitz, the “fundamental cause” of pedestrian injuries and deaths is “the unsafe design of our roads.”

“The good news is that we know how to design roads to be safe for pedestrians and drivers alike. We ask you to use the considerable powers of your respective positions to encourage Montgomery County and the State of Maryland to redesign the roads around schools in the county so that children can safely use them to walk to and from school,” Leiobowitz wrote. “An additional cause of pedestrian injury and death is the unsafe and often illegal driver behavior encouraged by the unsafe road design. We believe that the best target for a public education campaign is drivers, not pedestrians.”

Seneca Valley students at the event on Wednesday signed a pledge to stay distraction-free while walking to school. County officials also highlighted a series of projects done over the past year by students, including at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, where students made and handed out wrist bands reminding people to make eye contact with drivers.

According to Leibowitz, pushing teen pedestrians to pay more attention is only part of the equation.

“Please refocus your energies into programs that will do the most to keep students safe: lowering speed limits in school zones; redesigning roads to be safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists; and driver education,” she wrote.

On Saturday, the Action Committee for Transit is hosting a “Bethesda Vision Zero Walk” starting at the Bethesda Library on Arlington Road. The group will point out “what works for pedestrians and what does not.”

Photo via MCDOT

by Joseph Hawkins
September 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

A nearly empty polling place at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on June 24

My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

Montgomery County frequently feels like some kind of la la land. Yes, a “dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life.”

When Democrats fail to show up to vote (and we failed miserably back in June) the solutions to get voters out to vote are to register more voters and to task force us into submission.

Only in Montgomery County do we get a task force established to make sure objectives of another task force work. That’s one of the solutions proposed by our la la land movers and shakers.

Joseph HawkinsBut we cannot force civic duty, which is really what voting is about.

My view on voting is admittedly simplistic. I vote each and every election because it is my civic duty. If it’s cold outside, I go to the polls and vote. If the lines are long, I stand in line (with a good book) until it is my turn to vote. If the candidates stink, I hold my nose and vote. I vote, period!

(By the way, one probably should take a book when heading out to the polls. On average, Maryland voters wait more than half an hour before getting a ballot in their hand. I have waited that long several times at my own voting location — Pyle Middle School.)

Would making it easier to vote please me? Sure. Open primaries, early voting and some other techniques have been suggested or implemented in part to encourage better turnouts.

I’d love to be able to wake up, roll over, turn on my Ipad and begin clicking boxes.  I could even get use to Colorado’s all-mail voting system, in which ballots are automatically mailed to all registered voters. Why are other states so far ahead of Maryland when it comes to making it easier to vote?

Still, election officials could do nothing to our current system and I’d still show up to the polls.

Nov. 4 is just around the corner. Will more Montgomery County residents exercise their civic duty?

Or will we once again, collectively demonstrate that we really don’t give a hoot about who we elect in our la la land?

Joseph Hawkins is a longtime Bethesda resident who remembers when there was no Capital Crescent Trail. He works full-time for an employee-owned social science research firm located Montgomery County. He is a D.C. native and for nearly 10 years, he wrote a regular column for the Montgomery Journal. He also has essays and editorials published in Education Week, the Washington Post, and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. He is a serious live music fan and is committed to checking out some live act at least once a month.

by Aaron Kraut
September 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm
477 0

The pace is fast and furious at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Grand Park Avenue, the new road in the new neighborhood rising up at the old Mid-Pike Plaza shopping center in North Bethesda/White Flint.

Del Frisco’s Grille, the casual dining and bar chain that will be the first retail or restaurant spot to open in Pike & Rose, is nearing a Thursday night VIP grand opening celebration.

General Manager Rahsaan Stone is overseeing the work. Crews are finishing installation of a wine cellar, cooks are practicing lunch dishes and suppliers are coming in and out of the roughly 5,500-square-foot spot at 11800 Grand Park Ave.

On Tuesday, Stone gave a look inside the space, which will have seating for about 250 patrons, including a bar and outdoor patio stretching along Old Georgetown Road.

“We want to get in in the very beginning and make our mark,” Stone said. “We want it to taste high-end, feel high-end but without high prices.”

Much of the first phase of the Pike & Rose project is undergoing finishing touches. A crew operating a lift was working on the front of Del Frisco’s building, which will also be home to a Sport&Health club, iPic movie theater, Strathmore-operated music venue and a number of other restaurants and retailers.

Del Frisco’s hopes to debut its “twists on American comfort cuisine,” to the public on Sept. 25. The menu will feature some items unique to the Pike & Rose location.

by Aaron Kraut
September 17, 2014 at 11:05 am
325 0

Jeff Van Grack ,photo via Lerch, Early & BrewerFriends and family members of the late Jeff Van Grack will be at Friday’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School football home opener to help honor the man and raise awareness about the disease that took his life.

