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Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — Thursday, October 15, 2020
Amy Blackburn, Office of Communications & Public Liaison (OCPL), Office of the Director (OD), NIH
Ms. Blackburn opened the meeting at 4:04 p.m. and presented the minutes from the previous meeting for approval. CLC members had no objections or changes to the minutes. The minutes will be posted on the SharePoint site.
The CLC had not met since September 2019, although NIH had shared some email presentations for consensus and comments. Ms. Blackburn said that NIH would distribute a list of the dates of the email presentations.
Grounds Update Along the Bethesda Trolley Trail
Brandon Hartz, Landscape Architect, Office of Research Facilities (ORF), OD, NIH
Mr. Hartz gave an update on recent and upcoming work along the Bethesda Trolley Trail.
Near the South Lawn, crews have removed about a dozen aging trees and pruned 15 large trees to remove deadwood that could fall onto the trail. One pine tree remains near the security boulders; it is near power lines, so NIH will coordinate with Pepco to remove it safely. New trees will be planted in the area
Signs along the trail caution that it is multiuse, but runners and cyclists do not always give warning when they approach walkers. NIH will add about two dozen signs to the trail to encourage users to give audible notice before passing others.
A community member had alerted Mr. Hartz about a deteriorating section of the trail near the southwest corner of the NIH campus. Mr. Hartz visited the area and found a 30- to 40-foot section with regular cracking, which would pose difficulty for strollers, skateboards, and scooters. NIH is considering short-term solutions, including cold patching and sealing of cracks, and will request funds to replace some sections in the long term.
- Ms. Abeles asked whether the signs that NIH is adding to the Bethesda Trolley Trail will extend to the section of the trail along Route 355 from the Metro. Mr. Hartz said that he plans to place the signs along the entire perimeter of NIH.
- Stormwater Management on the NIH Campus
Brandon Hartz, Landscape Architect, ORF, OD, NIH
Mr. Hartz said that NIH had received messages about stormwater management after the intense rainstorm on September 10. He said that he would share his presentation after the meeting. It is a good resource for understanding how NIH deals with stormwater on campus, and CLC members can share it with others.
The NIH campus sustained extensive water damage in the September storm. Water entered up to 12 buildings. NIH is conducting studies to determine how the water entered the buildings, and projects are under way to repair the damage. Mr. Hartz is working on projects around some of the buildings to prevent water infiltration in the future. In addition, landscape efforts are under way to remediate erosion from fast-moving runoff.
Most of the NIH campus is within the Rock Creek Watershed, so most water from the campus travels to Rock Creek. A small portion of the campus is in the Cabin John Watershed.
Mr. Hartz displayed a map of the campus topography. The low points are at the northeast and southeast corners. There is a large stormwater pond in the southeast corner, near the intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Rockville Pike. The grade change from the lowest point on campus to the highest point is about 150 feet.
Mr. Hartz next displayed a map showing areas where pipes carry water onto or away from the campus. For example, a large outfall, located where the Bethesda Trolley Trail turns south toward Battery Lane, feeds into Stoney Creek Pond. On the southwest corner of campus, a stormwater pipe opens onto the South Lawn, which caused flooding issues for a while.
Mr. Hartz showed photos of pipes and other features around the campus that help mitigate stormwater:
- The NIH Stream was restored in 2003, and it is now bordered by mature vegetation and features bridges and walkways. The stream begins with an outfall pipe, and a stormwater catchment facility helps remove sediment and trash. The stream leaves NIH property in an underground culvert under Rockville Pike.
- Mueller’s Run begins at a pipe on the north side of campus. It is not a wet stream like the NIH Stream, but water is visible during storms. Mueller’s Run can be seen through the security fence.
- Stoney Creek Pond, completed in 2013, is at the southeast corner of campus near Woodmont Avenue. It treats 61% of previously untreated and polluted runoff from paved surfaces in downtown Bethesda, and a small percentage of NIH land drains to the pond.
