SILVER SPRING, MD—Yesterday the Montgomery County Planning Board heard community input about Park Legacy Open Space recommendations for a total of 9 properties throughout the county. Department of Parks Legacy Open Space program managers recommended 7 sites for inclusion into the program and recommended rejecting 2 other proposals.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Planning Board directed parks staff to review community feedback and prepare modified recommendations based on this input for another presentation to the Planning Board soon.
“The two sites we have not recommended for inclusion into the Legacy Open Space Program are without question important community resources,” said Montgomery County Department of Parks Legacy Open Space Program Manager Brenda Sandberg. “However, protection of these special places might readily be accomplished through partnerships.”
The county’s Legacy Open Space (LOS) Program is managed by the Montgomery County Department of Parks. The program identifies and protects properties featuring vital natural, historic or strategic open space needs. On a two-year cycle, park LOS program managers present a slate of potential properties that may qualify for LOS status to the Planning Board. The board may then direct staff to try to purchase the sites, negotiate protection agreements with property owners or take no action. LOS is but one of several funding sources for the purchase and protection of Montgomery County parkland.
“These recommendations always generate a great deal of public interest,” added Sandberg.
Yesterday’s hearing was no exception. The hearing was well attended with more than 30 signed-up in advance to provide public testimony, including the National Park Service, Rock Creek Forest Neighbors Coalition, several homeowner associations, community coalitions and advocates.
The recommended properties presented to the Board for review were: Beverly Property, Broad Run Watershed in Poolesville, Wild Acres/Grosvenor Mansion Property in Bethesda, Milton Property, Capital View Park, Hickey and Offut in Bethesda, Ireland Drive/National Park Seminary Carriage Trails in Silver Spring, National 4H Council Headquarters in Chevy Chase and Montgomery College of Art and Design in Wheaton.
The two proposals recommended for rejection for inclusion into the LOS program included Selden Island/Walker Site in Poolesville and Edson Lane Forest in Bethesda. Selden Island was nominated for inclusion into the program by parks department staff and the Edson Lane Forest was nominated by a community advocate.
Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson concluded Thursday’s hearing by saying: “The Planning Board will take the hearing and testimony under advisement. There was an enormous amount of testimony, and we need to read that before we make any recommendations on the properties reviewed by staff.”
The LOS program is vital to the protection of open space in Montgomery County. Bi-annually, the department’s program mangers receive dozens of applications requesting protection of properties under this program. Class II properties would not preclude the owners from submitting development proposals for the property.
“The hearing was simply another opportunity for us to collect more community feedback, which we are happy to get and consider as we adjust our initial recommendations as needed,” said Director of Parks Mary Bradford. “It was good to see so many taking an active role.”
The Planning Board is accepting written testimony on this matter through December 3. Those wishing to submit testimony on any of the parcels can send it to MCP-Chairman@mncppc-mc.org or fax 301-495-1320.
For more on the Montgomery County Department of Parks’ Legacy Open Space Program, please visit www.ParkPlanningandStewardship.org.
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Media Relations Manager
Montgomery County Department of Parks