Van Grack, who died last month of bladder cancer at the age of 60, led Lerch, Early & Brewer’s Community Association law practice. But his true passion was coaching football, which he did for many years around Montgomery County.

Coworkers at the Bethesda law firm knew it was football season when Van Grack would begin showing up to the office at 5 a.m. He was getting work in before heading off in the early afternoon to coach special teams at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, where he and coach Josh Singer also established an offseason leadership seminar for players.

“Jeff was a great coach and a better man,” Singer said this week. “Jeff’s message to the players was you don’t have to do something special to be a leader. Anyone can develop those skills and he treated everybody on the team, from the guys who might not play as much to the two-year starters, the same way.”

Together with the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, the B-CC football team will host the Battling Barons Conquering Bladder Cancer event on Friday, during the team’s game against rival Whitman.

Van Grack’s son Alan will speak at halftime. The event is open to the public, and tickets are $5. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.

Van Grack created a partnership between the football program, his law firm and the Advocacy Network, which happens to be located on St Elmo Avenue. He also served on BCAN’s Leadership Council, helping to increase awareness and raise money for educational programs and services. Bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.

“Jeff’s commitment to serve on the BCAN Leadership Council was a true demonstration of his passion and dedication to support bladder cancer awareness,” said BCAN President Diane Zipursky Quale. “It is our hope that with this BCAN Awareness Night, we will honor Jeff’s vision and courage by spreading awareness within the Bethesda, and surrounding community.”

Photo via Lerch, Early & Brewer

by Aaron Kraut
September 17, 2014 at 10:15 am
448 11 Comments

Location of the planned 2nd District Police Station on Rugby Avenue

The Bethesda-based developer selected to build a new 2nd District Police Station in downtown Bethesda has closed on the land and says the project is projected to be completed in late 2016.

StonebridgeCarras, which Montgomery County picked last year to build the 32,000-square-foot station at 4823 Rugby Ave., made the announcement in a press release on Wednesday.

StonebridgeCarras partnered with Bethesda-based Buvermo Investments for the purchase and got $20 million in construction financing from the Bank of Georgetown.

Once the developer transfers the new police station to Montgomery County, the county will give StonebridgeCarras the property where the 2nd District Police Station now stands at 7359 Wisconsin Ave. The developer said it’s planning a mixed-use project for the site under the guidelines to be provided in the new Bethesda sector plan.

It’s not Montgomery County’s first attempt to find a private partner to build a new 2nd District Police Station.

The county put out a request for qualifications and development proposals in 2013 in an attempt to speed up the replacement process for the aging station, which serves as the police headquarters for the Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda areas.

The existing facility is 21,700 square feet and, according to the county, too small to meet the requirements of the 24-hour police station. The building also requires major upgrades and faces security concerns. The second RFP process was necessary after developer JBG — originally slated to build the new station – failed to acquire all of the property at a site between Cordell, Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues.

It will be StonebridgeCarras’ third recent project in downtown Bethesda. The developer is also building The Darcy, The Flats and an underground garage on the former site of Lot 31 and the 8300 Wisconsin Avenue project that will include a ground-floor Harris Teeter grocery store.

The Lot 31 project is also a partnership with Montgomery County. StonebridgeCarras agreed to build 970 county-operated parking spaces in the garage to replace parking lost in Lot 31.

“We are extremely proud to expand our relationship with Montgomery County with another public private partnership that will allow the County to have a new state of the art police station in exchange for our right to development an underutilized asset at such a prime location as Wisconsin Avenue and Montgomery Lane in the heart of the Bethesda Central Business District,” StonebridgeCarras principal Douglas Firstenberg said in the press release. “We look forward to creating an outstanding police station for the Montgomery County Police Department and vibrant mixed-use project that builds on the great success of Bethesda.”

The Rugby Avenue location of the station will likely mean the loss of some parking in Garage 35, the county garage behind the site. Some, including Councilmember Roger Berliner, have asked the county to consider placing affordable housing in the station building, based on a law the Council passed last year.

by Aaron Kraut
September 17, 2014 at 9:05 am
269 6 Comments

Flickr pool photo by rzulta rzaba

Bethesda Business Builds Salt Cave For Therapy – Janine Narayadu had a salt cave built in her Montgomery Lane space to provide therapy to those suffering from asthma, allergies and other breathing conditions. The cave was made with 32 tons of pink Himalayan salt rocks that were ground into the floor or arranged in rock crystal formations on the walls and ceiling. The 45-minute sessions in the 390-square-foot room go for $45 and $15 for kids. [ABC7]

