It was the first of the city council’s “Ward Nights.” Ward 3 was featured. Several residents, many of them neighborhood association members, showed up early for a pre-meeting schmooze with the staff and council. They then had an extended question and answer session in the January 18th meeting .
What did Ward 3 have on it’s collective mind?
Doggies! A proponent for establishing a dog park barked at the counsel for not responding quickly to petitions and requests from the dog-owners who would like to legalize their use of Spring Park. The council was sympathetic. They said they are trying to find a way to create a dog park, an area where dogs could run off-leash, but they have been slowed down by legal liability concerns and other roadblocks.
Sidewalks were a concern, as were street lights. One resident wanted brighter street lights as a crime deterrent, another wanted street lights to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly.
One life-long resident had nothing but praise for “my little Takoma Park” where citizens have the opportunity to go to city council meetings, to the mayor, or to their councilmember with concerns. She said she appreciated “all we have,” citing the police department, public works, city manager, city clerk, and staff.
Crime was a concern for some. One man said he’d welcome video surveillance on his street. He also complained about taxi cabs being parked overnight in front of his house.
The council said they’d have staff look into it, but Ward 4 representative Terry Seamens said there are a lot of blue collar workers in the city who may need to park their work-vehicles, so the city should “find out what’s going on before we crack down.”
Councilmember Colleen Clay reminded him that it is currently illegal to park a commercial vehicle on the street. Seamens rejoined that it was not widely enforced and to do so would be an “extreme hardship” on some families.
Another citizen wanted crosswalks repainted on Carroll Ave. The council said they do too. The problem, they said, is that Carroll Ave. is a State Highway Administration road, so the city does not have immediate control of any roadwork on it.
Roger Schlegel, former candidate for mayor, thanked the council for establishing a community garden, improving the lighting, and demolishing a derelict building in his neighborhood, the Pinecrest area once known as “Hell’s Bottom.” He asked the city to improve sidewalks on Allegheny Ave, and sight lines at the corner of Elm and Allegheny. Moving the parking zones on Elm back from that corner would make it safer for cars turning from Allegheny, he said.
Schlegel noted that there were several vacant or dilapidated buildings in the community. Sara Daines of the Housing and Community Development Office said that those should be reported to the city’s code enforcement staff. The best way to do that, she said, is to use the “My TKPK” link on the city’s website. The city tries to deal with such situations without coming down with the full force of the law, but if mediation fails, it does. Unfortunately, the county process is cumbersome and long.
Daines suggested residents with complaints or service requests of any kind should click on that “My TKPK” link. They can report abandoned vehicles, problems with cable tv, violations of city codes or laws, graffiti, damaged sidewalks, or any such like. They can also use it to request information about any city service or function: passports to permits, taxes to trees.
A resident said he’d like to see citizen patrols revived in the WACO neighborhood. He said he hasn’t felt much support for citizen patrols from the city, however. He said the patrols get mixed messages from the city and police and it would be nice to reopen discussions about it.
Bruce Williams said he wants to initiate regular meetings between neighborhood association heads to compare notes and ideas.
Next up for a ward-focused council meeting is Ward 6 on Tuesday, February 16.