On April 25th, thanks to the work of ANS and community organizations, the Montgomery County Council voted to approve converting four parking lots to future parks in the Bethesda downtown plan! This plan has been in the works since 2015, and is a once-in-twenty-years opportunity to review the planning and zoning for the entire downtown Bethesda area along the Wisconsin Avenue corridor. As the Washington metro region continues to grow, adding density around already-developed parts of the region, especially with metro access, is an essential component of “smart growth” that takes pressure off our undeveloped rural areas. At the same time, everyone who lives and works in urban communities (including wildlife!) needs access to nature. These pockets of parks and nature provide habitat for wildlife and native plants, filter stormwater, clean the air, lower the street temperature, and much more.
ANS sent a letter to the County Council advocating that the downtown plan place a much greater emphasis on parks and open space, and in particular that it recommend converting surface parking lots to parks. Our comments built on the work of the Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents (CBAR) and other community groups, who have advocated for these and other changes in the plan. During their April 25th work session, the County Council voted to approve the recommendation that four specific surface parking lots be turned into parks in the future—a victory for nature in the city! Other cities, like Seattle, Washington, and Edmonton, Alberta, are moving in this direction too. It’s very exciting that Montgomery County and Bethesda are joining this trend.
Check out the letter ANS sent by clicking here.