by Aaron Kraut — January 29, 2015 at 10:15 am 494 0

Police say two armed robbers threatened a victim earlier this month near Arlington Road and the Bethesda Library. That and the rest of the most recent 2nd District crime summary follows:

An armed robbery occurred near the intersection of Edgemoor Lane & Beverly Road in Bethesda on Wednesday, 1/14 at approximately 11:35 p.m. The suspects threatened the victim with a weapon and unsuccessfully attempted to obtain property.

Suspects: Two black males, age 16-20, 6 feet, 150 lbs., one wearing a ski mask

Two thefts from vehicles occurred overnight between Tuesday, 1/13 and Wednesday, 1/14 in the 3500 block of Woodbine Street in Chevy Chase. Vehicles were left unlocked; keys and cash were taken. Two other unrelated incidents also were reported during the morning hours on different days. On Monday, 1/12 an unlocked car on Derby Ridge Lane was entered; nothing was taken. On Sunday, 1/18 an attempt was made to pry open a car parked on Pennsylvania Avenue.

A theft occurred at the First Church of Christ Scientist, 7901 Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase sometime between Friday, 1/16 and Sunday, 1/18. Property was taken from the outside of the building.

A residential burglary occurred in the 10000 block of Weymouth Street in Bethesda on Thursday, 1/15 at 2:30 p.m. No forced entry; nothing taken.

Arrested: Male, age 18, from Bethesda

A residential burglary occurred in the 5700 block of Bent Branch Road in Bethesda on Friday, 1/16 at 7:20 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 6200 block of Dahlonega Road in Bethesda on Friday, 1/16 between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 6800 block of Wilson Lane in Bethesda on Tuesday, 1/20 around 4:45 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 6100 block of Poindexter Lane in Rockville sometime between the morning of Wednesday, 1/14 and the afternoon of Thursday, 1/15. Unknown entry; property taken.

Seven thefts from vehicles occurred in the police beat near Democracy Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road during this reporting period. Only two involved forced entry. Incidents occurred on Clue Court and Belhaven Road. Cash was taken.

by Aaron Kraut — January 29, 2015 at 8:15 am 277 1 Comment

Flickr photo by ehpien

Joshua Starr Drama Continues – County Councilmembers Craig Rice and Marc Elrich made public their reservations about cutting loose MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr. Councilmember Roger Berliner said the Board of Education — which reportedly will not renew Starr’s contract when it runs out in June — needs to make clear its reasons. Meanwhile, Starr has not yet notified the Board about whether he wants to continue. He has until Sunday to do so. [Bethesda Magazine] [Washington Post]

Charges Dropped Against Alleged House Squatter – Investigators dropped all charges against James Crombie, the Kensington man who accused of moving his family into a Bethesda home he didn’t own. [WUSA9]

Purple Line Environmental Lawsuit Will Go On – One of the Chevy Chase residents who sued the federal government last year over concerns about the environmental impact of the Purple Line says the suit will go on, despite a team of researchers coming up empty in its search for endangered amphipods in the project’s proposed path. [The Gazette]

Capitol Steps Coming To Whitman The Capitol Steps are coming to Walt Whitman High School in a fundraiser for the school’s post-prom event. The group of former Hill staffers turn political foibles and scandals into song parodies and skits. The show will be on Sunday, March 8. Tickets run from $25-$40. [Capitol Steps at Whitman HS]

Flickr photo by ehpien

by Aaron Kraut — January 28, 2015 at 1:05 pm 0

A homeless man sleeps near the Bethesda Metro station escalators. (file photo)Montgomery County will do an annual point-in-time count of its homeless population early Thursday morning.

The federally-mandated survey comes as the county and various community organizations get set to start a new initiative for identifying the most vulnerable homeless and placing those individuals in permanent supportive housing programs.

Volunteers and staff from street outreach organizations, including Bethesda Cares, will hit the streets and wooded areas around the county where homeless people are known to stay overnight.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless will head up the county’s Zero: 2016 Campaign. It’s a continuation of the 100,000 Homes Campaign that last year, surpassed the goal of placing 100,000 chronically homeless individuals in permanent housing across the country.

