Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016; 4:00–5:30 p.m. EDT
Natcher (Building 45), Lower Level, Conference Room D
National Institutes of Health

Opening Remarks—John Burklow

Mr. Burklow opened the meeting at 4:09 p.m.

In light of the pending election, he was hoping to provide an update on the future plans of the presidential appointees at NIH, but nothing has been announced about post-election plans for either NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., or NCI Acting Director Douglas R. Lowy, M.D.

NIH is pursuing several major initiatives of general interest. The Precision Medicine Initiative, mentioned by the President in two State of the Union addresses, aims to recruit 1 million people nationwide to join a platform to collect data, including lifestyle and genomic data. These data could contribute to general knowledge about Americans’ health, similar to how the Framingham study has added to our understanding of cancer and cardiovascular health in ways we now take for granted. This summer, NIH hired Eric Dishman to lead this effort. Mr. Burklow will notify the group when a launch date has been decided.

NIH also recently announced a new set of awards for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative.

Mr. Burklow announced several new hires at NIH:

  • Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director, NIMH
  • Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, Ph.D., Director, NLM
  • Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., Director, NICHD
  • Maureen M. Goodenow, Ph.D., Director, Office of AIDS Research
  • Matthew W. Gillman, M.D., Program Director, Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO, the National Children’s Study successor)

In addition, NIH is in discussions with the Kennedy Center about collaborating on the topic of music and wellness in 2017.

Office of Research Facilities (ORF) Updates—Tony Clifford and Susan Roberts

Mr. Clifford announced that ORF hired a new landscape architect in the Division of Facilities Stewardship: Brandon Hartz. Mr. Hartz has a long list of accomplishments and has cultivated a special interest in environmentally sustainable landscapes.

IWS and TESS Water Tanks

Mr. Clifford presented updates on two water tanks being installed on the NIH campus as the result of an HHS risk assessment study. In order to make its operations self-sufficient and provide a buffer in the event of water line breaks or other interruptions to the water supply, NIH is installing a 5 million gallon industrial water storage (IWS) tank and a 7 million gallon thermal energy storage (TES) system. The IWS tank stores a day’s supply of water that can be used to support heating and cooling on campus, but it does not store the drinking water supply. The TES tank produces and stores chilled water, which can provide 8 hours of backup. Mr. Clifford presented photographs showing the location of the tanks on campus (and in relation to nearby residential communities), recent photographs of the construction sites, and a schematic of the process for chilling water for the TES system.

Q&A

  • Mr. Schofer asked about the source of the water to be stored in the tanks and why it is not considered drinkable. Mr. Clifford noted that although the water comes from the same source, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, as drinking water, it is prohibitive to certify water as drinkable once it is stored in a tank so large, so the water is designated nonpotable, for industrial use only. Ms. Michaels added that the temperature of the IWS water would not be controlled, so bacterial growth could not be prevented. Mr. Clifford confirmed that, in contrast, the chilled water in the TES system will be kept below 45 degrees.
  • Ms. Wade asked about the visibility of one of the tanks from the Whitehall residence. Mr. Clifford showed the location of Whitehall in relation to campus (and the tanks) and explained what is visible from its upper balconies. Mr. Clifford noted that the topography hides the tank, which is recessed, and there are trees that obscure the tank. Ms. Michaels confirmed the tank is not visible from the south lawn. Ms. Roberts said a nearby resident had called NIH with concerns about the storage tank, which they could see, but those concerns were alleviated when ORF confirmed that the tank would store water, not chemicals. Ms. Wade said she would need to make a report to residents about the construction, and Mr. Clifford offered to share his slides.

Northwest Child Care Center

Mr. Clifford reviewed progress on the construction of a second dedicated building for child care on campus. In addition to a building on the east side of campus, there are currently several other child care facilities in trailers. Mr. Clifford shared sketches of the building. Despite procurement delays and delays for security enhancements, the new facility is on track to open by May 2017 and will accommodate 50 staff and 170 children, 6 weeks to 6 years old, reducing the waiting list by 15 percent. Unique features include a green roof, bell tower, and parking area.

  • Ms. Michaels asked whether the facility has its own playground. Mr. Clifford confirmed that it does. He also explained some of the difficulties of putting the building on this site, including a two- to three-story drop in terrain.
  • Ms. Kleinman asked if a contractor had been selected for staffing and operating the facility. Mr. Moss reported that that process is ongoing now.

Update on BRAC Intersection Improvement Projects

Ms. Roberts reported that Clark Construction was recently awarded the contract for the MD355 crossing improvements, including high-speed elevators between the Medical Center Metro mezzanine and street level and shallow tunnels. The project is fully funded at $110 million, all from federal sources, and will be managed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. Construction is expected to begin in the spring or early summer of 2017, with completion by late 2020. Clark Construction has begun surveys on the property. In addition, work at MD355 and Jones Bridge Road (including the Woodmont Avenue extension) that was previously the responsibility of the State Highway Administration (SHA) has been rolled into this contract. As part of this work, there are dynamic lane controls on Jones Bridge Road during rush hour, and there are more improvements to come.

  • Mr. Schofer expressed concern about Montgomery County’s oversight of the contract, given the problems at the Silver Spring Transit Center. Ms. Roberts said she will continue to monitor developments through active engagement in project meetings, and Ms. Michaels emphasized that there is extensive oversight of this project from not only the county, but also from state, federal, and external parties.

