As the grapeshot zinged past her head and the sulfurous cannon smoke billowed over the poop deck, the Mayor cried “This is not a battle, this is a community discussion.”
The boarding party lowered their cutlasses in shame as she chided them to be respectful of others’ opinions, as she assured them she respects theirs. “I don’t think there’s a wrong and right on this.” she said.
Though the gym ba . . community discussion was not on the agenda Feb. 20, it came up in councilmembers’ comments at the beginning of the Takoma Park City Council meeting.
Bruce Williams’ statement raised a few gunpowder-singed eyebrows. After a lengthy introduction that sounded like he was making a strong case for building the gym, he abruptly hove to and came about.
“I believe” he said “ that a gym would serve many worthwhile purposes, and I hope that at some point we will be able to build a gym. Unfortunately, now is not that time.”
Williams said he had reached this conclusion because of the hefty price. He cited a price tag of 8 to 9 million dollars, but “Even $6 million is more than we can afford right now.” Another factor is the erosion in public trust due to the lengthy and costly community center construction process.
Councilmember Joy Austin-Lane referred to this as well, saying she hears the public’s desire for accountability, and she feels the council should go slowly. She said, as did Williams, that it is unfortunate that awareness that “we’re smarter than we used to be” has not “trickled down” to the public. She cited such measures as the city manager’s oversight and weekly reports to the council, which keep the project under close scrutiny.
Williams called for a “clear, concise report on where things stand, and on lessons learned,” including all of the various elements that make the case for the gym.
“We also need to move forward with the survey of residents that we authorized more than a year ago” he said. The Mayor also mentioned this, saying she was working on compiling background information to include in a survey. The survey, she said, would be part of the periodic “satisfaction survey” the city regularly conducts. It would not be administered to every resident, but to a sample of the population. Does anyone besides Your Gilbert see a wedge there for whichever side loses the b . . . . er, community discussion?”
Williams noted that talks are upcoming with the new County Council about double-taxation, including the $300,000 we pay them for “few if any services” in return. He also said the city should explore the possibility of using facilities at Columbia Union and Montgomery Colleges. But, he said the city should scupper its current fund-raising efforts.
“We need to withdraw our requests for funding from the State and from the County, we need to work with the Hospital and the two Colleges. . ., we need to pursue fair rebates from the County. . ., we need to put together a comprehensive report on the community center so far, and we need to go forward with the community survey. These are the minimum that we need to do. I hope my colleagues on the Council will join me in these requests”
Meanwhile, for you Rent Stabilization fans, the council IS still working on that issue. They moved forward on an ordinance that would require full disclosure of city rent control laws to new buyers of rental properties.