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by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm 269 3 Comments

Activity Building at Maplewood-Alta Vista Park in Bethesda, via Google Maps

A local youth dance academy is in line to take over a vacant building in a Bethesda park.

The Rock Creek Dance Academy, which now holds classes in three different Bethesda schools, is seeking to lease the park activity building at Maplewood-Alta Vista Park (5209 Alta Vista Rd.).

Montgomery Parks began a new push to find tenants for the buildings earlier this year.

According to the Parks Department, it evaluated the dance academy’s proposal based on the program’s business plan, ability to pay the rent and “overall approach to the adaptive reuse including compatibility with the community and park and overall benefit to the public.”

Parks will hold a public meeting during which Rock Creek Dance Academy will provide a more detailed presentation. The meeting, set for Dec. 3 at Maplewood-Alta Vista Park, will come before any final decision on the proposal.

Not all tenants for unused Parks buildings are met with approval from neighbors. Last month, a few neighbors near Lynbrook Park opposed a plan by the daycare leasing the building to build a small fence around the building. The daycare has since dropped the fence plans.

Image via Google Maps

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 1:15 pm 470 4 Comments

Closed northbound lane of Hillandale Road in Bethesda

Repairs of the partially collapsed storm drain that led to the closure of a Bethesda road last week will keep one lane of the road closed for several months.

According to the Department’s Division of Highway Services, a storm drain culvert under Hillandale Road roadway was found to be degraded last Thursday. That led to the county closing the northbound lane of Hillandale Road between Little Falls Parkway and Willet Parkway.

Montgomery County Police issued an alert on Wednesday saying the repairs will keep the lane closed for “several months.”

The closure cuts off access to the Bethesda Swimming Pool (6300 Little Falls Parkway) and Willet Parkway from the south. Detour signage has been set up to direct drivers to northbound Arlington Road, eastbound Bradley Boulevard and then southbound Hillandale Road.

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm 0

Sara Sulzbach, right, with family members at last year's Candy Cane City 5K, Photo via Hope Connections For Cancer SupportNine months after her breast cancer was determined to be in remission, Sara Sulzbach will be surrounded by 40 family members and close friends when she races in next month’s Candy Cane City 5K in Chevy Chase.

Sulzbach was diagnosed with an advanced stage of breast cancer in the fall of 2012 — at the age of 43. The Silver Spring resident underwent 130 medical procedures and, perhaps just as important, hooked up with the team at Hope Connections for Cancer Support in Bethesda.

The nonprofit, which moved to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) campus at 9650 Rockville Pike last year, provides weekly and monthly support groups, gentle yoga courses, knitting, stich, chat sessions and other free programming meant to provide emotional help for cancer patients.

Sulzbach took part in the nonprofit’s Pink Ribbon Pilates class and attended group meetings for a year-and-a-half.

Now, she’s training for the 5K, set for Saturday, Nov. 9. She also ran in last year’s event, while still undergoing cancer treatment.

The race will mark her one-year point as a cancer survivor and she’ll have that group of family and friends with her as part of the “Sara’s New & Improved Rack Pack” team.

Hope Connections will also have a team in the 5K. For more information, visit the group’s website.

All donations will help people affected by cancer through the nonprofit, which provides its programming free of charge.

Photo via Hope Connections For Cancer Support

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 10:30 am 0

Filmmakers answer audience questions at the inaugural Bethesda Film Fest in March at Imagination Stage (file photo)The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is looking for short documentaries to feature in its third annual Bethesda Film Fest, set for next March.

The event will again use a two-night format on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at Imagination Stage.

Up to five films will be featured by filmmakers from Maryland, Virginia and D.C. and a documentary by a filmmaker younger than 18 may also be included.

Selected filmmakers will get a $500 honorarium and be invited to speak about their films at the Film Fest.

A panel including Kiley Kraskouskas, president and Executive producer of Thinking Forward Media, Ellen Tripler, associate producer at Journey Films, and members of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District Board of Directors will select the films.

All topics are eligible. The documentary must be between five and 30 minutes long. Those interested in applying can mail a DVD of their documentary and a completed application form to Bethesda Film Fest c/o Bethesda Urban Partnership, 7700 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda,MD 20814.

