Scheduled for April 12, 2003

quick links to:
Playground changes & Development
Home sales

Brookdale Annual Meeting
Wednesday, 7 May 2003, 7:30 PM
Westbrook Elementary School on Allan Road
Multipurpose Room
Topics: Election of Officers, Development, Playground Equipment

Bring your checkbooks to pay annual dues!

Nominating Committee
Please suggest nominees for Brookdale Officers to these members of the Nominating Committee:
Mike Makuch, Brookdale N, chair
Bob Cope, Brookdale S
Jordan Harding, Wohlshire
Steve Heyman, Orchardale


Well, it was quite a tough, long, cold winter that just passed, and I'm sure we're all glad to have spring here finally. We haven't had any winter social gatherings, but we've remained busy with various development issues.

Hecht's Amended Site Plan Hearing. At the time you read this the 10 April 2003 hearing on the amended Hecht's development site plan hearing will have occurred. The developer, the New England Development Corporation, has requested an amendment to the already fully approved site plan; in their amendment they propose converting commercial/office space over to residential. The community associations typically agree with this type of conversion because residential occupancy usually generates less street traffic than commercial space.

Hecht's Site Plan, CCCFH, and CBCC. The Citizens' Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights (CCCFH) which represents Brookdale and other nearby neighborhood associations plans to testify at the hearing. Jim Norton and his organization, the Coalition for a Better Community Center (CBCC), met with the Brookdale Executive Committee in late January to discuss their idea to propose a larger community center on the site with an indoor pool. The CBCC presented a proposed alternate site plan to the CCCFH in March; they plan to present their alternate site plan at the 10 April hearing. The CCCFH, having worked directly with the developers over the years to secure the 20,000+ square-foot community center (including basketball courts) on the site believes the current site plan with its proposed amendment and community center is the most reasonable compromise that meets the developer's requirements for revenue generation, the county's expectations for development density, and the community associations' desires for a decent, fully-funded community center with meeting rooms and a basketball court. For this reason the CCCFH plans to support the existing negotiated position, plan, and amendment rather than the CBCC proposed site redesign. The CCCFH indicated that the CBCC proposed plan has many good features, including a larger community center and indoor pool and might have been a good solution had it been proposed some years earlier in the site review, negotiation, and approval process. CCCFH will neither actively support nor oppose the CBCC plan in part because it sidesteps the history of negotiations with the developer and leaves some significant issues unresolved including the funding source for the community center construction. The CCCFH would rather support a 20,000 square-foot center funded fully by the developer than a larger center with no firm plan on how it will be funded or even whether it will be supported by the county.

The Brookdale Executive Committee believes that as a community we should continue to rely on the negotiation leverage provided by the CCCFH and its members for making our community's desires known. However, I completely understand and support any individual residents who join the CBCC in their drive to "go for the gold" as a means of keeping the pressure on county officials to provide more "down" county public facilities and developers to provide the best amenities possible for Friendship Heights residents.

Dues Collection. I want to thank those of you who have paid your $20 association dues for the 2002-2003 association year that ends in May 2003. Regina Crosson reported that over 50% of the residents have already paid. If you have not paid, please contact Regina Crosson, 301-907-9525.

Directory Update. Shaazka Beyerle and the V-Ps have collected updated data forms from many residents for the new Brookdale Directory; we have passed these on to our Brookdale Data Manager, Nancy Lavigne. However, we still believe that we have not received forms from many new residents. We previously announced that if we do not hear back from residents of a particular residence we will assume that the resident has remained in place and we will carry forward the data from the 2000 directory and 2002 update. If it matters to you whether you are listed in the directory and/or if your data are correct/updated, it is your responsibility to contact your area V-P, Shaazka Beyerle (301-718-7861) or Nancy Lavigne. You have until 30 April (2 weeks after this Bugle is distributed) to respond; at that point we'll go final with the data and directory. We're giving everyone one last chance to get their data included/updated because we want to produce a directory that is as accurate as possible at the time of printing. We will then distribute one directory to each household.

