Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Neighborhood ‘wake’ in Derwood will highlight impact of ICC

Shady Grove Woods raising money to replace trees

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A neighborhood in Derwood is staging an ‘‘Irish wake” for the community on Saturday to draw attention to what organizers say is the devastating impact of the Intercounty Connector.

Shady Grove Woods is hosting the event called ‘‘Wake-up MoCo” to coincide with Arbor Day and Earth Day. Connie McKenna, president of the neighborhood’s homeowners association, said she wants residents countywide to get a better understanding of the negative impact the ICC is having on the Derwood area. The ICC — an 18-mile toll road that will connect Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg to Interstate 95 in Laurel — is in the early stages of construction and is expected to cost about $2.4 billion.

‘‘With a nod to Gov. Martin O’Malley, a relentless proponent for the ICC, we are staging an Irish wake for Montgomery County,” she said.

The event will be held in Shady Grove Woods, off Briardale Road, and is slated to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At 11:45 a.m., a Scottish bagpiper will lead attendees in a walking tour of the area where an estimated 200 trees have been cut down to make way for the ICC. McKenna said the tour will ‘‘mimic the processional of an Irish wake” and has been named ‘‘O’Malley’s March,” the name of the governor’s former Irish rock band.

‘‘The idea is to show people the devastation that has been visited on our homes as we walk from our homes to the graveyard that is the ICC,” McKenna said, adding the walking tour will take place on neighborhood land.

Proceeds from the event, she said, will go towards a ‘‘tree fund” the community has established to plant trees in areas that have been impacted by the ICC’s construction.

In addition, the event will have a bake sale, plant sale and music. It will also feature letter writing stations to contact elected officials and speeches by environmentalists and community organizers.

A tree planting ceremony, free lunch and other activities are also on tap, said McKenna, a longtime opponent of the ICC who has been involved in lawsuits against the highway.

Alaina Fournier, another organizer, said Shady Grove Woods has received assistance from Tree-Mendous Maryland, a program through the Maryland Department of Resources that provides trees at a reduced price to qualified groups.

‘‘We’re trying to put together a long-term plan in our homeowners association and community to maintain and rejuvenate the forest we still have,” Fournier said.

The community will plant native dogwoods, river birches and bald cypresses, Fournier said.

‘‘It’s really important we have trees and plants in this area to clean and protect our tributaries,” she said.

Heidi van der Walde, also an organizer, said she thinks ‘‘Wake-up MoCo” will benefit the environment and lift the spirits of her neighborhood.

‘‘My hope was to turn this into action,” van der Walde said. ‘‘Give people a voice and someplace where they can put their feelings.”

She added she hopes elected officials will also take notice of the event.

‘‘Hopefully we can have an impact and show politicians that they can’t just rip up our neighborhood,” she said.