Entries must be received by Jan. 12, 2015.

by Aaron Kraut — October 22, 2014 at 9:20 am 182 0

Flickr photo by thisisbossi

Kensington Playground Likely Set Ablaze – MCFRS arson investigators are looking for information on a fire that destroyed the St. Paul Park playground in Kensington on Monday night. Investigators believe the fire was intentionally set. Firefighters arrived to the site at about 11 p.m. on Monday and found the playground equipment fully engulfed in flames. [Bethesda Magazine]

Construction Cam Time – The developer of “Element 28,” the 15-story, 120-unit apartment project coming to Old Georgetown Road and Commerce Lane, has installed a camera to keep tabs on construction progress at the site. The camera was placed on top of the county’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center building across the street. [EarthCam]

Gallery B November Exhibit – Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Gallery B (7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E) will host “Metalwork 2014″ for its November show starting on Nov. 1. The gallery will be open from noon-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday with an opening reception from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14. [Bethesda Arts & Entertainment]

Flickr photo by thisisbossi

by BethesdaNow.com — October 22, 2014 at 8:00 am 905 8 Comments

This biweekly column is written by Suzanne Lawter, Director of Community Outreach for Mutts Matter Rescue, a local nonprofit, all-volunteer dog rescue. Mutts Matter is a network of volunteers who love animals and want to make a difference by helping forgotten and discarded dogs find loving families. Since our founding in 2010, we have successfully rescued and placed more than 1,400 dogs in the local Washington Metropolitan area.

Based on the title, you probably thought this article would be about a Labrador or Golden Retriever, but it’s about a group of dogs commonly referred to as “Pit Bulls,” and their fall from grace in our society. In honor of Pit Bull Awareness month, I want to share some information about these misunderstood dogs and their history.

Mutts Matter RescueDuring the first half of the 20th century, Pit Bulls were the closest thing the United States had to a national dog. They were featured prominently by the U.S. in World War I and II recruiting posters, used as corporate mascots, and cast as the ideal family dog in television and movies. Now the breed is demonized, and battles everything from a media-driven reputation as being predators to abuse from their owners, to legislation that seeks to outlaw their very existence. How did this happen to a dog that was once America’s sweetheart?


The term “Pit Bull” doesn’t describe a single breed of dog; it’s a generic term used to define multiple breeds of working dogs that were initially bred by crossing Bulldogs with Terriers. The core breeds include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but the term is now used to encompass a wide array of muscular dogs with blocky heads and short hair, many of which are mixed breeds with a similar look but a different lineage. Dogs commonly mislabeled as Pit Bulls include Mastiffs, American Bulldogs, Boxers, and Plott Hounds, among others.


by BethesdaNow.com Sponsor — October 22, 2014 at 5:00 am 0

Bethesda Row banner

Are you considering buying a home in suburban Maryland in 2015?

If so, attend this home buyer seminar in Bethesda next Tuesday, October 28th.

Three industry experts – Joe Zamoiski of 1st Portfolio Lending, George Papakostas of Long & Foster, and George Glekas of GPN Title – will give an informative talk about the process of buying a home in Maryland. Joe, George, and George have years of experience between them in the close-in Maryland market, not to mention hundreds of successful transactions.

They’ll cover the home-buying process in detail, including:

  • Identifying a home.
  • The offer, negotiation, and closing process.
  • Financing, including loan approval and figuring out what you can afford.
  • State of the suburban Maryland market.

In addition to the above, the purpose of the seminar is to answer your questions. Attendance is kept low to allow ample attention for all attendees. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions during the Q&A or afterwards if you’d prefer to ask a question privately.

Click here to register

The speakers will present for 45 minutes or so, after which there will be Q&A for 30 minutes, when the seminar officially ends. But Joe, George, and George will stick around as long as necessary to answer all questions.

More details:

  • Location: Downtown Bethesda at the American Inn, 8130 Wisconsin Ave. (map).
  • Parking: Limited on site with overflow parking across the street for $1.25/hr.
  • Metro-accessible: Five blocks from the Bethesda station.
  • Cost: $15 per person here, $20 at the door.
  • Food: Snacks and drinks will be provided.
  • Questions: Email seminars2014@urbanturf.com or call 703-842-1391.

Click here to register

by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm 322 12 Comments

Sidewalk on northbound side of Woodmont Avenue at St Elmo Avenue, in February after a snow stormThe County Council on Tuesday passed a bill that will require more attention and planning from the county government when it comes to snowy and ice-packed sidewalks during the winter.

The Sidewalk Snow Removal Plan introduced by Councilmember Hans Riemer with initial backing from Councilmember Nancy Navarro will require County Executive Isiah Leggett’s office to come up with a plan for clearing snow from high-volume pedestrian routes, bus stops, school zones, urban districts and sidewalks along state highways.

