PHOTO: City Councilmember Seth Grimes and the city-owned Takoma Junction lot. September, 2014 photo by Bill Brown.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
The Photo Rebellion was not the only Takoma Park city council drama April 13.
There was plenty more.
The commitment is officially made to the finalist Takoma Junction developer.
The city council voted to authorize negotiations Neighborhood Developmental Company.
There were still some residents who were convinced this is a bad idea. One brought her own slide show and had a fit of outrage when, as the 3-minute limit signal ding-donged, the mayor asked her, “Can you wrap it up?”
We have to say there probably would have been fewer anxious citizens present if councilmember Seth Grimes hadn’t mentioned on local list serves his opinion that he was ready to go with the design as presented, and he sees the charrette process as merely refining the existing design. That panicked residents who have strong objections to the original proposal, and who want bigger changes than refinements.
NDC’s original proposal last fall.
More input (i.e. a charrette) is scheduled to be next.
Charrette process – that’s a meeting or a series of meetings attended by all the interested parties: the architect, developer, politicians, residents, local business people, and so forth. Everyone tells the architect and developer what they want from the development, and they all brainstorm together. The architect and developer go back to the drawing board and design something that fulfills everyone’s wants as best they can, but stays within limitations such as budget, zoning, etc. Then they take those design ideas back to the community for feedback. Repeat as necessary.
Grimes was worried the city would repeat the Community Center “cluster**k” (his word). Yeah, he got a little worked up about it. He was adamant that he was choosing the design NDC submitted. If there was a radical alteration to that design, the numbers would no longer work out, he said. “I can’t see us doing a blank slate.”
He reminded everyone that the Community Center started with a proposal to build a gym, then opened the project to other suggestions. The result was a huge new community center – with no gym.
No other city councilmmember shared his concern, though everyone’s eyelids flew back when he used the “c*********k” word.
They did add some phrases to the resolution to mollify the more skittish residents – without binding the developer.
Fred Schultz proposed as aquatic sit-in to keep the Piney Branch Elementary school pool open. The pool is an oddity. The county owns it, but Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington runs it. The hours and days of operation are strange – not open on Saturdays, for example. [ed: we’re informed it is no longer the case that it is closed on Saturdays – despite information to the contrary on the pool website.]
Piney Branch Pool. Photo by Bill Brown.
There is no funding for it in next year’s Montgomery County budget – which means it would have to close. Unless, of course, the locals make a stink about it. And they are.
Swim-goggled kids and other water-fans have lapped their way to the podium, phones and keyboards, appealing to city and county representatives. The city council is practicing their kung-fu moves. Working themselves up for battle, they noted Piney Branch pool it is the only county indoor pool inside the beltway. Councilmember Tim Male noted a multi-million capitol improvement project for the up-county Poolesville Pool. Nothing like mentioning “up-county” to get “down-county” politicians’ teeth grinding.
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