I’d like to wish everyone an enjoyable and safe July 4th. I’ll be walking with my wife Paula in the annual Independence Day parade, which starts on Tuesday at 10 AM. I’m looking forward to seeing many Ward One residents along the route. Despite the periodic focus by area media on the parade’s off-beat Takoma-style floats (which are indeed fun components of the event), I always think of our parade as a very patriotic evocation of our national and local values. It’s an honor to be part of it.
City Council Schedule. The City Council didn’t have a full meeting last week, nor will we be meeting this week. Last week was the annual Maryland Municipal League conference in Ocean City, which pre-empted our regular meeting, and this week we won’t be meeting as a result of the July 4th holiday. We’ll have three more meetings this month (on July 12, 19 and 26) before breaking for August. Meanwhile, I wanted to provide a few updates on Council activities and other local matters.
Police Chief Selection Process. We’ve discussed a range of issues related to selection of the City’s new Police Chief in recent Council meetings as well as in two other special sessions, including one on June 29. While plenty of details still need to be worked out, there will be opportunities for significant public and Councilmember input into the selection. I’ll be pushing for as much public involvement as possible. Residents who haven’t already done so may wish to fill out the City survey on desired qualities and characteristics for our next Chief. You can access it through this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XKNQDN3.
New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center. On June 21 the Council had an initial discussion on the plans for rehabbing the New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center. The Center is currently owned by the County, which might be willing to shift ownership to Takoma Park. Earlier this year, the City issued a solicitation for developers and non-profits that may be interested in taking on the project, ideally with some new housing units as well. We have now received the responses, and four of the groups that responded will be making presentations at the Council meeting on July 12. You can see details here: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170621-7.pdf
Montgomery College. The third and final Community Conversation hosted jointly by the City and Montgomery College about the College’s construction plans in North Takoma took place last month. A key purpose of the public meetings was to help determine the location for the proposed new Math-Science Building. The two primary locations under consideration are on Fenton Avenue, the first where the Science Buildings are current located closer to the Nunley Student Center, and the second where Falcon Hall is situated closer to the intersection with Takoma Avenue and to the residences in the neighborhood (and across the street from Belle Ziegler Park). School President DeRionne Pollard is expected to make a decision on the siting of the building sometime in July. Taking into account the information presented in the meetings and all the other local discussions and meetings with residents, College staff and elected and governmental officials that we’ve been part of, Mayor Kate Stewart and I, after conferring with our Council colleagues, recently sent a letter to President Pollard endorsing the first location. Two community groups, one composed of North Takoma residents and the other made up of people from Silver Spring, also recently endorsed the first location. Here’s a link to our letter: https://documents-takomapark.s3.amazonaws.com/housing-and-community-development/Montgomery-College-%20Project/Letter%20to%20Pollard%20-%20KS%20PK%20-%206.16.17.pdf.
Maryland Municipal League Conference. I had the opportunity at the conference to meet with Gregory Slater, the Director of Maryland’s State Highway Administration, with whom I spoke about a range of issues relating to the safety and appearance of Philadelphia Avenue and Carroll Avenue (both of which are technically State highways, meaning that the City has less direct control over them). Many of the issues have been brought previously to SHA’s attention, and there will need to be further follow-up, but I’ll continue pressing for action.
Again, I hope to see you on the Fourth. If you have questions or comments about any of the issues in this message, please feel free to be in touch.
Takoma Park City Councilmember