Silver Spring residents from the Seven Oaks Evanswood neighborhood have found an ally in the county’s top politician in their fight against the site of a Purple Line substation.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett responded to residents via email on Oct.1 about their issues with having a Purple Line power substation in their neighborhood, saying he supports the residents’ request to the Maryland Transit Administration to find an alternative site for the Wayne Avenue traction power substation.
“I think he will support the alternative location that they are looking into,” said Jean Cavanaugh, president at the Seven Oaks Evanswood citizens’ association.
“We understand the power substations have to be a mile apart so obviously that’s a basic requirement... but hopefully they are looking into the school property,” Cavanaugh said. As an alternative location, residents requested the lot available in the back of the Silver Spring International Middle School as a potential area to bury substation.
Meanwhile, the administration also confirmed it has plans to meet with residents in November.
“We are in the midst of the comment and review period of the environmental inquire,” said Michael Madden, manager of the Purple Line project, adding the final impact statement is required by the National Environmental Policy Act, and it is focused on the environmental impacts and benefits associated with the entire 16-mile project due on Oct. 21. Madden believes officials should be ready to present the final analyses on Wayne Avenue substation after the comment and review period.
“We are looking forward to get back to the community,” added Madden.
Cavanaugh said she appreciated Leggett’s email but added there’s a bit of frustration among residents.
“They’ve been analyzing possibilities for a long time and part of me thinks they are waiting for political pressure and extra money to make it happen,” Cavanaugh said.
The citizens’ association sent a letter in early June to Leggett, County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring and Madden. It said residents had “voted unanimously” against the transformer being anywhere above ground in their “overwhelmingly single-family residential neighborhoods, no matter how its facade might be disguised.”
“It has nothing to do with political pressure or money at this time. It just takes time to analyze what the community has requested,” added Madden.
The state presented a proposal to disguise the substation in late July, but residents were not happy about the idea of building the substation at Wayne Avenue and Cloverfield Road. The facility would be 50 feet by 14 feet surrounded by trees, and a wooden fence that would blend into the neighborhood, making it look like a single-family home.
Seven Oaks Evanswood residents were concerned with the size of the disguised house, potential crime because of an unoccupied space, constant noise and regular maintenance tasks such as trash pick-up, overgrown grass, and trimming trees. The Wayne Avenue substation would be one of the 20 to power the Purple Line.
Cavanaugh said via email the meeting with officials in November is “news” to her, and that she would only get “too excited” until finding out what officials have to say.