GEICO Development. I spoke with one of the senior GEICO officials, Steve Martz, recently about the development of the GEICO property and about the homes GEICO owns in Brookdale. Mr. Martz stated that the (approved) GEICO Property Site Plan is valid until 2005. If it does not begin development by that point, GEICO will need to decide whether to go for another extension. Mr. Martz stated that GEICO currently believes their current office building is adequate for another 5-10 years.

GEICO Homes. GEICO currently (still) owns 8 houses and 2 empty lots in Brookdale 4 houses and 2 lots on Cortland Road (on the GEICO side), 2 houses on Westport (5302 and 5308), 1 on Sherrill (5328), and 1 on Baltimore (5331). In time, GEICO still plans to sell the homes that do not directly border their property. They plan to retain the homes that border the property until the redevelopment of the GEICO site is complete (some years in the future). GEICO is already housing some employees in a couple of the GEICO-owned homes in Brookdale. It seems their plan, over time, is to ask the existing non-GEICO employee tenants, often long-term renters, to move so they can replace them with more GEICO employees. This might happen sooner rather than later. This appears to be completely legal because it appears no leases are being broken and there are no agreements with Brookdale on how GEICO will manage its rental properties or to whom they will rent them. Mr. Martz explained that this is necessary because they have many workers who come on short 1-3 year tours to work in the Chevy Chase office. GEICO would also prefer GEICO employees to be living in the GEICO-owned homes at the time their property is developed. I explained that Brookdale expects a higher level of conduct and flexibility from a GEICO landlord than it would from a private homeowner renting out a home. I told GEICO this means that any long term renters who need to be moved to make room for GEICO employees should be given a very, very long advance notice. We need to remember that GEICO will make decisions that most directly benefit their company.

Brookdale Playground. Many thanks to Fiona Carson and Maureen McRaith for their work on this project. Their status report is below.

Park Place Turnaround. I called County official, Steve Suprata, again recently to inquire about the completion of the paving of the turnaround area off of Park Place. The county was not able to accomplish the work prior to winter. The project is fully funded and the Mr. Suprata indicated that he will contact the contractor, M. Louis, to schedule the work. Mr. Suprata anticipates that the paving could be done as early as mid April with most likely completion mid May. As so many months have passed since the County prepared their plan, I am working with Mr. Suprata and Joel Magram to ensure they pave the area as previously agreed.

Orchardale Vice President. I would like to thank Ross Quan for representing Orchardale this past year. He and his family will be moving out of Brookdale before this association year ends. Mr. Quan has done a fine job and we will miss him and his family. We are continuing to look for a replacement V-P to carry out the remainder of his term (through 31 May) as well as for the upcoming association year.

Nomination of New Officers. Mike Makuch is heading up the Nominating Committee to find residents to run for Executive Committee positions. Several officers are retiring: Hal Wolman, Secretary; Barbara Ingersoll, Vice-President of Brookdale South; and Kathy Mintz, Vice-President of Brookdale North.

Brookdale President Retiring. Well, it's been a great year representing Brookdale for our various activities, but I've decided I will not continue on for one more year. The Nominating Committee and I are in the process of searching for residents willing to fill any open positions, including the president position. As I reflect back on the duties of the president, it's really not necessary to have been a long time resident before signing up for either the V-P or President's position. Nearly all of the issues are "new" and we have a wealth of experienced residents who can provide the history on the "old" issues, as they helped me this term. I want to thank everyone on the Executive Committee Barbara Ingersoll, Kathy Mintz, Ross Quan, Sue Bruser, Hal Wolman, and Regina Crosson -- for working hard this year and for residents who volunteered to work special events to provide another active and productive year for the community. And many thanks to Gwen Lewis, our Bugle newsletter editor; Dave Montgomery, our webmaster; Sissy Rothwell for assisting in dues collection; and Shaazka Beyerle and Nancy Lavigne, who worked on the directory update. If you are interested in becoming active in the association or want to inquire about any of the open committee positions for the upcoming May 2003 election, please contact Mike Makuch (301-718-9134) or other members of the Nominating Committee. Many thanks!!

William Geiger

BROOKDALE PARK PLAYGROUND -- Maureen McRaith and Fiona Carson.

