The United States Postal Service is actively searching for a location to put a 2,000-square-foot retail post office in Bethesda, although the man in charge of the site selection process isn’t sure where and is asking residents to suggest potential storefronts.
Rick Hancock, a real estate specialist with the financially struggling agency, said at a public meeting on Wednesday that Bethesda has proven to have enough customer volume to merit a second post office. A year ago, the USPS closed down two post offices in downtown Bethesda and moved to a controversial location near Bradley Boulevard.
Hancock said the decision to open a second post office in Bethesda during a time when it’s much more common for the USPS to close down branches is not about the difficulty of finding parking at the 6900 Wisconsin Ave. location.
Residents and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have called on the Postal Service to relocate from that location because of the lack of convenient parking.
Joan Kleinman, Van Hollen’s district director, questioned why Postal Service officials promised many of the same things in a July 2011 meeting but never followed through.
“It is different. That was a very complex situation with a lot of moving parts,” Hancock said. “This one is simple, very focused: 2,000 square feet of retail. My only worry, for a lack of a better term, is where.”
Hancock said the Postal Service has approved a second post office location. If no suitable location is found, he said the USPS and its real estate broker, CBRE, will continue to look for one.
Hancock will post an official collection of possible sites at the 6900 Wisconsin post office and let people know through county government. There will be a commenting period and a site review committee.
Hancock said he was not sure if the second post office would be limited to the 20816 zip code, west of River Road and south of Goldsboro Road, an area removed from downtown with seemingly fewer options. The Postal Service had previously said it was looking for a location in that zip code and that the Retail Post Office would not have P.O. boxes.
Hancock said it would have P.O. boxes and that “it is our goal,” to have parking.
The property must be able to hold a Retail Post Office, have good customer access and space for a mail truck to back up and deliver bulk mail. Hancock said a location with a loading dock, while not necessary, would be preferable.
A Retail Post Office contains over-the-counter services, more limited than the all encompassing mail transfer station that the USPS closed down last year at 7100 Arlington Rd. Hancock said the USPS had to sell that property because of its dire financial situation.
But he attempted to assure a skeptical crowd of residents that a second Bethesda post office was in fact going to happen.
“They say, ‘Go forth Rick,’” Hancock said, “and Rick goes forth.”
The United States Postal Service will present plans for a new Bethesda Retail Post Office next week, a year after closing two downtown Bethesda locations and after many criticized its first new location on Wisconsin Avenue.
The public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane). Officials will discuss plans for a new Bethesda Retail Post Office, which the Postal Service has been pursuing since closing post offices at 7400 Wisconsin Ave. and 7100 Arlington Rd. in May 2012 as part of the agency’s downsizing.
The Postal Service has said it was seeking a 2,000-square-foot location in the 20816 zip code, west of River Road and south of Goldsboro Road, that would not have PO boxes.
Last year, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) called on the USPS to relocate its new location at 6900 Wisconsin Ave. because of a lack of convenient parking.
Since, the old post office at 7100 Arlington Rd. has been demolished to make way for a new apartment project.
The post office building at 7400 Wisconsin Ave. was built as part of the New Deal in 1938 and is included in the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation. The Donohoe Companies, a D.C.-based developer, bought the property for $4 million in March 2011 and then leased the space to USPS until it closed the Post Office last year.
MCDOT’s Community Outreach Meeting Guide lists dates and times for the meetings, which are coordinated with the Transportation Management Districts of Bethesda, North Bethesda, Friendship Heights and Advisory Boards dedicated to bikes, pedestrians and taxis.
The Bethesda Transportation Solutions Advisory Committee usually meets on the third Friday of every other month, from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m., at the Bethesda Urban Partnership headquarters at 7700 Old Georgetown Rd. The next meeting is scheduled for July 19.
Some residents of Friendship Heights are hoping for a more direct bus route to downtown Bethesda, which sparked the discussion of a Friendship Heights-Bethesda shuttle at a recent community meeting.
The planned installation of Bikeshare stations this year around Metro stations in Friendship Heights and Bethesda has already led to much discussion about bike safety and pedestrian safety on sidewalks where bikes might roam.
New financial disclosure rules and a lack of interest could make this year’s Chevy Chase Village Annual Meeting historic.
On April 15 at 7:30 p.m., the Village’s Board of Managers will adopt its fiscal 14 budget, set real estate and property tax rates and receive committee reports on a number of topics in the 0.5-square mile town of nearly 2,000 bordering the D.C. line.
But if the seven-member Board can’t get six residents for its vacant spots (due to two resignations last year and its May election) the Annual Meeting might also see changes in the make-up of the town’s government.
The Village said it could be looking at rewriting its charter to shrink the Board to five people. It’s unknown how many of the remaining Board members whose seats are up for election in May intend to stay on.
The Village twice unsuccessfully attempted for a state exemption from new ethics rules that require elected municipal leaders to file extensive financial disclosure documents. The Village argued it should be exempt because of its small size.
The Annual Meeting is an excellent opportunity to get caught-up on issues affecting the Village. Residents who have moved into the Village during the past year are especially encouraged to attend to see their Village government in action, and to meet Village Committee/Commission members and elected officials.
The Elections Committee will announce candidates for the Board at the Meeting. The Village is hoping enough people are interested and it’s holding a meeting to explain the new financial disclosure rules at 7:30 p.m. on April 3 at the Village Hall (5906 Connecticut Ave.) in an effort to encourage participation.
Montgomery Parks on Thursday will hold an open community meeting to discuss proposed playground renovations and upgrades to the Willard Avenue Neighborhood Park near the intersection of Willard Avenue and River Road in Chevy Chase.
Parks wants to put in a new playground, improve visibility of the park from River Road and add new exercise equipment along the trail. The 5.1-acre park was acquired by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1977.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Village Center (4433 South Park Ave., Chevy Chase) and those interested will soon be able to provide input online at ParkProjects.org. For contact information, see Parks’ public notice for the meeting.
Image via Montgomery Parks
Purple Line planners will demonstrate how they plan to mitigate noise along the planned light rail when they come to the Town of Chevy Chase for a presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
The Town’s Purple Line Mitigation Advisory Group has worked with Maryland Transit Administration officials since late 2009, in an effort to minimize the negative impact the above-ground system would have if built along the existing Capital Crescent Trail.
Noise, visual impacts and safety have been the Group’s main concerns. In 2008, Town leaders pushed for a Bus Rapid Transit system instead of the Purple Line to no avail.
But the future of the 16-mile system from Bethesda to New Carrollton, with planned stops in Chevy Chase, Silver Spring and College Park, is uncertain without state transportation funding this year. If the General Assembly fails to come up with a funding solution in this session, the Maryland Department of Transportation has recommended putting a halt to design work such as the presentation that MTA officials will give on Wednesday.
The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the Chevy Chase Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane.)
Map via Maryland Transit Administration
The project would rehabilitate the existing Riley/Bolten House and log kitchen on the former plantation (11420 Old Georgetown Rd.) into exhibits that would share the life of Rev. Josiah Henson, who lived on the property as a slave before escaping to Canada.
Henson is the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the landmark anti-slavery novel published in 1852.
The county bought the property for $1 million in 2006. The log cabin on the site, once known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin Special Park, was discovered to have been built after Henson left the plantation, causing some controversy.
But Montgomery Parks said they would have bought the property with that knowledge as it still is historic.
The review of design plans for the museum project is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4 in the cafeteria of nearby Tilden Middle School (11211 Old Georgetown Rd., Rockville.) For more information, visit the Parks’ project page.
Flickr photo by lreed76