More Parks for Potomac

More Parks for Potomac

Councilmember Howard Denis (R-1) wants to ensure years of planning and acres of parkland aren't thrown away.

Despite the county's commitment to affordable housing which makes all undesignated public land in Potomac fair game for affordable and elderly housing, the Planning, Housing and Economic Development committee voted unanimously to support 14 parkland sites.

The committee held its third and final worksession on the Potomac Master Plan — the 20-year blueprint for landuse in Potomac — on Monday. It will make its recommendations to the full Council, which will vote on all issues concerning the 2002 Potomac Master Plan this coming Tuesday, Feb. 5.

<mh>Range of Uses

<bt>Council staff recommended that the committee support an amendment to the Master Plan that indicates public land will be considered for a range of potential uses that serve public policies including conservation, recreation and housing.

"Consider development of affordable housing on appropriately located publicly owned land that is proposed for reuse or sale: Surplus publicly-owned land can be an excellent location for affordable housing. Government has the ability to be a patient land seller, sometimes pursuing public goals other than achieving the maximum price for land," read one of the recommendations made by staff.

Denis voiced his concern that such recommendations wasn't "embedded in the Master Plan process," a process that included "tremendous community involvement."

"This means that government should be willing to take a huge loss. It could take all negotiations on parkland and throw it out the window," said Denis.

Four of the sites, the Cahoon Property (west of Glen and Glen Mill Roads), two properties south of Esworthy Road, the Miller and Smith property and portion of the Lower Greenbriar Properties have already slated for acquisition as part of Legacy Open Space.

<mh>Not Enough Parkland

<bt>Despite its 3,446 acres of county parkland, the Potomac subregion is comprised of only 8.1 percent parkland, which puts it in the lower half of the county's planning areas in terms of the percentage of parkland. The amount of parkland translates to 0.043 acres of parkland per person.

Denis requested that the committee go through each property on a case-by-case basis.

Properties included Callithea Farm, which is contiguous to Blockhouse Point along the C&O Canal, portion of the Lower Greenbriar property, portions of Hanson farm and the Miller and Smith property.

Nine of the properties are seen natural extensions of stream valley parks, two are within a watershed, one is contiguous to an existing park and one is close to Seneca State park, said Callum Murray, Potomac team leader with Park and Planning Staff.

"The overall object is to protect the water quality," said Murray.

Potomac, a “green wedge” is responsible for protecting the water quality; water for Montgomery County and parts of Prince George's County come from the Potomac River.

Derick Berlage (D-5) and Steve Silverman, council president, both on the PHED committee, voted for the 14 properties to be preserved.