The county schedule for replacing playground equipment includes Brookdale Park for fiscal year 2004. As your representatives, we and William Geiger met with Linda Komes and Lynn Witt from Montgomery County Parks Department to discuss possibilities for our new playground. While the budget appears large, 50% of the money must be spent on installation and grounds preparation. As a result, we are focusing only on playground equipment selection at this time. In addition, the equipment that meets current safety code is quite expensive. The county reps stated that none of the existing equipment meets the safety code and all of it must be removed during this upgrade project. Relying on information received from the questionnaire distributed to residents, together with research on and visits to other local playgrounds, we will do our best to compile a short list of desired equipment for all ages. We will work with the county to order the equipment and align it in the most efficient, cost-effective layout possible. The playground is loosely scheduled to be completed by late fall. The present playground will remain in place until then.

-- Barbara Ingersoll and Kathy Mintz

As reported in the January 2003 issue of the Bugle, Brookdale residents have joined together to resist what some have described as the "McMansionization" of the neighborhood.

Specifically, several residents of Park Avenue retained legal counsel to oppose the resubdivision of the property at 4811 Park Avenue, a proposal which would have permitted a developer to build two homes on a lot where one home currently exits. After being informed of neighborhood opposition and being asked to provide more information, the original developer withdrew.

A second developer, Douglas Monsein of Douglas Construction Group, has purchased the property. On March 25, Mr. Monsein met with Park Avenue residents and their attorney. He showed artist's renderings of houses to indicate the kind of homes he proposes to build and agreed to provide the group with pictures and addresses of homes he has built in the area. In a subsequent letter, he expressed a willingness to work with the group to "determine the most likely and comfortable footprint in width, length and height, maintaining an element of reasonability." Residents are hopeful that an agreement can be reached prior to the hearing before the Planning Board, scheduled for April 10.

On Dalton Road, the issue centered on correct application of zoning ordinances. Lots 5002 and 5004 were under development as a joint venture of the Haines Companies and GEICO. These lots are only 42 feet wide and the homes under construction are only 5 feet from the adjacent lot, rather than the more usual 7 feet required in our neighborhood.

Dalton Road neighbors had no chance to work with the developer before construction started because the Haines Company failed to post the required permit notices on a timely basis. Dalton neighbors and the Brookdale Citizens' Association appealed, charging administrative error by the Department of Permitting Services in applying zoning ordinances. Lots 5002 and 5004 were first created in the 1923 to apportion the estate of Phoebe Wilbert for her heirs. The plat that was created was not recorded within the Maryland-Washington Metropolitan District, nor was it ever recognized by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The Department of Permitting Services, however, used the date of the plat to determine that the correct sideyard setbacks are 5 ft. Our appeals charged that the later dates of the original deeds for each of the lots should determine the zoning standards. The deed dates would mean side yard setbacks of 7 feet.

The hearing for 5002 Dalton Road was held on January 15th. At the hearing the Appeals Board decided that the 5 foot standards were correct. Their written Opinion, issued in February, was error laden with incorrect lot and address references. It did not specifically respond to the question raised in the appeal of the validity of the 1923 plat to set the development standards for all eight of the similarly sized lots on Dalton within the Wilbert estate. The Dalton neighbors requested a reconsideration of the Opinion to correct the errors and address the validity of the plat as the basis for development standards.

The hearing for 5004 Dalton was held on April 2nd. The Appeals Board informed residents that a new Opinon on the 5002 Dalton decision had been issued that morning. The Appeals Board voted to again uphold the DPS decision on the 5004 property allowing 5 ft. side yards.
A request for rehearing or reconsideration of an Opinion must be submitted within 15 days of the Opinion mailing date. Any decision by the Board of Appeals may be appealed to the County Circuit Court within 30 days.

On Baltimore Avenue, the owner of the property at 5308 Baltimore applied for a variance to expand the house on the property, with a specific request to reduce the required setback from seven feet to five feet. Neighbors on Baltimore opposed this application and the application was subsequently withdrawn.


The first quarter of 2003 was probably hampered by the bitter winter as fewer houses were put up for sale overall in the Metropolitan Area.

