GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
You can come out now, the city budget process is over.
The Takoma Park city council voted in favor of the 2018 tax rate, the storm-water rate and the city budget.
Mayor Kate Stewart cast the only “nay” vote for the budget rate. She felt it was too low. The council trimmed the rate down so homeowner’s tax payments would not rise. The mayor’s concern is that while the property tax revenue generated will cover the city’s 2018 costs, it skimps on this years contribution to the city’s savings account, the reserve fund.
She joins resident and long-time city council observer Arthur David Olson who sardonically identified himself as the lone member of the Friends of the Reserve Fund when he spoke at one of the recent budget hearings. Two members and counting.
Councilmember Peter Kovar cast the only “nay” vote on the whopping stormwater fee raise, $55 to $92. The raise is necessary, says the Public Works Department, to meet more state regulations. It’s all to save the Chesapeake Bay, so residents must green and bear it.
Like many other residents we are upset that the Co-op walked away from expanding its popular, iconic store into the Takoma Junction development on the city owned lot. We were looking forward to having a co-op the size and scope of the Brattelboro, Vermont Food Co-op, which has expanded twice in the last 20 years and is now a “14,580 square foot natural foods market and deli on the ground floor of a four-story building that also includes Co-op offices, a commissary kitchen, a cooking classroom, and 24 apartments,” as described on their website.
It really is a shame. But, it was inevitiable.
The Co-op has been fearful of this project since the city rejected its offer to develop the lot in 2013, and instead publically invited bids and proposals. The Co-op submitted a proposal, which the city rejected in favor of another, pumping the Co-op’s fear even higher.
Every time the Co-op and its supporters complain to the city council that some aspect of the Takoma Junction redevelopment deal will “kill the Co-op,” we remember the description of farmers in The Magnificent Seven.
“You must excuse them. They are farmers here. They are afraid of everyone and everything. They are afraid of rain, and no rain. The summer may be too hot, the winter – too cold. The sow has no pigs, the farmer is afraid he may starve. She has too many, he’s afraid she may starve.”
You can see this fear of everything in the Letter of Intent, the simple “handshake” agreement that held up the development for months because the Co-op and NDC could not agree on terms. Usually a one-page memo, the Co-op insisted on a multi-page document full of conditions, legalese and demands, addressing every fear they could think of. They thought of many.
Since the city rejected it’s first development proposal, the Co-op has been acting like a kicked dog. A kicked dog will wince and shy away from every gesture – even a friendly one. What seem like helpful, positive proposals to the city council, staff, developers and neighbors seem like the point of a boot to the Co-op.
As long as the Co-op’s fear and feeling of persecution exist, there is no hope.
They will shy away from Your Gilbert’s suggestion, also, we’re sure. We think the Co-op should seriously think about relocating, as we suggested back in 2014. Yes, it has a 20-year lease, but any lease is negotiable – especially if the developer can offer the landlord a better deal.
The Co-op’s big fears: the continuity of the business through construction, the availability of an unloading dock and adequate parking could be addressed if the Co-op moved to one of several areas slated for development along the city’s border. Piney Branch Road, University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue are all major roads mostly lined by aging strip malls ready to be redeveloped with plenty of room for big truck deliveries and parking.