Deja Vu

By Brad Botwin

I am always amazed how the quotes of Yankee Hall of Famer Yogi Berra continue to be relevant decades after they were enshrined in American Folklore.  Take the quote, “It’s like déjà vu all over again”.  Nothing more accurately captured the theme of MoCo’s April 30 Jeremiah Park Community input session (regarding the future use of county property off Crabbs Branch Way in Derwood.  Valuable county property walking distance from the Shady Grove Red Line Metro Station.

See: https://jeremiahparkproject.com/

Nearly 20 years ago, I volunteered to be part of a MoCo community input process (Charrette) to make recommendations for the same “Jeremiah Park” property. After many months of discussion and work, our input was eventually folded into the County Council finalized Shady Grove Sector Plan.

So, you can imagine my “It’s like déjà vu all over again” moment when the MoCo hired woke presenters literally put the same objectives and goals on the screen that the County had agreed to near 20 years ago – Community Center, family friendly park, restaurants, some housing, and a possible public school. The only major difference, the MCPS School Bus Depot, which was agreed upon to be removed, is staying put in the “new plan”. 

That’s right, in two decades our elected County Councilmembers and County Executives have been unable (or unwilling) to find one or more alternative locations for the MCPS school buses. Now we are stuck with public school buses and related maintenance & repair facilities in Jeremiah Park, and most likely an elementary school as well.

I bet this is the only Metro Station in MoCo which has: (1) squandered nearby valuable property to host public school buses (exceptionally heavy electric school buses) and an elementary school, and (2) had elected officials stall 20 years to spring this poorly thought-out plan on impacted MoCo taxpayers and homeowners in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Even better, the Jeremiah Park presenters, unlike the 2004 original planning meeting, were truly not interested in open forum discussions or even questions at this poorly attended session.  “Shut up and sit at your designated breakout table to answer staff generated questions only please”.

My key takeaways?  This “new” fait accompli project is going to cost taxpayers megabucks: the plan calls for breaking ground in 2026, interestingly a County Council/Executive election year. The multilayer underground bus terminal envisioned will be a structure of extraordinary strength (and cost) as electric buses are near twice the weight of diesel school buses. Adding a public elementary school to the mix encroaches on potential park land and brings shockingly more bus traffic/cars to Jeremiah Park especially during the morning/afternoon drop off - pickup times, let alone school special events.  That is unless you believe the students will all arrive by Metro Red Line and walk to school instead!

The name “Jeremiah Park” is even a misnomer as the actual park portion will be but a small fraction of the entire site. “Electric School Bus Park” would be a more fitting name. Not my idea of a place to take the family out for some fun.

Finally, the presenters spelled “Needwood Road”, one of the key roadways in the area, incorrectly on their self-generated maps.  Not a confidence builder as this project begins to unfold.  I can’t wait for the next Jeremiah Park fully scripted listening session.

Brad Botwin

Derwood, MD 20855

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Brad Botwin is the Outreach Chair of the Montgomery County Maryland Republican Party. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Montgomery County Republican Party