2015 | 2015

Bethesda Downtown ‘Feedback Loop’ Elicits Array Of Responses

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Planners working on a new downtown Bethesda master plan got more than 600 responses to the concept plans they presented in December.

The results of the “online feedback loop” are embedded after the jump, and include some strong opinions on new development, parks, traffic congestion, affordable housing and pedestrian safety.

Here are some responses that stood out:

On affordable housing: “I don’t think that Bethesda should change its character to mirror that of other communities such as Silver Spring. This area should continue to offer amenities but not necessarily should turn into a community of 1-bedroom condos and apartments. High rents are here for a reason. I’m all for keeping Bethesda a more exclusive community.”

On the plan’s emphasis on adding parks: “Finally something I can agree with! Keep the green space, stop building up, and keep the character! What happened to making this area the children’s area of Bethesda, anchored by Imagination Stage?”

On Bethesda’s transit-oriented location: “Access to transit? Yes, there are Metro stations, but it is overpopulated. Have you tried to get on Wisconsin Ave from any of the side streets that do not have stoplights? Every time, it is literally an accident waiting to happen. There is very poor traffic control in Bethesda, especially along Wisconsin Avenue.”

On a question about which generation each survey-taker belongs to: “Please don’t call me a boomer. Thanks”
“do not put me in any arbitrary category”
“Tax payer”

On community character: “I recall ‘The Hot Club’ in Providence….if any of you have ever been there. An old boiler/furnace building next to a factory made into a bar/restaurant with enormous charm. This could have been done with the old Maloney concrete factory at the corner of Bethesda Row and Arlington. How cool would that have been? Gone. Replaced by a boring Chicken Out, which was replaced in just a couple of years by a boring Mexican chain restaurant.”
On the master plan process: “It’s like motherhood and apple pie, hard to disagree with broadly defined grand concepts. However, the reality is always different and often does not fulfill the imagined.”

Planners expect to present their final recommendations to the Planning Board this spring. The Planning Board and County Council must approve of the plan — which will set zoning and land use guidelines for the next 20-25 years.