GRANOLAPARK: Salon des Refusés

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

The city made a surprising invitation to the Co-op to make a presentation at the Takoma Junction Open House last Tuesday, Nov. 18.  “They were invited in order to help clarify their requirements for operation and expansion needs.” said Takoma Park city manager Brian Kenner.

Their display easels were placed in the lobby outside the community center Azalea Room where the four development proposal finalists showed their revised plans.

The Co-op’s presentation was bold. It appeared to be an alternative proposal, though the Co-op is officially out-of-the-running as a competitor. Their original development proposal was rejected last summer.

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Yet, at the Open House they had new, revised architectural drawings, a new project manager, and a new public relations spokesperson, and their architect was on hand.

Asked if the Co-op wants their plan considered as an alternative to the “final four” proposals, spokesperson Karen Widmayer said “The Co-op views our development proposal as a viable and comprehensive alternative to other proposals.”

Asked if the city was considering the Co-op plan as a “fifth finalist,” the city manager said, ” City staff and Council comments to date have stated there are four concepts for discussion in the RFP process.  The Co-op’s proposal is not under consideration in this process.”

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Councilmember Seth Grimes, asked the same question, replied simply “No.”

But, he also said “The co-op is pursuing several options. That seems prudent.”

City Manager Kenner said that the Co-op’s efforts to express its concerns, such as the Open House presentation “can only be helpful as they interface with the developers.”

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We asked the co-op if offering an alternative proposal creates a problem, putting the co-op in the role of competitor rather than a partner to the other developers. If another developer’s plan is chosen, we asked, will the co-op cooperate with that developer?

Co-op spokesperson Widemeyer said, “The Co-op will continue to work with and cooperate with the developers as well as develop the Co-op vision in cooperation with the community.  This will be a collaborative process throughout.”

The Co-op’s new drawings can be seen on their website.

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City councilmember Seth Grimes talks to Co-op representatives at the Open House.

We’ll always have Paris

The lobby was a sort of Salon des Refusés – a famous 1863 exhibition of art works rejected by the French Academy of Fine Arts for the annual Paris Salon.

Next to the Co-op was resident Byrne Kelly, owner of Greenfields Company. He set up his own easel and was happy to discuss his plan, which is new. He submitted no plans during the selection process earlier this year.

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Bryne Kelly and his plan.

His approach was more practical, less conceptual than the four finalists’. His firm is familiar with that city lot, he said. They did the soil assessment for the city, so he knows what is under it. Rubble. It is land fill and not suitable to build on, he said. It has to be removed, including much of the wooded slope, an unnatural feature.

Kelly’s approach was down to earth. Literally. He described his plan to excavate the site in great detail.

His plan alone incorporates a paved city-owned lot behind the two adjacent auto-shops. Currently it is accessed by the fire department parking lot on the other side. It is on a lower level than the development site, but when that is excavated, a connection can be made, said Kelly. There would also be parking on a lower level beneath the current parking lot, he said.

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Kelly’s plan. Red lines indicate the back-in, pull-out loading dock.

As for trailer-truck unloading, Kelly proposes a back-in, pull-out slot. This would necessitate a traffic signal over-ride switch such as the fire house uses to halt all traffic when large vehicles are turning and backing into the building.

By the way, everybody remembers the impressionist artwork shown in the 1863 Salon des Refusé. Nobody remembers that year’s Paris Salon.

– 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.