The campaign gets local governments and outreach organizations to go beyond the simple counting of homeless individuals. The surveys include a medical survey so outreach providers can know more about a homeless individual’s medical problems and history.

“It is no longer enough to count your homeless neighbors anonymously every two years,” said Zero: 2016 Director Beth Sandor in a press release. “To be sure you are housing the most vulnerable residents within your community, you need to know exactly who they are in real time and begin rapidly and methodically housing them one by one.”


by Aaron Kraut — January 28, 2015 at 10:55 am 231 0

MCFRS (file photo)Updated at 11:05 a.m. – Montgomery County firefighters on Wednesday responded to a reported fire at the Pitzze Table restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue.

An initial investigation pointed to a malfunctioning heater on the roof of the building, according to emergency scanner traffic and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad.

Firefighters were called to the scene after someone saw smoke coming through vents at the one-story commercial building (7137 Wisconsin Avenue).

MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer said there was no fire, were no injuries and that all utilities in the building are under control.

Expect traffic delays on northbound Wisconsin Avenue near Bethesda Avenue because of the MCFRS response.

by Aaron Kraut — January 28, 2015 at 8:15 am 233 0

Flickr photo by Adam Fagen

Post Editorial Board: Starr Likely Out – The Washington Post’s editorial board cites sources saying the Board of Education will likely not renew MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr’s contract when it runs out June 30. According to the sources, a majority of the eight-member Board of Education is opposed to Starr continuing as the school system’s leader. [Washington Post]

Land Company Starts ‘Smart Growth’ Scholarship – The Chevy Chase Land Company announced an annual $5,000 scholarship it will award to a graduating Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student interested in architecture, engineering or land use/transportation planning. The CCLC Smart Growth Scholarship “is to support and prepare young professionals who will be planning and building healthy, environmentally sustainable and connected communities.” [Chevy Chase Land Company] [Smart Growth Scholarship]

Local Theater Company Honored – The Flying V theater company, which does shows out of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, will be given the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company at the annual Helen Hayes Awards in April. [Flying V]

Hogan’s Budget Would Mean $25 Million Less For MCPS – Gov. Larry Hogan’s recommended state budget would mean $25 million less in state aid than the county’s school system thought it would get this year. Most of that comes from a 50 percent cut in the statewide Geographic Cost of Education Index, which affects the more populous jurisdictions. Still, Hogan’s budget would provide a $4 million-$5 million overall increase in state education funding for Montgomery compared to last year. [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by Adam Fagen

by Aaron Kraut — January 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm 2,294 25 Comments

Parking meters in a county garage in downtown Bethesda

The fund Montgomery County uses to pay for upkeep and operation of Bethesda’s public parking lots and garages is dangerously close to being out of money.

A report released Tuesday by the County Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight details how bond payments on the recently completed Capital Crescent Garage, funding help for groups such as the Bethesda Urban Partnership and an increasing amount of parking tax exemptions offered to property owners could mean the Bethesda Parking Lot District goes broke by FY 2020.

This fiscal year, the Bethesda PLD was budgeted to make $21.7 million in revenues, mostly from parking meter fees ($13.9 million) and parking fines ($4.8 million.)

The Bethesda PLD was budgeted to spend $24.8 million, $4.9 million of which went to retiring debt service payments on the Capital Crescent Garage/Lot 31 project. None of the county’s other Parking Lot Districts — in Silver Spring, Montgomery Hills and Wheaton — had any debt service payments.

“The Bethesda PLD fund faces serious structural challenges that will cause the fund to fall into deficit unless corrective actions are taken,” read the Legislative Oversight report. “Under current policies and practices, the fund will annually spend more than it receives in revenues driving its already precariously low fund balance toward zero. The insufficient fund reserve leaves the PLD incapable of absorbing an unanticipated spike in expenses or a downturn in revenue generation.”


by Aaron Kraut — January 27, 2015 at 10:00 am 409 8 Comments

Montgomery Parks is proposing a new open lawn space, updated playground, interactive art set-up and plenty of other new features for a popular park on the edge of downtown Bethesda.

Parks staff working on the renovation of Caroline Freeland Urban Park (7200 Arlington Road) presented their preferred design option last week to the Edgemoor Citizens Association.

