NNWB sent extensive comments to the Planning Board about the draft master plan update for Wheaton Regional Park. Our comments were endorsed by the Anacostia Watershed Community Advisory Committee, the Anacostia Riverkeeper, the Audubon Naturalist Society, and the Friends of Sligo Creek. The Anacostia Watershed Society sent concurrence independently. Our comments sought to preserve natural areas to the maximum extent possible, while recognizing the increasing need for youth recreation that usually entails more concrete and fewer trees.
Consistent with our decades long objection to the fiscally irresponsible and environmentally damaging conversion of natural grass playing fields to plastic rugs and used tire crumb infill, NNWB submitted testimony supporting SB 321, requiring a documented chain of custody. As the turf fields become dangerously worn and are replaced, disposal is another huge environmental problem since their mixed composition defies recycling. They are often rejected for both incineration and land fills, and are simply dumped somewhere. This bill would at least enable municipalities to track where the fields are and where they go for disposal.
NNWB reviewed the 172 Planning Board version of Thrive Montgomery 2050, as well as the original somewhat longer staff draft. We found that the Planning Board draft, by failing to recognize the current climate emergency at the outset and the need to address it, does not correctly present the roles of our parks and the Agricultural Reserve.
The 19,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Governor Hogan's beltway and I-270 expansion plan presented commenters with a daunting task. The approach to comments by the NNWB was to examine closely how the Northwest Branch and its tributary Sligo Creek are treated by the DEIS and the proposed highway project. We felt this approach was appropriate for our organization's mission. Many of the findings also apply to the other stream valley parks damaged by the project.
In the 2020 session of the Maryland General Assembly, NNWB provided testimony for three bills, two regarding the plastic pollution caused by artificial turf, the third supporting a ban on carryout plastic bags. We signed on to support for a ban on release of balloons. Unfortunately, none of the bills passed both chambers. At the Montgomery County level, we provided supportive testimony on a county ban on balloon releases and opposed the suspension of the carryout bag tax, which has helped to reduce plastic debris along the NWB. The balloon release bill became law on 9/30/20 and goes into effect 12/30/20. The carryout bag tax suspension bill was thankfully withdrawn. Our testimonies are below. Files may not automatically display after they download. You have to go to your Download file.
We Neighbors of the Northwest Branch are concerned about the entire Northwest Branch and its effect on recovery of the Anacostia River into which it flows. We were therefore alarmed to learn of plans in Hyattsville to build townhouses and then a school in the floodplain. NNWB provided testimony for the Prince George's County Planning Board opposing construction of the 40 townhouses in the NWB floodplain in Hyattsville, and also wrote to the Prince George's County Council in opposition to an amendment that would enable construction of houses in areas zoned for open space in the NWB watershed.
With respect to the Hyattsville Middle School reconstruction, we wrote to the Hyattsville Mayor, the City Council Members, and the Capital Improvement Program Officer for schools urging that they not choose Magruder Park on the banks of the NWB as the site for a new school, and certainly not by destroying a forested part to do it. Our testimonies and letters are below.
In the 2019 Maryland General Assembly NNWB provided testimony in support of three issues: the statewide ban on EPS foam for food use; the prohibition of state funds for synthetic turf playgrounds and fields; and the plan to expand the beltway and I-270 using public-private partnerships (P3). NNWB also wrote to the three members of the Board of Public Works in opposition to proceeding with P3 contracts to expand the beltway and I-270 without benefit of a completed environmental assessment.
The County Executive's proposal for the Montgomery County CIP for FY19 and beyond cut back the county's stormwater management program by more than 70% and changed the procurement process to a design-build-maintain model. This would leave huge stranded costs, as many abandoned projects were already partially designed. NNWB joined the Stormwater Partners in protesting these cuts.
In the 2018 Maryland General Assembly, we supported a ban on use and sale of expanded polystyrene (foam) food service products and a ban on use of state funds for synthetic playground and athletic field surfaces. See testimonies at buttons below. House and Senate testimonies are almost identical but for the bills numbers, committees, and lead sponsors.
In earlier years we strongly supported saving Ten Mile Creek and applying a fee to carryout bags in Montgomery County to reduce plastic litter on our streets and in our streams. We criticized a poorly done "study" of synthetic turf and supported a cosmetic pesticide ban and a Montgomery County expanded polystyrene ban. See letters and testimonies at buttons below.