A Widening War
Take a stroll around Rockville neighborhoods these days and you’re bound to notice them: signs reading don’t widen 270 staked on front lawns. Residents are worried about governor Larry Hogan’s proposal to widen the highway, which they fear could require seizing private homes and businesses. As many as 1,500 properties are potentially affected by both the I-270 proposal and a similar plan to widen the Beltway, according to a Maryland Department of Transportation study. Hogan, though, insists no one’s house will be taken.
The governor and his supporters point to projections that show traffic on the highways increasing by roughly 15 percent in the next 20 years—a headache that widening the roads could soothe. But they face a serious fight, with several local grassroots groups organizing protests and petitions as well as drawing up alternative plans.
There’s No Place Like Home
Main Street, a new residential building opening next year at Rockville Town Square, will cater a quarter of its units to adults with disabilities—making it the first apartment complex of its kind in Washington.
The units will be wheelchair-accessible and come with special safety features, such as a technology that puts out stove fires automatically. The building is part of a growing national response to adults with developmental disabilities who face limited independent-living options.
New Kid on the Block
Rockville is now home to dueling Asian food halls. Each features a collection of eateries serving fusion dishes, often crafted to look as photogenic as possible for Instagram. First was the Spot (255 N. Washington St.), which opened about a year ago with a noodle bar and fried chicken. Pike Kitchen (1066 Rockville Pike) arrived at the end of last year, with Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese stalls plus a hard-to-resist bakery.
Now a splashy new addition, the Block, is slated to arrive by the end of 2019 at Pike & Rose. Larger than the original Block in Annandale, the hall will span 8,500 square feet, with seating for 300. Its eight vendors will serve a more varied spread than the other food halls, including Nashville hot chicken, poke, Thai food, and Taiwanese shaved ice.
When news spread that the black gum tree at Belward Farm had died in July, Rockville residents past and present were devastated. The tree was more than a navigational landmark for drivers on Route 28; it was a stalwart presence in the daily lives of many—a majestic, massive-limbed tower standing on acres of farmland while the rest of Rockville grew and developed around it. The band O.A.R. (see page 185) even featured the tree on the cover of its 2003 album, In Between Now and Then.
The tree’s demise, according to arborist Joshua Nadler, who examined it, was the result of excessive rain that contributed to root rot. A request has been made to Johns Hopkins University, the landowner, to plant a new gum tree in memory of the original.
Even with Rockville’s abundance of Asian food, Korean barbecue in the area was limited to only a couple of options. But recent months have seen a mini-boom of tabletop-grill spots. An outpost of the Korean barbecue chain Honey Pig (12015-G Rockville Pike) opened about a year ago, and Mahdang Korean Restaurant (12300 Wilkins Ave.) and K-Pot Hot Pot & Barbecue (5550 Randolph Rd.) arrived off the Pike.
Get Out the Vote
In November, Rockville will become the first city in Maryland to hold a vote-by-mail election. Though one physical voting center will be open at city hall for those who prefer the traditional method, all registered voters will be mailed ballots so they can cast votes in the 2019 mayoral and city-council races from their homes. Officials hope the new option will boost participation.