Here’s a link to the agenda for the November 7, 2018 City Council meeting: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-november-7-2018/. We’re scheduled to take the final vote on the LED Streetlight conversion project, plus votes on an amendment to the Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development Authority bylaws, and on changes to the Takoma Park Youth Council’s structure. Next, there’s a vote on a Consent Agenda consisting of appointments to five of the City’s resident committees. We’ll close with a Work Session on three topics: changes to the City Purchasing Code; the Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2018, which ended on June 30 of this year; and a proposed budget amendment.
Election Day -- If you haven’t already voted at one of the Montgomery County early voting sites, please make sure you vote tomorrow (Tuesday, November 6). Polls are open from 7:00 AM - 8:00 PM, and you can vote on a range of positions including U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, State Legislature, County Executive, County Council, and School Board. Plus there are five referendum questions. I’ll be spending a lot of time on Election Day at the Takoma Park Elementary School polling place.
Office Hours -- I’ll have Office Hours this week on Wednesday at Takoma Bevco on Laurel Ave. from 3:00 - 5:00 PM. Feel free to stop by to discuss local issues. No appointment required.
LED Streetlights: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-1.pdf. As outlined before, the City is planning to convert our street lights to LED technology, which will improve energy efficiency and lead to major financial savings. We voted in favor of that proposal in our last Council meeting, and we’ll be voting this week on final passage of a resolution authorizing the contract for the LED purchase. I’ll be voting in favor of it. The plan calls for lights at the 3000 Kelvin level and 24 watts in most residential areas, with a couple of spots (on Flower Ave. and at the New Hampshire-Ethan Allen intersection) having higher Kelvin ratings, and some areas with greater wattage. I know some may find the appearance of the lights less than appealing, but it’s my view that the urgent need in the context of climate change for the City to cut energy use, combined with the cost savings. make this a plan well worth supporting.
While potential health concerns and negative environmental impacts have been associated with LEDs at higher Kelvin levels, the American Medical Association’s 2016 report on the topic supports conversion to LED street lights because of the associated reduction in energy consumption and decrease in fossil fuel use. The AMA recommends lights at Kelvin levels no higher than 3000, meaning our new lights will be in their recommended range. Some residents have suggested installing lights at 2700 Kelvin (which would mean a modest drop in the “blue” component of the light). Based on the AMA study and other reports I’ve read, there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference from a health or environmental perspective between 2700K and 3000K. And since Pepco isn’t able to provide the number of lights we need at the 2700 level, and the 2700s are less energy efficient, I think it makes sense to go with 3000K.
The AMA report also emphasized the value of shielding technology to reduce glare, and we’ll have the ability to add shielding at appropriate spots in the City (I helped make sure we would have a strong and flexible policy on shielding). In addition, the report mentions the potential value of adaptive technology which can be used to adjust the lights remotely. This might include, for example, reducing brightness after midnight in certain areas. Our new lights will have the capability to be linked to that type of technology, and I hope we’ll be able to explore incorporating that approach into our program in the future, once we have a better practical sense of how the lights function.
Crossroads Development Authority: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-2.pdf. The CDA wishes to amend its bylaws in order to be able to operate more efficiently. Because the CDA was established through official City action, the Council must approve the change. I’ll be voting yes.
Youth Council: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-4rev.pdf. I’ll be voting for the proposed changes to the structure of the Youth Council, which are aimed at helping promote greater diversity of membership on the Council, and would also increase the size of the membership and align Council terms with school schedules. In addition, we’ll be making appointments to the Council.
CONSENT AGENDA VOTE -- I’ll be voting in favor of the appointments to these committees.
Commission on Landlord Tenant Affairs: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-5a.pdf
Committee on the Environment: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-5b.pdf
Grants Review Committee: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-5c.pdf
City Purchasing Code: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-6.pdf. The purchasing code hasn’t been updated since 2000, and I agree the purchase amounts that trigger Council or senior staff approval should be increased. I’m generally supportive of the staff’s proposed changes, though I’m leaning toward setting the Council approval floor for purchases at $30,000 rather than $50,000.
Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Report: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-7.pdf
Budget Amendment: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20181107-8.pdf. The Council periodically considers budget amendments that deal with various unanticipated increases or decreases in revenues and expenditures. Two key items in this amendment are the funds the City previously approved to gain full legal control of Dorothy’s Woods, and a shortfall in County funds connected to the Dog Park. I supported the Dorothy’s Woods funding with the understanding that we would explore options for an equal amount of offsetting cuts elsewhere in the budget. I’ll be exploring how best to do that, either in the context of this amendment or at a later time. In addition, I’d like to have a clearer understanding of the County action on the Dog Park funds.
Please be in touch with questions or comments about any of these issues.
Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One