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by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm 1,331 2 Comments

The public-private land swap deal to build a replacement for the more than 50-year-old Bethesda police station has hit a snag, according to county officials and developer JBG Cos.

In May 2011, Montgomery County agreed to give JBG the land of the existing 2nd District police station at 7359 Wisconsin Ave. for a 400-unit apartment building. In exchange, JBG agreed to help the county build a new station on Cordell Avenue, between Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues within five years.

JBG’s Frank Craighill today confirmed the company was not able to purchase all of the properties at the agreed upon site (7900 Wisconsin Ave.) because of severe changes in the market, which is forcing JBG and Montgomery County to look at other potential locations for the station.

“There will be a slight delay until we can finalize all the details,” Craighill said. “When we started talking about this deal in 2006 or 2007, there was a different market at that time and a lot of the options were negotiated before the recession in 2008. When we came back, there were specific property owners there that wanted to kind of renegotiate at prices that didn’t make economic sense for us.”

Craighill and County spokesman Patrick Lacefield each said the parties are going to meet to discuss how to proceed, either at Cordell Avenue or at another location.

The county is due to contribute a little more than $9 million to the estimated $21 million project. The station will be 30,000 feet on three floors with approximately 44 underground parking spaces, according to the capital budget.

The existing station is 21,700 square feet and, according to the plan, too small to meet the requirements of the 24-hour police station. The building also requires major upgrades and faces security concerns.

While presenting plans for the new police station in September 2011, JBG representatives said construction could begin in early 2013 and finish in 2015.

The new police station would have been part of a larger 600,000-square-foot apartment building and ground-floor retail project on Cordell Avenue.

At the time the County Council approved the deal, David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services, said JBG would face fines if construction was delayed beyond five years, The Gazette reported.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm 1,023 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: This new weekly sponsored column is written by the staff of Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).

Since our economy’s latest recession in 2008, there hasn’t been a hotter wine varietal than Malbec. Sales have soared in the U.S. and some Malbec-producing regions have increased their production by almost 50%. Why?

Value and quality. Not many wines can give you high-end quality at an affordable price. Malbecs under $20 consistently score 90 points or higher in many of the top wine publications. Malbecs also give you the perfect balance between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot: not too dry with a perfectly soft, smooth, sure-to-please taste.

Here are a few of my favorite Malbecs from three countries that offer different styles: Argentina, California, and France

Cedre Heritage Malbec, Cahors, France

Malbec was one of the original grapes found in Bordeaux. But due to a frost that killed 75% of the crop, the region of Cahors, situated in southwest France, became the stronghold of French Malbec. This particular one from Cahors offers a full body with ample tannins for a great price. Cahors offer a much bolder style of Malbec than most people are used to. I would definitely recommend pairing with hearty meat and some good, fragrant French cheeses.

Andeluna 1300 Malbec, Ucco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Malbec put Argentina on the world wine map. Now Argentina owns the Malbec market and there’s a reason: Argentinian Malbecs are awesome. After trailing Chile in wine exports for years, Argentinian wineries led by Nicholas Catena began focusing on quality, not quantity. After this shift from making jug wine to premium wines for export, Argentina has taken advantage of its perfect climate and high-altitude terrain for Malbec growing. This Andeluna is a perfect example of a quality 90-point (Wine Enthusiast) wine for around $15. Andeluna is a terrific plush, smooth wine. It’s the perfect balance of quality without being overpowered with tannins – something typical of many Argentinian Malbecs.

Chancewater Malbec, Lake County, California

When I was first asked if I would like to sample a Malbec from California, I was very skeptical. Malbec grapes from California were mostly used to make red blends such as Meritage, and were not known for great quality. My palate could not have been more surprised when I first tasted this Californian Malbec. Its style is not as fruit-forward as the Malbec from Argentina, nor as dry and full of tannins as the Cahors, but a perfect balance between both regions. I can honestly say the smooth, rich finish reminds me of a high-end Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, but only costs around $20.

