Thursday, September 1, 2016

Residents to hold meeting Sept. 8 to fight bus depot plans at Blair Ewing Center

With the Blair Ewing Center and Mark Twain Park on Avery Road back in the crosshairs of a Montgomery County desperate to find a new school bus depot site, local residents are planning to meet on Thursday, September 8, at the Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center at 14625 Bauer Drive in Rockville. Blair Ewing, and the Oaks Landfill at 6001 Olney-Laytonsville Road in Olney, are the two known finalists on the County Council's list.

A couple of things are clear right now. First, there is no other "perfect" or even serviceable site that can hold the number of buses proposed anywhere in the County beyond the handful already fought over, and the two alternatives now on the table. If there were, the County would have acquired it in 2015.

Second, County politicians are now engaged in a cynical game. Rather than face the legal consequences of admitting they blew it, and that their "smart growth initiative" was simply a scheme to benefit developers, the County Executive and Council are now going poke the hornets' nests in Aspen Hill and Olney, and see if they can figure out which one will emit the fewest angry bees.

Conversely, they may also tally up the number of votes they believe will be lost in a particular community. During the Westbard controversy in Bethesda, it accidentally slipped out that some on the County Council were literally having their staff tally the number of votes they might lose, if they enraged the voters in the Westbard area. Ultimately, their math told them they could take the hit and survive.

Counting votes probably won't help here, though. Aspen Hill has vigorously fought the previous bus depot plan, and Walmart, and won both times. Olney, with its strong civic association, likewise was the only community in the County that was able to kill a planned Bus Rapid Transit route.

Unless they've come up with a magical third option, or go back to Westmore and Carver, it looks like the Council will have to pick its political poison.

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