GRANOLAPARK: Dog days of June

There were a LOT of cute dog pictures in the city’s dog-park site analysis presentation. Do we detect bias in the city staff?

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

The dog-days are early this summer.

Next Monday the Takoma Park city council holds a public hearing on the dog park. Or the dog parks.

They looked at a bunch of sites May 19th. Actually they looked at a bunch of colorful charts, graphs and maps about the sites.

dogstudy02

From the city staff-prepared dog park presentation May 19.

The sites: Sligo-Maple (part of Sligo Park – and the county parks dept. is NOT friendly to the idea), Prince George’s Avenue (the “triangle”), Takoma-Piney Branch Park, Heffner Park, Spring Park, and Forest Park.

Make us a matrix

Heffner Park is leading the pack, so to speak. It has the most green-for-YES boxes on the staff-prepared “decision matrix.”

Why doesn’t the staff prepare decision matrixes for all residents? What do we pay taxes for, anyway?

Should we finish this bottle of rum or start on the vodka or the scotch? Straight up or on the rocks? In a glass or straight from the bottle? Where’s the city staff decision matrix when you NEED one?

Crumbs

What were we talking about? Oh, right, doggie whatsits.

Heffner Park: 200 feet from nearest residence – check! Accessible parking – check! Favorable consideration by property owner – check! minimal environmental impact – check! Compatible with current or desired use – check! Ease of implementation – er, maybe. That’s the only yellow caution sign for Heffner.

dogstudy01

We’d like to see some other “vectors” or “crumbs” or whatever you call the bits of data that go into matrix-making. For example, how do the neighbors feel about every dog-owner for 20 miles driving into their neighborhood?

Councilmember Seth Grimes said he met with the neighbors near Heffner Park – which is at the end of a cul-de-sac. There is a parking lot there now – for another public park down the slope. So they get some traffic already. Grimes said not all the neighbors were happy, but one household’s opposition has softened to “understanding,” he said. There is concern about traffic congestion on Holly and the other small streets on Hodges Heights, where Heffner Park is located.

By no means has anyone settled on Heffner Park. The idea of having a number of smaller parks in different neighborhoods appeals to some councimembers.

Pup-ups

A new idea came up – “pop-up” dog parks – a temporary dog park that could be erected for short stints in parks or even on streets.

They are keeping an eye on costs. This year $70,000 has been dedicated just to study dog park locations. They were relieved to note that the new dog park being built in Silver Spring – Ellsworth Dog Park – has only a $9000 annual maintenance cost. Says the county, anyway.

Then there are building costs. They only one they have so far is the fencing cost – $30 – 40 a linear foot. Unknown are costs for site preparation, ground cover, amenities, and maintenance (other than the Ellsworth Dog Park figure).

In response to the more impatient dog-park activists, the city included a “Future Steps” chart in the presentation. It shows 8 steps to go, from “site survey/Geo tech analysis” to “award construction contract.” So, down! down! Sit!

The council is looking for more public input, so get in there, Dear Readers. Show up June 2 or contact your council member.

Metro Development Frustration

It’s too big, too tall, has the wrong configuration and too much parking, and it takes away the greenery. That’s what the critics say about the development planned at Takoma Metro station. Worst of all, the developers and WMATA (Metro) are not listening to them or to the city council, which has backed the critics with a resolution or two.

Of course, this is the second time around, and the new design is radically different and responded (somewhat) to the same critics’s feedback.

An acquaintance who lives not far from Metro calls the never-quenched critics “the Herbal Tea Party.”

Maybe its because the only thing that would satisfy them would be the developer handing them a pencil and saying, “OK, YOU design it for us!” Or, perhaps its because years of dealing with Metro and the developers have turned them into habitual haranguers.

You can experience this yourself, Dear Reader, by attending the public hearing, Weds., June 18, 2014 at the Takoma Education Campus 7010 Piney Branch Road NW Washington, DC. Information Session at 4:30 p.m., Public Hearing from 5 – 10 p.m.’

City councilmembers will be there too, and probably almost as frustrated as everyone else. However, there’s a rumor that some councilmembers may meet privately with the developer – on the theory that discussions can be more frank and productive.

Droning

We got excited when we heard the public upset about droning and wanting to ban it. At last, we thought, the public is standing up to the council, demanding faster, more dynamic and efficient meetings.

But no, turns out they were talking about DRONES, the flying things. Insert Your Gilbert’s usual rant about liberal-cause carpetbaggers escorting a willing city council into a dark alley for a quick resolution, here.

– 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.