Recently Casey Anderson wrote to the Gazette complaining about the Columbia Country Club's stated concern for the CCT/Georgetown Branch ROW. Casey points out correctly that the County owns 100 feet of ROW, but uses only 12 feet and asks:
Why doesn’t County Executive Ike Leggett take steps to remove the fences that allow the country club and its members the exclusive use of this public property free of charge. Alternatively, I would like to see Mr. Leggett start charging the club rent for the use of the right-of-way. The money generated from renting the land could be used to extend the trail to Silver Spring, where we have waited 20 years for it as part of the Purple Line project.
I have always wondered the same thing. If you let people squat on this property it makes it hard to take it back later (The same issue could pop up in a few places in the Palisades). And besides, why is the county giving real estate rights away for free? They certainly need the money
Cyclists and county officials recognize that Silver Spring’s bike path network is inadequate, but with a lack of funding and difficulty in acquiring land, those involved are not expecting a timely solution.
‘Right now, we’re fighting to keep [funding for] the transit center. That’s of utmost priority. That deals with thousands and thousands of people while the bike paths are part of a multi-pronged solution.” said Darian Unger, chairman of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board transportation and pedestrian safety committee.
Officials have been trying to negotiate a crossing for the Capital Crescent Trail over the railway in Silver Spring owned by the CSX Corporation, but have been unsuccessful.
Upon completion, the Green Trail would run east along Wayne Avenue and serve as a connector between the other major trails and the Sligo Creek Trail. But the Green Trail comes with delays as well. The trail currently stops near the Whole Foods supermarket on Wayne Avenue and will not be completed until the planned route for the Purple Line is known, according to Unger.
‘‘Bicycling facilities are really the first things to go when times get tough, and that’s what we’re seeing in Montgomery County right now,” said Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. ‘‘In our opinion, everything should be developed with bike access in mind.”
Finish the trail adds
If the fence is taken down, then the trail could be widened for a safer, more pleasant trail. If, alternatively, the Columbia Country Club pays a fair price to use the public land it is now encroaching upon, then the money could be used to maintain and extend the trail.
We're talking about approx. 120,000 square feet, or nearly 3 acres, of prime public land that the Country Club is now using for free. Fair market value rent for this land would be more than pocket change for a County that is facing tight budgets for maintaining trails. Has this idea never occurred to our County Executive or Council?
the Alliance for Smart Transportation bills itself as a "coalition of concerned citizens advocating for smart transportation solutions for Montgomery and Prince George's Counties."
But although the new group criticizes Maryland's plan to build a 16-mile Purple Line transit link between Bethesda and New Carrollton, it offers no ideas for how to relieve traffic in the suburbs. Nor does the site identify the "concerned citizens."
Its founder is a board member at Columbia Country Club in Montgomery, whose 100-year-old golf course would be bisected by the transit line.
"What's going on here is a battle between commuters who want to get to work and a bunch of people who don't want to look at trolley cars while they play golf," said Ben Ross, president of Action Committee for Transit, a pro-Purple Line group. "If the public understands that's what this fight is about, then the Purple Line will be built."
Geoffrey Gonella, a member of the country club's board of governors, said the club has done nothing to hide its opposition to a Purple Line and is just raising "serious questions" about its potential costs as well as its impact on traffic congestion, the environment and an extension of the popular Capital Crescent Trail.
The alliance, Gonella said, has members who do not belong to the country club. Asked for their names, he said he did not have them readily available and that he could speak only for the country club. The Web site doesn't list alliance members, he said, because the group is so new. He said he didn't know how many people it had recruited so far.
"It's like any grass-roots organization," Gonella said.
Except that I don't know any of the members....Later, people wrote in to the Post to point out there is real grassroots opposition.
Eighteen community organizations and municipalities formed Rethinking the Purple Line after a May 31 event, attended by more than 400 people, to support protecting the Capital Crescent Trail. Thousands of people have written to the governor or signed petitions to protect this valued park.
Mark Gabriele of the Seven Oaks Evanswood Citizens' Association sums up the opposition argument
· The Purple Line isn't going to solve any transit problem.
· The Purple Line would create a number of problems [WC: Defined as "widening of Wayne Avenue" and a parking shortage] in our neighborhood (and, we believe, in other neighborhoods, as well).
· The Purple Line is going to cost a lot of money to build.
With a new claim I have not heard:
the Purple Line would...adversely affect the proposed Green Trail, which would make it safer and easier to bike longer distances around our area.
So this is not talking of the section between Bethesda and Silver Spring but between Silver Spring and Sligo Creek. I'm not sure how it will adversely affect the Green Trail, Mr. Gabriele doesn't say. I hope it's not the old "trails next to trains are dangerous" argument.
Photo from Finish the Trail