Bless You

Dear Readers,

The citizens committees approacheth the city council dais, and yea, they sitteth before those wise councilors, and speaketh they of proud deeds they hath performed and lo, they chatteth aimlessly with the mighty councilmembers. Thus, behold, the council from on high blesseth them and chatteth a bit more, heedless of the time they wasteth of observers who would rather be doing their taxeth.

Some committees are more dynamic than others. The Noise Control Board (NCB), whose job is to assist and advise the city on noise control issues said they don’t get a lot of “business,” especially since the police department has a noise abatement officer (who also serves on the committee). They requested the council to give them more direction.

The only issue they really addressed last year, they said, was leaf-blower noise, which NCB member Steve Davies took up outside the NCB’s purview as an environmental issue. Davies is one of the city activists who requested a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers last year.

In contrast, the Recreation Committee hooted and frolicked as they approached the dais. They were full of excitement about their achievements since the committee was formed last year. They successfully organized a coed basketball league for young children, have worked on a public-art mosaic project, and assisted to open the Piney Branch Pool.

In future they plan to focus on the city council auditorium renovations. One stumbling block there, they mentioned, is that it is currently not allowed to charge admission to any event in that space. This is news to Your Gilbert, and we wonder how the city plans to earn income from that space. Who will rent it if admission can’t be charged?

Curtains for the Auditorium?

Of course, the new auditorium can’t be built if there’s no money to build it.

The city would probably not be able to renovate the auditorium without Program Open Space (POS) funding from the state. Contrary to past assurances from the staff that indoor projects such as the city’s qualify for POS funding, POS may give such projects the boot.

That is what the city’s lobbyist reports. In her legislative update March 16 she said that though Project Open Space has in the past funded projects that are not strictly outdoors, the current state committee overseeing POS has mixed opinions on that practice. Some on the committee say the purpose of the project should be to purchase undeveloped land in order to preserve it for recreation.

The lobbyist, staff, and councilmembers have been on this like fleas on a dog, going to and calling Annapolis to plead the city’s case with state legislators. Though they are nervous about the outcome, they have assurances that some provision will be made for the city’s project – that it will be grandfathered in or that the pro-indoor project committee members will prevail. There are no guarantees at this point, however.

While worry about that has increased, it has decreased about legislation that would withhold state aid to “sanctuary cities” such as Takoma Park. That bill appears to have been derailed, the lobbyist reported. Other bills of concern to the city are one that prohibits local governments from having rent control, and one that would require a study before rent control was enacted.

Non-Glowing Report

Also blessed was the Nuclear Free Takoma Park Committee, which gave it’s annual report March 16. Other than celebrating the 25th anniversary of the city Nuclear Free Zone ordinance, the committee has been monitoring a court case involving the transport of hazardous materials through Washington, DC. This could impact on possible transport of nuclear waste through Takoma Park.

The toothy part of the Nuclear Free Zone ordinance prohibits the city from purchasing anything from companies involved in the making of nuclear weapons. That has been inhibited lately because the Bush Administration made that information secret, so the list the city has been using is out of date. The committee is working on finding a new list.

The committee said that though the ordinance was an appropriate response to the Cold War it is still relevant given the proliferation of nuclear weapons. A new focus for the committee, they said, was nuclear energy. They urged the city to buy electricity from renewable energy sources, not nuclear power plants. This appeared to dovetail with the council’s interest in renewable energy, and councilmember Dan Robinson lauded what he said was the committee’s “proactive” approach.

The committee brought up the “Nuclear Free Zone” signs that have disappeared over the last 25 years, but the council assured them that some have already been replaced and the rest are on the way.

– Gilbert.

About the Author

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.