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Welcome to my blog, which features frequent updates on local Takoma Park issues, including City Council meeting agendas, plus occasional commentary on national news and politics.

October 19 City Council Agenda

Dear Neighbors:

The following is a link to the October 19, 2016 City Council Agenda: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-october-19-2016/   Key agenda items include a resolution on LED street lights; a review of proposed Community Quality of Life grants; and a discussion on Community Partnership staffing issues. We’ll also be voting on funding for two new bikeshare stations and related street improvements; and appointments to the new Noise Control Board. In addition, we’ll have a presentation from Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Executive Director Chuck Bean.

The Council meeting will of course be competing with the third Presidential debate, which begins at 9:00 PM. If you do plan to watch it, there’s plenty of time to speak up about any of the Council meeting agenda items during the public comment period, before going home to watch the debate.

Meanwhile, if you want another opportunity to hear from me, I’ll be on the radio this Sunday (October 23) at 1:00 PM on Takoma Radio’s “Talk of Takoma” show, which is hosted by Takoma Voice editor Eric Bond. In case you haven’t heard about it, Takoma Radio (WOWD 93.4 FM), our community’s local, volunteer-run, non-profit radio station, has been on the air for a few months now.

Also, as I mentioned previously, if you want to check out past messages I have sent to the neighborhoods of Ward One, you can go to my new blog: http://www.councilmemberkovar.com/. Right now it’s a mainly a compilation of emails about the weekly City Council meeting agendas, but I hope to be able to expand it beyond that, and I welcome feedback from neighbors.

COG Presentation.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2016/council-20161019-1.pdf   Takoma Park’s participation in COG has yielded valuable dividends in such areas as funding for transportation projects and our parking study, as well as emergency planning, including Zika prevention. The presentation will be focused on opportunities for continued collaboration between the City and COG.

LED Lights.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2016/council-20161019-2.pdf  The Council has been briefed by staff and has discussed several times various options for converting to LED street lights, which use less energy and are cheaper. The Council gave its tentative approval previously to the Pepco conversion option, under which our street lights would continue to be owned and managed by the utility. At this week’s Council meeting we will vote on a resolution to proceed officially with the Pepco option. I’ll be voting in favor of the resolution.

Bikeshare Improvementshttps://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2016/council-20161019-34.pdf   We’ll be voting on two separate resolutions to provide funding to purchase equipment to set up two new bikeshare stations, and to construct a “bump-out” and concrete pad to ensure proper flow of traffic. The City was awarded $100,000 in Maryland Bikeways monies to install two new stations at the Takoma Park Recreation Center on New Hampshire Avenue, and at Takoma/Langley Crossroads near the new transit center.  The construction, which will help the second station function properly, will be located on Kirklynn Avenue. We included in the budget for this year $20,000 in matching funds for this grant. I think it’s important for the City to continue its efforts to provide support for bicycle use within our borders, and I will be voting in favor of the two resolutions.

Noise Control Board.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2016/council-20161019-5.pdf   The recent changes to the City’s Noise Ordinance included the reinvigoration of the Noise Control Board. In order to function, that Board needs at least 5 members from the community (with up to 7 members permitted). We will be voting on approving the initial 5 members of the Board. I’ll be voting in favor. I note that the 5 members are from just two Wards, so it would be preferable to have any additional members be residents of other Wards.  I urge any Ward One residents who may be interested in serving on the Board to let me know or be in touch with the City Clerk’s office.

Community Quality of Life Grants.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2016/council-20161019-6.pdf   This City grant program is focused on providing financial support for programs, projects and events which improve residents’ quality of life by providing greater access and opportunities for participation in the arts and sciences. The Grants Review Committee (composed of City residents) has recommended that a total of 8 grantees receive funding under this program in Fiscal Year 2017, for a total of $60,000 (which was approved in the budget adopted by the City Council earlier this year). I’m a strong supporter of the program, and generally supportive of the various grantees that have been selected by the Committee, based on an initial review of the information. While the Council will eventually have the responsibility of approving the list of grantees or making changes to it, we won’t be voting this week. Instead, this will be an opportunity to learn more about the grantees and the selection process, with a view toward finalizing the list in the near future.

Community Partnership.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2016/council-20161019-7.pdf  The Community Partnership Program is a newly established City grant program, which is focused on children and seniors, and residents with special needs, and – in contrast to the Quality of Life grants – aims at providing larger amounts of funding, potentially over multi-year timeframes. One question that has emerged is whether there is a need for additional City staffing or changes in existing staff assignments to help manage this program. We will be discussing the City Manager’s proposal to establish a new position for this purpose through changes to existing staff slots. I believe the Community Partnership Program has the potential to be an important and exciting innovation in how we allocate grant funding. But I don’t have enough information at this point to know whether I would support the staffing proposal, so I am looking forward to the discussion.

Please feel free to be in touch if you have questions or comments about any of these agenda items.


Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One

Agenda for October 26, 2016 City Council Meeting

City Council Agenda for October 12, 2016