July/August meeting of the NIH Community Liaison Committee

NIH Office of Community Liaison Committee

Below are notes from the July/August meeting of the NIH Community Liaison Committee (CLC). This meeting includes both NIH staff members and representatives from surrounding neighborhoods.

Meeting:

  • A summary was presented of the finding of and response to smallpox vials on the NIH campus. FDA scientists found the vials in a cold storage room (Building 29) as they were preparing to move out of that leased space to their new White Oak facility. CDC officials took possession and their analyses in Atlanta showed the smallpox was still viable. NIH staff now has until September 30, 2014 to go through all NIH facilities to locate any other agents.
  • This year the NIH Division of Environmental Protection used external auditors to conduct environmental audits of the Bethesda campus. These audits help NIH identify and address issues proactively and reduce negative impacts on the environmental and local community. They are focused on such concerns as air quality, energy, hazardous and medical waste, underground storage tanks, pesticide programs, and stormwater/wastewater programs. Areas needing improvement were identified and progress is being made. A noise pollution study is being conducted by the Division itself. The last one was in 2006.
  • To improve lighting and cut down on energy costs, NIH is working with Washington Gas to replace some fixtures on campus with LED lamps. Light poles will be re-used as much as possible. The CLC was asked to let NIH know if especially the Bethesda trolley path lighting currently appears bright enough.
  • The John Edwards Porter Building (opened March 31, 2014) is now 100 percent occupied. Porter, a senator from Chicago’s north shore, served for ca. 20 years and played a key role in doubling the NIH budget during the 1990s.
  • New and larger gutters were put on the Children’s Inn to more effectively deal with runoff from the now often sudden and severe thunderstorms.
  • The tree of Hippocrates, a gift from the Greek government when the National Library of Medicine (NLM) opened (1961), was cloned before its removal last year. The clone was planted in April in front of NLM during a ceremony that included the unveiling of the first gene sequence of the tree, which can be used for scientific research.
  • Last April NIH had a public hearing about its master plane and environmental impact study. The campus parking ratio (2 employees per parking space) and the proposed West Cedar Lane entrance remain the biggest issues. Currently there is no funding for the master plan so these are long-term goals.
  • BRAC plans:
    • Bike path along Old Georgetown Road will be widened from the southern end of the Bethesda trolley trail to the northern gate, which is Center Drive on Old Georgetown Road.
    • Pedestrian/crosswalk issues at MD355 and Cedar Lane remain substantial and must be addressed. NIH is trying to work with the State Highway Administration (SHA) to improve the MD355 crossing where an NIH employee was hit by a vehicle. NIH believes the crossing time should be extended and instructions as to where the pedestrian assist button to push is for pedestrians crossing the street needs to be clearly posted.

If you have any questions or comments for this group, please let me hear from you.

Maggie Dittemore
Huntington-Arylawn Representative
301-897-5295
dittemorem@si.edu

 

Statement Regarding MC Planning Board Meeting

Statement on behalf of the Huntington Terrace Citizens’ Association, from Allan Gold, association president

 April 18, 2013

“We are gratified that the Montgomery County Planning Board today confirmed important changes in the Suburban Hospital expansion plan that would greatly benefit the Huntington Terrace neighborhood, including saving 13 homes from demolition, limiting the height of a new parking garage on Southwick Street and addressing traffic patterns related to its use, and maintaining strict limits on noise pollution. The changes in the plan approved by the Planning Board, and the Montgomery County Board of Appeals before it, are the fruit of years of hard work of many neighborhood residents and our counsel, Norman Knopf.

“We look forward to the decision of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which is expected to rule this year on whether the Board of Appeals should rehear important elements of the hospital expansion issue.

“We also take this opportunity to remind everyone that the Huntington Terrace neighborhood has never opposed the modernization and expansion of Suburban Hospital. What we have sought are improvements in its plan that balance the needs of the hospital with those of our neighborhood.”

Upcoming MC Planning Board Meeting on Suburban Hospital

MC Planning Board meetingThe Montgomery County Planning Board will hold a hearing next Thursday, April 18, regarding Suburban Hospital’s proposed expansion. The hearing will be held between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. in the first floor auditorium at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, MD.

The hearing is the result of previous legal decisions by the Board of Appeals and their impact on Suburban’s proposed expansion, along with the subsequent re-submittal of Suburban’s drawings and plans to the Planning Board for review.

The hearing will begin with a presentation by planning board staff of their formal report. You can read the report here (it offers a good summation of the state of play):

http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/agenda/2013/documents/SuburbanHospitalstaffreport.pdf

Suburban’s legal counsel and the hospital’s new president will then make a formal presentation to the five commissioners. Individuals may testify in Suburban’s behalf. Norman Knopf, our Huntington Terrace Citizens’ Association (HTCA) lawyer, will then present the neighborhood’s response. There may or may not be a need for individual testimony in behalf of Huntington Terrace.

However, there is an important need for a significant turnout of Huntington Terrace residents. Please make every effort to attend.

This hearing does not pre-empt the pending decision by the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis of HTCA’s appeal of the original 2010 Board of Appeals approval of Suburban Hospital’s proposal.

Fall Community Meeting

Please come to HTCA’s fall community meeting on Tuesday, September 20 at 7pm at Bradley Hills Elementary School. We will discuss the HTCA Board’s recent meeting with Suburban Hospital regarding its expansion and vote upon our next course of action. We will also honor select volunteers and discuss other local concerns.

HTCA Spring Meeting

Please join us at the spring community meeting on Thursday, April 7 at 7pm at Bradley Hills Elementary School. We have invited the Department of Environmental Protection to inform us of county financial incentives and technical assistance to install landscaping at residential properties. (Up to $1,200 per home is available!). We will also discuss issues affecting the neighborhood, such as sidewalks on Greentree Rd., the park renovation at BHES, the hospital’s proposed expansion and other matters.