Negotiations case over dead African-American tomb in Bethesda

Negotiations between a Baptist church in Bethesda and a county housing elect over a hunt for a long-lost tomb reached a array of impasses in new weeks, including by a termination of mediations between a parties and a criticism led by church members on Wednesday.

The African-American cemetery is pronounced to be buried underneath land north and northeast of a Westwood Tower Apartments on Westbard Drive. Since 1997, a Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County has leased a Westwood Tower skill to yield affordable housing. The area also includes a parking lot and driveway.

But leaders from a Macedonia Baptist Church have argued that a lot sits atop a funeral belligerent for Westbard’s ancestral black village and are pulling for a museum and commemorative on a site.

On Wednesday, roughly a dozen people dependent with a church protested during a housing elect meeting, hoisting card gravestones and chanting “Vote! Vote! Vote!” Though a elect designated assembly time for open comments, protesters interrupted a event to ask commissioners to opinion on giving a church entrance to a skill so it could start a investigate of a cemetery. They also asked that a elect opinion “in preference of a cemetery’s holding “precedence” over skeleton for destiny development.

The elect regularly pronounced it was incompetent to opinion on a emanate since it is now endangered in a associated lawsuit.

“We came here since we need a elect to vote, we indeed wish we to vote,” pronounced Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, chair of Macedonia’s amicable probity ministry.

“There will be no opinion on this emanate while it is in litigation,” responded Jackie Simon, chair of a housing commission.

In a open and summer, a housing commission, Macedonia Baptist Church, a county and other endangered parties took partial in county-sponsored mediations over a Westbard property. In March, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), pronounced a mediations were required “to support those who trust their ancestors were buried on this site.”

But those negotiations crumbled final month when mediators pronounced they could not find a zodiacally concluded on date for a third session.

The church argued that mediators unilaterally cancelled a sessions notwithstanding a fact that all participants had sealed adult for one or some-more offering dates.

“The go-between motionless to call off a intervention though seeking anyone,” Coleman-Adebayo said.

The housing commission, as good as an officer from a County Executive’s office, pronounced a commission’s executive director, Stacy Spann, declined to attend in a third mediation, endangered that issues lifted in a initial dual were not kept confidential. In July, a housing elect was combined as a suspect in a lawsuit over a Westbard development.

Issues “alleged in a censure were really tighten to what we had discussed in a mediation,” pronounced Ramona Bell-Pearson, partner arch executive officer in a County Executive’s Office. “The HOC executive became really concerned.”

An profession from a housing elect would continue to take partial in a mediations, pronounced Shauna Sorrells, executive of legislative and open affairs for a commission.

When church members schooled that Spann would not join a third mediation, they pronounced they would not attend unless he returned to a table, Bell-Pearson said. Spann concluded to react negotiations during a finish of August, according to Sorrells.

Yet on Sept. 20, mediators sent an email cancelling destiny sessions.

“We have offering countless dates and times and sent out dual polls, though have not been means to come adult with a date and time that works for all a pivotal parties to this dispute,” a email read.

Christopher Page, executive executive of a intervention group, pronounced a doorway is still open for parties to come to a list and work towards a solution.

“In mediation, people share their feelings and their values, and infrequently their feelings and values are seen by their lens,” Page said. “We’re perplexing to get them to see what a other chairman is saying.”

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