The Edgemoor neighborhood lies just to the west of downtown Bethesda, with some homes in the neighborhood sharing a fence with the park.

The 15 percent-complete design Parks presented last week would add vegetation to that fence in an effort to maintain the park’s buffer effect between the neighborhood and Arlington Road.

The most pronounced change would be the new open lawn in the center of the park, where today trees and multiple paved walkways mean little open space.

The park is most popular for its playground. That playground space would be increased and updated with new equipment and a new fence.

Parks staff said they hoped to improve visibility into the park from Arlington Road. A new main entrance at the Arlington Road and Elm Street corner would include a Caroline Freeland Park sign engraved into a wall and a “park gateway” with a short boulder wall along a walkway.

There would be an interactive art area, stepping stones, and improved stormwater management areas throughout.


by Aaron Kraut — January 27, 2015 at 8:45 am 730 4 Comments

Maplewood-Alta Vista Park, photo via Ilona Szczot

BGR Founder To Open All-Day Breakfast Diner – BGR The Burger Joint founder Mark Bucher is planning an all-day breakfast diner called Community for the ground floor of the 7770 Norfolk apartment project in Woodmont Triangle. Bucher said the full-service restaurant will also include a walk-up window offering coffee and donuts. The 17-floor, 244-unit apartment building is set to be completed later this year. [Bethesda Magazine]

Leggett Proposes Adding School Construction To Budget – County Executive Isiah Leggett is proposing amending the county’s six-year capital budget to add $191.2 million more for school construction projects. Some of the money added to the school construction program would be taken from Purple Line-related projects the county says are moving along more slowly than anticipated, including the Bethesda Metro South Entrance and Capital Crescent Trail. Leggett’s recommended changes also include accelerating funding for part of a new road grid in White Flint/Pike District. The changes must be approved by the County Council. [The Gazette]

Pepco-Exelon Merger Hearings Begin – Evidentiary hearings before the Maryland Public Service Commission on the proposed Pepco-Exelon merger began yesterday. The hearings are set to run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day except for tomorrow through Friday, Feb. 6. The PSC must make a decision on whether to allow the merger by April 1. The hearings will be streamed live on the PSC’s website. [Maryland Public Service Commission]

Photo via Ilona Szczot

by Aaron Kraut — January 27, 2015 at 4:55 am 516 0

Updated at 8:40 a.m. – Montgomery County Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday due to the snow and freezing temperatures around the county.

In Bethesda, major roads such as Rockville Pike and River Road appeared to be clear around 5 a.m., while some secondary roads still were covered in a light but slippery layer of snow. Many sidewalks around town were also covered in snow.

A Winter Weather Advisory for downcounty Montgomery was lifted on Tuesday morning. The Bethesda-Chevy Chase area saw about two inches of snow overnight.

MCPS administrative offices will open two hours late and day care in schools may open at 10:30 a.m. Montgomery County government and Montgomery County facilities will open at 10 a.m. Essential employees are expected to report to work at their regular time.

Trash and recycling pick-ups scheduled for Tuesday will happen, but the county says expect crews to be delayed. Montgomery County Recreation Senior Centers will be closed with all programs canceled.

The federal government will open under a two-hour delay schedule, according to OPM.gov. Employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.

Photos via TrafficLand.com

by Aaron Kraut — January 26, 2015 at 3:25 pm 0

County Executive Isiah Leggett (file photo)The budget forum with County Executive Isiah Leggett set for tonight in Bethesda has been rescheduled to Feb. 2 because of inclement weather.

Leggett will now host the forum starting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2. It will remain at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane).

The budget forum is an annual opportunity for residents to let their priorities for the upcoming budget be known, either by asking Leggett directly or giving their input to the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board — which submits its own recommendations.

Leggett will announce is recommended Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget in March.

The presentation part of the budget forum is here. The county’s projected $238 million budget shortfall will likely play prominently into the discussion.

by Aaron Kraut — January 26, 2015 at 2:40 pm 1,297 28 Comments

Montgomery County's Independent Transit Authority website

The Friday introduction of a state bill that would let Montgomery County create its own “Independent Transit Authority” caused quite a stir over the weekend and has some members of County Council concerned.