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by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm 574 1 Comment

The season’s first below freezing temperatures could arrive late tonight and last until tomorrow morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures should drop into the upper 20′s and lower 30′s, according to the NWS, which this afternoon issued a freeze warning for much of the Washington D.C. area, including Montgomery County:

… FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 9 AM EDT SATURDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A FREEZE WARNING… WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 9 AM EDT SATURDAY. THE FREEZE WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

* TEMPERATURES… IN THE UPPER 20S TO LOWER 30S.

* IMPACTS… UNPROTECTED VEGETATION SENSITIVE TO FREEZING TEMPERATURES WILL BE AT RISK.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A FREEZE WARNING MEANS SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES ARE IMMINENT OR HIGHLY LIKELY. THESE CONDITIONS WILL KILL CROPS AND OTHER SENSITIVE VEGETATION.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm 1,107 0

UPDATED AT 3:10 p.m.: Police union consultant Lanny Davis said none of the 15 police issues a county spokesman claims were held up by effects bargaining were delayed by the process.

Davis said spokesman Patrick Lacefield’s citation of the 15 examples was “demonstrably false.” He again asked for a forum to debate county officials on the issue, which will appear as Question B on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“We have declined to label elected officials as intentionally misstating the truth and have avoided the “L” word for that reason.” Davis said. “I can say that Mr. Lacefield either should meet me for a public debate or send one of his taxpayer-paid colleagues to do so or I will have to assume that he is intentionally misrepresenting the truth. Not one of the examples he cites were delayed one day, indeed one minute as a result of the 30-year statute that the Council wishes to repeal.”

Montgomery County’s fight to do away with “effects bargaining” for police has reached a fever pitch, with each side labeling the other as dishonest and County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) openly refusing to debate a police union consultant on the issue.

Yesterday, after we linked to a WAMU story about union claims that effects bargaining does not delay or hinder management as police chief Thomas Manger has claimed, County spokesman Patrick Lacefield emailed us with 15 issues the county claims have been delayed for years by the process.

The County Executive’s office and the County Council have been actively campaigning voters to approve Question B on the Nov. 6 ballot, which would uphold an earlier Council decision to repeal effects bargaining.

Effects bargaining dictates decisions on issues such as use of email and clothing allowance for undercover officers. Montgomery County is the only police union in the state with effects bargaining.

The county started a website, which has drawn the ire of Lanny Davis, a Washington lobbyist hired by the police union to make its case against Question B.

Lacefield’s list of decisions delayed by effects bargaining included procedures for use of force, equipment turn-in, the types of holsters that can be used, restricted duty, raids, search warrants, video systems in police cars, school resource officers and the type of personal information kept by the department and available for public release.

He said the union’s claim that the police chief can override the need for union leaders’ approval within 50 days is false.

“First, why should Union leaders get to delay critical Police policies for even 50 days,” Lacefield wrote. “Second, Union leaders can file Prohibited Practices charges against the Police Chief for failing to negotiate in ‘good faith.’”

Lacefield went on to say the issues often go to a labor arbitrator who can rule against the county under existing effects bargaining rules.

“Under effects bargaining, management always gets to do what they want to do,” Marc Zifcak, the immediate past president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, told WAMU this week. “All effects bargaining provides is an opportunity for us, the people who are affected by the decision, to discuss up front and hopefully deal with the negative impact.”

by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 11:15 am 822 0

Eastham’s Exxon Servicenter (7100 Wisconsin Ave.) may be alive after all, though owners of the landmark Bethesda business would have to clear a few hurdles to reopen until the property is developed into a 145-unit apartment project.

Jeff Burton, deputy executive director of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, told a meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group on Friday that the owners of Eastham’s are attempting to reopen the service center until developer Washington Property Company gets final approval for construction, expected to start in early 2013.

Eastham’s General Manager Steven Embrey and owner Ellen Zinkler could not be reached for comment, but a voice mail message at the store’s number says they hope to reopen in the first week of November.

