Your Gilbert’s guide to the Takoma Junction Rambunction – Task force recommendation synopsis
The Takoma Junction Task Force report (Feb. 2012) is 110 pages long. Only four of those pages contain recommendations. The rest is background information and several suggestions – each with a list of “arguments for” and “arguments against.” The task force did not recommend any one plan. When they handed the report to the city council they said “YOU decide which one to do.”
The actual recommendations were meant to cover whichever plan the council chose. Some are specific, some are vague, some offer choices.
The very first recommendation is not really a recommendation. It offers two basic directions to go in – which the report later divides into 6 options.
Whichever one you choose, it said, follow these guidelines (below).
The council was under no obligation to do so. They did not vote on the task force report’s recommendations. It was only advice.
[Notes in brackets are by Your Gilbert.]
A. Use the parking lot for four purposes, including:
a. independent, non-chain, community-scale business [such as the co-op]
b. expanded community use:
• suggested uses [obviously not all would fit]:
pavilion, playground, garden space and/or park
c. Improved pedestrian, bike and auto access, sidewalks, street-scapes.
d. Consolidated parking for the whole Junction
B. New development should harmonize with existing architecture, not exceed 2 stories.
C. Give priority to Co-op addition.
D. Nearby buildings, the Turner building [Co-op’s current home] and Healy building, should be preserved.
E. City should help Junction businesses find funding to improve the looks of their storefronts and the area.
F. Soil testing [this was done]
G. Improve and maintain the wooded lot.
H. Put a switchback path through the wooded lot, which is on a steep slope.
I. Evaluate community interest in maintaining the wooded lot
J. Parking lot development should not negatively impact the wooded lot.
2. Preserve the R60 single-family home lot as woods.
3. City Council should give instructions and information based on the task force report to any developers, highlighting:
1. physical and environmental condition of the properties
2. their encumbrances;
3. all Historic District considerations;
4. desire for community space
5. adequate parking requirement.
2. Traffic Improvements
A. Optimize signal cycles and timing, do a traffic study.
B. City and SHA host a public forum and work sessions on traffic.
1. Option – different timings for different times of the day
2. Option – change light pattern at Sycamore.
C. Urge SHA to upgrade traffic lights, get on the county traffic management system.
D. Regular SHA/City consultation
E. Enlist help of District 20 legislators.
F. Strict enforcement of the bus bay use. [bus bay is gone, alas!]
G. Upgrade traffic stop on Ethan Allen at Sycamore.
H. Evaluate other options, including a second through lane on Ethan Allen.
I. Public forum on bus-transit system, might include assessment of bus size, whether it is appropriate for bus usage on the route.
The rest of the recommendations are not so vital to this phase of the process. Here are short summaries.
3. Pedestrian Improvements
4. Access and Parking Improvements
• These include the switchback path from Columbia to the parking lot level, making the Junction more bike-friendly, promote public transport, etc.
• Of significance to the development process, one recommendation was to ask a developer to do a study measuring “access modes” and parking demand and future demands. That study would be used for planning use of city-owned parcels. This was not done.
• Another recommendation says developers should take into account the parking needs of the entire Junction.
5. Streetscape Improvements
ADA compliant sidewalks that accommodate planters, buffer strips and plantings, trees, low stone walls along newly widened sidewalks, and in front of businesses. Also recommended is replacing concrete with permeable surface in B.Y. Morrison Park.
6. Other Revitalization Actions
A. Create a stakeholder group to work with the City on Junction revitalization
B. Meet with all property owners
C. Identify facades that need improvement
D. Encourage business incubation in vacant storefronts
E. Historic District signs
F. Interpretive historic signs
G. Use the B.Y. Morrison structure for vendor space.
H. Shade trees.
7. Revitalization Strategy
A. Stakeholders group and city set goals, actions, timetable.
B. City establish a budget.
C. City focus on vital “lynchpin” changes.
8. Council Walking Tour with Task Force members.