ADDITIONS TO YOUR excellent article about the proposed Silver Spring megamall (“Dream On,” 4/5):

In early February, the Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities (WRN), a group of establishment eco-groups including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Citizen Action, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and Washington Area Bicyclist Association, issued a well-publicized endorsement of the megamall that “strongly commend[ed] Triple Five for its vision of a sustainable proj-ect, which will improve the quality of life.” WRN’s praise did not mention the other design proposals submitted to the county, all of which fit the 14-acre requirement (the megamall would be 28 acres), are more conducive to community-scale development, would not require over 10 million tourist visits per year, and would not require perhaps $200 million in government subsidies. Instead, WRN’s endorsement was based on the mall’s proximity to a Metrorail station (although most visitors will still drive) and on vacuous promises worked out with the developers and their attorneys to improve pedestrian access for a facility explicitly designed for out-of-state tourists, not Silver Spring residents. The Anacostia Watershed Society even suggested that road runoff could be “recycled” into the ice rink! This is the appearance, not the substance, of environmentalism.

WRN gave political cover to Triple Five, their hired attorneys, and the county executive to pretend that there is substantial public support for the mall. It’s sad that WRN member groups didn’t consult with community opponents of the mall, preferring instead to praise a project that is widely detested in the community due to traffic problems (with or without Metro), its need for subsidies, and its inappropriate scale.

In 1986, the West Edmonton Mall’s triple-looping roller coaster had a fatal accident that killed three and severely injured a fourth person when a train jumped the tracks. A governmental public inquiry concluded that screws holding the wheels together came loose due to a lack of maintenance, and reproached the Ghermezians for neglecting to hire mechanics to supervise the coaster’s construction and operation.

If the megamall is ever built, I think that Silver Spring’s Chesapeake Crematory Inc., the crematory recently profiled in Washington City Paper, should be enticed inside, so that customers could truly “shop till you drop.”

Takoma Park, Md.

via the Internet