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County considers buying Bethesda land

WMAL transmitter siteMontgomery County officials are considering making an offer to buy 75 acres of Bethesda land.

Councilmember Roger Berliner has asked County Executive Ike Leggett to coordinate with members of county and state government to see if the county can submit a competitive bid for the WMAL transmitter site, which may cost nine figures according to some estimates.

“I have urged our county executive to reach out to the school system, to our park system, to our state government, and see whether or not there is a way we could collectively come together to see whether or not this tract could meet the extraordinary number of needs we have in our down county and our county, period,” Berliner said.

Berliner cited athletic fields, school sites and general open space as possible uses for the land.

Cumulus Media, who owns WMAL, put the site up for sale last month. Its brokerage firm CBRE Group, Inc. has been receiving offers from residential developers interested in building up to 300 new homes on the property, which is located on Greentree Road near the Beltway and I-270 spur.

CBRE Senior Vice President John Sheridan said he hasn’t been in contact with anyone from the county. Berliner said the county is aware of the deadline, but it’s unlikely the county will be able to submit an offer by then.

The transmitter site is private land, but local residents have used it for decades without much resistance to walk dogs, exercise and play sports. After Cumulus put the property up for sale, many community members reacted negatively to the possibility of the new development and expressed the importance of the open green space.

“I think enough people are going to be really hurt by this and the county is going to be hurt by this because we’re just eating away at all the open space in Maryland,” local resident Beyhan Trock said. “I think it’s really sad. Everybody that I’ve talked to has felt incredibly lucky that we’ve been able to use that park as long as we have. It really hurts that they’re going to take that away.”

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