County Executive Isiah Leggett first alluded to the idea of an Independent Transit Authority (ITA) in December as he kicked off his third term. On Friday, the county put out word of a fact sheet and website detailing the proposal. Also on Friday, the county’s state legislative delegation introduced the bill that would enable the county (with County Council approval) to set up the ITA.

By Sunday, someone had already started a blog railing against the proposal called: “Stop the Backroom Montco Transit Authority Deal.”

Today, in a regular meeting on the county delegation’s agenda in Annapolis, a few members of Council said Leggett’s proposal needed more vetting before it gets their support.

“Everybody got hit with this over the weekend,” Councilmember Roger Berliner said. “You’re asking for a yes vote on a Monday afternoon meeting? The rest of the world was really in the dark with respect to this and we may need a little bit of time to catch up.”

Tom Street, an assistant chief administrative officer in Leggett’s office, said the ITA would give the county its best chance of actually financing and building the proposed Rapid Transit System, also known as bus rapid transit.

“This is the only way that the county can move its transit agenda forward,” Street told the Council. “[Leggett] recognized, as I’m sure many of you, the federal funding of transit programs is — the chance of getting significant funding is slim to none. He also wanted a new partnership with the state and believed that this was the best way to do it.”


by Aaron Kraut — January 26, 2015 at 8:05 am 255 2 Comments

Flickr photo by Adam Fagen

Updated 2:05 p.m.

Leggett’s Budget Forum Canceled For Monday – County Executive Isiah Leggett was scheduled to be in Bethesda Monday for his final FY16 operating budget forum. The event has been canceled, according to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, and will be rescheduled to a yet-to-be-determined new date. [@kenatwork]

Condo Developer Buys Project, Changes Name Of Another – Reston-based developer Duball LLC is taking over the 17-story, 72-unit 4990 Fairmont project from Starr Capital. That project, at the corner of Old Georgetown Road and Fairmont Avenue will break ground next year and is set to be complete in 2017. It will be Duball’s third luxury condo in downtown Bethesda, after Lionsgate and Stonehall, a nine-story, 46-unit condo on the corner of Battery Lane and Woodmont Avenue that was formerly known as Woodmont View. [Bethesda Magazine]

Group Can’t Find Amphipod It Was Looking For In Purple Line’s Path – The American University biologist charged with searching an area of Rock Creek for an endangered amphipod species found an amphipod, just not the endangered variety. Dr. David Culver says after 10-15 searches last year, he’s done looking. The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail group that funded the effort says it will proceed with a $20,000 search for DNA of the endangered critters. Both studies were funded with money from the Town of Chevy Chase. [Washington Post]

Hogan’s Budget Includes $312 Million For Purple Line – Gov. Larry Hogan’s first proposed state budget includes $312.8 million for the Purple Line, “pending review and reevaluation.” It appears Hogan, who has criticized the cost of the 16-mile light rail project, will await the results of bids from private concessionaires that are due March 12. [Greater Greater Washington]

Grapeseed Extends Restaurant Week – Grapeseed (4865 Cordell Avenue) has extended its Winter Restaurant Week specials through Saturday, Jan 31 and is offering the entire menu. [Grapeseed via Twitter]

Flickr photo by Adam Fagen

by Aaron Kraut — January 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm 2,837 13 Comments

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High SchoolUpdated at 1:55 p.m. – A federal grand jury this week indicted a B-CC High School special education teacher on two child pornography charges.

According to the indictment, filed Wednesday at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Peter Flynn was charged with distributing child pornography in April 2014 and with possessing child pornography in September 2014.

Flynn, 61, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

MCPS spokesperson Dana Tofig said the school system placed Flynn on administrative leave in September when it was informed about the federal investigation:

“The allegations against him in this case are not related to his job,” read a statement provided by Tofig. “He is currently on administrative leave. As soon as we were notified that an indictment had been handed down, the principal notified the community as quickly as possible.”

