Update: February 2014
As stated in our October 2013 update, the Historic Preservation Commission, part of the county's Planning Department recommended that the Rec Center be designated as "historical," thus forcing the county to keep the dilapidated structure on its present site. The County Council will be taking up this matter Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850, Tuesday, Feb. 25th AT 7:30 p.m. At a community meeting held at the Rec Center on Thursday, February 21, it was clear that the vast majority of the community does not want this to happen. Please consider testifying before the council to voice your concern. To do so, call: (240) 777-7803 as soon as possible.
This would greatly reduce the contiguous open green space needed for children. The county Department of Recreation has stated that if this occurs they will not be able to conduct outdoor programs similar to those offered at other county recreation centers.
In addition, bringing the Rec Center up to code will cost from $7-8 million. This is money the county does not have and the community is fearful this will delay, what has already become a 17 year project. (To see a timeline of the last 17 years of this project, download this PDF.)
Update: October 2013
There's a new problem in the County's plans to renovate the Wheaton Library and the Rec Center! Please come to the October 17 meeting of Montgomery County Planning Board, Afternoon Session, beginning at 1 p.m. And check this site often for updates.
The Wheaton Youth Center (Wheaton Community Recreation Center), at 11711 Georgia Avenue, is the subject of a redevelopment plan by the Montgomery County government. The planned project proposes the removal of the Rec Center and the adjacent Wheaton Library to be replaced by one central facility.
This project was approved in January 2012 and placed in the FY13 Capital Improvement budget. The Gilchrist Center was later added to the scope as in March 2013. But, as in past plans, there is a glitch.
The Rec Center has been recently recommended by the Historic Preservation Commission to be placed on the Master Plan for Historic Preservation, and interim listing on the Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites. This proposal comes before the Montgomery Planning Board on Oct. 17, 2013.
The decision to designate the Rec Center as an historical site could derail the joint library and Rec Center project by adding bureaucracy, extra time and expense. It's unclear what would result. Final approval will be determined by the Montgomery County Council.
On July 25, 2013, the County Executive, Isiah Leggett stated:
"Due to the ages of both the Wheaton Library and the small size of the Wheaton Neighborhood Community Center; these individual buildings no longer provide for those needs. The outcome of this study may heavily impact the County's ability to properly serve this community, but the County will wait for the Historic Preservation Commission to decide on the historic significance of the Wheaton Youth Center…" Now the committee has moved forward with their Recommendation to the Montgomery County Planning Board and our neighborhood project is in jeopardy.
Ownership of the land on which the Rec Center sits presents an added problem. The Wheaton Youth Center is owned by M-NCPPC and programmed by the County Recreation Department, while the library is owned by Montgomery County. The county plans to arrange a land swap for the Rec Center property, but that has not transpired in a timely manner. The new building is already in the design phase, but the county actually does not own all of the land. This risk has been repeatedly pointed out to all involved by the communities served by the Wheaton Library for several years.
Just before the historic designation request, Grimm and Parker, the selected architects of the dual-purpose project, presented two community feedback sessions over the summer of 2013. At the first meeting community input was collected. At the second meeting, an online survey was discussed as well as the collected community ideas from the last time. Traffic patterns into the Wheaton Community Center and Library neighborhood were discussed and breakout groups reacted. Seven options were depicted online and have since been removed.
There have been many years of false starts to bring the Wheaton Library and Rec Center up to today's standards. The county has wasted time and money without success. The following in detail describes what has transpired.
The library was opened in 1960 and was renovated in 1985. Problems with building conditions has continued for a number of years, and a project providing for the complete renovation of the Wheaton Library was approved initially as part of the FY05-10 CIP. However, the Council deleted the project from the FY09-14 CIP because of uncertainty regarding the scope of the project and the possibility of relocation to a site in the Central Business District. The current Wheaton Library site is located on County property.
Wheaton Community Center
The Wheaton Community Center was opened in 1963 by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) and is located on parkland. The Recreation Department programs the facility. The Recreation Strategic Facility Plan 1997-2010 called for replacing the existing facility with a larger full service Center to serve the Wheaton/Kemp Mill communities. The Wheaton Community Center-Rafferty project was proposed in the FY09-14 CIP to renovate and expand a portion of the former Good Counsel High School, which was designated for a public purpose as a part of a site development rezoning decision. The Rafferty Center, along with a renovated Wheaton Recreation Center, was intended to provide the equivalent of a full service community Recreation Center. Space limitations and other challenges with the site made the project undesirable, and it was eliminated from the CIP. In 2010, the County considered building a new Rec Center at Randolph and Georgia in Glenmont. It would not be available until 2015; the community rejected that idea. Next, the current project was adopted in October 2012.
What You Can Do
- Write the Montgomery County Planning Board:
8787 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Email: [email protected]
- Write the County Council (diRect links located on the right side of this page)
- Offer to help with your time: Contact: [email protected]
- Put up a yard sign
- Offer to help fund printing costs for signs and flyers