The following letter to the editor was submitted by Jerry Morenoff, first vice president of the Bethesda Fire Department, in response to this story on Chevy Chase residents opposing any commercial redevelopment of Bethesda Fire Station #6:
Dear Bethesda Now:
The Bethesda Fire Department (BFD) would like to correct some false and misleading statements from your June 23 article, “Chevy Chase Residents Mobilizing Against Potential Fire Station Redevelopment.” The BFD will, in fact, be engaging the public this summer in meetings to review potential plans related to the ongoing Bethesda Downtown Plan with Montgomery County. In the meantime, we feel it is important that the process be transparent and that we move forward with the correct facts.
Your article referenced a quote that said in part that the Bethesda Fire Department that owns the station “has tried many times in the past and failed to get zoning that would have allowed commercial uses and multiple residences on the property.” BFD has owned the fire station #6 property at Bradley and Wisconsin since 1968. Since owning the property, BFD has never applied for any rezoning or special exceptions as referenced in your article. Additionally, a specific proposal referenced in the article implied that a plan proposed 49 years ago was relevant to the current process. Nothing could be further from the truth. The article referenced a 1965 plan that was applied for by a previous owner that “… included a 169-unit apartment-hotel with a barber shop, beauty parlor, pharmacy, other retail and 279 parking spots.” That plan has no bearing and no resemblance to concepts being discussed today and any suggestion to the contrary is a false representation of BFD’s plans and intentions.
The Bethesda Fire Department values its relationship with the neighboring properties in Chevy Chase, and all the communities we serve. Protecting public safety is our number one priority. We are committed to an open and collaborative dialogue regarding any plans related to the property and our mission to serve our communities.
John Murgolo, President
Nat Finkelstein, Legal Counsel
Jerry Morenoff, First Vice President
Grant Davies, Treasurer