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Welcome to my blog, which features frequent updates on local Takoma Park issues, including City Council meeting agendas, plus occasional commentary on national news and politics.

Comment on Site of Montgomery College Math-Science Building

Dear Neighbors:

I’m alerting residents to a key survey requesting comments on the future site of Montgomery College’s Math-Science Building in North Takoma. The deadline is July 21, and this may be the last chance to have your say before MC President Pollard chooses a location. Below you’ll find a summary of my thoughts on where we are, and a link to further information, including the survey (which was issued by the College).

There’s been a nearly two-year process during which the Math-Science location has been the subject of meetings, correspondence, testimony, and public discussions. Recently, the City and the College sponsored three Community Conversations, with a focus on the building’s location. The City Council and the community support MC modernizing its facilities – the question is where to put the new building.

After the third Community Conversation in early June, there were two remaining sites for the building, both on Fenton Avenue, one from the current MC Master Plan, the other from the previous Master Plan. The previous plan calls for placing the building where the Science North and Science South Buildings are (close to the Nunley Student Center). The current plan puts the building where Science South and Falcon Hall are (closer to the intersection of Fenton and Takoma Avenues, and to North Takoma’s residences and Belle Ziegler Park). The current plan, by tearing down Falcon Hall, would eliminate the pool and other physical education facilities on campus. In the previous plan, construction would likely take longer.

After the third Community Conversation, two local groups (one composed of residents from North Takoma, the other made up mainly of Silver Spring residents, many of whom are regular pool users) endorsed the previous Master Plan’s building location. Mayor Stewart and I then sent a letter in support of the previous plan’s Math-Science location, as did County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. Four Montgomery County Councilmembers (Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, George Leventhal, and Hans Riemer) also sent letters backing, or emphasizing the value of, the previous plan’s siting for the building.

I support the previous Master Plan’s Math-Science location, despite its likely longer construction timetable, because sticking with that Plan achieves two important goals: it would position what will be a larger building in terms of overall square footage farther from the residential parts of the neighborhood and Belle Ziegler Park, and it would preserve the pool and athletic facilities in Falcon Hall.

There are a few points I would suggest keeping in mind when you comment, as follows. Once the location is decided, there will be significant further opportunities for public input into design, construction and other project elements. These include a community charrette, and the County Planning Office’s “Mandatory Referral” process.

I expect height to be a key topic in that process, and I believe the height for the previous plan listed in the survey at four stories is not locked in, because the previous plan actually calls for the building’s larger part to be three stories. Of course, heights of stories themselves can vary, but it’s my sense in any case that the height (and construction timetable) under the previous plan are far from set at this point.

Finally, whichever location you prefer, I recommend indicating in your comments what your stakeholder status is (e.g. North Takoma resident, user of the athletic facilities, MC student, etc.). Here’s a link to the survey, the letter the Mayor and I sent, and other background information: https://takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/project-directory/montgomery-college-facilities-master-plan/

I’d be glad to answer questions about any of this information.

Peter Kovar

Takoma Park City Councilmember

Ward One




July 19, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda

Agenda for July 12, 2017 City Council Meeting