Comptroller Blasts Montgomery County’s Liquor Model – Comptroller Peter Franchot called Montgomery County’s control system for distributing alcohol “medieval” and criticized the county employees who work in the Department of Liquor Control’s central warehouse. Franchot, a Takoma Park resident, has said before he thinks Montgomery County should ditch its Department of Liquor Control. [MyMCMedia]

Town Of Chevy Chase Mayor On Purple Line Costs – Town of Chevy Chase Mayor Kathy Strom penned a letter to the editor published in the Washington Post that claims costs on the Purple Line light rail project “have jumped by more than $1.4 billion already.” The project is now estimated to cost more than $2.4 billion. The Town is officially opposed to the light rail. Strom wrote that “all taxpayers should object to this project, which is nothing more than a financial black hole.” [Town of Chevy Chase]

Bethesda Woman Busted For Stealing Booze – Bethesda resident Brooke Chrzan was arrested in Arlington for allegedly breaking in to numerous apartments and drinking residents’ liquor. Chrzan worked at as a front desk concierge at the building. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by rzulta rzaba

by Aaron Kraut
September 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm
1,192 1 Comment

The existing single family home at 6789 Golsboro Road, Photo via MRISA new townhouse community called Goldsboro Place will be proposed for a swath of woods near MacArthur Boulevard and Glen Echo Park.

Last week, the company developing the property (6789 Goldsboro LLC) sent a letter to neighboring residents about a required pre-submission meeting on Sept. 24. During the meeting, the developer will detail plans for the property at 6789 Goldsboro Rd.

The letter doesn’t contain specifics, but does say the 5.23-acre property can have up to 26 townhouses, as allowed by the 1990 Bethesda-Chevy Chase Master Plan.

The Goldsboro Place preliminary plan application — which the developer hopes to file by the end of the month — will address access to Goldsboro Road, open space on the site, access to public water and sewer, forest conservation, stormwater management and the project’s general layout.

The developer also promised anyone who signed up at the Sept. 24 meeting a copy of the proposed townhouse development upon filing with the Planning Department.

Attorney Timothy Dugan, of Potomac-based Shulman Rogers, is representing Goldsboro Place.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer (6201 Dunrobbin Dr.).

Photo via MRIS

by Aaron Kraut
September 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm
415 0

MCFRS (file photo)For the second time on Tuesday, MCFRS and B-CC Rescue Squad units have responded to a building on Arlington Road for the report of a suspicious odor.

Crews got the second call just after 2:40 p.m. for the odor in the 7400 block of Arlington Rd., home to a number of medical and professional offices.

Medical personnel are staging on nearby roads in case anybody feels ill. According to scanner traffic, first responders reported to the same building on Tuesday morning and WSSC crews have been working in the area.

Expect delays on Arlington Road.

Ask Andrew: Dual Agency

by BethesdaNow.com Sponsor
September 16, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Ask Andrew

This sponsored, biweekly Q&A column is written by Andrew Goodman, broker/owner of Goodman, Realtors. Based in Bethesda, Andrew serves clients in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Please submit comments, questions, and opinions in the comments section or via email.

Question: What is dual agency and why am I always asked to sign a disclosure about it?

Answer: Dual agency could occur when the buyer is interested in a property listed by a real estate broker that’s also affiliated with the seller’s agent. A real estate broker is a person who has taken the necessary classes and exams, and has met all requirements to have the ability to own, manage, or operate their own brokerage.

All real estate agents must work for a real estate broker. Goodman, Realtors®, Long and Foster, Remax, and others are all real estate brokerages (companies) with a broker that has the responsibility for all of the real estate agents who work for the brokerage.

Per the Real Estate Commission: “A broker acting as a dual agent does not exclusively represent either the seller or buyer; there may be a conflict of interest because the interests of the seller can buyer may be different or adverse. As a dual agent, the real estate broker does not owe undivided loyalty to either the seller or buyer.”

Before the buyer and seller can proceed to be represented by a broker acting as a dual agent, they must both sign the Consent for Dual Agency (disclosure). If the buyer has previously signed Consent for Dual Agency, the buyer must affirm that consent for the purchase of a particular property before an offer to purchase is presented to the seller. If the seller has previously signed Consent for Dual Agency, the seller must affirm that consent for the sale of the property to a particular buyer before accepting an offer to purchase the property.

In a possible dual agency situation, the buyer and seller have the following options:

1. Consent in writing to dual agency.

If all parties consent in writing, the real estate broker or the broker’s designee (the “dual agent”) will assign one real estate agent affiliated with the broker to represent the seller (the seller’s “intra-company agent”) and another agent affiliated with the broker to represent the buyer (the buyer’s “intra-company agent”). Intra-company agents may provide the same services to their clients as an exclusive seller or buyer’s agent, including advising their clients as to price and negotiation strategy.



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