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My Two Cents: An Introduction

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 9/25/2013, 10:40am  ET

My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

Joseph HawkinsFirst, I want to thank BethesdaNow for allowing me to speak my mind weekly. That is the plan — to speak up or post something once a week.

Second, I promise to keep what I write about focused on Bethesda only. I might go out a limb periodically and say something not particularly smart, but I promise even the un-smart things will be Bethesda-focused.

Of course now that I’ve said this, I need to offer an example: Bethesda is not Paris! 

I do not recall who said it — some person on the Montgomery County Planning Board, I think. But that someone planning for the new White Flint said that when the new development is complete it will be just like being in Paris. Really!

I love Bethesda dearly. I even like North Bethesda — the home of White Flint, which is really Rockville. But Paris is Paris, and let us just drop any comparisons of Paris to Bethesda. Bethesda will never be Paris – no matter how walkable we become, how many bike lanes pop up, or how many restaurants cook up appropriately crisp duck confetti (definitely a challenge from Bethesda restaurants).

Third, I promise that the aim of my writing is to improve Bethesda. Besides exercising my brain and having fun, that is my agenda for this blog.

And Bethesda is always improving. When I first moved to Bethesda (Ronald Reagan was president), a group of neighbors living along Wilson Lane formed the Wilson Lane Safety Coalition. I joined the group to improve my own immediate neighborhood (I wanted my own two children to be able to walk safety to Pyle Middle School on Wilson Lane) and to improve Bethesda in general. It took us almost 10 years, but we ended up with a few victories.

The continuous sidewalk that runs from the bottom of Wilson Lane at MacArthur Boulevard all the way to the top of Wilson Lane at Old Georgetown Road is because of the Coalition’s work. The Coalition also got the state to lower speed limits along Wilson Lane, drop lane expansions from the master plan and eliminate all passing lanes. Yes, hard to believe it, but there was a time when cars could pass on Wilson Lane. How barbaric was that!

Finally, I’m completely open to ideas, suggestions, and comments from readers. And I never mind being told that I’m wrong. Of course, that means there is clear evidence you’re willing to share with me about why I’m wrong. That’s fair, right?

Next week I will tackle the Montgomery County nightlife issue through a Q & A with Bill DeBaun. Bill is a former co-worker and friend. He was one of the George Washington University graduate students that co-authored a report (Attracting Young Professionals to a New Montgomery County) for the Montgomery County government’s Nighttime Economy Task Force.  BethesdaNow has blogged previously about the Task Force and its work.

Frankly, Bethesda needs to pay close attention to the work of this Task Force since we are consistently mentioned as “the” place to expand nighttime entertainment options. So, how ready are we to become the new Adams Morgan?

Joseph Hawkins is a longtime Bethesda resident who remembers when there was no Capital Crescent Trail.  He works full-time for an employee-owned social science research firm located Montgomery County. He is a D.C. native and for nearly 10 years, he wrote a regular column for the Montgomery Journal. He also has essays and editorials published in Education Week, the Washington Post, and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. He is a serious live music fan and is committed to checking out some live act at least once a month.