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New Year’s Eve Bethesda Guide

by BethesdaNow.com | December 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm | 1,256 views | No Comments

In case you haven’t made plans for New Year’s Eve, BethesdaNow.com has prepared a guide of some of the area’s top parties and events.

The DoubleTree Bethesda (8120 Wisconsin Ave.) is putting on an American city-themed party with ballrooms based on New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles and more.

Food and drink: Food stations and an open bar are included.

Cost: $99 and up

Website: DoubleTree Bethesda

Union Jack’s (4915 St. Elmo Ave.) will host its annual New Year’s Eve Little Black Dress Ball. The event typically sells out and ticket prices go up as the night approaches.

Food and drink: General admission tickets include three drink tickets and heavy hor d’oeurves from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m, champagne toast at midnight and continental breakfast late night. VIP tickets include that and an open bar from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cost: $35 and up

Website: Union Jack’s

Blackfinn (4901 Fairmount Ave.) is hosting a Vegas-themed “Lucky Number ’13″ party and will be giving away a trip to the Sin City.

Food and drink: The dinner buffet is included form 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.,  along with Vegas-themed drink features, a midnight champagne toast and one raffle ticket to win a $600 airline voucher for a Las Vegas trip. Upgrade to a $35 ticket and receive three drink tickets and three raffle tickets for the voucher.

Cost: $20 and up

Website: Blackfinn

The brand new 4935 Bar & Kitchen (4935 Cordell Ave.) is wasting no time taking over for longtime tenant Tragara’s. The new spot is hosting a James Bond “Skyfall” themed party, complete with 007′s signature martini. 4935 will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Max Love Project for children suffering from cancer. Black tie is recommended and the dress code will be strictly enforced.

Food and drink: Open bar included with all tickets and buffet included with 8 p.m. admission ticket.

Cost: $65 and up

Website: 4935 Bar & Kitchen

On Bethesda Lane, Redwood Restaurant and Bar (7121 Bethesda Lane) is bringing in 2013 with “a night of dinner and dancing in the tropics,” with its “Last Dance in Old Havana” party. The “Havana Party” package includes casino games, access to the heated outdoor bar and a hand rolled cigar.

Food and drink: A three-course price-fixed menu with champagne toast included in the basic package. Add two complimentary cocktails with the Havana Party package.

Cost: $45 and up

Website: Redwood Restaurant and Bar

Not to be outdone are the folks at Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle (4844 Cordell Ave.) who are featuring the Mary Ann Redmond Band in their celebration.

Food and drink: A five-course gourmet dinner with champagne bottle is included.

Cost: $55

Website: Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle

The American Tap Room (7278 Woodmont Ave.) on Bethesda Row has your dinner covered. They are offering a three-course, chef-inspired menu for $50 per person. Reservations are recommended.

Flickr photo by cpdulis

Frosh Leading State Effort To Ban Guns

by BethesdaNow.com | December 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm | 1,230 views | 2 Comments

Citing changed attitudes since the Newtown, Conn., school mass shooting, State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase) and fellow lawmakers are making a new push to enact gun control legislation.

Frosh and State Senators Jamie Raskin (D-Silver Spring-Takoma Park), Lisa Gladden (D-Baltimore City) and Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) announced a package of laws they will introduce in the 2013 General Assembly.

Included is an assault weapons ban that would make illegal 45 guns (including the type of Bushmaster rifle used in the Newtown killings), a handgun ban in public places, bars and places of worship and a reduction of clip sizes.

A number of the bills have been introduced before but failed to pass.

This time, Frosh said the terms of the gun control debate have changed.

“The message from the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut is clear,” Frosh said in a prepared statement. “We must act now to protect our children, our families and our communities.

“These are reasonable and common sense proposals that will help law enforcement officials to crack down on illegal gun sellers, restrict the availability of assault weapons, require new gun safety measures, limit the number of rounds in gun magazines, and outlaw carrying a firearm into certain public spaces.”

Flickr photo by mdfriendofhillary

Expect Company During Holiday Travels

by BethesdaNow.com | December 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm | 354 views | No Comments

AAA Mid-Atlantic is projecting a historic amount of Christmas-time travelers from the Washington area.

As many as four out of 10 Washington area residents will travel in the 10-day holiday period starting this weekend, 90 percent of them using area highways, according to the travel agency.

AAA Mid-Atlantic labeled it “the greatest exodus from the Washington metro area in the 21st Century.”

Much of the projections are based on demographics. The Washington metro area’s population of 5.5 million includes a large number of residents from outside the area, according to a press release. That will contribute to 2.3 million travelers averaging 765 miles round trip, a 2.3 percent increase from last year.

While a minority of those travelers will use the region’s airports (130,400 according to AAA’s projections) that’s still a five percent bump from last year.

Nationwide, AAA says a fourth of all Americans will travel at least 50 miles, a 1.6 percent bump from last year.

Flickr photo by rbcullen

Bethesda Group Hopes to Build MoCo Children’s Museum

by BethesdaNow.com | December 19, 2012 at 11:40 am | 873 views | No Comments

A group of Bethesda residents hopes to build a children’s museum Montgomery County can call its own.

