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Feb. 12, 2010

County planners propose green space in downtown Silver Spring

by Mandy Xu, News and Entertainment editor
Urban designers commissioned by the Montgomery County Planning Board are creating new guidelines to turn sections of downtown Silver Spring into large public green spaces. Chief architects from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) will present their proposal to the board on March 25.

County planners are considering adding areas of green space to downtown Silver Spring.	Courtesy of Beyond D.C.
County planners are considering adding areas of green space to downtown Silver Spring.
Planners began work on the Green Space Guidelines to address citizens' concerns about the removal of the artificial turf on the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street. The Montgomery County Council voted to remove the turf in August 2008 to accommodate the construction of the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza, which will be completed in the summer of 2010.

The artificial turf was a beloved part of the downtown area, according to John Marcolin, an urban designer for M-NCPPC. "When center came up for approval, there was a public outcry," Marcolin said. "By accident, it was almost as popular as the fountain on Ellsworth. One was a highly designed space and the other a placeholder."

The draft of the Silver Spring Green Space plan recommends a few areas as potential green spaces. These potential spaces include the parking lot between Thayer and Silver Spring avenues, the stream valley at the Faulkland Chase apartments built in the 1930s, the Giant Food parking lot off Route 410 and the parking lots facing Georgia Ave in the Ripley District, according to Marcolin.

The potential layout for a new green space in Silver Spring's Ripley District. Courtesy of M-NCPPC
The potential layout for a new green space in Silver Spring's Ripley District.
Public domain is designated a green space if it is comprised of more than 50 percent grass or a soft surface, according to Sandra Pereira, a senior planner for M-NCPPC. There are currently about 19 acres of green space in downtown Silver Spring, but 16 of those acres are concentrated in the Jessup Blair Park in southern Silver Spring. "Jessup Blair Park is on the periphery," Marcolin said. "There aren't connections to it and it has fences around it."

The rest of the green spaces in Silver Spring are small and isolated. "We want them consolidated in at least one area," Pereira said. "They need to be highly visible from adjoining streets or to passerby pedestrians." Marcolin and Pereira identified the fountain on Ellsworth, though it is not a green space, as a model for the ideal public space. "The green space should be well connected to public transportation - trails, buses, metro," Pereira said. "The fountain on Ellsworth is very well connected."

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  • turf ftw (View Email) on February 14, 2010 at 4:19 PM
    but will any of these projects be completed before people who actually remember using the turf leave for college? :

    the best part about the turf was that it was in the middle of everything. you can't move the green and expect people to follow it - things should be planned so the green follows where the people want to be. none of the proposed areas are downtown hotspots, so i doubt they'll see anywhere near the amount of usage the turf got.
  • Sean Thompson (View Email) on February 16, 2010 at 10:59 AM
    I am just one of the local skateboarders around Silver Spring, but what Iv seen over time is people talking about how much they are starting to hate Silver Spring because of there decision to take away the turf. Its not just the fact that you took it down, but it is also that you are moving it to another location.

    Around fenton is your biggest tourest spot in Silver Spring with there movie theatre, food spots, and shops. I used to hear everyone making plans to go downtown with friends and just relax on the turf and eat some food or wait for a movie. Now all I hear is peoples hatred over the fact that now there is no where to just sit and relax because of the new building that is being built.

    You will probably just look at this comment and say, "oh, its just another skateboarding teenager trying to skate on fenton street again.."

    Atleast I Know What The People Really Want....
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