Purple Line Boosters Protest In Front Of Chevy Chase Golf Course
A group of staunch Purple Line advocates feels members of a Chevy Chase country club long opposed to the light rail are getting an unfair amount of access to Gov. Larry Hogan and his advisors. About 10 members of the Action Committee for Transit (ACT) on Monday stood on the sidewalk in front of the Columbia Country Club on Connecticut Avenue waving signs reading "Jobs Not Golf." Two weeks ago, ACT claimed members of the Columbia Country Club have met with state Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and other Hogan advisors in two separate meetings to make their case against the Purple Line. Hogan is expected to announce a decision this month on whether he'll move forward with the estimated $2.45 billion project. ACT would like Montgomery County to look into whether actions of those club members violate a 2013 legal settlement between the state, the county and the club in which the club agreed to drop all opposition to the Purple Line if the light rail line was moved 12 feet north to save four golf course holes. A Bethesda Magazine report cited sources who said at least four members of the club met with Rahn on March 9. Members of the club were also involved in a January fundraiser for Hogan held in Chevy Chase. "We know and we have heard that they've been able to meet with the governor's advisors and make their case against the line, whereas we have not and people in the business community have not been able to make their case," ACT President Nick Brand said Monday. Two weeks ago, Montgomery County and local business leaders released a report that claimed the Purple Line would bring major economic benefits to the region. The light rail would run from Bethesda to New Carrollton, with stops in Chevy Chase Lake, Silver Spring, College Park and other locations. The report said the project could create as many as 27,000 jobs per year, the source of ACT's "Jobs Not Golf" moniker on Monday. "We are hoping that the governor will take the time to learn about the issue entirely and be briefed about it by people who are not biased," said ACT member Ronit Dancis. ACT and the country club have long been on the opposite end of the Purple Line debate. "It goes back to the 90s," Brand said, "and we were very happy when the county settled with the country club a few years ago and the club agreed to design changes. "But when members of their board and paid lobbyists are getting to make their case, it's I think a potential violation," Brand said. As for Hogan's decision, Brand and other ACT members said they have little idea of which way the governor will go. "It's very difficult to tell," Brand said. "I think the only thing we can hope is that he makes a decision in the broader public interest and not give in to the arguments of those who are more narrowly focused."