Cara Lesser, founder of the Kids International Discovery KID Museum organization, has been hosting focus groups of county parents and partnering in county-sponsored events to help develop the project.

Lesser, who for 20 years worked in health policy and who has two kids of her own, said she saw a need for educational and volunteer-based programming aimed at kids. She and three others are working to publicize the effort and raise money.

“I’ve seen from my professional life and my personal life that we need to do a lot more to cultivate kids’ curiosity about the world and their compassion,” Lesser said.

The museum would be “a little bit of a hybrid” between a traditional children’s museum and a science center, Lesser said. It would be aimed at kids age 6-12, a little bit older age group than most children’s museums with an emphasis on learning about other cultures and promoting volunteer activities.

A “Global Connections” exhibit would explore the culture of a rotating group of countries through cooking, crafts and storytelling. A hand-on science exhibit and “Kids in Action” space are also planned.

The group is working on an economic feasibility study with a consultant that would help determine a location. Bethesda is a possibility.

In partnering with Montgomery County on its World of Montgomery Festival this fall in Wheaton, the KID Museum was able to work closely with county staff that have expressed great optimism about the project. Lesser said the museum would likely be the result of a private-public partnership and the KID Museum is taking donations through its website.

Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Josh Starr has been a big supporter of the initiative and is on the group’s advisory board.

For more information on the KID Museum, visit its website.

Bethesda Talks Purple Line, But Funding Remains Uncertain

by BethesdaNow.com | December 19, 2012 at 10:15 am | 1,151 views | 2 Comments

Maryland Transit Administration officials presented the latest designs for a Bethesda Purple Line station on Tuesday night, even as funding for the project is largely uncertain.

The 16-mile, east-to-west light rail that would connect Bethesda to Chevy Chase, Silver Spring and College Park has been in the planning stages since 2008.

Last night’s “neighborhood work group” meeting at Bethesda Elementary School was another step of that process. Residents saw MTA’s latest design ideas for the station, which would be at Elm Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and the light rail route that would be built on the Capital Crescent Trail.

Montgomery County would fund a partial rebuild of the Trail along sections of the light rail as well as a South Metro Station entrance that would connect the Purple Line station with the Metro station below via six high speed elevators.

The Purple Line is expected to cost $2.15 billion, which the state would like to split with the federal government. The Federal Transit Administration last year gave the state the go ahead to complete detailed engineering and design work.

County leaders organized a state transportation summit last week to discuss options (including raising the state gas tax and finding a private partner) for increasing transportation funding.

Another challenge to funding the Purple Line could come from other MTA projects. The Red Line, a light rail proposed for Baltimore that would connect the western suburbs to the downtown area and the Inner Harbor, was fast tracked for environmental review by the Federal Department of Transportation.

Last week, the MTA and FTA released the Red Line’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, a key document that, if approved, would allow for the final design process to begin.

Purple Line project manager Mike Madden said the Red Line’s progress on its Environmental Impact Statement does not put it ahead of the Purple Line for funding.

“It did undergo an accelerated schedule for Federal review, the feds in fact did that. They reviewed the Red Line Final Environmental Impact Statement in what seemed like record time. So they’re ahead of our schedule right now by a few months. But they still are working on their preliminary engineering plans. Their plans are at the same level as our plans,” Madden said. “It had nothing to do with funding. Both the Red Line and Purple Line need funding for construction. We’re on level playing fields when it comes to funding.”

According to a schedule outlined last night, the MTA would hold an open house about the Purple Line in spring 2013. Publication and review of its Final Environmental Impact Statement would also come in spring 2013. The FTA’s Record of Decision (ROD) would come in summer 2013 which would allow for the beginning of final design plans and the start of construction in 2015.

The Bethesda station would be one of the busiest, according to MTA projections. There would be 15,000 daily users at Bethesda. Madden and his team also talked about recent accommodations that have been made to the Purple Line’s design in the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel that would allow for some room for pedestrians.

Most of the questions directed at MTA officials dealt with how the Trail would be affected, how homes along the light rail route would be affected, what security would be like on the system and what plans there are for a crossing for Town of Chevy Chase students walking to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

The MTA will answer the questions on its website and provide its latest designs in the next few days.

 

Morning Notes

by BethesdaNow.com | December 19, 2012 at 9:05 am | 475 views | No Comments

Much Anticipated “Range” Opens Tonight — Celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio’s 14,000-square-foot restaurant in the Chevy Chase Pavilion (5335 Wisconsin Ave.) will open tonight. Don’t get too excited, it’s booked through December. [Washington Post]

Lot 31 Blasting To Stop, For Now — Construction blasting at the Lot 31 site caught many off guard a few weeks back. Clark Construction says the blasting will stop until after Jan. 1 as crews clear blasted rock and continue excavating to make room for an underground parking garage.

County Admits It Must Incentivize Companies To Stick Around — Montgomery County Director of Economic Development Steve Silverman says the county will have to continue giving tax breaks, grants and other incentives to big companies lured by the cheaper office space of Fairfax County. [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by Bill in DC

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