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.
- 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.