Purple Line Construction Stirs Residents' Anxieties in Two Counties

People worry the changes from construction of the Purple Line coming to the Maryland suburbs will chase them from their homes. The light rail will connect Bethesda and New Carrollton and change everything in between.

The Lakeland area of College Park is a historic African-American community. For Audrey and Leonard Smith, now in their 90s, it seems like every wave of development in College Park has washed away part of their lives in some way.

“We’ve been here, not all our lifetime, but a major portion of our lifetime,” said Leonard Smith. “I've been here since nearly the 40s. I had the Lakeland Tavern, which was right down the street, and when urban renewal came, they wiped it out.”

Community leaders are trying to ease anxiety from residents. County leaders and the president of the University of Maryland signed a community agreement, promising fair and affordable housing and support for small businesses after the multi-billion dollar Purple Line is built.

“The question is who's going to be along the corridor in 5 years, 15 years when it's built,” said David Bowers, with Enterprising Community Partners, Inc.

“Even if you were against this Purple Line, you should be for this agreement,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.

Leggett said he's learned from mistakes made redeveloping downtown Silver Spring that he wants to avoid with Purple Line development.


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“I’m sorry for how we did not protect many of the small businesses in Silver Spring because of revitalization, and we are not making that mistake today,” Leggett said.

“The difference will be the folks that actually live in those areas have the opportunity to live in the new development, that they won’t' be priced out of there,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

The Smiths are a little skeptical.

“Well, he used to be a businessman so,” said Audrey Smith, pointing to her husband.

“I don't believe it,” Leonard Smith said.

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