That could be tricky for a number of reasons, Burton said.

First, they must wait until Exxon removes all of the underground gas tanks and other gas station equipment. If there’s still a window between the end of that process and the start of construction, Eastham’s could work an agreement with Washington Property Company to continue the auto service part of the operation, which has been in Bethesda since 1929.

But even in that situation, Eastham’s would have to find its own repair shop equipment. Burton said Exxon is taking the car lifts and other car repair necessities.

The apartment project is scheduled to go before the Montgomery County Planning Board on Nov. 1. The Washington Property Company is proposing a number of building height changes that would require a zoning amendment.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 10:15 am 1,215 0

Bethesda Green named the 2012 Bethesda Magazine Green Award winners on Thursday night at its 3rd Annual Gala, a group that included tech companies, educational initiatives, a local municipality and a local private school.

Solar energy software company Geostellar, the Audobon Naturalist Society’s GreenKids program, the JBS International IT firm, the Calleva outdoor adventure camp, the City of Rockville, the Landon School and building designer John Spears of the Sustainable Design Group all won awards and will be featured as Green Champions in Bethesda Magazine.

Bethesda Green is an environmental nonprofit that promotes sustainability projects and education in Bethesda and includes a green business incubator.

Details on the winners, from the press release, are after the jump:

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by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 9:30 am 945 0

Montgomery County Police 2nd District commander Capt. Dave Falcinelli believes all those responsible for the Capital Crescent Tunnel muggings have been charged, but he’s also set up an “aggressive” night patrol of the area.

Falcinelli made the statements Thursday in a crime update included in a regular Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center news email:

As you have seen in the news and heard on the list serves, there have been a few assaults/robberies in the tunnel of the Capital Crescent Trail in the last several months. My detectives have been working long hours on these cases and have arrested several juvenile male suspects. At this time, I believe that those responsible for all the events in the tunnel have been charged. Despite the arrests, the 2nd District has partnered with the part-time officers working in the Town of Chevy Chase and the Bethesda Urban Partnership to provide an aggressive evening patrol of the tunnel and the trail, and you have probably already seen them if you have been on the trail at night recently.

Falcinelli also explained SWAT activity on Wednesday morning near Sangamore Road as a cautious move to check a residence of a suspect in a Prince George’s County child abduction. The suspect was not at the residence and was arrested later Wednesday in P.G. County, Falcinelli said.

With thefts from cars still prevalent in the 2nd District, Falcinelli praised two residents who on two separate nights reported suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. Both calls led to the arrests of suspects stealing from cars, Falcinelli said.

Falcinelli also reported that residential burglaries are down 40 percent from the same time last year, commercial burglaries are down 32 percent, thefts from cars are down nine percent and stolen cars are down 41 percent. Robberies are up nine percent.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 12, 2012 at 8:30 am 445 0

Bethesda Art Walk, Writers on the Row Tonight Seven Bethesda art galleries will be featured in this month’s edition of Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Art Walk, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free guided walking tours are available. Today’s Writers on the Row includes one event, a book signing from Bravo TV reality star Rosie Pope from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Bethesda Lane. [BUP] [Bethesda Row]

Big High School Gridiron Matchup — Bethesda-Chevy Chase (4-2), holding on to a playoff spot with four games remaining, travels north to Rockville rival Wootton (3-3) for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff between two teams with playoff aspirations. [Washington Post]

Cal Tor Serves 2,000 Burritos, Rock Bottom Undergoing Renovation — Bethesda California Tortilla owner Pam Felix put this week’s free burrito total at almost 2,000 and Rock Bottom Brewery (7900 Norfolk Ave.) is getting a facelift, but will remain open as the work is happening in off-hours. [Bethesda Magazine]

Crashed Car Again Appears At Walter Johnson — The Walter Johnson High School PTSA again provided for a totaled car to appear in front of the Rock Spring Drive school to remind students about the dangers of drinking and driving during Homecoming week. [Bethesda Patch]

Flickr photo by Bozzuto Group

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