GRANOLAPARK: Bridge NOT closing Monday

IMAGE: The Carroll Avenue Bridge in March. Not closed yet. Photo by Bill Brown.

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

The Carroll Avenue Bridge was scheduled to close next Monday, June 13, but the closing has been delayed.

Due to the Verizon strike, says city manager Suzanne Ludlow, the closing has been delayed a month. So, while Metro commuters are suffering a “surge” of repair work, Takoma Park bridge commuters can enjoy a “slack” until early July.

Also, they aren’t going to blow it up. Yes, there are so called “demolitions” scheduled for the bridge over a period of five days (the revised schedule for that was not announced), but that doesn’t mean they are going to blow up the bridge. The idea is to repair, not destroy, it. It will be more like a “removal of parts.” said Ludlow.

Trouble in the hills

The Sligo Creek Hills are Takoma Park’s Balkans. Because, like the Balkans, that part of town regularly erupts in strife over ancient boundary disputes and grudges.

Again, rush-hour traffic restrictions on Hilltop Road (which is not in the city) and Mississippi Avenue (which is) are enraging neighbors who want to drive on them, and see their free use as a way to relieve traffic on their streets, especially in the near future when the Carroll Avenue Bridge closes for repairs and drivers will be seeking alternative routes.

Joe Edgell, speaking during the citizen comment segment on behalf of the Safe Roadways Committee urged the council to rescind the restrictions. Two or three residents also rose to support the idea.

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Joe Edgell, Safe Roadways Committee, ready to roll following the June 8 city council meeting. Photo by Bill Brown.

Logic such as “We all pay our taxes, we all pay for the road,” so, we have the right to drive on it, were voiced.

Readers who would like a reminder of how this got started in 2010, or if they just want to get their hair blown straight back, can read the Granolapark account of the rowdy meeting where this kind of logic was rampant. Then, to get your hair blown the other way, read the account of the counter-attack.

If you don’t have time to read, the takeaway is that the “we paid for it, we should be able to drive on it” argument is unsustainable. Take a look around the city at all the one-way streets, blocked accesses and other traffic restrictions. You favor opening them ALL up to unrestricted, two-way traffic?

On the other hand, there are still those charges that the traffic study was flawed and the bridge closing may change traffic patterns. However, the restrictions were not made by the city, it was a county decision, and that makes changing them far more difficult.

Stand by, Dear Readers, there will be trouble in the Balkans in the summer.

Secret spy stuff

The city police want a spy camera, er, … “investigative surveillance equipment.”

Chief Alan Goldberg’s request presentation to the council has highly sensitive to civil liberties issues. The camera would be video only, no sound. Audio recordings have more legal restrictions. The camera would only be used on public property where there would be “no expectation of privacy,” or on private property, but only with the permission of the property owner.

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Takoma Park police chief Alan Goldberg presents his case for a surveillance camera to the city council, June 8, 2016. Photo by Bill Brown.

The council seemed fairly satisfied with the restrictions and controls over who can access the data. Councilmember Jarrett Smith had several questions about security from hackers, and recommended a specific password encryption method. The chief said their security was military grade, and anyway, even if hackers could access the spy camera data, “they’re [only] going to get pictures of the street.”

They asked the chief to either get more or less specific over the civil rights provision. They could all think of other categories that could be listed with those not to be monitored “based solely on their rede, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sex.” So, either list them all, they said, or don’t list any.

Manual labor

Senior planner Erkin Ozberk crawled into the city council chambers dragging the Takoma Park Streetscape Manual, all 168 pages of it.it, behind him on a heavy chain. He was the poor guy assigned to compile the thing.

Granolapark has had fun lampooning this process, starting with the “Old Activist Club,” aka the Residential Streetscape Task Force, who inspired it. Now, all we can do is sigh and roll our eyes.

At least Ozberk made clear the manual is a set of guidelines, not a strict policy. And it does not make any new policy, if just puts all the established policies and guidelines in one handy place.

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The Streetscape Manual presentation. Photo by Bill Brown.

It gave the council the opportunity to bring up the supposed rule about yellow curbs. Since the Old Activist Club expressed horror at the color yellow, and some council members backed them up, the public works department stopped painting curbs yellow. Some less aesthetically sensitive residents WANT yellow curbs in their neighborhoods, however, especially near their driveways so drivers. don’t park their cars too close.

 That was a former council, before the new council and mayor. There are some still on the council who remember the discussion, but they don’t remember a vote.

The city manager cleared this up. It was a straw vote, not an official one, she said. And, it is a matter for “further action later.” In other words, “you guys want to take a stab at it?”

Looks like they do.

Wait for it

The council had a vote. They voted to extend the owner-occupied group house registration. This was not, they stressed, an approval of the policy. They merely extended the life of a clause (due to expire inn late June) that they felt protected tenants. The law requires housing safety inspections, the council wants those to continue.

They will revise the law as part of a new housing policy in the fall.

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– 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.