Purple Line, parks major concerns for town of Chevy Chase candidates -- Gazette.Net


Parks, the Purple Line and responding to growth in nearby Bethesda were big issues for discussion at a town of Chevy Chase forum Thursday evening.

The candidates forum was held in the run-up to the May 6 town election. Seven candidates have filed to fill three council seats.

At the forum, several candidates said the town is strong, but will face challenges and changes in the future.

Grant Davies, who owns a management consulting business, said the town needs a unified voice to influence decisions on changes near its borders, like the Bethesda downtown plan and the Purple Line. Right now, he said, no one is satisfied with how town officials have handled Purple Line issues.

“We can effect the changes, but we have to be smart,” he said.

Donald Farren, a retired curator and library administrator, said the town needs diverse thinking on the council, and he would work on reconciling the opposing views held by residents.

Councilman Al Lang, who is seeking re-election, said the town has strong basic service, but challenges ahead. He said that if re-elected, he wants to look into turning some parking lots into parks.

“It’s going to be quite an endeavor to pull it off,” he said.

Kathie Legg, a member of the town’s Long-Range Planning Committee, also said the town should look into whether some of the parking lots at the town’s edges could be turned into parks, especially with the possibility of more dense development in downtown Bethesda.

Legg also said the town’s government could do a better job communicating with residents by using targeted email lists, a mobile-friendly website, text alerts and social media accounts.

The proposed Purple Line light-rail system also figured prominently in the forum. Councilwoman Kathy Strom said the proposed Purple Line has a lot of problems, and the town needs to bring them to the attention of county, state and federal officials.

Vicky Taplin, a member of the town’s Climate and Environment Committee, said she doesn’t understand destroying one environmental asset — the Capital Crescent Trail — for a transit system that is supposed to be environmentally friendly. She said she wants to see more open spaces in the town, such as community gardens, pocket parks and maybe a dog park.

Deborah Vollmer, a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee, said she is “adamantly opposed” to the proposed Purple Line alignment and would support litigation to challenge it. She favors a moratorium on building in the town and restrictions on pesticide use.

Statements from all the candidates are available online at townofchevychase.org.