A group of area residents and business leaders says Montgomery County should help reinstitute the Friendship Heights Task Force — or a group like it that can tackle cross-border issues such as pedestrian safety and bus routes between Maryland and D.C.

After meeting in October with Advisory Neighborhood Commission members from nearby areas of D.C., the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board sent a letter to County Executive Isiah Leggett last week asking for “more cross-jurisdictional communication and coordination.”

The Friendship Heights Task Force was set up in 1998 with members from Montgomery County and D.C., and played a part in influencing development, community projects throughout Friendship Heights and advocating for public safety issues.

It was active until about 2001 and has been dormant since.
“The need for a renewed emphasis on coordination between Montgomery County and the District concerning Friendship Heights was very apparent from the [October] roundtable discussion,” wrote WMCCAB Chair Jad Donohoe. “Participants, including commissioners from Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (3D, 3E, and 3G) raised issues pertaining to pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle safety; bus routes, public safety, and environmental concerns.”

One of the issues discussed at the meeting was a lack of direct bus connections between Upper Northwest D.C. activity centers and activity centers such as downtown Bethesda in Montgomery County.
Some said they’d like to see better bicycle infrastructure on the Montgomery County side of Western Avenue that would connect to what’s existing and planned for the D.C. side of the border. One participant said there should be a connection to D.C.’s Oregon Avenue bicycle boulevard.
Some also hope to see safety improvements to the intersection of Friendship Bouelvard, Western Avenue and Jennifer Street, near the GEICO corporate office and Mazza Gallerie shopping center. Chevy Chase Village Board Member Pat Baptiste said she’d like more support for pedestrian improvements on Connecticut Avenue and at Chevy Chase Circle.
The WMCCAB letter also said the group hopes an ongoing County Council study on the formation of business improvement districts will include a look at cross-jurisdictional BIDs, which could be a model for a future BID in Friendship Heights.
Flickr photo by ehpien