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A Blank Slate in White Flint

Residents gather to share their ideas on area's redevelopment.

County planning officials heard countless ideas from White Flint residents at a public design charette Thursday, ranging from the practical (dog parks) to the nontraditional (outdoor hot tubs).

About 35 people came to Walter Johnson High School to give input to the planners and architects charged with redeveloping the area along Rockville Pike near the Metro station.

The meeting was focused on public amenities, and residents said they want a library, a regional services center, a civic green, a recreation center, a clearly-marked recreation loop and some improvements to Wall Park.

Just where and how to build those things was the evening's topic of conversation.

The civic green would be an urban green space of one to two acres, possibly co-located with the library and regional services center, attendees said. They wanted it to be a flexible-use space, with room for walking dogs, playing sports and reading.

Residents also said they wanted the library to be a region-wide attraction, specializing in technology and new media.

The regional services center should offer ample meeting spaces and shared offices at a cost that members of the community can afford, attendees said. 

As currently planned, the recreation loop encircles the center of White Flint, with Nebel Street on the east, Nicholson Lane to the south, Executive Boulevard to the west and Old Georgetown Road to the north. It should feature space for walking and biking, and have unique signage that would set White Flint apart from other neighborhoods, attendees said.

But residents were concerned about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists crossing mid-day traffic on Rockville Pike, and some were worried Nebel Street would be a dangerous place for foot traffic at night.

There was also debate over whether a new recreation center should be located in Wall Park Montgomery Aquatic Center, or built elsewhere. Some residents favored leaving Wall Park alone, but many agreed co-locating the rec center would maximize convenience for people in the area.

As for Wall Park, residents envisioned a quiet space with community gardens and a dog park. They also wanted a trail around the area for walking, jogging and cycling.

David Dise, director of the county's Department of General Services, said officials would take all public input into account as they move forward planning White Flint.

"We've heard you, and we've got more work to do," he said. "But this is by no means the end of public engagment for this project."

Dise said the county will type up the comments it received Thursday and post them to its White Flint project website. After planners and architects have a chance to mock up some possible designs, the county will schedule more public meetings, Dise said.

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