New listings since the last report:
5304 Saratoga Ave. (listed at $735,000) sold in 4 days for $720,000.
4844 Park Ave. (listed March 25 for $410,000) under contract in 6 days.

Houses under contract:
5002 Dalton Rd. (listed at $999,000, reduced to $899,000) went under contract on Dec. 19, 2002 (79 days) has not yet settled.
5004 Dalton Rd. is on the market for $935,000.

The market seems to be driven in great part by unusually low interest rates which hover around 6% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan over $322,700. Anything above this is considered a jumbo loan with rates about 1/4% more than loans below that amount which are considered "conforming loans". Conforming loans are purchased by Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae which are government entities created to insure a steady supply of mortgage funds to a broader sector of the buying public. Surprisingly, adjustable rate mortgages are still popular among many buyers, mostly those who do not plan to keep their loans more than 5 years or so.

The other key to this strong market is strong buyer demand especially for properties within a short walk of a Metro station. Buyers are confident that their jobs are secure and the low interest rates have been a huge incentive to purchase. As a result they are still willing to participate in multiple offers with escalator clauses and it is too early to say what the trend will be for the second quarter. Whereas inspection contingencies were rarely seen in 2000-2002, more offers are including them now.

There are virtually no homes for sale under $400,000 in upper Northwest Washington and in Bethesda/Chevy Chase inside the beltway.

Kathleen McElroy is a resident of Brookdale and a real estate agent who provides this information as a service to Brookdale.

In Search of History -- Paul Drummer

In the midst of Brookdale, at 4807 Dover Court is a charming smaller home, which looks like a house right out of a fairy tale. And standing up on a hill behind it is a separate cottage, whose origin is not at all certain. The main house is occupied by Abner Oakes and Laura Jewett, and their amazing two-year old son Charlie.

But a murky speculative history has attached itself to the cottage, and it was my intention to discover the truth of it! Rumor had it that the original purpose of the cottage was possibly a slave quarters, connected with the original farmhouse on River Road, south of Newport. So I questioned previous owners and others to see what could be found out about it.

The original developer of Brookdale was Cooper Lightbown and sons. (See Holt article in the Bugle April 8, 2002.) The firm included a nephew C. Stanley Lightbown. According to Robert Silverthorn, Stanley, with his brother lived in two of the houses on Dover Road at 4702 and 4704. These houses may be easily distinguished because they share a common driveway, probably so designed to reduce encroachment on the front lawn.

Cooper Lightbown's died in 1941. But WW II and the building activity which followed it, turned the younger Lightbown again to developing in 1946, and Brookdale was expanded. At a time when there was enormous pent-up demand to get anything constructed which could be occupied quickly, with little regard to old standards of quality, the Lightbowns created a subdivision of brick homes, with amenities like slate roofs, plastered walls, copper piping, and hardwood floors. Each house was to be distinctive, in some way, from its neighboring house. No cookie cutter development here.

Thus, the farm land, which had, during WWII produced crops to meet wartime food demand, was transformed into this subdivision. Some of the original farm houses and outbuildings became a part of the subdivision. The cottage behind 4807 was one of those structures retained for the development.

Allen Wolf, who with his wife Barbara, occupied the house for about 9 years, beginning in 1984, was told that it had been a cooler house for the farm house previously mentioned. Julie (Dougherty) Whiston, who occupied the house subsequent to the Wolfs, was born in Brookdale, grew up here, and raised her family in Dover Court, recalls being told that the structure was converted into a children's playhouse by the two women who lived there previous to the Wolfs. Apparently they enjoyed having neighborhood children around them, used to give them cookies, and hold birthday parties for them. They had the cottage, which is about 10 x 12 ft., refinished inside with the pine paneling which was so popular when Brookdale was built. This created another attraction for the neighborhood children. The structure stands on a foundation which appears to be of very old rough concrete, now plastered over with generous coats of mortar and cement, added in the years since it was constructed.

So the question remains unanswered. Was this old structure once a slave quarters?

Any reader who has information about this is invited to get in touch with Bugle editor Gwen Lewis.