It will also require the county to create a digital map that shows who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from each sidewalk in Montgomery County and a public education campaign encouraging property owners to clear their sidewalks within the 24 hours dictated by law.

Ice-packed and snowy sidewalks for days after snowstorms were a common sight last winter, when a more active than average winter hit the area.

County officials admitted to little enforcement of the 24-hour rule, despite multiple complaints to councilmembers about pedestrians forced to walk or wait for buses in roadways because of dangerous and hard to navigate sidewalks.


by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm 0

Photo via Montgomery County Board of Elections

Election day is two weeks away, which means the week-long early voting period in Montgomery County is just two days away.

All registered county voters will be able to fill out their 2014 Gubernatorial General Election ballots in one of nine locations, including in the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase (4301 Willow Lane.)

The early voting period will run from Thursday, Oct. 23 to Thursday, Oct. 30 with all polling places open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

It’s the first election cycle that the Chevy Chase location has been part of Montgomery County’s early voting rotation.

Montgomery County got permission from the State Board of Elections to add a ninth early voting center, which provided room for the Lawton building location. In June, before the Primary Election, that location had 2,187 early voters in eight days.

A little less than 5 percent, or 16,443 of 354,078 registered Montgomery County Democrats, voted early in June while fewer than 2,000 (1.47 percent) of registered Montgomery County Republicans voted early. That was likely due to a number of uncontested Republican races.

Locally, Democrats are expected to cruise to easy victories for County Council, county executive and local state legislative seats. Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan is within single digits of favorite Anthony Brown in some polls, which could provide the only bit of intrigue come Nov. 4.

Photo via Montgomery County Board of Elections

by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm 356 7 Comments

A Bethesda Circulator shuttle in Woodmont Triangle

(Updated at 4 p.m.) The Bethesda Urban Partnership on Tuesday launched a new phone app that will provide the location of all buses in the Bethesda Circulator system.

The app, available for Apple and Android devices and at BUP’s website, will give riders of the free shuttle service a better idea of wait times at each stop.

The 2.1-mile, 20-stop bus loop around downtown Bethesda has become increasingly popular since BUP took over operation of the old Bethesda Trolley in 2006. 

Bethesda Circulator bus live locator app, via BUPMonthly ridership on the Circulator surpassed 30,000 trips for the first time in the history of the service in April and increased again in May. BUP said daily ridership was up an average of 30 percent in September 2014 compared to September 2013. The buses average more than 1,200 riders per day.

Riders will now have the ability to know when within the 10-15 minute timeframe the Circulator will arrive at their stop. To download the free Bethesda Circulator  app, visit your smart phone or tablet’s App store and type “Bethesda Circulator” into the search tool.

Android users should type in “bup” when prompted for an account code while downloading the app.

BUP promotes the service as a way to get to and from Metro but it also hopes people use it as a way to park in less popular parking garages before hitching a ride to activity centers such as Bethesda Row.

BUP officials have received plenty of requests to expand the shuttle route to places such as Battery Lane and Bradley Boulevard. But any expansion relies on increased funding. BUP’s transportation, marketing, beautification and programming activities rely largely on parking fees collected at public garages, lots and curbside meters in the downtown.


by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm 2,229 3 Comments

A Southern California movie theater chain hopes a passionate following in Los Angeles translates to its new, 16-theater setup at Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery mall.

ArcLight will begin opening its Bethesda location this weekend with a handful of screenings before a full-scale opening the week of Nov. 7. That’s when Matthew McConaughey’s new science fiction film “Interstellar” will hit theaters.

On Tuesday, ArcLight officials gave a tour of the facility — the first outside of California for the chain and what will be the third movie theater in Bethesda.

“In L.A., it’s a passion brand,” said Larry Krutchik, ArcLight’s top public relations man. “There are legions of people who won’t see a movie anywhere else.”

Gretchen McCourt, executive vice president of ArcLight, said no advertisements before movies and no lines to buy tickets have a lot to do with that.

There will be a few trailers shown before each film, but no pre-trailer advertisements that have become common in multiplexes around the country. McCourt said a movie at ArcLight typically starts within 6-8 minutes of the advertised starting time.

There also is no box office. McCourt said about 60 percent of the theater’s ticket sales are done online or through a mobile phone app before customers even enter the theater. The seats are numbered and seating is pre-reserved, meaning there are just a few electronic kiosks to purchase or print tickets in the lobby.

