Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — Thursday, March 15, 2018

Opening Remarks

Amy Blackburn, Office of Communications & Public Liaison (OCPL), Office of the Director (OD), NIH

Ms. Blackburn opened the meeting at 4:10 p.m. She noted that Mr. Burklow would not be able to attend because of a schedule conflict.

NIH Animal Leash Laws

Brandon Hartz, NIH

Mr. Clifford provided some background information to introduce Mr. Hartz’s presentation. The South Lawn is a large piece of land just outside NIH’s security fence. NIH allows community members to use the land for a variety of purposes. Recently, some community members have raised concerns about dogs running freely (off leash) on the South Lawn.  It appears that the area has been used as a “dog park”.  This is a violation of NIH policies. 

Mr. Hartz explained that an off-leash dog had approached a child. No one was injured, but it was frightening to the family involved.  Montgomery County has leash laws, but the South Lawn is federal land, so the county’s Animal Services Division does not have jurisdiction there, and the laws cannot be enforced. Mr. Hartz is working with NIH’s Division of Police (DP) to post and publicize NIH’s policy and address safety issues with off leash animals on the property.

The South Lawn has four entrances: two from neighborhoods to the south and two from the Bethesda Trolley Trail. NIH plans to add signage stating its policy at each entrance. The wording and design are not yet final, but Mr. Hartz anticipated that the signs would include the NIH logo, specify that dogs must be leashed, and provide a phone number to call for more information. He is working with the DP to determine exactly what the signs should say.


  • Ms. Witt said that a group meets often to allow their dogs to play on the lawn. She offered to let the group know about the upcoming change.
  • Ms. Witt also noted that many people bring their dogs to the lawn during school hours, so most children would not be there. She had spoken with a person who had received a citation from the Montgomery County Animal Services Division for having dogs off leash, and the person had subsequently seen Division personnel waiting outside NIH property, perhaps to cite others.
  • Ms. Witt added that if a new policy is put in place, communication with the community will be very important.
  • Mr. Clifford said that technically, dogs are not allowed on the NIH campus at all. NIH aims to balance the needs of its multiple constituencies within the community and to address its own liability.
  • Major Datcher, Chief of the Police Operations Branch, said the DP has been in touch with the county’s police chief and director of animal control. She confirmed that someone had been cited and fined $400, but the citation was thrown out because the county did not have jurisdiction. The DP has proposed including a non-emergency number for the emergency communications center on the signage.
  • Major Datcher announced that Sgt. Kershaw would be the DP liaison to Montgomery County’s Animal Services Division, the CLC, and any other groups that need to be involved.
  • Sgt. Kershaw added that communication with the community is important to the DP, and the Division would give community members time to adjust to any policy change. Police officers would have friendly interactions with people on the South Lawn, and word about the new policy would spread. Officers would not start writing tickets immediately after the signs went up.

East Terrace Cell Project

Susan Roberts, NIH

Ms. Roberts announced that the Division of Facilities Planning is working on a project to install a new modular facility for cell processing. Cell processing facilities provide a clean way to develop cellular therapies. They are highly specialized spaces that must be reviewed and approved by FDA as well as NIH. One way to bring them on campus quickly is to use pre-manufactured facilities.

The Department of Transfusion Medicine has an urgent need for a new facility, and NIH will install one on the east terrace of Building 10, over the east loading dock. The building will be 36 feet tall (rising 74 feet above ground level) and will have one level of working space, with a mechanical level above that. It will include International Standards Organization (ISO) 7 tissue culture rooms and ISO 8 circulation space.

NIH is working on design documents. This is a fast-moving project, and NIH expects to begin using the facility in fall 2019.


  • Mr. Clifford added that the building will facilitate Dr. Steven Rosenberg’s cutting-edge cancer research.

NIH Blood Bank

Alan Decot, NIH

Mr. Decot said that NIH is the premier donation facility for blood and platelets in the metropolitan area. About two years ago, it moved platelet donation off campus to a new facility at 5625 Fishers Lane. However, some platelet donors are not willing to make the trip to the new facility, so NIH will bring platelet donation back to the main campus on a limited basis. Starting on March 23, every Friday morning, 12 platelet donation spots will be available on the first floor of Building 10 in the Department of Transfusion Medicine.

Mr. Decot provided information that community organizations could use in newsletters or other avenues to publicize the opportunity to donate blood at NIH. The handout included location and contact information.

Mr. Decot also noted that NIH is unique in allowing people who cannot donate for patient care to donate blood for research.


  • Ms. Witt noticed that the information for newsletters does not mention the new Friday hours. Mr. Decot said that NIH plans to work out any snags in the new practice before publicizing it, but everyone is welcome to donate. He will provide the CLC with an update after the Friday hours have been implemented.
  • Mr. Decot added that anyone with eligibility questions should call the NIH Blood Bank.
  • Ms. Witt suggested that NIH post this information and other major community outreach announcements on Mr. Moss said NIH would want to have a verified account, but aside from that concern, he didn’t think there would be any problems with posting to Nextdoor as long as the information and language had been approved.


Ms. Roberts said she had previously briefed the community about gravel on the sides of the Trolley Trail along Old Georgetown Road. She was concerned that the gravel could cause issues for bikes on the path or for vehicles on the road. Before the meeting, she noticed that crews were digging up the gravel and covering the area with sod, so it looks like the issue is being resolved.

Participants had no other questions or items for discussion.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:06 p.m.

Next Meeting: June 21, 2018


CLC Members

Andrea Witt, Huntington Parkway Citizens Association


Amy Blackburn, OCPL
Anthony Clifford, Office of Research Facilities/OD
Major Pamela Datcher, Division of Police/ORS/OD
Alan Decot, Department of Transfusion Medicine/CC
Brandon Hartz, Office of Research Facilities/OD
Sergeant Don Kershaw, Division of Police/ORS/OD
Brad Moss, Office of Research Facilities/Office of Research Services/OD
Susan Roberts, Office of Research Facilities/OD



This page last reviewed on May 15, 2019