Town of Chevy Chase approves grant to fight Purple Line -- Gazette.Net


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Those who don’t want to see the Purple Line run through Chevy Chase — be they human neighbors or tiny crustaceans — are getting some financial help from the town.

The town of Chevy Chase council agreed Wednesday to give Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail $15,000 to help it combat the Purple Line light rail segment that is proposed to run along the trail. The council voted 4-0 to approve the organization’s request, with council member Patricia Burda recusing herself, according to meeting minutes.

Most of the grant — $10,000 — will pay for an environmental study by a professor at American University. Ajay Bhatt, president of the trail group, said the state’s environmental impact study didn’t take a hard look at a lot of environmental issues stemming from the Purple Line.

“If they’re going to spend that kind of money [on building the Purple Line], shouldn’t they do an extensive survey of the wildlife and the habitat that’s going to be affected by this project?” Bhatt asked.

Because he doesn’t think the government’s study was thorough enough, Bhatt said, his organization plans to contract with David Culver, a professor in American University’s Department of Environmental Science, to survey the trail area and identify the creatures that are there. In particular, Bhatt said the survey will likely find one species of endangered amphipod, a tiny shrimp-like creature.

If the endangered amphipod does turn up in an area that would be affected by the Purple Line, Bhatt said, there is a process to bring it to officials’ attention under the federal laws protecting endangered species.

Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail plans to spend $4,000 of the town’s grant on expenses related to its fundraising race Saturday and the remaining $1,000 on updating its website.

For the past five years, the group has held a 5K race to raise funds and awareness about its goal to keep the Purple Line off the Metropolitan Branch section of the trail that runs east from downtown Bethesda. About 300 to 400 runners turn out every year, Bhatt said.

“We use it to raise awareness, and certainly, this is a critical time for people to understand that if they build the Purple Line, the trail will be gone forever,” he said.

At the same meeting, the Chevy Chase Town Council voted unanimously to give $35,000 to Round House Theatre in Bethesda for technology upgrades.



ewaibel@gazette.net