Join an ongoing, daytime group of new (and experienced) mothers to bounce ideas off new friends. Meets every other Wednesday 11-1 at participants' homes in rotation. Lunch included. Contact Tamar Nicolson for details (301-656-6601 or toadette -at-


Everyone is welcome to share ideas.
Next Meeting:
April 16 at 10:30 am
Nancy McCloskey's
4709 Overbrook Road
NancyMcC -at-


Come to Westbrook's annual Spring Carnival Friday, May 2nd 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., rain or shine. All are welcome. Admission is free. The school is at 5110 Allan Terrace. Carnival attractions include a moon bounce and giant slide, an obstacle course, karaoke, super chance, face painting, spin art and games for all ages. In addition, the carnival features white elephant and bake sales, as well as food concessions.

Profile: Wanda Carroll, Westbrook Elementary School's Principal Intern
--Joy Sexton and Katie Wollmer
Last fall a new and very kind person appeared at Westbrook Elementary School. Her name is Wanda Carroll, and she is the new Principal Intern at Westbrook. Mrs. Carroll came to Westbrook after teaching pre-school and working as a Speech Pathologist in Connecticut. She came to Montgomery County in 1989, where she has worked as a Speech Pathologist. She has also been an assistant principal.

For the first half of this school year, Mrs. Carroll and Westbrook Principal Michael Thomas worked together, and students began to get to know her from her frequent visits to classrooms. She was also seen on the playground jumping rope with some third-grade girls! In January, Mr. Thomas began a leave of absence to work in the Deputy Superintendent's office on a project that provides supports to the top 18 Title-I Schools. He's helping with implementation of the "No Child Left Behind" legislation and preparing schools for testing and curriculum implementation. He also has an opportunity to work with the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs on the Art Curriculum. Mr. Thomas will return to Westbrook this spring, and he and Mrs. Carroll will finish out the year working as a team again.

When asked about her favorite thing about Westbrook, Mrs. Carroll said, "The best thing about Westbrook is that every time I go into a classroom I see children engaged in learning." She thinks that everything we do is based on values. She wholeheartedly supports the community of caring core values of trust, family, caring, respect, and responsibility. She sees that these values guide Westbrook and are carried throughout the school's curriculum and daily activities.

She has developed the Principal's Gallery that highlights some of Westbrook's outstanding work. She has also developed the "light bulb lab," a quiet place for students to retreat to and come up with ideas. When asked if there was anything she would change at Westbrook, she said that she wouldn't change a thing, except perhaps the amount of time given for professional development. Mrs. Carroll thinks Westbrook is a terrific school and being there has been a great learning experience for her.

Every morning Mrs. Carroll fights heavy traffic around the beltway, driving from a town near Burtonsville, and her only comment when asked about the commute was, "Westbrook is worth the drive."

Joy Sexton, a past secretary of the Brookdale Citizens' Association, and Katie Wollmer, third grader at Westbrook, are a mother/daughter reporter team.


We were not overwhelmed by the number of responses to the quiz published in January. We want to recognize Kathy and Bill McElroy for their answers, which confirmed what we thought and added some information. Here are our answers:

1. Regarding a famous children's book, it is true that Goodnight Moon was written by Margaret Wise Brown, published in 1947. Why rumors persist that she lived in the "Brown House" on Westport, we do not know.
2. An Indian cemetery was supposedly located between what is now 5200 Murray and 5202 Murray.
3. River Road was, with lower Wisconsin Avenue, part of an ancient path to the Indian village of Canavest near Harpers Ferry. In the early 18th century, it was a "rolling" road used to transport tobacco barrels to the port of Georgetown.
4. According to research by Bill McElroy, the Shoemakers were not land owners but tenant farmers. The Shoemaker farms covered much of what we now call Brookdale, extending over both sides of River Road and Western Ave, and Park Place is part of an early 19th century road that gave access from the Shoemaker farms to River Road. The old Shoemaker house is at 5305 Saratoga.
5. To quote the Bugle article (April 2002) by Roberta B. Holt: The creator and builder of the original part of Brookdale was Cooper Crawford Lightbown, who . . . died in 1941 at the age of 55. In February of 1938, . . . the Evening Star contained a large picture of 5202 Western Avenue with the headline, "Beautiful Home Recently Sold in Brookdale."
6. In the 1930's, Western Avenue, as a location just outside the District of Columbia, was a prestigious address. Houses on Western cost a lot not only because of the Avenue's reputation but because of their long setback from the street; a frontage of about 80 feet added to the high-class image.
7. The covenants in the original Brookdale subdivision required houses to be brick, painted white.
8. For the source of the name Wohlshire, we quote the Bugle article (September 2001) by Frank Rothwell: The Wohlfarth Development Corporation was run by Jay Wohlfarth who decided to name his subdivision using the first syllable of his surname and the upscale English "shire."
9. Brookdale's police liaison officer is Dana Matthis, Community Services Officer, Bethesda District. You can call her on general, non-emergency business at 301-657-0119.
10. The number of houses that GEICO currently owns within Brookdale could be a trick question as the owner of record of "the GEICO houses" is not GEICO: they are held in trust. With the usual understanding, however, the GEICO houses now number eight. That is down from well over 20 a few years ago.

