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  1. Designate county-owned parking lots and open space owned by WMATA as recreational parks and community event spaces
  2. Include guidance on how and when public parks will be funded, built, and managed

Public amenities, and parks in particular, attract employers, employees, residents and visitors to an area. They are “place makers.” As Bethesda buildings start reaching for the sky, the County must foster a strong sense of place on the ground through its public amenities requirements. Parks are the foundation for that work.

Unfortunately, the promotion of parks as the number one priority in the Plan leaves residents disillusioned, as the proposals do not match the vision. CBAR added up every fraction of an acre of proposed park and open space in the Plan, and applied two standard metrics to assess adequacy:


Total proposed Parkland acreage at full build-out 18.49acres
Parkland area as a percentage of total acresCalculation = 18.49 / 457 acres in total Plan area 4%
Acres per 1000 peopleCalculation = 18.49 / 34.2 0.54


As a priority, the parks proposal fails. At full build-out:

  • Park land as a percentage of total Plan area acreage tops out at a mere 4%
  • Acres per 1000 people is a dismal 0.54. For comparison, Washington DC provides 13.2 acres per 1000 people.

Also note that we are disappointed with the lack of implementation planning. On June 28, CBAR wrote in support of the Parks Impact Payment and Open Space Sending Site proposals. While many residents and communities support a specific dollar amount, CBAR never did. Instead, our support was focused exclusively on the logic of the pricing methodology proposed by the Planning Department:


Moderate Cost Estimate * Proportional Developer Funding

Available BOZ Density

A pricing methodology is a necessary component in implementation planning. Disappointingly, the pricing methodology was never discussed in the Planning Board Worksessions. Instead, commissioners tossed about arbitrary numbers until they settled on $10 per square foot, and with that, the Board completed deliberations and approved the July 2016 Board Draft Plan 5-0. CBAR believes we need more substance in the Plan to assure residents that the small number of proposed greenways, pocket parks and plazas will be built.

We also strongly believe that larger recreational parks and community event spaces must be added to the Plan, and County-owned parking lots and the open space owned by WMATA are the places to develop them. These lots are economically attractive (to taxpayers) because (a) they are already owned by the public, and (b) as the last undeveloped spaces, the public saves in deconstruction expenses.

On the parks issue, what we witnessed at the Planning Board was not planning. We witnessed politics, and perhaps fatigue. We ask that the County Council revise the Plan to include guidance on how and when public parks will be funded, built and managed. Bethesda cannot afford not to have more recreational spaces or a parks implementation plan.