Here’s a link to the agenda for the April 4 City Council meeting: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-april-4-2018/. The agenda includes votes on a budget amendment and a “Consent Agenda” which groups together several non-controversial items into a single vote: a contract for purchasing a leaf vacuum, and appointments to the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs and to the Façade Advisory Board. We’ll then have important discussions on two major issues: the proposed City budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (which starts on July 1) and the Takoma Junction Site Plan.
Budget Amendment. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180404-1.pdf. This is the final vote on an amendment that includes a series of budget shifts, resulting mainly from projects and expenditures being delayed such that funds in the current budget aren't able to be spent until next year’s budget. Also, owing to various unforeseen circumstances (staffing changes, grant approvals, etc.) some planned expenditures in this year’s budget will be discontinued or reduced, while others will be increased, with the total amount of reductions slightly exceeding the increases. I’ll be voting in favor of the amendment.
Consent Agenda. I’m voting for the Consent Agenda, which includes the following three items:
Façade Advisory Board Appointments. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180404-2c.pdf
Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180404-2c.pdf
This week the City Manager will present her proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which kicks off a 6-week period of public action on the budget. The second budget link above connects to the entire proposal, which is nearly 200 pages in length. In addition to this week’s presentation, there will be public hearings on the budget on the evenings of April 11 and April 25 (with the second hearing also covering the local property tax rate). And there will be a Budget Open House on Saturday, April 7 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM in the Community Center Azalea Room. Child care will be provided by the Recreation Department during the public hearing on April 25 and at the April 7 Open House. The Council will meet twice a week for three weeks starting April 16, with the extra sessions devoted solely to budget discussions. Our final vote on the budget is scheduled for May 16.
In other words, there will be a number of opportunities for residents to ask questions and offer comments on the budget. I’ll also plan on scheduling a public session where Ward One residents can let me know about their budget and tax ideas and concerns.
Takoma Junction Site Plan. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180404-4.pdf. Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) will be presenting its revised Takoma Junction Site Plan. This will be a discussion only. We have a site plan vote tentatively scheduled for May 9, with the Council set to consider various aspects of the project at each of our regular weekly meetings until then.
The Council last formally considered the Junction in late October when we approved a resolution (included in this agenda item link) that called for a number of improvements to NDC’s concept plan, and provided some guidelines for the required traffic study. When I voted for the resolution, I emphasized several key areas where I believed the concept plan was deficient and needed to be improved. To be specific, in my opinion there was insufficient public space at the street level; the area where outdoor seating, unloading of delivery trucks, and garbage handling were to take place was too complicated and unworkable; and I disagreed with the idea of having a third floor. In addition, I had concerns about how the entry and exiting of the underground parking would be handled. While these were not my only areas of concern (traffic is obviously another key element), I thought they were the most significant problem areas in the concept plan, and I’ll be looking especially closely during Wednesday’s meeting at how NDC proposes to address them.
For residents who are unable to attend this week's Council meeting or who wish to explore the NDC proposal in more detail, there will be a site plan Open House at the Community Center on Saturday, April 7 from 2:00 - 5:00 PM. This event will offer opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback on the plan. It also coincides with the budget Open House, and as noted child care will be provided.
As always, please feel free to be in touch with any questions or comments on these agenda items.
Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One