Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012; 4:00 to 5:30 PM
Natcher Building
Visitor Center, Little Theater
National Institutes of Health

Presentation: Plan for the Gateway Park — Ken Hartman, Director, Montgomery County Bethesda Regional Services Center

Mr. Hartman began the meeting with a discussion about the National Institutes of Health(NIH) Park, located at the southwest corner of Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues. The Bethesda Urban Partnership Inc. (BUP) has proposed providing grounds maintenance services to the park to extend the look, color and maintenance of downtown Bethesda through that area. BUP will provide turf and tree maintenance, flower rotation and maintenance, and litter collection. BUP may add poly terra cotta or concrete planters in and around the park and maintain flowers to match the rotations BUP uses in their other planters downtown. Mr. Hartman presented photos of what the planters would look like. Bethesda does not plan to use the property in any way, just maintain it.

Ms. Miller asked who named the property Gateway Park. Mr. Hartman said the project has not been named yet. He used that name for the Community Liaison Council (CLC) presentation.

NIH will provide a right-of-entry agreement that allows BUP to enter and maintain the property. County police also can enter the property to remove anyone sleeping in the area. BUP has not proposed any walkways or benches in the site. The nearby private developer cannot use the property. In response to a question from Ms. Miller, Mr. Hartman said NIH would probably allow local residents to play, walk their dogs and passively enjoy the property.

CLC members posed such questions as who will continue to own the land. Mr. Clifford said NIH has no intention of giving up that property. Mr. Oberlander wondered how NIH would differentiate the Federal property from the new development coming in so residents do not automatically consume that space. Ms. Rifkin of the county planning board noted that the new development will have public space in the center, with stairs that lead up and down to the Federal land. Ms. Rifkin also said that between the building setback and the Federal property there will be a pedestrian path on the developer’s land. CLC members can view a Website that shows the plans for the developer’s site.

Mr. Oberlander said the CLC is concerned about how the developer will use the property. If the Federal government doesn’t do something with the property within 10 years, the developer could possibly take possession. Mr. Clifford reiterated that the property is part of the NIH buffer zone and will remain Federal land. Ms. Miller noted that the spot could become a problem if people choose to hang out and socialize once BUP begins maintaining the site and adding flowers. Would local police address those issues, and would police see that area as a low priority? Mr. Hartman said the project represents a partnership with NIH and a chance to beautify the edges of downtown. Ms. Miller said the group would discuss the proposal and make a decision.

Bethesda Campus Master Plan — Ricardo Herring, OD/OM/ORFDO/DEP/NIH

Mr. Herring presented a draft of a master plan that will guide the development of the NIH campus during the next 20 years. The master plan also will

  • foster innovative research to improve the nation’s health
  • support the evolving requirements for biomedical research and education
  • provide a secure, supportive environment for the people involved in NIH activities
  • respect the stability and integrity of the surrounding residential community
  • protect the environment of the NIH campus and region
  • foster communication about NIH goals and policies
  • meet the Federal Real Property Council’s performance measures

The campus population could grow by approximately 3,000 during the next 20 years due to the relocation of existing NIH personnel from other facilities. Among other things, consolidating staff would promote teamwork between basic, animal and clinical research while helping the campus avoid costly investments in leased labs. NIH officials would retain the campus’s landscaped character and respect the existing grid and as they organize campus services into a series of research, administrative, biomedical education and other types of community clusters. NIH will construct new laboratories and administrative space, taking care to put new buildings near Metro to encourage transit system use.

As part of this plan, NIH will provide a well-defined campus road system and create pedestrian pathways and bike paths that lead to the Metro stop. NIH also will focus on employee parking that favors multi-occupant vehicles and mobility impaired drivers. Further, the campus will move out of surface parking and begin using more multi-level parking. The perimeter of the campus will serve as informal green open space.

Mr. Herring shared three redesign alternatives ranging from minimum, in which NIH would not demolish any campus buildings, to maximum, which calls for the replacement of several buildings. The maximum plan would bring back to campus all leased laboratory and office space, which could increase campus population by 10,000. The draft describes how the campus would phase in these changes in ambitious five-year increments during the next 20 years. The draft also includes a timeline. The campus will submit the draft plan to the National Capital Planning Commission August 3. Congress has not approved or funded the plan, said Mr. Herring.

CLC members asked questions about parking areas as well as the buildings the campus intends to construct or demolish as part of the draft plan. Members also discussed how campus population increases would affect local traffic. NIH staff noted that the increase of 3,000 people would occur during a 20-year period. Mr. Schofer pointed out that the population increases are part of the growth occurring in Friendship Heights, downtown Bethesda, Suburban Hospital and other locations throughout the region. Ms. Michael said that younger residents moving to the area might be more willing to walk or use public transportation. Mr. Oberlander asked for copies of the presentation so the group could absorb all the information.

At the end of the meeting Ms. Miller sought the group’s approval for the BUP grounds maintenance service program. The CLC members gave their support.


The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting TBD.


CLC Members
Marian Bradford – Camelot Mews
Maggie Dittemore – (new member replacing Lesley Hildebrand)
Lesley Hildebrand, Huntington Terrace
Darrel Lemke, Bethesda Parkview
Marilyn Mazuzan, Oakmont
Debbie Michael – Glenbrook Village
Ginny Miller, Wyngate
George Oberlander, Huntington Parkway
Lucy Ozarin, MD, Whitehall
Ralph Schofer, Maplewood
Beth Volz, Locust Hill

NIH Staff
John Burklow, OCPL
Tony Clifford, OD, ORF
Ricardo Herring, OD, ORF
Dan Lid, OD, ORF
Len Mueller, OD, ORF
Brad Moss, OD, ORS, ORF
Phillip Neuberg, OD, ORF
Tara Mowery, OCPL
Andy Quathamer, OD/OM/ORFDO/DEP
Sharon Robinson, OCL, OCPL
Michael Weil, Montgomery County, NCPC

Liaison Representatives
Randy Schools, NIH Recreation and Welfare Assn.

Ken Hartman, Montgomery County, Bethesda Regional Services Center
Joan Kleinman, congressional staffer for Rep. Chris Van Hollen
Ken Reichard, assistant to Sen. Ben Cardin
Margaret Rifkin, Montgomery County Planning Department, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Laura Jackson, Audio Associates

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