GRANOLAPARK – Junction malfunction

IMAGE: The Takoma Park Community Center, where a city council meeting is alleged to have taken place Nov. 30. Photo taken in June, 2016 by Bill Brown.

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Too sick to attend the November 30 city council meeting, we prepared to watch it online at home. It was pouring rain outside. We had a hot cup of tea. The cat cuddled up to us on the sick-bed.

The city’s website, however, blew some of the coziness away. We couldn’t get the streaming video on our laptop, nor on our device. We did what every first world citizen on the planet knows to do – we rebooted. But it didn’t fix the problem. We got the same black box on the video panel. Either the council meeting was being held in the dark in silence, or there was no stream.

Maybe the office desk computer could bring it up. We got out of bed and stepped in cat throw-up. The last whiff of coziness was sucked from the room. After ejecting the cat into the rain, we turned on the office computer and clicked onto the city site again. We got the same black box.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-2-13-04-pm

Maybe the meeting was late, or cancelled, or the stream was down. We called the city and the guy who answered the phone said the meeting was in progress and was streaming.

Not on OUR computer screens, it wasn’t.

As far as Your Gilbert knows, there WAS no meeting. We had to wing this report based on the agenda and hearsay. The video was finally posted this morning, leaving no time to review the whole thing. For all you know, we could have just made up this meeting report. For all we know, we were fed misinformation and the meeting video is a clever fake using hand puppets and CGI.

What are they hiding??

Junction malfunction

Tuesday, Nov. 29 was the deadline for the TPSS Food Co-op and Neighborhood Development Company to submit a Letter of Intent showing agreement on a basic re-development plan.

They missed it. This is worrisome.

Despite meeting with the developer NDC, despite agreeing to use a mediator and despite the involvement of city council and staff and residents acting as friendly intermediaries, the Co-op is still unhappy with the NDC’s rough plans. The proposed loading dock is still the sticking point.

The Co-op would be the Takoma Junction commercial re-development’s anchor store. The city website has a page devoted to the project.

“Both proposals call for a lay by, or cutout lane off Carroll Avenue, a state highway. The Co-op has explained many times why such an arrangement would be too costly and inefficient for our business operations.” wrote Marilyn Berger, TPSS Co-op Expansion Project Manager in a  November 17 letter to city manager Suzanne Ludlow.

NDC’s CEO Adrian Washington wrote the city manager Nov. 18 saying, “Both plans would provide for truck unloading essentially the same as their current operation. Our preferred plan would provide for a new, contiguous, turn-key space for TPPS that would allow them to expand with no or very limited interruption in business continuity.”

The council will have to grabble with this next Wednesday, Dec. 6, the last meeting of the year. The Takoma Junction re-development project is on the agenda. They have three options: extend the LOI deadline 30 days, tell the developer to find another anchor store or kick NDC off the whole project.

Will the anchor store Co-op and the developer NDC produce a Letter of Understanding by Dec. 6? Will the whole deal come crashing down if they don’t?

“The Co-op,” said former mayor Bruce Williams, “needs to change their approach.” He said they should widen the “scope of what they think is reasonable.”

Williams appealed to the council at the Nov. 30 weekly meeting to “do everything you can” to get the Co-op to sign the Letter of Intent.

Bruce Williams 11/30/16 screen shot

Former mayor Bruce Williams addresses the council Nov. 30.

Recess

City clerk Jessie Carpenter said there were three votes taken at the Nov. 30 meeting. They were all “aye” votes.  The council, she said, approved the sale of a set of apartment buildings to a public/private developer. The buildings on Lee Avenue, now empty, will become affordable housing.

Allegedly, council approved the purchase of a replacement Public Works truck. And – no surprise – they voted in a resolution establishing their winter recess. It starts Dec. 8, the day after the last meeting of the year. Recess ends Jan. 10, 2017.

Retreat

There were two work sessions at the Nov. 30 meeting, the ALLEGED meeting. Since all we had to watch was a black screen, all we can do is fill you in on what was scheduled. It’s almost pointless to report on work sessions, anyway. There’s a lot of interesting [cough-cough] talk, speculation and half-baked ideation, but much of it is left on the cutting-room floor, so to speak, when a resolution or ordinance comes out of the discussions.

The first Nov. 30 work session was scheduled to be on council priorities, which will be turned into an official list at the Council Retreats.

After the council recesses, it retreats. Councilmembers have two retreats in late January.

Deep thinking occurs at these annual Council Retreats. Wearing Grecian robes and stroking their chins, they pace the floor, stopping occasionally to lift a forefinger and shout “EUREKA!”

This is how they create the year’s policy and budget priorities. The city manager uses them to guide her city budget choices.

So, for instance, last year’s top priority was “ a livable community for all” which is one reason why the budget included money for “affordable housing initiatives.” The council has been taken a long time to getting around to defining just what those initiatives will be. They had a work session discussion on it in mid-November. There will be more discussion next year and the initiatives will slowly take form. So, it that’s your area of interest, Dear Readers, this is the right time to make your suggestions to the council.

Green Team

It was a high-priority meeting. The second work session was about Green Team priorities.

Green Team members are the city council and the Committee on the Environment. The Green Team priorities are similar to the budget priorities – only on environmental issues. This was their second meeting to work out priorities. They met Oct. 3. They expect to have a finished list in January.

 

– Gilbert

 

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About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

3 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK – Junction malfunction"

  1. What did the co-op think that redevelopment would involve when they signed their long-term lease at that site?

    Progressive communities rid themselves of their food co-ops eons ago – http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/06/us/berkeley-journal-who-ll-sell-tofu-puffs-after-co-ops-are-gone.html – and now have infinitely better grocery store options – http://www.berkeleybowl.com/.

    Meanwhile, the city needs to deal with real redevelopment issues instead of wasting time on the coddled co-op – http://movingtakomaforward.blogspot.com/2016/12/down-at-crossroads-circa-1984.html

  2. Mitchell Tropin | December 4, 2016 at 10:17 pm |

    Hey, why did you throw your cat into the rain?
    Mitch Tropin
    Takoma Park resident since ’86

  3. No actual cats were thrown into the rain in the making of this column. Too hard to catch.

    Gilbert

Comments are closed.