TRANSITIONS -- Hal Wolman, Secretary

Newcomers: We welcome the following neighbors who have arrived in Brookdale recently:

Lisa Dwyer & David Molot, 4704 Overbrook Rd., who arrived in September from DC.

Rafael Martinez and Stuti Khemani, 5206 Keokuk

Julie & Jim Pope and their children, Jack (5) and Will (2), 4301 Cortland Road, from Sherrill Ave.


To Lisa Dwyer & David Molot, Overbrook Rd., a son Matthew Samuel on February 8.

Marina & Matthew Bowsher, Saratoga Ave., welcomed son Kent on February 22.

James and Crystal August, Andover Rd., recently welcomed the newest addition to their household. Her name is Julia Elise.

Ted Treadwell (who, along with her husband Ben was the original owner of 5208 Andover Rd.,) died Saturday Feb. 8. Ted taught and played the piano and loved to accompany fiends in singing carols. We express our condolences to her son Ben and daughter Lynn.

Brookdale Students Graduate from High School

Congratulations to the following residents who will graduate from high school in June!

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
Nick Richman

Richard Montgomery High School
David Benjamin

St. John's College High School
Christopher Logsdon
Bryan Logsdon



Join the Friends of Fort Bayard Park and your neighbors
on April 26, 2003 (rain date April 27th) for a fundraising
kickoff and celebration from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The celebration will include participation of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry, Company F, a DC-based Civil War reenactment unit. A short program on the history of the park will be presented and the unit will also bring along 'enlistment papers'. There will be other activities for kids of all ages and food.

It's all free. So, come and learn about the history of this park and the efforts to bring new and improved playground equipment. (The design for the new playground will be displayed.) It promises to be a lot of fun!

(Ft. Bayard Park is in Washington, D.C., bounded by Western Ave., River Rd., Fessenden St. and 46th and 47th Sts., N.W.)


A family day on Saturday, May 3 will celebrate the completion of the 20-year restoration and reopening of the famous Dentzel Carousel. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. visitors can enjoy free entertainment in Glen Echo Park and learn more about the carousel art work through tours and photographs. The carousel will operate from noon to 6 p.m. that day. For more information call (301) 492-6229 or (301) 492-6282 (recorded information).


Good news! The County will reopen the Bethesda Library in the fall. Volunteers are needed to help with the reopening will be needed in August and/or September. This is an excellent opportunity for both students and parents to help bring back this important resource we
all have missed. To volunteer contact Cheri Flynt: (301)-656-1449, flynt.cb -at- Note: This may be a Westbrook School focal point.

Even though August seems far away, contact her now and commit to helping. The more volunteers, the sooner our library will be back in business!


The County Department of Police distributed a flyer this spring reminding residents that Bethesda and Friendship Heights are prime spots and active locations for pickpockets. Some work in teams, with one creating a diversion. If you are victimized, call 911 (emergency) or 301-279-8000 (non-emergency).

Avalon Theater to Reopen

Filmfest DC April 24-May 3
Community Open House 11-3 Sunday May 4
First run films begin Friday, May 9
Gala Fund Raiser June 1

For further information, check the website

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