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Agreement signed for Metropolitan Branch Hiker-Biker Trail by Montgomery Preservation and Montgomery County

In November 2018, MPI and Montgomery County entered into an agreement that established a perpetual easement over MPI’s land for construction and operation of the Metropolitan Branch Trail across the frontage of MPI’s property at 8100 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.  The trail will run largely parallel to Georgia Avenue, then cross over Georgia Avenue via a new bridge span.

The County also will have a temporary easement over most of MPI’s surface parking lot for construction.  This includes construction of the trail on the MPI property, and tying the trail in with a new bridge structure that will allow trail users to cross over Georgia Avenue.  According to the latest construction schedule estimates from the County, we expect that there will be work on the MPI property between the fall of 2020 through the spring of 2021.

The County and MPI will work with the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) to coordinate modification of an existing historic easement that MHT holds on the property to allow for the trail use within this historic easement.

Although the upcoming construction will be disruptive while underway, MPI welcomes the trail use and looks forward to introducing a new audience to its historic site.  In partnership with Silver Spring Historical Society, since rescuing and restoring the station to its 1945 appearance, MPI has opened the historic station to visitors and the greater Montgomery County community. In addition to popular public Open Houses on the first Saturday of every month and Montgomery County Heritage Weekend in June, the station is available for meetings, gatherings, and special events such as birthday parties, weddings, and other celebrations.

Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory Revisited

MPI is proud to report completion of this wide-ranging, cutting-edge, urgent, amazing project.

Coordinator Glenn Wallace and project director Eileen McGuckian describe MCCI-R as a significant update of the Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory in terms of data, technology, and accessibility.  During 2018, staff trained 90 volunteers to visit all known burial sites in Montgomery County.  Project volunteers assessed conditions, completed survey forms, noted GPS coordinates, conducted additional research, and took a variety of photographs to capture the current environment.  Staff converted all previous efforts into Excel spreadsheets, added new sites and ID numbers, provided FindaGrave links or created new entries, and utilized maps and other sources to garner additional data.

As a result of this project, solid new information is available on Montgomery County cemeteries. Each survey contains additional fields (ownership, safety concerns, designation status).  New sites were added, some sites believed lost were found, and a few sites erroneously thought to be cemetery locations were removed from the list.  Another result—bolstered by two local protection laws passed in 2017, effective in 2018—was more attention to and concern about local burial sites.

The Final Report, submitted in December 2018, includes Summaries and Statistics derived from MCCI-R project, Recommendations for Moving Forward and Next Steps, and multiple specific lists of sites: endangered sites to watch, to survey with GPS, in need of clean-up and improvements, African American sites, sites to revisit in winter and those pending further research.

Continue to Historic Cemeteries for the full article.

Mural Celebration

Partnerships Matter!

SSHS 20th Anniversary Joyfully Celebrated, Nov. 3, 2018 at Station
MPI Rescue and Restoration of historic S.S. B&O Railroad Station
Rescue and Restoration of 1937 New Deal U.S. Post Office Mural

2018 Maryland Burial Sites Legislation

In a session where major issues of gun control, school safety and funding, climate change and medical coverage captured the headlines, the General Assembly took time to protect Maryland’s history and sacred burial sites. The effort required 2 bold sponsors, a core group of resolute advocates, 5 House and Senate committees, and hundreds of emails and phone calls to pass the first burial sites legislation since the 1990s. Governor Larry Hogan signed HB877 and SB1242 on May 8, and the laws went into effect a month later.

While half of the changes proposed by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites and allies did not survive in committees, the Coalition is happy to report that starting on June 1, 2018, descendants and caretakers gained easier access, owners are now required to consult with the Maryland Historical Trust about conservation treatment, and Maryland counties and towns are authorized to provide a property tax credit related to burial sites.

Appreciation goes to bill sponsors Delegate Tony Knotts of Prince George’s County and Senator Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City, to the Maryland Association of Counties, David Zinner, Funeral Consumers Alliance, The War of 1812 Society in Maryland, and to all Marylanders who urged legislators to improve state law for the benefit of abandoned and neglected cemeteries.

The precise new wording in sections of the Annotated Code of Maryland can be found on www.cpmbs.org

Documenting and Protecting Montgomery County Burial Sites

Two ground-breaking laws passed by a unanimous County Council and a huge initiative led by MPI are boosting odds for the survival of all local burial sites. In October 2017, the Council tasked the Montgomery County Planning Board with management of an inventory of cemeteries in our county.  The timing was perfect, as even before the effective date of February 9, 2018, MPI was prepared to begin the Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory Revisited project to document all known cemeteries here. Under the enthusiastic and steady hand of project coordinator Glenn Wallace, this initiative is right on schedule, with volunteers in the field as you read this.  Learn about this project on the Historic Cemeteries page of this website.

The second new County law is designed to protect burial sites during any subdivision and development process.  To be effective on July 1, 2018, a new full-time dedicated employee at Montgomery Planning must be included in the County’s FY19 Operating Budget.

Both of these laws will aid property owners, descendants, and advocates to identify all cemeteries in Montgomery County as well to enable their survival for the appreciation of current and future generations. MPI thanks the lead sponsors of these bills—Council members Berliner, Leventhal, and Rice—and all Council members who voted to protect local burial sites.

