GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
The Young Activist Club was screaming and weeping. They had a good reason, they’d just met their future selves, the Old Activist Club, who apparently stepped through a time rift to the present.
It wasn’t the future diminishment of their bodies that broke their young activist hearts, it was the future diminishment of their ideals. The school children were on a mission to save the planet. The middle-to-retirement-aged oldsters were on a mission to . . . save the beige sidewalks.
The Young Activist Club had just lobbied the council at their June 3 meeting to ban cups and food containers made of polystyrene (styrofoam), a neurotoxic plastic that takes a thousand times longer to break down than a progressive’s ideals.
The Old Activist Club . . . . Oh, OK, they WEREN’T the Old Activist Club, they were an ad hoc committee of city residents who happened to be mostly middle-to-retirement age,* They didn’t fall through a time rift, they fell through a wisecrack. They DID follow the Young Activst Club to the podium, and somebody in the room DID dub them the Old Activist Club in jest.
But, seriously, they want to save the beige sidewalks. And the beige curbs. Your Gilbert would not lie to you. They had a long slide presentation and had done a lot of research.
They were also outraged, OUTRAGED, that the city’s street-name signs had INCONSISTENT TYPE FONTS.
And don’t get them started about yellow curbs. If they had their way, anyone found in possession of yellow paint would die with a sharpened paint brush handle driven through their heart.
ADA safety pad. This one is properly installed. It’s yellow and so is the curb – in case you were thinking of parking here.
Yellow curbs, those hideous, hazard-yellow ADA safety pads, new glaring-white concrete sidewalks that do NOT match the old ones, AND inconsistent street name signs – there’s just so much abuse an old activist can take.
The Beige Rebellion is here and IN YOUR FACE.
The thing about old activists is that while they may not be cute and idealistic, they got the power. There were a fair number of city movers-and-shakers in the group. The council bruised their chins kow-towing to them, especially when shown humiliating photos of incorrectly installed ADA safety pads, unreadable and embarrassing street-name signs, and incorrectly painted, glaring-yellow curbs. Why, it’s as though none of the Public Works staff had graduate degrees in design and aesthetics!
Slide from the presentation showing street-name sign inconsistencies.
The only pushback was about ADA safety pads. The gray ones the residents preferred did not meet ADA “contrast” requirements, said city staff.
Councilmember Seth Grimes noted that some residents liked yellow curbs. He said a constituent had just requested one. “Oh?,” said the committee, sharpening a paint brush handle, “and who was that?”
Does this look ugly to you? Screaming yellow curb, hazard-yellow ADA safety pad, and glaring non-matching new white concrete at bottom left.
Expensive but full-service
The city needs a new election voting system. Elections don’t just happen by themselves. There must be a ballot casting, collecting, and counting system.
The council considered two contractors. Their first vote, May 28, to decide which one to use was tied 3-3. The council member who could have broken the tie, Seth Grimes, had to leave the meeting early. The next vote, June 10, was unanimous in favor of ES&S.
Election Systems and Software (ES&S) bid $23,500. The other contender, Trueballot bid $17,500. The Board of Elections reported that they preferred ES&S for the services, but thought Trueballot was adequate, and had the better price.
Given two additional weeks to think it over, the entire council decided that though it was $5000 more than the alternative, the extra services including: voting services for the sight-impaired, immediate ballot scanning, and faster results, were worth it.
“You pay now, or you pay later.” said councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen.
And now, a commercial announcement
The chief of police wants some clarity. What, exactly is a “commercial vehicle?”
Is it any truck or car with a company name on the side? Is it a tradesman’s van with or without a name on it? Is it a trailer?
The current ordinances are too vague, says Takoma Park chief Alan Goldberg, and enforcement is inconsistent. It tends to be based on complaints. So, a vehicle may be cited on one block, while a similar vehicle on the next goes unheeded.
Though acting city manager Suzanne Ludlow noted “we don’t get a lot of complaints on this,” several council members were concerned. They don’t want to allow free parking to fleets of service vehicles, but they also don’t want to create hardships for small business-people.
The county, they and chief Goldberg feel, has gone too far in banning certain vehicles – including pick-up trucks – from residential streets and properties. They don’t want to repeat that experience in Takoma Park.
So, the city will revise the city code, but council members will be vigilant. Councilmember Terry Seamens, who represents many blue-collar residents, reminded everyone that the city prides itself in diversity, which includes economic diversity.
*except for the women who all appeared to be around 29 years old.
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