Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — Thursday, September 6, 2018

Opening Remarks

John Burklow, Office of Communications & Public Liaison (OCPL), Office of the Director (OD), NIH

Mr. Burklow opened the meeting at 4:07 p.m. and described some recent developments at NIH:

  • Since the last CLC meeting, NIH launched the All of Us Research Program. The program aims to recruit one million participants, and it already has 100,000. For perspective, Mr. Burklow noted that the Framingham Heart Study had about 20,000–­30,000 participants.
  • Congress allocated about $1 billion to NIH for research on opioids, pain, and addiction.
  • The BRAIN Initiative, which launched 5 years ago, is now conducting BRAIN 2.0.
  • Dr. Francis Collins recently had his ninth anniversary as NIH director.

Mr. Burklow added that earlier in the day, he had attended a meeting at which Dr. Collins and Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, spoke. He said that NIH had been working well with Secretary Azar.

Sunrise Senior Living Center Tour

Brandon Hartz, Landscape Architect, Office of Research Facilities (ORF), OD, NIH

Mr. Hartz said that the Sunrise Senior Living Center, located south of the NIH campus, had opened in the spring. In June, he conducted a tour of the southern part of the NIH grounds for center residents, many of whom were interested in gardening and horticulture. On the tour, he discussed storm water, NIH land boundaries, and undesirable plants, and some residents planned to remove invasive vines from the fence. The tour was well attended, and the center included an article about it in its latest newsletter. Mr. Hartz agreed to conduct a second tour in September or October.


  • Ms. Miller asked whether any of the residents had encountered unleashed dogs, and Mr. Hartz said they had not.

Update on the NIH West Gateway Center

Anthony Clifford, Chief Engineer, ORF, NIH

Brad Moss, Communications Director, Office of Research Services (ORS), NIH

Mr. Moss explained that the NIH West Gateway Center is located just south of the intersection of South Drive and Old Georgetown Road. It opened in 2005 as a point of entry and exit for collaborating NIH and Suburban Hospital researchers and was later opened to visitors. A pedestrian-only entrance, it is currently open from 6:00 a.m. until noon, Monday through Friday. Most use occurs between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.

Mr. Clifford said that the structure has begun to deteriorate. Issues include mold and water leakage, which creates a safety hazard with electrical receptacles on the floor. Repairing or replacing the structure would cost $300,000–$400,000 and could take 6–8 months. The entrance costs about $115,000 per year to operate. It averages 42 visitors per day, whereas the main NIH Gateway Center has 3,000–5,000 visitors per day.

Mr. Moss said that, based on these factors, NIH has decided to close the West Gateway Center. The center’s last day of operation will be September 30. Because Sens. Van Hollen and Cardin were involved when the facility opened, NIH has notified their offices of the decision.

Mr. Moss and Mr. Clifford outlined other options for visitors:

  • The perimeter shuttle runs around the campus from 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It runs outside the fence and is available to the public.
  • A shared-use path runs around the south side of campus.
  • A bike path goes around the campus, and there are bike-sharing stations at the Metro station and on the other side of campus.

Mr. Moss displayed a flyer summarizing the decision and other options. He distributed flyers to the CLC members and said that guards at the West Gateway Center would hand them out over the next few weeks.


  • Ms. Michaels asked about the cost of running the main Gateway Center. She suggested that if the cost per visitor per day is much lower than the cost for the West Gateway Center, NIH could use those numbers to help explain its decision.
  • Mr. Burklow asked how many people work in the main Gateway Center. Ms. Blackburn said that seven or eight staff members are there in the morning, and about half of them are reallocated elsewhere on campus later in the day.
  • Ms. Miller recalled a discussion about running the perimeter bus all day. Mr. Moss said that for budgetary reasons, NIH had combined it with an on-campus route that runs during the day. This decision allowed the perimeter bus to keep running when NIH needed to cut transportation costs. Both visitors and employees use the bus.
  • Ms. Dittemore asked whether the staff entrances near the West Gateway Center would remain open, and Mr. Clifford said they would.
  • Ms. Dittemore asked how many people ride the perimeter bus each day, and Mr. Moss said that he would find out.
  • Ms. Dittemore asked whether the only option for neighbors and visitors is the main Gateway Center. She said that many of her neighbors near Suburban Hospital use the West Gateway Center daily. Mr. Moss said that there will be no visitor entrance on that side of campus, but anyone could walk through the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility (CVIF). He added that the CVIF is the entrance on weekends, when the Gateway Center is closed.
  • Mr. Moss said that upcoming changes to the west side of campus could benefit people who live on Old Georgetown Road. Some entrances will be reconfigured, particularly the Lincoln Drive entrance. He believed the changes would speed entry to campus.
  • Ms. Miller said that the biggest complaint she heard from her neighbors regarding NIH was about employees who park along Cedar Lane.
  • Mr. Burklow asked about the Gateway Center’s hours, and Mr. Moss said that it was open for pedestrians from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the vehicle inspection portion of the center was open from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

BRAC Roadway Projects Update

Susan Roberts, RA, Branch Chief, Facilities Planning and Programming Branch, ORF, OD, NIH

Ms. Roberts said that most of the projects are done. The intersection improvement along West Cedar Lane at Old Georgetown Road is almost completely finished. The trolley trail along Old Georgetown Road is in place with one final issue to resolve: The gravel areas on each side were replaced with grass, but the grass has died.

The work on Wisconsin Avenue is progressing. Most of the sidewalk work is occurring south of Center Drive, and it will slowly move further north. Some reconfiguration of the Woodmont Triangle area is taking place, and workers are working around a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission vault.

The pedestrian tunnel, which is the only part of the work that affects NIH, is moving forward. Workers have finished blasting for the elevator shaft on the Navy property, and concrete work is underway.


  • Ms. Miller asked when the tunnel will be completed, and Ms. Michaels said it is expected to take at least a few more years.
  • Ms. Miller added that Ms. Robinson’s email updates regarding traffic are very helpful.


Ms. Dittemore said that several communities around the NIH campus have active “villages.” The villages were established to help residents stay in their homes as they age, but they have developed social, community environments that attract people of many ages. Ms. Dittemore said that the villages are interested in hosting a speaker from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) or another NIH Institute or Center, and Mr. Burklow said that OCPL can help identify a speaker. Ms. Blackburn said that the villages’ board could contact her and Ms. Robinson.

Ms. Miller asked whether there had been any further issues with unleashed dogs. Mr. Hartz said that he had met with the chief of police, and there had been no problems since the signs prohibiting off-leash dogs had been posted.

Mr. Burklow said that the CLC would meet in October if it had topics to discuss.

Participants had no other questions or items for discussion.


Ms. Blackburn adjourned the meeting at 4:56 p.m.

Next Meeting: October 18, 2018


CLC Members

Margaret Dittemore, Huntington Terrace Citizens Association
Deborah Michaels, Glenbrook Village Homeowners Association
Ginny Miller, Wyngate Citizens Association


Amy Blackburn, OCPL
John Burklow, OCPL/OD
Anthony Clifford, ORF/OD
Brandon Hartz, ORF/OD
Susan Roberts, ORF/OD
Sharon Robinson, OCPL/OD
Michael Woestehoff, ORS/OD


Joan Kleinman, Representative for Sen. Chris Van Hollen

This page last reviewed on May 15, 2019