Block Party Update
Not to worry – the 3rd annual South Silver Spring block party will be held this year, just not in the Spring. The SSSNA board has decided to hold the event in the Autumn, when the weather might be cooler. Stay tuned for updates and calls for volunteers once we select a date!
Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin attended the most recent South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association meeting on March 26 and announced the details of her new urban gardening program. Ervin said she wanted to “circle back” to the neighborhood that first planted the idea in her mind for County run community gardens.
“These are supposed to be pilots to see if it is something the community would want,” Ervin told the two dozen people in attendance.
Telling the group that the “difficult” search for sites took months, David Vismara, Montgomery County’s chief horticulturist, laid out a the criteria which needs to be met for site approval: open space, not too close to a stream, access to direct sunlight and available running water.
“We’re going to have to bring water in some how, some way,” said Vismara. “Most community gardens fail in one or two years because of lack of water.”
Based on those requirements, Ervin and the parks department chose the Silver Spring Intermediate Park and the Sligo Overlook Park as the sites for the first two gardens.
Residents would be able to enter a lottery system for a plot by sending an email to: MCP-CommunityGardens@MontgomeryParks.org. The plots would be roughly 20ft by 20ft and cost $45 a year. Gardeners will have to adhere to a few rules to keep their space: everything would be organic (no pesticides), no smoking, no garbage bins. Park staff would monitor the space on a regular basis and if unkempt, individual plots can be revoked.
The only self-identified drawback would be the lack of fencing around the plots, due to budgetary restrictions.
“We do not have the funding for fences,” said Vismara, who acknowledged that fences would keep the gardens save from deer and reckless individuals.
But after the entire proposal was made, all South Silver Springers in attendance expressed support for the community gardens. Citing the therapeutic rewards of gardening, the neighborly camaraderie that takes place in the gardens and the healthy harvest which follows, residents thanked Ervin for pushing forward her initiative.
A few people from East Silver Spring also attended the meeting to learn about how the Silver Spring Intermediate Park would be parceled off for the gardens and expressing concern that too much of the park’s open space would be converted into “private” garden plots.
“We’re not here imposing anything on anyone,” said Ervin. “I don’t want anyone to think anything is being imposed on them.”
Ervin was asked why developers in Silver Spring and Montgomery County don’t create garden plots as part of their public amenity requirement, satisfying the growing desire of apartment dwellers. She admitted that she is trying to get developers to move in that direction but lamented, “they’re not keen on it yet.”
A few weeks after attending the SSSNA meeting, many concerns were heard from neighbors in East Silver Spring regarding the use of the Silver Spring Intermediate, resulting in that parcel of land being withdrawn from the gardening program. The hunt for more available plots continues. If you know a location that you think fits the requirements stated above, please email David Vismara (David.Vismara@montgomeryparks.org) and Ben Stutz from Valerie Ervin’s office (Ben.Stutz@montgomerycountymd.gov).
More information can be found in this Gazette article: http://www.gazette.net/stories/04082009/silvnew184851_32476.shtml
Montgomery County’s pedestrian safety coordinator, Jeff Dunckel, spoke about the recent problems with access to sidewalks in South Silver Spring and how the county has vowed to improve communication between developers and county inspectors.
Dunckel explained that the multiple construction projects at the intersection of Blair Mill Road and Newell Street were not anticipated to proceed in tandem, which subsequently closed off both sidewalks to all pedestrians. Compounding that was a lack of coordination with the county’s pedestrian safety inspectors, who did not realize the problem being created in our neighborhood.
All future concerns or problems are encouraged to be emailed to Dunckel at Jeff.Dunckel@montgomerycountymd.gov
The manager of the brand new Veridian apartment building, Timmie Conover, spoke to us about the newest residential building in our community. The 457 luxury high rise units (with 58 moderately priced dwelling units) contains 34 different floor plans, two fitness centers, two rooftop bar-b-q grills and a rooftop pool. Unfortunately there are no plans at this time to allow neighborhood residents to use the rooftop pool, either free of charge or by renting a summer pass.
The question many of wanted answered was: what retail will be on the ground floor?
Conover called the process of looking for business tenants “difficult,” adding, “People are going through rough times. We don’ t want a Starbucks there to compete with the [Mayorga] coffee shop.” The Veridian’s developer had previously made commitments that their stores would not compete with already existing businesses, like Mayorga, Moorenko’s and Crisfields. We can expect a delicatessen of some sort and also a dry cleaner and bank. But no word on filling the restaurant space.
Conover also said she expects the residential apartments to be fully occupied by the end of the year.
Lastly, everyone in the community is invited to the Verdian’s open house, April 25-26 from 12-3pm.
Fenwick Tributary Cleanup
Clif Grandy informed us about our neighborhood watershed and asked for volunteers for the Fenwick Tributary cleanup on April 4th. According the Grandy, the Fenwick is all that is left above ground of the fabled “Silver Spring.” To learn more about how you can help keep our local waterways clean, go to: www.FriendsofRockCreek.org