I attended the Rockville Candidate forum on Oct. 8 at the King Farm Community Center. When a question concerning the Silverwood development of a high-rise apartment complex, on the former Reed Brothers property on Route 355, was posed to mayoral candidate Mark Pierzchala, he replied, “I supported Silverwood. What else could have gone there?” His support and that of two fellow council members, enabled the waiver to the APFO to go through and the developer to commence building on the site.
I was a member of the APFO Review Committee, along with council candidate Julie Palakovich Carr, in 2010. The Silverwood development was the most discussed specific item over the 10-month effort. Members of the committee were confused and quite surprised that the development of this property was allowed.
Former Mayor Larry Giammo spoke with us about how and why the APFO was established, and also provided information citing donations from the developer to the campaign of one of the supporting council members, who was opposing the current mayor in her bid for re-election. It was truly incredible that this sort of thing was occurring in Rockville. What is even more disturbing is that this plan is continuing.
This, despite the fact that there is now only one entrance and exit planned for the complex (WMATA owns the right of way on the Metro access extension of King Farm Boulevard and will not allow it to be used for egress), and that is on to Frederick Road, or more familiarly, Route 355.
This entry is about 100 yards from the westbound Ridgemont Avenue intersection. Our review of working demographics revealed that between 75 percent to 95 percent of those driving to work travel southbound on 355 (between 20 percent to 30 percent of Rockville residents use public transportation to go to work).
The problem is that every vehicle leaving the apartments, that must travel south, will have to cross three lanes of traffic, queue in the third lane, and then make a U-turn on to 355. Aside from the high number of accidents that occur due to U-turns, the “runway” to queue will be extremely short, and those that are in the queue will have a very short time on the turning arrow — limited in time due to the high volume of traffic already proceeding southbound on 355.
Additionally, as I questioned in a previous letter not printed in the Gazette, but published in the Washington Examiner, where are the residents of this facility going to shop and where will their children play? The only option is King Farm. The King Farm community is more than happy to welcome them to our shopping and parks, however, the gauntlet they face is crossing the six lanes that comprise 355. The development borders on 355, the Metro Station and a dump. There is nowhere else to go.
When the accidents start rising at Ridgemont, and pedestrian fatalities mount, what will be the cost to the City of Rockville to mitigate this horrible decision?
The question isn’t “what else could have gone there?” it should be “how could you put an apartment complex there?”
I do not know Mr. Pierzchala. I have a friend that does, and they told me he is a good guy. However, since this is an example of what he considers “smart growth,” or an answer to the budgeting issues in Rockville, he does not deserve to be mayor. I support his mayoral opponent, Bridget Newton, who along with the current mayor, voted against the Silverwood development.
Pierzchala’s “slate” puts the other members in a precarious position. Do they support him and his growth at any cost? That’s not smart.
Tom Gibney, Rockville