Tofig provided the note B-CC Principal Karen Lockard sent to members of the school community today after Flynn’s arrest:

Dear Bethesda-Chevy Chase Community,

I regret to inform you that one of our former teachers was arrested today. Mr. Peter Flynn, who was a Special Education teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School until September, was indicted today on federal charges related to the possession and distribution of child pornography. None of the alleged illegal activity occurred on school property, involved any students, or was related to his job in any way. Mr. Flynn was placed on administrative leave when the investigation began in September and has not been in the school or with students since.

I know this news is disturbing, but I want to emphasize that we took immediate action as soon as we learned of the investigation. We could not share information with you due to the ongoing federal investigation. Now that the indictment has been handed down, I wanted to be sure to share the information that I have with you as quickly as possible.

Counseling will be available for students at school on Monday. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,

Karen Lockard


Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

The indictment was first reported by WUSA9. Flynn was expected to appear in court today.

Flynn began working for MCPS in May 1978 as a substitute teacher’s assistant and was hired as a special education paraeducator at B-CC in 1979. In 1980, he became a special education teacher at B-CC and worked there until September.

Tofig said the school system would not be making any more statements about the case “since the investigation is ongoing.”

by Aaron Kraut — January 23, 2015 at 11:45 am 766 4 Comments

Town of Chevy ChaseThe Town of Chevy Chase is worried Gov. Larry Hogan might be moved by the state congressional delegation’s recent push for the Purple Line.

In a letter to Hogan on Thursday, Town Mayor Kathy Strom wrote that “some elected officials even wrote to you recently asking that you spend money on the project without any further examination by you or your Administration.”

“We respectfully disagree and encourage you to closely examine this project and its many flaws,” Strom wrote.

Strom was referring to a letter from the state’s Democratic members of Congress urging the new governor not to cut state funding for the light rail project because federal funding had already been approved.

The Town of Chevy Chase is officially opposed to the Purple Line for quality of life and environmental reasons. Single family homes in the Town back up to the Georgetown Branch section of the Capital Crescent Trail, where part of the estimated $2.45 billion project would be built.

“From the true cost of building and maintaining the line, to the number of projected riders and the real economic impacts on communities served by the line, concrete, fact-based numbers are difficult to find,” Strom said.

The letter to Hogan includes the encrypted data used by the Maryland Transit Administration to come up with ridership estimates of 69,000 daily riders by 2030 and 74,000 daily riders by 2040.

The Town has said it doesn’t believe those numbers and last year submitted a Maryland Public Information Act request to get the data used by the MTA to come up with the projections.


by Aaron Kraut — January 23, 2015 at 9:25 am 276 0

Washington Sports Clubs sticky note ads posted on a Bethesda condo building, via Ken Hartman

Parents, Students Ask For Later School Start Times – The vast majority of speakers at two Board of Education public hearings on Thursday wanted MCPS to move start times back, especially for high schools. A Whitman High School freshman testified that she has to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to make it to school on time, which starts at 7:25 a.m. The Board is considering a variety of options, including making no changes to the existing schedule and shifting all school start times back by 20 or 35 minutes. [WTOP]

Do Gym’s Sticky Note Ads Go Too Far? – Washington Sports Clubs (6828 Wisconsin Avenue) has a $19.95 membership deal going on. If you live near the gym, you likely already knew that. Sticky note ads promoting the offer have popped up in large numbers on nearby condo buildings, street signs and a Capital Bikeshare station. A county official said it was littering and Capital Bikeshare said it will contact the gym’s management. [@kenatwork] [@bikeshare]

New Restaurant Offers $250 Gift Card – Summer House Santa Monica (11825 Grand Park Avenue) opened Thursday at Pike & Rose and is offering a $250 gift card to a random person who joins its mailing list. [Summer House via Facebook]

Decorate A Storm Drain – The county’s Department of Environmental Protection is putting on a Storm Drain Art Contest to educate people about the connection between storm drains, streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Three winners will see their ideas displayed on storm drains around the county. [My Green Montgomery]

MoCo Seeks Local Attorneys To Help Unaccompanied Minors – Montgomery County officials on Monday will hold a press conference to ask local attorneys for their help. The county needs lawyers to take part in a pro bono program providing legal representation to some of the approximately 1,200 unaccompanied minors living in Montgomery. [Montgomery County]

Photo via Ken Hartman


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