IMAGE: Out to recess. Photo by Bill Brown.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
This Wednesday’s was the best Takoma Park city council meeting of the year. There wasn’t one.
The council is on recess until Sept. 7. The staff has a whole month to get down to work without the council inventing new projects every other day. “Solar-powered fire hydrants? Yes, councilmember, I’m sure that would be very sustainable. We’ll just drop everything and look into that.”
And the council will be just as glad to get away from constituents for a few weeks. “A petition to close both ends of your street? How interesting.”
For Yours Truly, it is a time for reflection and for covering a few things that have been shouted out of the column by noisier issues.
The noisiest issue – Takoma Junction development and the Co-op, had a dramatic, last-minute ending, but is it really resolved?
For those who aren’t familiar Takoma Junction is an awkward intersection prone to bad traffic and struggling shops – except the successful TPSS Food Co-op anchor store.
The city owns the big parking lot next to the Co-op and wants to redevelop it. The Co-op wants to expand and the city lot is the obvious place to expand into.
The city requested development proposals. It rejected the Co-op’s, choosing instead the Neighborhood Development Company’s proposal, which included a Co-op expansion.
The Co-op did its utmost to get the council to overturn the decision. It brought out scores of peetybeetie* supporters to city council meetings. No dice.
Over the Co-op’s objections the city voted to approve the lease agreement with NDC at the end of July. The Co-op and NDC agreed to work with an independent mediator to negotiate their own agreement – a letter of intent. They have 120 days to get that letter signed
Co-op supporters at an October, 2014 public hearing on Takoma Junction development. Photo by Bill Brown.
The mediator has a tough job. Consider the loading-dock issue, which shows how differently the two parties see things. The Co-op wanted a loading dock for big trucks in the rear – which is what the preliminary drawings showed. Once they were selected to be the developer, NDC came back to the Co-op and said that on closer study, they could not put the unloading dock in the back, but they had a clever solution. Which is how good architects do things.
The council and development supporters agreed it was a clever solution. The Co-op said “they’re trying to kill us.”
Somehow the mediator has to encourage the Co-op to see NDC more as a clever architect and less of a homicidal maniac. That’s a wide gulf to bridge in four months.
The people who see the Co-op’s fears as irrational have to understand how the Co-op has experienced the years-long development process as a series of kicks to the ribs. After a while, everything, including a clever architectural solution, looks like a kick to the ribs.
The Co-op invited a lot of those kicks by trying to overturn the city’s original decision, but what’s done is done.
Somehow, the Co-op has to let go and start fresh. They sell plenty of products that claim to help with that. We hope they use them and we wish them the best.
The city’s Mariyn Sklar, who wrangled a herd of cartoonists at the most recent city council meeting, has Storified the event. The Voice posted an article on the artistic sideshow, City council captured.
Next week: some less noisy issues.
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