Current Advocacy Issues

Focus on: Ellsworth Drive Synthetic Turf Proposal

Sept 3 Update: Now is the time to voice your views!

Register to give testimony via Zoom at the County Executive’s public hearing on “abandonment” (transfer from public to private ownership) of the portion of Ellsworth Drive for which synthetic turf is proposed. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 14 at 12 noon. Or submit written testimony to: Tiara McCray, Property Acquisition, MCDOT, 100 Edison Park Drive, 4th Floor, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, or [email protected]

This is an important issue for downtown Silver Spring. FOSC opposes synthetic turf for human health and environmental pollution impacts. See FOSC’s letter to the Planning Board in June under Letters and Testimony.

July 16 update: The Planning Board declined to revisit their decision. They referred the proposed transfer of the street from public ownership to private ownership (the Ellsworth Drive development group), officially termed “abandonment”, to the County Council for their action.

July 8 update: The Montgomery County Planning Board gave its approval, by a vote of 3-0, for installation of synthetic turf by the developer/owner on the block between Fenton Street and Georgia Ave. After FOSC and other local environmental groups as well as many downtown Silver Spring residents raised important questions about impact of microplastic and maintenance-related air pollution on the creek, its wildlife, and the people who walk, sit, or play on synthetic turf, the Planning Board agreed to consider whether or not to revisit its decision at its July 16 meeting.

Synthetic turf, or “synturf,” consists of polyethylene with numerous coatings. FOSC testimony at the Planning Board meeting has the details on its composition and impacts.

Next steps: Expressing FOSC’s opposition to the County Council. Contact [email protected] if you’re interested in helping with this issue.

Described as “world-class” pedestrian friendly “green space” that will transform this portion of Ellsworth Drive “from the current strip of asphalt to an open, clean, green, and attractive area.”

Real plantings of trees, bushes, native plants and grasses would be a higher quality development providing shade and permeability without hazardous solvent cleaners and micro plastic pollution.

Graphic courtesy The Peterson Companies

Focus on: Beltway Expansion (495 and 270)

Next Steps: The deadline for comments and testimony on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was extended to November 9, 2020. Read the DEIS, submit your testimony in writing, or by voicemail on September 10 from noon to 9 p.m. at 855-432-1483 (press * to hear options), or in person on Sept 10 from noon to 9 p.m. by appointment only at the Hilton Executive Meeting Center, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, in Montgomery County. Call 833-858-5960 to make an appointment. The CABE website provides helpful links.

Update Aug 2020: FOSC testified on August 25 with other groups on the deficiencies of the DEIS. FOSC concerns focus on stormwater and air quality impacts on the County in addition to the direct effects on Sligo Creek Park. See a copy of FOSC testimony on the Letters and Testimony page.

Update July 2020: As required, the state has issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement. It is 18,000 pages including attachments. The Montgomery County Planning Board (MNCPPC) testified July 15 with strong concerns about the DEIS, submitting 63 pages of written testimony.

Background: For years Governor Hogan and the state DOT have pursued adding toll lanes to Interstate 270 and 495. MNCPPC owns the land and has provided residents with significant information not otherwise available. The current proposals under consideration include no status quo or mass transit alternatives.