Sunday, October 23, 2011

First They Came for the Mailboxes...

It was four years ago when citizens of the areas immediately surrounding downtown Silver Spring noticed that the once-ubiquitous blue mailboxes were disappearing from their neighborhoods without warning. Then, earlier this year, the main downtown Silver Spring post office on Second Avenue was sold to developers, who have plans to construct apartments on the site. Now, the Postal Service has mailed out surveys to local residents to help determine the feasibility of closing the tiny "finance center" post office hidden in the bowels of the office building at 8455 Colesville Rd.

I recognize that the Postal Service is presently in dire financial straights, but if they are going to continue to operate post offices at all, it makes absolutely no sense for them to completely forsake a major metropolitan area like downtown Silver Spring. Closing this last downtown outpost would leave the Four Corners/Woodmoor location as the post office closest to downtown. Has whatever bureaucrat at Postal Service headquarters making this determination ever BEEN to the Four Corners post office? For starters, traffic around there is a nightmare. You can only access the post office from one direction, and the parking lot has maybe eight spots. Even if you do get a spot, there's a good chance someone will park perpendicularly behind you, making it extremely difficult to back out. You can try and be sneaky and park in the neighborhood street that dead ends right behind the building, but during the week that is a neighborhood permit only street, so you are technically breaking the law. This is the post office they suggest will serve all of the 20901 and 20910 ZIP codes? What about customers that don't own a car? Are they going to have to take a bus for miles to mail a package? What are they thinking?

Granted, it's fairly easy to print shipping labels using the USPS' online service, but it forces you to purchase premium services you don't need like Priority and Express Mail by not allowing you to print first class or media mail labels. (A service they could very easily provide, because they let you do it if you do it as an eBay/PayPal seller.) Plus, you need to own a postal scale to properly calculate shipping costs using their website. It's probably a very small minority of Postal Service customers who actually use this service at present.

I generally find ways to avoid going, but based on the fact that there always seems to be a line, clearly a lot of people need the Post Office. Why the Postal Service would completely abandon downtown Silver Spring is beyond me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday News 'N Notes

- Fenton Street Market, which had announced it would be closing permanently come November, may return next year after all, despite the county having added a number of (costly) new rules to the lease requirement. If the market does return, one thing they will be required to do is rent a portable toilet, because I'm sure anyone in DTSS needing to use the bathroom would elect to use a port-a-john in the middle of Veteran's Plaza. Isn't the main purpose of the Civic Building to house public bathrooms? That's about all I've used it for so far.

- It wouldn't be a Silver Spring development project if it weren't held up endlessly by "The Community" and/or the County Government, would it? The Leave the Zone Alone folks have scored a comeback victory against EYA's townhouse project slated for the Chelsea School site, getting the county council to "recommend" that the developer scale back its plans for 76 townhomes on the property .

The Proposed Chelsea Court Townhouses

Would these townhomes really change the composition of the neighborhood that much? The plans seem fairly innocuous to me. It's not like there aren't already highrise apartments ACROSS THE STREET from the property. At this point, I wonder why any developer would bother to do business in this county. Out of spite, they should just let the property become overgrown and turn into a hobo encampment.

Also, to call that neighborhood "historic", as this article does, is a bit of a stretch. (Disclosure: this is my neighborhood.)

- Silver Spring's first bikeshare station will be located outside the new apartments being constructed at the former post office location on 2nd Avenue. I would think that this type of thing would make a lot more sense by the Metro, but perhaps there are plans to ultimately locate one at the new transit center as well.

- The Haunted Garden, an elaborate Halloween setup free to the public, opens tonight. The Garden is located at 9215 Worth Ave and will be open the next two weekends and on Halloween night.

- Discovery Headquarters was recently host to a small but sweet car show. I've actually driven the first car before, or at least I have in LA Noire...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I, For One, Welcome Our New 8th District Overlords

It always bothered me that the Maryland congressional districts were drawn in such a way that that people who live but a couple blocks away from me were represented by a different congressperson and that my representative was inevitably chosen by PG County voters.

Now, with the re-gerrymandering of the voting districts nearly complete, all Silver Springers will soon be living within the boundaries of Maryland's 8th District, or at least they will for the next ten years.

Here are the current district maps:

And here are the new district boundaries within Montgomery County:

I'm not the biggest fan of gerrymandering (for either side), but at least the new map doesn't have Silver Spring split down the middle.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sweet, We're Getting an Old Davy

It feels like only yesterday that City Place was going to become a outlet mall before it wasn't.

Photoshopping City Place must be some sort of new Internet meme, because there seems to be a new set of concept images popping up every month or so. This latest set of renderings (PDF) dated September 28th comes from Petrie Ross & Hutensky Capital Partners, and shows City Place rebranded generically as the "Galleria" (what, no Silver Plaza?).

In this latest plan, Shitty Place The Galleria will feature such popular anchor tenants as "Old Davy" and "H&W". There's no real info on actual tenants, and everyone's favorite store, Burlington Coat Factory, seems to be part of their plans. Interestingly, the design calls for the entire top floor, empty for years, to be converted into some sort of dinner theater.

Occupy Silver Spring (With Zombies)

Just a reminder - the 4th Annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk is scheduled for this Saturday night, and all indications are that this year's event will be just as big, if not bigger, than last year's.

A few last minute notes:

- The official posters (pictured above) are now available. For those interested, posters can be purchased online at the official Zombie Walk Website and will also be available at the AFI box office the night of the Walk.

- As of now the weather looks to be clear, if cool, on Saturday night.

- If you haven't bought tickets to the movie and plan on doing so, DO IT NOW. They aren't sold out yet, but I assure you they will be.

-  We've received approval from the police to close off sections of Sligo Ave and Selim Rd near Jackie's, so there's somewhat less of a chance that a car will plow through a crowd of zombies.

- If you missed it, here's the Silver Spring Zombie Walk FAQ.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Despite reports that it will ultimately be occupied by City Sports, the former storefront of Pier 1 Imports appears to be doing nothing but gathering dust, or at least it was the last time I peeked in the window. What's the hold up? Meanwhile, the erstwhile Borders space, which may or may not become an H&M, has been temporarily converted into a Halloween (or Zombie Walk) costume shop.

- It's been ages since a sign first went up indicating that a new restaurant/club called Society would occupy the former Nicaro space at 8229 Georgia Avenue. Now they finally appear to be hiring staff, so perhaps its opening is imminent.

- The Post recently ran a story on Vicino Ristorante Italiano's underground (literally) Jazz Club.

- The only "top hospital" in the Washington metro area: Silver Spring's Holy Cross.

- This year's Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade: no floats, but hey, Ronald McDonald!

- And finally, this tweet last week from the Fillmore Silver Spring demonstrates that Twitter's 140 character limit sometimes forces users to exclude key words, significantly changing the message as a result.