Make it Green! Transform the Silver Spring Library land into a Public Park
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This petition supports transforming the historic Silver Spring Library and its land for public and open green space. We request the County transfer the property to the Montgomery County Department of Parks. The Department of Parks, with community input, will determine the best uses and activities. The library site is 2.3 acres including the facility and the two adjacent parking lots on Ellsworth Drive.
Why should it be a Park? Because downtown Silver Spring lacks walkable outdoor places for people of all ages to enjoy nature in and around downtown. Using this County property, the Parks Department can add open space for all ages to the heavily used dog park & playground for young children on Ellsworth Drive.
Alternatives being considered by the County could result in a large residential development on the property with no natural green space, impacting the existing Park and the historic library that is already integrated into the landscape.
Why is it critical now? Because the County is considering these alternatives now, and a decision could be made in the next few weeks. Citizens must speak up, to help protect the environment.
We support this once in a lifetime opportunity to expand a Park for the growing number of people living in and adjacent to downtown Silver Spring.
We need more healthy outdoor places for people to play, relax, and refresh. We need open spaces with trees, grass, and gardens to reduce the excessive heat of the buildings and streets of Silver Spring. Parks help reduce carbon emissions, clean the air, and improve public health.
Downtown Silver Spring (the Central Business District, or CBD) has only one park larger than ¼ acre, the Jesup Blair Local Park on the DC line in South Silver Spring. On the downtown perimeter, there are only three small parks of less than 2½ acres each, all acquired in the 1960s and 1970s before the explosive population growth of downtown.
The 2010 Census shows that downtown Silver Spring (the CBD) has 8,500 residential units and a population of over 13,000. From 2010 to 2015, over 2,000 additional residential units have been built in downtown Silver Spring and 7,000 are current planned to be built, likely doubling the population. More buildings don’t make for healthful places, but parks and nature do.
Transforming the paved parking lots (on Ellsworth Drive behind the library) into a sun-filled natural healthful park place is needed more than ever. It will complement the adjacent dog park and playground for children under age 12, and provide an outdoor place for all ages.
We support the transfer of the land, and all facilities on the site, to be owned and managed by the Montgomery County Department of Parks. We support a land use balance of natural parks compared to roads and buildings.
We support these approved Montgomery County plans and recommendations for additional outdoor spaces and ask that they be UPHELD for the library property by the County Council, the Department of Parks, and Council Executive Leggett:
"[The library site] is located in one of the highest density areas of the entire County, and it has the lowest level of park service per population in the County.” Department of Parks letter dated 1/29/2015, requesting that the library property be transferred to the Department of Parks.
“Consider converting local government facility sites, once they are declared surplus by the County, to parks…As government facilities consolidate or relocate (e.g., Silver Spring Library, Silver Spring Government Center), each site should be evaluated for possible inclusion in the park inventory.” Page 86 of the 2000 North & West Silver Spring Master Plan*
“…[the] greatest needs for additional park and recreation services to be in areas nearest urban centers…in and around the Silver Spring Central Business District.” 2012 PROS Plan (Parks, Recreation and Open Space)
“[the library property is] a valuable public resource offering the only opportunity to expand Ellsworth Park. The site is located in one of the highest density areas with the lowest level of park service per population in the County. Situated at the edge of the Central Business District, it could serve the residents of a high density area while acting as a buffer to the adjacent single family area.” Letter from Montgomery County Planning Board to Montgomery County Department of General Services, February 13, 2015
* Master Plans are official land use planning documents for each small area of Montgomery County. They are created and approved by the County Council, and have extensive community, county government and professional planner input. The approved plan guides all future land use decisions in that area.
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