GRANOLAPARK: Name that committee!

IMAGE: Takoma Park Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite discusses the Flower Avenue Green Street Project with the city council, Sept. 14, 2016. Photo by Bill Brown.


Dear Readers,


That was city manager Suzanne Ludlow’s question to the Takoma Park city council.

When the citizens committee was proposed months ago it got the temporary name Takoma Junction Community Consultation Process Advisory Board. The acronym TJCCPAC is just as awkward. “We can change the name later,” they said. So, when is “later?”

Every time the committee has been mentioned since then, somebody says “we need a better name for that.”

But nobody has proposed one, not officially. But, unofficially, at the Wednesday Sept. 14 city council meeting, councilmember Tim Male tossed a suggestion into the general discussion: JIB, for Junction Information Board.

It won’t be that easy, though. The council will have to discuss it and vote. Variations of that suggestion and other names will be proposed and mulled over. In the end they will probably not decide but send it to the TJCCPAC for them to discuss and make counter proposals.

Rename the woods

Sort of like Dorothy’s Woods. That’s the wooded parcel of land the city bought at a tax auction in January, 2015. It’s the former Washington-McGlaughlin Christian School’s back lot.

Dorothy is Dorothy Barnes, who spent most of her life in an Elm Street house backing the woods. Among the many stories she’s shared about growing up in Takoma Park are several about the lot, how she played there as a child and how it was once a Victory Garden.


A basketball hoop at the edge of the wooded lot. Photo by Bill Brown.

Neighbors want to rename the woods in her honor. They petitioned the council and it followed the process described above. The council discussed it, suggested a variation, “Dorothy Barnes Woods,” and punted it to the Commemoration Commission.”

As council freshman councilmember Rizzy Qureshi said. “What is the Commemoration Commission?”

That’s a volunteer citizen’s group charged with keeping track of who should be memorialized in Takoma Park – people, organizations or businesses that “that have made significant contributions to the social, cultural, historical, political, economic, or civic life of the City.”

The commission has a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 20. PERFECT! Over to you, commissioners!

Rename the street?

How long before they decide to rename Flower Avenue?

The former state highway is now a city street, and is on it’s way to becoming a “green street.” Green-street features include storm water management, energy efficient lighting, traffic calming and new and fixed sidewalks and bus facilities.

The city tried to do it without spending it’s own money, using grants and money the State Highway Administration gave the city to take the road off their hands. But, you know how costs spiral upwards, Dear Reader. The council voted to kick in around $47,000 from it’s own construction funds.

Before you get outraged at the extra expense, note, as Ward 5 councilmember Jarrett Smith said, this is the biggest investment in Ward 5 improvements in twenty-five years.

Not that he’s resentful about how much city money is thrown at Old Takoma and the more affluent neighborhoods in other wards. No, why would that make him RESENTFUL?

Smith said he was grateful the green street project would raise the quality of life and raise property values in the area.

Rename the election day?

While they are at it, why not rename city election day? They are changing everything else about it.

The city council had a special work session Monday, Sept. 12 to discuss “synchronizing” the city’s election day with the general election. The city’s election board gave the council another report on what it would take to enact it in 2018.

There wasn’t much new, if you’ve been following the story, Dear Readers. As reported earlier, synchronizing would (will!) mean voters having to vote twice, once on a general ballot, again on a city ballot. Instead of one voting station – the city community center – the city would have to conduct voting in the three Takoma Park general election polling places. Changing the day requires changing the city charter.


Another tradition that will likely pass with the election day change is the free chili for voters and candidates provided by volunteers at the community center on city election day, seen here at the 2013 election. Photo by Bill Brown.

One new tidbit was a price-tag, $60,000, though it was such a rough estimate, it is hardly worth discussing. Another was the suggestion to rely more on mail-in ballots.

Again, it was stressed by Board of Election members and the few councilmember who oppose the measure, that finding the increased number of city election judges on the same day as the general election will be a challenge.

The council has tentatively set a vote Sept 21 to proceed to the next steps. It is not the final vote, stressed Mayor Kate Stewart. There will be public hearings and more votes ahead.

As we’ve said before, the outcome is obvious. A council majority favors synchronizing the elections over all objections.

– Gilbert


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About the Author

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.

6 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK: Name that committee!"

  1. FAGS (that’s the name, and no one has ever changed it) was originally supposed to cost less than a million dollars and not involve city funds. Design work was supposed to take a year.

    That was 5 1/2 years ago. The current cost is $ 3.1 million. Only $ 2.1 million is accounted for on the city webpage.

  2. Granola:
    A good way to save a ton of money is to conduct the city elections on a Saturday. (Why does it have to be a Tuesday for Pete’s sake?) Instead of spending $60,000 on hiring and training 40 election judges, instead of the 10 as we have now, use some of that money as follows. Give $1.00 to everyone who registers that day and $1.00 to everyone who votes. That will cost about $5,000. Spend $5,000 more on live music and free nutritious snacks and drinks. Then put $1,800 into a set of three cash prizes ($1,200; $400 and $200) for a raffle where everyone who votes gets one chance. That totals $11,800 and it will save the city from wasting $48,800 and will preserve the sanctity of Takoma Park unique election where everyone votes at the our Community Center.

    Imagine the huge turnouts we will achieve, including minorities! Imagine the media coverage! Another precedent setting action for Takoma Park. Oh by the way, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to hire and train 40 election judges because Montgomery County will get first dibs on all of them, and they are scarce now!

    Fred Schultz

  3. Randall Marks | September 16, 2016 at 5:27 pm |

    Why not name it Junction Advisory Committee and be done with it?

  4. Donna Victoria | September 19, 2016 at 9:56 am |

    So the Council is moving forward with an election initiative supported by 76% of the voters? How shocking.

    Fred Schultz it is illegal to pay voters for voting. It’s called bribery.

  5. It was an advisory referendum, not a binding one. Though the council and the board of elections have cobbled together a way to do it that meets the criteria set forth in the referendum, the plan they’ve come up with is klunky (two voting lines per polling place, shoe-horning the city ward system into the county voting district system), expensive, extreme (requires city charter changes) and jettisons many of the “small-town” features of our city elections. There is also the strong possibility that it will be impossible to find all the extra election judges required to conduct the city elections. They will likely all be working for the county – and the county has trouble finding enough for their elections already.

    If residents had known about these consequences, would they have voted for the referendum?

Comments are closed.