With no City Council meeting this week, I’m grouping together a few key announcements and updates relating to Election Synchronization; the City budget; the deadlines for online comments about the developments at Takoma Junction and Montgomery College; the official opening of the Dog Park; and the Arbor Day tree seedling giveaway.
Election Synchronization. The Council has been considering the idea of moving our local elections to even years to coincide with Presidential, Congressional and Gubernatorial elections in order to increase turnout. To make this change it will be necessary to amend the City’s Charter, and at next week’s City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 5 there will be a public hearing starting at 7:30 PM where residents will have an opportunity to offer their views on whether we should go forward with the switch to even years. If we do decide go forward with switch, we’ll need to have two separate rooms at our local voting precincts on Election Day: one for our local elections and a second for the other elections. There are still some technical details to work out in collaboration with the County and State. But based on everything I have seen so far, I continue to be a strong supporter of making this change. I encourage anyone who is interested in this set of issues to attend the hearing and speak out. More information is available via this link:https://takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/project-directory/election-synchronization/.
City Budget. In April the City Council will begin consideration of the City budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (which starts on July 1 of this year). We’ll have an initial presentation of the City Manager’s proposed budget at our Council meeting on April 5, followed by a public open house on the budget April 6 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM in the Community Center Azalea Room. We’ll continue working on the budget at our regular Wednesday Council meetings in April and on into May, with a target for the final budget vote on May 17. We’ll also have three special Monday Council sessions devoted exclusively to the budget on April 17 and 24, and on May 1, all starting at 7:30 PM. All these events are open to the public, and residents can comment at any of the Wednesday Council meetings. In addition, on April 12 there will be a 7:30 PM public hearing specifically for community comments on the budget.
Takoma Junction Online Comments – March 31 Deadline. If you would like to provide your input about the Takoma Junction redevelopment project, there are two surveys that offer an opportunity to comment. They are available at: https://takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/takoma-junction-redevelopment/
Montgomery College Online Comments – April 7 Deadline. The City and the College have begun a series of three public meetings (the first of which took place on March 21) regarding MC’s updated Facilities Master Plan. That Plan calls for extensive construction in the residential North Takoma portion of MC's Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus. Prior to the March 21 meeting, Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart and MC President DeRionne Pollard issued a joint release, which included the following statement: “Initiating this public dialogue will help ensure that the Takoma Park community along with the array of campus stakeholders have a meaningful opportunity to consult with the College on its building and renovation plans with the goal of both meeting MC’s academic needs and preserving the residential character of the neighborhood.”
In addition to the public and written comments provided on March 21, residents can submit comments online through April 7. All comments will be used to plan the next public meeting – set for May 9 at 7:00 PM at the Community Center – which will delve more deeply into details of the construction plans, including the height and footprint of the proposed new Math-Science Building and its impact on the neighborhood. I agree that the existing laboratories are very outdated and need to be replaced so MC students can have access to state of the art facilities.
Among the key issues under review is whether the Math-Science Building should be positioned at a site stretching from the intersection of Takoma and Fenton Avenues through Falcon Hall to partway along Fenton including where the Science South Building is located (as put forward in the updated Master Plan), or further along Fenton in the area where Science North and South are located (as recommended in the previous Master Plan), or elsewhere. My own view is that the updated Master Plan idea of building a major new structure so close to the residential parts of the neighborhood at Takoma and Fenton where Falcon Hall is located is ill-advised. I’m hopeful that the public consultation process will lead to agreement on an alternative for new math and science facilities that meets the goals enunciated by Mayor Stewart and President Pollard in their joint statement.
There is extensive background on the Master Plan available through this link: https://takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/project-directory/montgomery-college-facilities-master-plan/
To submit online comments, go to the following link: https://takomapark.seamlessdocs.com/f/LUcGWG
Dog Park Grand Opening. The long-awaited grand opening of the City’s Dog Park will take place on Sunday, April 2 at 1:30 p.m. The Dog Park is located at the end of Darwin Avenue just above the Takoma Piney Branch Park. Everyone (human and canine) is welcome to attend.
Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Seedling Giveaway. This event will take place on Saturday, April 8 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM on the City Library grounds. There will be 12 types of seedlings available for free: Bald Cypress, Pitch Pine, Black Oak, White Oak, Shumard Oak, Red Maple, Sweet Gum, Sycamore, Red Bud, Paw Paw, Persimmon and Hazelnut. Members of the Tree Commission will be present to answer questions.
Comments and questions about any of the above items are welcome.
Takoma Park City Councilmember