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by BethesdaNow.com — February 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm 0

A new group is joining the cause for transportation dollars to build the Purple Line light rail and Bus Rapid Transit system, both of which supporters say would ease congestion in Bethesda.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth, a D.C.-based nonprofit that until now has dealt largely with North Virginia transportation and sprawl issues, has turned its attention to Montgomery County and will host an event focused on the area next week in Silver Spring.

“The Next Generation of Transit: The Key to Montgomery’s Green Future” is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Silver Spring Civic Building and will feature County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac), Smart Growth America CEO Geoff Anderson, Montgomery County Planner Larry Cole and Purple Line project manager Mike Madden.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth helped host a happy hour on White Flint development last week. It will focus its message next week on what the group argues are the environmental benefits of transit projects:

Montgomery County residents care about the environment. The county has been a leader in progressive planning from its award-winning Agricultural Reserve and extensive stream valley parks, to affordable housing and the revitalization of Silver Spring.

Now, Montgomery County is at a crossroads.  The county is expected to add over 200,000 new residents and over 100,000 new jobs in the next 20 years. Traffic and pollution will only grow worse if we don’t give people better options for moving around. Over 34% of greenhouse gas emissions in Montgomery County come from transportation.  Linking transit and transit-oriented communities can make a major contribution to fighting climate change and reducing air pollution.

But among our transit projects, the Purple Line may fail for lack of funding, WMATA needs to continue restoring its aging infrastructure, and the county needs more rapid transit connecting more places. We need to act now as a community and support a three-part transit agenda linking the Purple Line, Metro and the proposed Rapid Transit System. Investing in transit alternatives will be critical for doing our part to solve climate change, improve our air quality, support sustainable development and create good green jobs.

Join us with Geoff Anderson of Smart Growth America and Roger Berliner of the Montgomery County Council to discuss transit and smart growth solutions to climate change. We’ll also get the latest updates on Montgomery transit projects and strategize with us about how we can do our part through investing in transit.

For more information, visit the event website.

Flickr photo by ACTransit.org

by BethesdaNow.com — February 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm 0

Dance Bethesda, the Bethesda Urban Partnership’s ninth annual weekend dance festival, is set for March with a just announced schedule of seven professional performers and choreographers.

BUP said 50 Washington area dance companies submitted audition pieces for the event, which features a performance at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at the Round House Theatre (4545 East-West Highway). That show will include Christopher K. Morgan & Artists, the Furia Flamenca flamenco dancers, Jason Garcia Ignacio, the Karen Reedy Dancy Company, Silk Road Dance Company, Teelin Irish Dance Company and The Washington School of Ballet.

Tickets for the Round House performance are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.

The seven performers in the show were selected by a panel of three local judges.

The event also includes free lessons and open houses at Bethesda dance studios. From 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8, five area studios will offer free lessons in a range of styles including salsa, ballroom, hip-hop and swing.

For more information on participating studios or on the Round House Theatre show, visit the event website.

Flickr photo via joyofmotion

by BethesdaNow.com — February 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm 0

County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) last week told a group of residents against development plans at Chevy Chase Lake he was undecided on the building height and density issues many felt went unheard at the County Planning Board.

Berliner and the rest of the Council must give the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan final approval, a process that includes a public hearing on March 5.

In this video from Berliner’s town hall meeting last week in Bethesda, he urges those against the Planning Board’s recommendations to let other council members know their concerns.

One resident said the Planning Board’s recommendations for taller building heights and faster phasing than what Planning Staff proposed was “suspicious.”

“I get that you were bitterly disappointed with respect to how they did their business,” Berliner said, “and would just say to you, now watch how we do our business.”

Video from MyMCMedia

by BethesdaNow.com — February 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is coming to the Barnes & Noble on Bethesda Row (4801 Bethesda Ave.) in March to promote her book about her early years in Europe during World War II.

Albright, the first woman to hold the country’s top diplomatic position, will appear at 7 p.m. on March 1 to talk about her book “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948.”

Albright was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937 before her family left the country for England during the war. She eventually came to the United States where she climbed the diplomatic ranks. Albright served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997.

In 1997, she was confirmed as the 64th U.S. Secretary of State.

The book, which was published last year, relies on Albright’s childhood memories, interviews, parents’ written reflections and official documents to look back on the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, Battle of Britain, Holocaust and other events that shaped World War II.

For more information, visit the Barnes & Noble website.

Photo via Barnes & Noble

by BethesdaNow.com — February 4, 2013 at 10:50 am 1 Comment

Montgomery County leaders and residents today began a week of living on a $5-a-day food budget to draw attention to the daily struggle of 65,000 county residents who get assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.

Almost 27,000 county households were on SNAP assistance in fiscal year 2012, a 138 percent increase from fiscal year 2007, according to the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. Families that qualify for SNAP get an average daily benefit per person of $4.28, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Program.

So Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) and a number of her colleagues, MCPS officials, nonprofit workers and residents went grocery store shopping this morning for $25 worth of food to last them the whole week.

The SNAP the Silence Challenge is meant to focus efforts on improving options for the county’s neediest who eat on only $5 per day.

“We all know how expensive it is to live in Montgomery County,” Ervin said in a press release. Ervin and others, including Somerset mayor and philanthropist Jeffrey Slavin, shopped at a Rockville grocery store Monday morning before holding a press conference. “What many people may not know is how many working families struggle to put food on the table every day. The current economic crisis has forced more people than ever to ask for public assistance. This experience will give all of us a better understanding of what so many people in our nation — and many in our County — go through on a daily basis.”

The Challenge will conclude with a discussion of the issue on Friday in Silver Spring.

Photos via @ValerieErvin and Joshua Starr (@mcpssuper)

by BethesdaNow.com — February 4, 2013 at 9:30 am 0

Crash Involving School Bus Temporarily Shuts Down East-West Highway — A crash at East-West Highway and Connecticut Avenue temporarily shut down westbound lanes of East-West Highway around 7 a.m. The crash involved a school bus and SUV. The westbound lanes were reopened. [Washington Post]

County Councilman Wants More Done For Homeless During Point-In-Time Counts — County Councilman George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park wants the county to offer more to the homeless when volunteers and nonprofit employees go out for annual surveys. [The Gazette]

Stats Improve, But Advocates Say Pedestrian Problems Persist — Six pedestrians died in Montgomery County in 2012, down from 19 in 2008. Still, advocates say those numbers mask the pedestrian safety issues that remain. [WTOP]

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