Sunday, March 09, 2014 3:20 PM
Published on: Thursday, October 31, 2013
By Holden Wilen
DERWOOD – Despite support from Montgomery County officials and various organizations, members of the Derwood community oppose a proposal to build an events center next to the Shady Grove Metro station.
At its Oct. 23 meeting, the Greater Shady Grove Civic Alliance hosted a discussion to gauge the community’s interest in a proposal made by a local developer, D&A Sports and Entertainment, to build a 6,500-seat multi-purpose events center on a piece of land located at the west side of the Shady Grove Metro station.
Pat Labuda, the alliance’s president, said she does not think the construction of an events center in Shady Grove is in agreement with the smart growth policies of the county.
“This arena is not a done deal,” said Pat Labuda. “It has not gone before the Montgomery County Planning Board. It is important for us to mobilize before it becomes a done deal and it is important to see how we feel as a community.”
Tom Doyle, a co-owner of D&A Sports and Entertainment, envisions an arena which would be able to host high school graduations, concerts and sporting events and bring business to the Gaithersburg-Rockville-Derwood area. The estimated cost for the events center is $50 million, but Doyle says it will be privately financed and not cost taxpayers a dime.
Doyle and his partner, Bill Askinazi, are still in discussions with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority about acquiring the land, but the proposal has already received support from County Executive Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Public Schools and the American Red Cross. The Arena Football League also expressed its support in the arena and interest in bringing a team to Montgomery County.
“The benefits are tremendous for the county financially, and the destination is ideal,” Doyle said. “This events center would benefit the entire community.”
The 30 members of the community in attendance at the alliance’s meeting voted to oppose the arena. They then decided to form a coalition to actively protest the arena, naming it “Stop Arena at Shady Grove Metro” and creating a Facebook page.
Doyle said he is not concerned by the alliance’s opposition and thinks the decision is a knee-jerk reaction without knowing all the information.
“I find it interesting people oppose something without having full knowledge and understanding,” Doyle said. “There is not an official agreement yet, so what exactly are you not supporting? One community opposes the idea but hundreds of people throughout the county support it.”
One of the most vocal members at the meeting was the organization’s second vice president, Joe Parello. He said he does not oppose an arena in Montgomery County, but he opposes building it in Shady Grove because of traffic and parking concerns.
“There is already a traffic problem and now this developer wants to compound the problem?” Parello said. “Their plan is flawed. People from Bethesda are not going to get here using the Metro; they are not going to go all the way through D.C. They are going to drive here.”
Doyle made a presentation to the alliance more than a year ago and said members of the community are free to contact him, but they have not. As for traffic concerns, Doyle said when an agreement has been reached with WMATA his group will have a traffic study conducted. He also said his group is looking at having a new parking garage built that would include allocated parking.
“The allocated parking would benefit the community, not us,” Doyle said.
Those interested in providing feedback or getting more information about the events center can visit http://www.dandasports.com.
Posted By: Patrick Carter On: 2/20/2014
Title: Support the arena
Montgomery County in general is boring with few events within a short drive. This venue is vital for this community. Arts and sports need to be localized. It is not convenient to go to Baltimore or Washington to attend events. Although it's been decades many still lament the closing of the Shady Grove Music Fair. There is not a good area venue for graduations in this area. If you look at the success of the Patriot Center in Fairfax or the Gwinett Center in suburban Atlanta there should be no doubt it will be a godsend for area residents.
Posted By: Joey On: 11/1/2013
Title: Knew this was coming
Everyone expects opposition to everything right? I hope it still gets built. I live here and I think it would be a boon.