County Chooses to Expedite Wheaton Library Design

An accelerated schedule is moving the Wheaton library and recreation center forward without going through a design competition.

In an effort to focus attention on the redevelopment in Parking Lot 13, Montgomery County’s Department of General Services is not pursuing a design competition for the new combination and .

In the final version of what the Montgomery County Council approved in the CIP budget this spring, the design phase for the project was moved ahead to FY2013. This accelerated schedule is another reason why the Department of General Services is eliminating the competition stage and going straight to one of the several architecture firms that have contractual arrangements with the county already, according to Rob Klein, who works for the county’s Wheaton Redevelopment Program.

But not everyone is happy that things are moving so quickly.

“I think this was a real missed opportunity,” said Larysa Kurylas, a member of the Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee, at the group’s June meeting. “That’s the kind of civic building that’s way more important that a Park and Planning office building,” she added.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will occupy part of the office building that will be constructed in Parking Lot 13 during the first stage of county-directed redevelopment in downtown Wheaton. 

A design competition would give people in Wheaton more reasons to take pride in their new library, Kurylas continued.

Kurylas pointed to the two libraries that recently opened in Washington, DC, as examples of how the community can become more invested in the building's design process.

What do you think? Is the county doing the right thing by expediting the design? Or should it slow down and go through a design competition? Tell us in the comments.

ED June 26, 2012 at 01:33 PM
The Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee (WRAC) members are appointed by and report to the County Executive. The County Executive, not WRAC, decided that the Wheaton Library will stay in it's current location (after neighborhood's voiced opposition to a move). The mission of the WRAC committee "consists of preserving and improving the neighborhoods and business centers in the downtown Wheaton area". Unfortunately, some people ignore WRAC's mission statement. I think the library/rec center project should be expedited - the current facilities are in dire need of renovation.
AntonFisher June 26, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I echo ED's comment that the current facilities are in dire need of renovation. The community must have some input into such amenity that will serve them.
ED June 26, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Normally, even though there is no "design competition" to select an architectual firm, there are public meetings where residents can voice their opinions on the design of the building - either through town-hall meetings or at MNCPPC. If the design is of interest to resident's, I suggest they write to Executive Leggett and request public meetings.
Sean June 28, 2012 at 10:51 PM
There's no conspiracy to prevent redevelopment. You're giving the powers that be too much credit. The library is not moving because the exec caved in to public pressure. The bus platform project was mishandled because council members were not keeping abreast of what the community (constituents) and the executive branch had been deliberating on for several years. It would send a big message of support if both the council and executive would push for a design competition. If DTSS's library had one, why not Wheaton.
Mike Smith June 29, 2012 at 04:09 PM
The key phrase in the article is, "In an effort to focus attention on the redevelopment in Parking Lot 13..." Parking Lot 13 is the center of Wheaton and should be the center of redevelopment attention. However something sufficiently compelling, e.g., the library, needs to be put there to attract residents attention and cause them to visit.


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