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Posted on: August 24, 2021

Farm Women’s Market Redevelopment Update and Parks Creation Project Public Hearing

At its October 13 meeting, the Town Council discussed a possible financial contribution to the parks creation project as part of the redevelopment of the Farm Women’s Market site.  The Council unanimously agreed to propose contributing 25% of the public funds needed for the park project, up to a maximum of $4 million, and discussed conditions related to this contribution.  (As of June 30, 2021, the Town had an unrestricted fund balance of over $10 million.). The Town Council will hold a public hearing on this proposal at its November 10 meeting. 

The parks project includes the cost of constructing an underground garage behind the current market and the creation of parks above that garage and on the lot between Leland and Walsh streets.  It does not include the refurbishment and expansion of the Farm Women’s Market building or land, which is being financed separately by the developers and fees collected from other development in Bethesda.  It is expected that the County will be the primary source of public funds for this project.  The project also will receive a $7 million payment from the developers for the right to build a seven-story building on a portion of the lot behind the current market.  The total cost of the park project has not been finalized, but it could be in the range of $20 - $25 million, which, after subtracting the contribution from the developers, would leave $13 - $18 million in public funds to come from the County and Town. 

At the October meeting, the Council also discussed proposed conditions related to the contribution, including the commitment of funds by all parties to build both parks in their entirety; establishment of the parks in perpetuity; a community engagement process by the developers and the Parks Department on park amenities; Town involvement in ongoing decisions regarding the regulations and programming of the parks; and County/Parks Department responsibility for ongoing maintenance of the parks.  

The Council agreed to communicate this proposal to Town residents, invite further public comment this month, and hold a public hearing on the proposal in November.  In September and October, the Town held three listening sessions to hear from residents about this proposal and to answer questions.

Public Comments

We ask that all residents continue to submit their views on this project in advance of the November 10 public hearing.  We want to hear from as many residents as possible in response to the following questions:

  • Should the Town support this project, and, if so, how much financial support should we provide knowing that a material contribution would be in the millions of dollars?
  • What are these parks and an expanded Farm Women's Market worth to the Town in terms of green space, possible amenities such as a playground, dog parks, a water feature and an amphitheater, the proximity of enhanced opportunities for food shopping and dining, and the revitalization of retail along Wisconsin Avenue?
  • Is a material contribution worth the avoided risk of future development on these lots that would bring high rise development next to our Town?
  • How much of our Town reserves – over $10 million – might we be comfortable committing, given other uses we may also wish to consider for funds? And might we also use a portion of our ARPA money for the green infrastructure components of this project?
  • Given the competing priorities for County funds and the resistance by many in the County to spend for amenities in our area, what level of leadership does the Town want to provide so that this vision becomes a reality?
  • What conditions might the Town attach to a contribution to ensure we receive the value we pay for?

Residents are encouraged to send in comments to the Town Office at townoffice@townofchevychase.org.

September 20 Presentation

On September 20, Town residents received an update on the project from EYA, Bernstein Management Corporation, and the County's Department of Transportation.  Links to materials from the September meeting are below.


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