GRANOLAPARK: The FORUM – where you should be

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Any questions?

What would you like to ask the Takoma Park city council and mayor?

The Takoma Voice Election Forum is Wednesday Oct. 23, so this is your big chance to get YOUR questions and concerns put to the council candidates.

This year ONE challenger, Eric Mendoza is running against incumbent Ward 4 council member Terry Seamens. The rest are unchallenged – but that won’t stop us! We’ll give them a grilling anyway.

Send us your questions and issues you want brought up when our highly professional staff of political analysts have those two in front of the audience and cameras.

The other incumbents will be there too, so submit your questions for them as well. Otherwise, they won’t have anything to do except fetch coffee and take out the trash afterwards. Make them work for the free ride to their next term.

Send your questions, concerns, issues, etc to gilbert@takoma.com, editor@tpssvoice.com or you can post in the comment section below.

Getting sleep

Meanwhile, weekly council meetings continue as usual, but this fall they’ve been ending around 10:00 pm. That’s 2 or more hours earlier than most spring and summer meetings. It’s because the council isn’t proposing controversial laws like the Safe Grow Zone pesticide ban, lowering the voting age to 16, or changing the city charter so they can tell the city manager where to live.

Not that we bear a grudge for all the missed sleep. No, never, not at all.

Development developments as they develop

The mayor and city manager said “Chill!”

They were talking to development critics who are getting as hyper as a fruit fly swimming in a cup of cold coffee. Why, they wanted to know, had the council postponed the public hearing originally scheduled for the evening’s meeting Oct. 14?

“There are a “tremendous number of changes” yet to be made in the approval process, assured city manager Brian Kenner as he and mayor Bruce Williams tried to talk wild-eyed citizens down from the auditorium’s acoustic-tiled ceiling. Revisions are already being made based on the feedback already received, they said.

The Metro development is the controversial big, multi-unit building planned for Takoma Metro station’s grounds next to Eastern Avenue. It has been raising local blood pressure for years – though there was a lull after WMATA (agency that runs Metro) and the developer EYA gave up on plans to build town homes.

This is a new plan – this time for a 6-story apartment/condo building.

That’s better than the town-home development they proposed last time. Dense housing next to public transportation makes good sense.

We object!

There are as many objections as there are sets of eyeballs in town. Of course – this is Takoma Park!

At an Oct. 7 public hearing several complained about how close the building will be to Eastern, and about how many parking places would be removed.

A few, most of them under 40, spoke in favor of the project. They scoffed at the parking concerns. On most days, they said, the Takoma Metro parking lot is half-empty. One woman said she’d feel safer walking from the station up Eastern Avenue if there was a residential building there instead of a parking lot.

Letter rip

The city is considering resolution on the concept plans. Meanwhile the city council sent a latter warning WMATA that while it likes this design better than the last one, it is concerned that the project should “complement the surrounding neighborhoods. Green space is “a valued amenity,” the letter says, a reference to the belief that when the station was first built in the 70s WMATA promised to keep the green space around it. This was allegedly part of the deal that scaled back the parking lot plans. But, nobody can find that promise on paper.

“How the structure is sited on the property is important so that direct, safe and comfortable paths are clear for those coming to and leaving the transit station. The massing and design of the building should be attractive and not have a negative impact on adjacent properties, including those in Takoma Park, Maryland,” says the letter.

Map geek-out

Flower and Jackson avenues intersect?  We thought Jackson was on the other side of Sligo Creek from Flower Avenue.

We had to go to the map drawer to discover that not only does Flower Avenue intersect Jackson Avenue, but Jackson Avenue is unique. No other city street has three unconnected sections divided by parks. All other streets except Jackson and tiny Cherry Avenue go through the parks or stop at the park borders and do not start again on the other side. Cherry Avenue has two blocks – one to the south of Sligo Creek Park, the other to the north.

Jackson, which runs north/south, is cut by Sligo Creek Park and again by Long Branch Stream Valley Park. It runs a block east and parallel to main thoroughfare Carroll Ave.

Three-part Jackson

It is Jackson’s middle section that intersects with Flower. Intersection is not quite the right word. It looks like somebody didn’t get their surveying measurements right about 100 years ago. They built Flower to Jackson, but found a house directly in front of them so they had to put a bend in Flower.  They borrowed the tail-end of Jackson to turn Flower to the right, then when they got to the property line they turned left and continued building Flower down the hill.

Why are we dwelling on this, you ask?

We like maps.

And because the city council heard public comments on a traffic calming request for the intersection of Flower and Jackson avenues Oct. 7.

On the ground it it’s a gnarly intersection with cut-through traffic and residents want traffic calming. At the meeting there was the usual spectrum of citizen opinions, from “If you don’t slow traffic down, our kids are going to DIE” to “If your speed bumps slow down ambulances, our sick people are going to DIE.” (These are not actual quotes.)

No bumpy ride

Speed bumps are not an option, apparently. The council seemed more partial to less obnoxious traffic calming measures.

The petitioners asked for raised intersections, like the one at Maple and Tulip avenues. You Gilbert enjoys driving over that one. It feels as though we’re being given a Miss America moment to promenade across the stage.

They also asked for more stop-signs –  the easiest and lowest-cost traffic-calming measure.

The request will be taken up in a work session and/or ordinance in future weeks.

– 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.