Advocates for local cemeteries can soon rest a bit easier because sites will be listed in an official inventory that covers the entire County, including municipalities with their own planning and zoning authority, and that all cemeteries will be protected during the subdivision and development process. This is a solid victory for all of our cemeteries — of whatever size and age, in neglected or good condition, of religious or family background, whether African American or White in origin, or whether currently in the news or quietly waiting in the background to be documented and rejuvenated.

Read more about  Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory Revisited project.

Review Bill 24-17 Land Use Information and SRA 17-01 Approval Procedures.
Land Use Information – Burial sites
Approval Procedures – Burial sites

More information will be added to this website as the project progresses.

Maryland Cemetery Preservation Act of 2018

HB877 has been filed in the Maryland General Assembly, headed for
a hearing on February 28 before the House Health & Government Operations Committee. Long overdue, this bill
tackles several obstacles to cemetery protection and preservation and provides incentives for descendants, property
owners, and cemetery advocates. Link to a summary of this bill here. For further
information and to help pass this important legislation, contact Eileen McGuckian at phileen3@gmail.com.

Historic Silver Spring Public Library proposal accepted

Neighbors and preservationists are thrilled that Montgomery County Government recently announced that the historic 1957 Silver Spring Public Library will be adaptively reused as the Martha B. Gudelsky Child Development Center Inc. with Centronia.
The winning Gudelsky proposal respects the integrity of the library, its intact rolling land, and the neighborhood.
See the project proposal here.

MPI statement to Montgomery County Executive re Former Silver Spring Library Site, November 2017

In responding to presentations by the two finalists that submitted proposals for the site of the former Silver Spring Library, I am representing Montgomery Preservation Inc (MPI), the countywide nonprofit preservation advocacy organization.

 

MPI believes the Gudelsky/CentroNia proposal is by far the better of the two.  It incorporates the existing library building, an icon of Montgomery Modern architecture designed by Rhees Burket, a noted architect with a lifetime of civic and professional leadership. It is a flagship structure, constructed early in the then-new Montgomery County Library System when other towns operated facilities out of smaller makeshift buildings. Adaptive reuse of this building will commemorate this history as well as provide ongoing community benefit for the residents of Silver Spring and Montgomery County.

 

The library is a long-time iconic community structure that, with its green space, is compatible with the physical and residential character of the surrounding neighborhood.  Unlike the Victory Housing proposal, the Gudelsky/CentroNia plan retains the site’s green space and topography and incorporates it with the neighboring park. As density increases in parts of the County like Silver Spring, it’s important to retain green space that has historically been an amenity in existing communities and neighborhoods (hopefully even to provide more).  Victory, MPI has noted, would preserve very little of the library site’s green space.

 

The Gudelsky plan to subsidize a grouping of senior affordable units in new or existing apartment buildings in the Silver Spring CBD is a creative approach and one that could be adopted for other planned apartment construction in the county, helping to address the critical need for more affordable housing.  The Gudelsky plan meets the RFP objective of increasing affordable senior units, and it would locate those units in a convenient downtown area.

 

In providing senior affordable housing offsite, the Gudelsky plan offers the advantage of showcasing a state-of-the art child development facility operated by a nationally recognized provider of early childhood care and education.  With a strong visible presence on Colesville Road, this child development venue would be a source of pride for the County and Silver Spring, preferable to resembling an adjunct to a housing component as does Victory’s child care center.

 

Moreover, it seems impractical to combine both housing and child care on this relatively small site, particularly since this would allow for very little green space. This was apparent to MPI in its review of the Victory proposal.  There is considerable potential for intergenerational programs in the child development center whether or not senior housing is present on the site. Gudelsky/CentroNia is projecting partnerships with senior groups, as well as enrichment activities for all ages, in its child development center.

 

To summarize, MPI supports preservation and adaptive reuse of the former Silver Spring Library as an excellent representative of Silver Spring and the County – architecture, parkland, community use, neighborhood support, and a historic example of mid-20th century vision and growth. The Gudelsky/CentroNia proposal undeniably corresponds with each of these qualities.

 

Mary Reardon

Vice President, Montgomery Preservation Inc.

News and Events around Montgomery County Spring 2017

May 6

Conservation Workshop at historic Monocacy Cemetery, on conservation techniques of 19th and early 20th century gravestones.  10 am-2 pm.  Fee, pre-registration required.  www.monocacycemetery.com

May 7

Takoma Park Spring House & Garden Tour  1-5 pm, shine or rain, self-guided.  Features beautiful neighborhood surrounding Spring Park (starting point).  More info and advance tickets at  www.historictakoma.org or local stores, or on tour day.

May 7

Jane’s Walk in Historic Silver Spring  1-3:30 pm, free.  Explore, talk about, celebrate at the original “Silver” Spring and Historic Environs.  Jane Jacobs’ passion for urban neighborhoods starts at the Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station.  www.sshistory.org

May 16

Montgomery County Council proclaims Historic Preservation Month    9:30 am in the Council Chambers, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville.  Join fellow preservationists as the Council honors the value of local historic places and the exceptional network of historic preservation groups and advocacy organizations whose members dedicate time and resources to the preservation of County historic sites for the appreciation of residents and visitors alike.

May 27-29

Memorial Day Weekend – Flags out for Veterans at Montgomery County Cemeteries

June 24 and 25

20th annual Heritage Days weekend highlights local historic places, many that are not open frequently. Family and history buff friendly, and free !! See schedule and details at www.heritagemontgomery.org

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