Civic green builds relationships
White Flint stakeholders want design in sector plan
With a goal of fostering trust and building a cohesive vision, a group of residents and developers have teamed up to design the civic green they believe should be the centerpiece of the White Flint Sector Plan.
Representatives from the White Flint Community Coalition, a group of eight community associations, and the White Flint Partnership, a group of seven of the largest property holders within the area, began meeting about four months ago to collaborate on elements of the White Flint Sector Plan, which will guide development surrounding the White Flint Metro Station in North Bethesda.
"These are steps to try to build trust between the community and the developers," said Arnold Kohn of the Tower Companies, a member of the White Flint Partnership. "The civic green we all kind of agree upon, maybe the next thing will be harder, but the purpose is to come together and build trust."
The White Flint Sector Plan is a document that outlines how development should occur in the area surrounding the White Flint Metro Station over the next 30 years. It is before the County Council for approval.
The coalition and partnership want the civic green to be larger than suggested in the draft plan approved by the Planning Board. The draft puts the maximum 2-acre civic green near the North Bethesda Conference Center, south of Old Georgetown Road and west of Rockville Pike.
The coalition and partnership say the green should be a full 2-acres if the county uses all the land it must purchase for right of way acquisitions for roads.
Coalition member Suzanne Hudson, a resident of Garrett Park Estates-White Flint Park neighborhood, said the goal of the developers and citizens is to make sure the civic green becomes a reality. John King of Garrett Park said they are trying to get the design into the White Flint Sector Plan and are scheduling meetings with the County Council.
County Councilman Roger Berliner, (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac, met with the groups Thursday and said he was "gratified that this was a consensus design." Berliner said he did not know whether a specific green design could be incorporated into the sector plan.
Hudson said she thinks the green should be one of the first things implemented in the sector plan so White Flint is set apart from other mixed-use developments.
"Let the residents that already live around there enjoy it until the others come over the next 20 years," Hudson said. "It's programmable space. I used to sit in the planning meetings and doodle and I can think of a little gazebo or maybe a fountain."
The groups' rendering features a community center that blends into the slope of the hill with a roof that has plants and other landscaping. Visitors would be able to walk onto the roof from the civic green.
Evan Goldman of White Flint Partnership member Federal Realty said the plan makes sense because the county already has to buy road right-of-ways to disentangle the thoroughfares around the conference center. The "strategic" rendering would use land remaining from those purchases and would also give the county land it could use for parking lots or sell to builders.