The theaters at ArcLight Bethesda range between 85 seats and 295 seats. One of the largest theaters features a 65-foot across and 45-foot tall widescreen. All seats are 25 inches wide with retractable, double-wide armrests. Movie goers are invited to bring their cocktails and drinks from the bar into the theater.

ArcLight will feature a combination of big blockbusters, independent films, documentaries and classic films, plus memberships and special film programming.

Members get $1 off all tickets. General admission for adults ranges from $11.75-$13.75 a ticket depending on what time of the week. There’s a $3.50 3D premium charge. Memberships are $15 a year.

by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 10:45 am 263 4 Comments

(Updated at 2 p.m.) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in Bethesda for the second time in two months to stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan.

Tuesday’s appearance with Hogan came at The Original House of Pancakes, where the two shook hands with volunteers and some diners surprised by the accompanying media swarm.

Last month, Christie helped Hogan’s campaign raise more than $400,000 in a luncheon fundraiser at Redwood on Bethesda Lane.

At that event, Christie told an audience of Hogan supporters that Hogan has a legitimate chance to beat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown on Nov. 4.

The latest Baltimore Sun and Washington Post polls have Brown ahead of Hogan by seven points and nine points, respectively.

On Tuesday, Hogan fended off questions about his recent endorsement by the National Rifle Association before Christie spoke about his confidence in Hogan’s chances.

The video below is via Montgomery Community Media. See their report and more photos here.

Video via Montgomery Community Media

by BethesdaNow.com Sponsor — October 21, 2014 at 9:30 am 0

Rental Report

Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

At some point during your rental search, you’ll likely hear a reference to Fair Housing. But what do Fair Housing regulations really mean?

The Rule – The federal Fair Housing Law prohibits “housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status (families with children under age 18).” In addition to the federal law, the state of Maryland includes marital status as a protected class. Montgomery County goes even further to include sexual orientation, age and source of income as protected.

The Meaning - As long as you meet the income, credit, employment and background requirements for a particular property, the landlord cannot turn you down for an apartment rental. In addition to renting a property, a property manager, landlord or real estate agent cannot refuse to show you a property you qualify for or are interested in based on any assumptions they have regarding a protected class.

For Renters – As a renter, especially when you are new to the area, you likely have a lot of questions about neighborhoods and building demographics. Understand that the real estate or leasing agent, by law, cannot answer specific questions regarding area demographics or safety.


by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 8:25 am 720 0

Flickr photo by BeyondDC

French International School Could Be On The Move – The Lycee Rochambeau (or French International School) will likely move from its main campus at 9600 Forest Road, near Old Georgetown Road and the Beltway. The school has hired a commercial real estate company to help it look for space to consolidate its three sites. The two others are on Bradley Boulevard and Woodbine Street in Chevy Chase. [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Wants Maryland’s Help For More 8-Car Trains – Metro hopes to have agreement from D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials on a $1.4 billion funding plan to purchase new eight-car trains it says are necessary for easing rush hour subway congestion. With a gubernatorial election ongoing, it’s unclear whether Maryland will support the plan. [Washington Post]

BOE Slammed For Spending $140,000 On Legal Review Of Credit Cards – Some councilmembers are letting the county’s Board of Education have it over $140,000 the body spent on a legal review of its own credit card and expense procedures. The Board paid a law firm the money to do an independent review of controversial credit card use by Board members. Councilmember George Leventhal said “I just don’t think there is any way you can tie a ribbon on the fact that our school board spent $140,000 getting advice on how to stop wasting money and make it look good.” [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by BeyondDC

by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm 498 2 Comments

Pedestrian plaza at Gallery Bethesda, via Gallery Bethesda

One of Woodmont Triangle’s new apartment buildings will turn its pedestrian plaza into an outdoor beer garden on Saturday.

The Gallery Bethesda, which opened earlier this year at 4800 Auburn Ave., is hosting an Oktoberfest Biergarten celebration from 2 p.m.-5 p.m., with music, food, prizes, cornhole and, of course, beer. Attendees must be 21 or older.

The 17-story, 234-unit apartment building from developer Donohoe hopes to show off its plaza, which features permanent outdoor sculptures and an expansive wall mural by a local artist. The apartment is also hoping to sell some units. The free event will include building tours and waived application fees.

Bratwursts, potato latkes and pretzels will be provided by nearby restaurant 4935 Bar & Kitchen. The Aria, the combination deli, convenience store and dry cleaner that opened on the ground floor of The Gallery, will provide beers and ciders.

For more information, visit the building’s Facebook page.

Photo via Gallery Bethesda


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