We are responding to a Gazette article and photo of Feb. 27 titled, “Residents fear loss of green space if county declares Wheaton rec center historic.” It is interesting to note that most, if not all, of the people holding green flags and lobbying for more green space on the site, live within a few blocks of Wheaton Regional Park, a 536-acre oasis of forests, fields, trails and a dozen public recreational amenities such as Brookside Gardens and Nature Center.
We also desire more green space on site, but every Department of General Services concept plan that shows the youth center obliterated also shows all of the specimen and significant trees, thriving on the interior of the property, removed. The presence of the youth center protects the surrounding trees that were retained when it was built, and those planted in 1963 and grew up with the building.
Field space for the proposed Recreation Department’s new afterschool and summer programs can be maximized by choosing the three-story concept “C” instead of the sprawling “preferred alternative A.” Unfortunately The Gazette completely misunderstood the “Open Space Alternatives” chart from the planning department.
Many speakers failed to grasp they are receiving a new recreation center, and retaining the youth center will not preclude, impede or delay the $58 million library/rec center/Gilchrist complex. The youth center continues to be heavily used and fully functioning today, but those that don’t like this building, for whatever reason, never have to set foot in it again; just enjoy the new facility and allow others to enjoy this unique treasure.
A straw vote on Feb. 27 by the joint council committees against designation thwarted the planning staff’s efforts actively preparing rebuttals to misconceptions in the hearing, and answers to council members’ specific questions. ... This joint meeting was not supposed to be a historic designation worksession.
That the youth center is historic is a slam dunk. The HPC, HPC staff, Planning Board, Maryland Historical Trust, professors, and council members all agree it meets multiple criteria for designation. ...
It is inconceivable that the 11th richest county in the entire country (2012) would demolish one of its pre-eminent award-winning historic buildings, when nothing threatens the structure except lack of will to repair it for adaptive reuse. ...
Wheaton is underserved when it comes to historic properties, having only two. The Wheaton Youth Center would become the third jewel to enhance Wheaton’s heritage and that of our entire county.
George French and Marcie Stickle, Takoma Park and Silver Spring