The National Institutes of Health. Office of Community Liaison.
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Brief History of the Community Liaison Council

When the National Institutes of Health began working on its 1995 20-year Master Plan for the Bethesda campus, a promise was made by then NIH Director Dr. Harold Varmus, who realized the importance of community involvement in successful campus growth management. Dr. Varmus assured community members that they would be involved in the development of the Master Plan. He then charged the newly created Office of Community Liaison (OCL) with ensuring that the community was fairly and accurately represented while the Master Plan was being developed.

To achieve this involvement, the OCL Director sent letters to over 75 community and homeowner associations, inviting them to join with NIH in the development of the 1995 Master Plan. The first meeting of respondents to the letter took place in January 1995. These individuals became the NIH Community Working Group on the Master Plan. The group had representation from over 30 community associations and liaison representation from the Bethesda Government Center, B-CC Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Council, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. It also established two subcommittees on Traffic and Parking Management and Environmental/Adjacency Issues. Over the course of the next eight months, the Working Group and its subcommittees met more than 20 times.

In the fall of 1995, the OCL Director recommended that the group continue as a formal council. The Community Liaison Council (CLC) was formed shortly thereafter. It has met monthly since its inception. It has two standing subcommittees: the Agenda Subcommittee, which meets monthly between each CLC meeting to determine the Council's agenda, and the Community Working Group on the Poolesville NIHAC Master Plan, which meets as needed when the Poolesville NIHAC Master Plan is being updated. Various other ad-hoc subcommittees and task forces are formed as needed.

The CLC is the community's primary point of reference on NIH master planning. The NIH is currently updating the 1995 Master Plan. The CLC is kept apprised of these changes by the NIH Office of Research Facilities Development and Operations.

The CLC's role has expanded since 1995. Today, CLC members play a vital role as a conduit between their respective communities and NIH. Members are involved with NIH in its planning of events such as NIH's Premier Health and Fitness Expo: Share the Health and the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival that benefits NIH charities. The Council also helps ensure that the community is involved with and informed about a wide variety of NIH issues, activities, and plans. The Council continues to provide a forum for review and comments on NIH's building programs, Master Plan, and environmental management. It is NIH's key connection to its neighbors, allowing area residents to provide input into NIH activities, as well as encouraging the NIH to reach out and remain a good neighbor to those around us.

Minutes from previous CLC meetings and future CLC meeting dates can be accessed from this website. John T. Burklow, Acting Director, OCL, is available by calling 301-496-3931, or via e-mail at

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