- No-mow zones, which are large meadow-type areas around campus, feature diverse vegetation and slow down stormwater. They are also home to wildlife.
- The campus has permeable paving in several areas, including pavers near the Porter Building, a pervious asphalt parking lot at Northwest Child Care Center, and a pervious concrete trail along Old Georgetown Road and West Cedar Lane.
NIH also takes measures to manage stormwater on construction sites. All projects are subject to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) regulations for erosion and sediment control and stormwater management. Sites must mitigate both the quantity of stormwater that runs off of pavement and its quality; they must be able to filter out sediment and pollution. NIH makes multiple submissions until MDE approves its measures.
- Ms. Witt thanked Mr. Hartz for his work, including maintaining pleasant areas to walk.
- Ms. Taylor asked for more information on the measures taken to reduce water infiltration in NIH buildings. Mr. Hartz said that the facilities he is working on will mostly require regrading. He will coordinate with engineers and architects to make sure the buildings can tolerate the regrading. Some facilities might also need additional waterproofing or extension of underground drainage measures.
- Ms. Michaels asked how many rain gardens are on campus. Mr. Kim said that there are at least 10. There is also a bioretention pond near the Metro station, just inside the turnstiles. Mr. Hartz said that the new parking lot on the south side of campus has continuous rain gardens on its north and south edges. Also, many newer buildings have green roofs, which have sustainability benefits but also slow down stormwater.
- Ms. Dittemore asked whether the new parking lot has permeable paving. Mr. Hartz said that it does not, but all of the water that runs off of it is directed to rain gardens. Also, the parking lot is temporary and will be replaced with a parking garage on the same footprint. Ms. Roberts said that parking in other areas will be shut down when the garage is built, so there will be no net gain in parking.
Ms. Michaels said that the state put up signs on the east side of campus, near the stone wall south of Center Drive, about rerouting Connecticut Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue. The signs are gone now, but piles of sand from the sandbags are still there. Mr. Hartz said that he would take a look.
Ms. Miller said that the community members are very grateful to Anthony Fauci, M.D., for his work. Ms. Blackburn said that she would send a note to Dr. Fauci’s assistant.
Ms. Roberts said that NIH will soon submit the project package for the Surgery, Radiology, and Laboratory Medicine Wing to the N Adjournment ational Capital Planning Commission. The CLC will receive the same package. The CLC has been briefed before, but the package will contain more renderings and information.
Ms. Kleinman asked Ms. Roberts who owns the future walkway through the tunnel from the Metro to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She said that some people would like to name the walkway in memory of Phil Alperson. Ms. Roberts said that she believed the county owns it, but she would check. Mr. Moss added that NIH, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and other entities are involved in a project to place art inside the tunnel. Ms. Michaels said that the Department of Transportation is running that project, so the department director, county council, and county executive might be the people to contact about naming the tunnel. Ms. Kleinman, Ms. Michaels, and Ms. Abeles agreed to discuss the issue further.
Ms. Blackburn adjourned the meeting at 4:53 p.m.
Next Meeting: The next meeting will likely be in January.
Nancy Abeles, Bethesda Crest
Jeff Burton, Bethesda Urban Partnership
Margaret Dittemore, Huntington Terrace Citizens Association
Deborah Michaels, Glenbrook Village Homeowners Association
Ginny Miller, Wyngate Citizens Association
Jeff Oyer, Bethesda Urban Partnership
Anne Taylor, Glenwood Neighborhood Association
Jennette Wade, Whitehall Condominium Association
Maureen Wilkerson, Maplewood Citizens Association
Andrea Witt, Huntington Parkway Citizens Association
Amy Blackburn, OCPL
Kenny Floyd, ORF, OD
Brandon Hartz, ORF, OD
Brian Kim, ORF, OD
Brad Moss, ORF/Office of Research Services (ORS), OD
Jackie Roberts, ORS, OD
Susan Roberts, ORF, OD
Joan Kleinman, Representative for Senator Chris Van Hollen
This page last reviewed on April 21, 2021