Ms. Roberts also gave updates on road improvements underway at the intersection at Old Georgetown Road and West Cedar Lane, which are scheduled for completion in May 2017. There are lane and sidewalk closures, and ORF is working with the contractors to improve pedestrian access to campus. The pedestrian entry gate behind the fire station is currently closed because the grade where the sidewalk and pathway meet is too steep.

  • Mr. Schofer asked whether the entrance is well used. Ms. Roberts and Mr. Moss confirmed that it is very actively used. Its closure has been the source of complaints from staff who work in buildings across Old Georgetown Road from campus and those using the bus stop just outside the gate—especially after 9 p.m., when other campus access points are closed.

Ms. Roberts also reported that construction on the extension of the trolley trail to the south will start soon. The trail will be widened and set farther back from the road, and lighting will be added, improving pedestrian and bike access.

The West Cedar Lane intersection improvements are completed. NIH is working with SHA to resolve one unexpected problem resulting from the addition of a pond at the northwest corner of the NIH property. The pond includes a steep spillway with a 7-foot drop that directs water through a culvert under the road. This raised concerns about danger to children or pets, since access from one side of the pond is not restricted. The pond will remain exposed until trees on that side are replaced. NIH has requested that SHA install a fence between the pedestrian bridge and the concrete retaining walls that matches fencing used elsewhere around the intersection. Most recently, NIH has objected to a chain link fence that SHA proposed. NIH will pursue the conversation until there is an acceptable solution.

  • Ms. Michaels asked whether aerators would be installed to limit mosquitoes, noting that nearby residents have had problems with a similar request in a sump pond that has not been maintained. Ms. Roberts said no but that she would raise the issue with SHA.
  • Mr. Schofer asked about the original improvement plan, which Ms. Roberts said had to do with additional stormwater runoff resulting from the new lanes added at the intersection and a paved area designed to accommodate the additional traffic expected as a result of BRAC.
  • Ms. Robinson asked whether installing a screen over the storm drain would be a solution. Mr. Clifford said that in other projects, screens caught leaves and other debris and were hard to maintain.

Ms. Miller and Mr. Burklow announced that other obligations required them to leave the meeting early. Mr. Burklow asked Mr. Moss to take over his role.

Ms. Kleinman, who has attended the CLC as Rep. Van Hollen’s representative for 14 years, announced that this would be her last meeting as his district director.

NIH Charities—Randy Schools

Mr. Schools gave updates on NIH charities’ activities over the summer, including the involvement of more than 100 children and medical staff from NIH in Special Love/Camp Fantastic and the Best Friends program, which provides opportunities for parents to spend time alone together while their child is receiving cancer treatment at NIH.

NIH Film Festival

There was good turnout for this year’s film festival, which returned to Strathmore for the first time since 2008. Celebrating its 20th year, the NIH film festival is the oldest continuous outdoor movie festival in America.

Flats 8300

The Flats 8300 residential building at Battery Lane and Wisconsin Avenue has negotiated with NIH to make two rooms furnished by Virginia furniture company Balfour available long-term for couples with relatives receiving care at NIH. In addition, two two-bedroom houses have been made available for families with children at the Children’s Inn.

NCI Conference

On campus, NIH charities worked with NCI on a conference bringing together more than 300 doctors from different Institutes and Centers.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival

About 15,000 people came to the Oct. 15–16 outdoor art and craft festival, which supports NIH Children’s Charities.

Upcoming Events

Mr. Schools also announced several upcoming events in which NIH Children’s Charities is involved:

  • A special salute to veterans on Nov. 9.
  • NIH Philharmonic concerts held regularly at St. Elizabeth Church on Montrose Road.
  • Fall Back Bethesda, on Nov. 6, 12–4 p.m., a family event at Rock Creek Mansion on Cedar Lane.

In addition, several players who were on the Bethesda Big Train summer collegiate baseball team have since gone on to high-profile Major League Baseball careers. The NIH Recreation and Wellness Association has partnered with Bethesda Big Train.

Q&A/Comments/Concerns

Mr. Moss invited attendees to bring up any other questions or items for discussion; participants had none.

Adjournment

Mr. Moss adjourned the meeting at 5:18 p.m.

Next Meeting: March 16, 2017

Participants

CLC Members

  • Marian Bradford, Camelot Mews Citizens Association
  • Darrell Lemke, Bethesda Parkview Citizens Association
  • Marilyn Mazuzan, Town of Oakmont
  • Deborah Michaels, Glenbrook Village Homeowners Association
  • Ginny Miller, Wyngate Citizens Association
  • Ralph Schofer, Maplewood Citizens Association
  • Randy Schools, NIH Recreation and Welfare Association
  • Jeannette Wade, Whitehall Condominium Association

NIH

  • John Burklow, Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL)/Office of the Director (OD)
  • Anthony Clifford, Office of Research Facilities/OD
  • Brad Moss, Office of Research Services/Office of Management/OD
  • Susan Roberts, Office of Research Facilities/OD
  • Sharon Robinson, Office of Community Liaison/OD

Guests

  • Joan Kleinman, District Director, Rep. Chris Van Hollen

This page last reviewed on December 28, 2017