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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.

Agenda for September 25, 2019 City Council Meeting

Dear Neighbors:

Here’s a link to the agenda for the September 25, 2019 City Council meeting: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-september-25-2019/. Prior to the start of the meeting at 6:00 PM there will be a presentation with public Q and A from the U.S. Postal Service’s Capital District Manager regarding delivery problems in Takoma Park. The regular meeting (which starts at 7:30 PM) will begin with a public hearing on this year’s allotment of Community Development Block Grant funds. Then we’ll be voting on the Police Mutual Aid Agreement with the City of Laurel; a tree contract for work in the public right-of-way; a contract for purchase of a replacement skid steer; and a re-appointment to the Tree Commission. The Work Session will include discussions on the Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan and on future committee appointments. Finally, after completion of the work session the Council is scheduled to go into a closed session to discuss matters related to evaluation of proposals for a legislative advocate contract (this is for hiring a firm to assist us in lobbying on County government issues).

Postal Service Presentation (6:00 PM Start Time)

Following a number of complaints from residents about inconsistent mail delivery in Takoma Park, particularly when regular mail carriers are on leave or otherwise unavailable, I contacted Congressman Jamie Raskin’s office to explore potential steps for improving service here in the City. The Congressman’s office together with Mayor Stewart and City staff arranged for Salvatorre Vacca, Capital District Manager for the U.S. Postal Service, to appear before the City Council. Mr. Vacca will take questions from Councilmembers and residents.

I would stress that we’ve organized this appearance by a senior Postal Service representative because it appears there may be systemic issues affecting mail delivery, as opposed to occasional, minor errors. In order to potentially see some corrective action, it’s important to be able to show the Postal Service the extent of the problem. That can best be done if a significant number of residents who have had delivery problems describe their experiences. So I urge residents who are concerned about this matter to attend the meeting and speak out in the Q and A session. If you can’t attend, feel free to send me an email outlining your delivery problems, including whether you’re comfortable having your name and address shared with the Postal Service.


Climate Change Survey.  As part of City efforts on planning our next steps to address climate change, interested residents are being asked to respond to a survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9TNQLVT. I encourage residents concerned about these issues to take the time to fill out the survey, which is estimated to take about 10 minutes.

Small Cell Tower Application (902 Merrimac Drive) -- September 30 Community Meeting. Crown Castle -- the most active small cell tower installation company -- has completed a tower application for 902 Merrimac Drive. The required community meeting has been scheduled for September 30 at 7:30 PM in the Community Center auditorium. This is the first installation application since passage in January of our local cell tower legislation, which included the community meeting requirement.

Pepco to Appear before City Council on October 2.  Representatives of Pepco and their contractor for the transmission line project that’s been negatively affecting our streets for over a year will be appearing before the Council starting at 6:00 PM (prior to our regular Council meeting at 7:30) to make a presentation on the project. This will include a public Q and A session, and I highly recommend that residents with concerns about the project and its impact on our community make plans to attend.

Takoma Park Street Festival -- Sunday, October 6, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM: https://mainstreettakoma.org/featured-events/takoma-park-street-festival/. Volunteers are still needed (you can apply through the above link).

Takoma Foundation Grant Fall Grant Cycle -- Application Deadline October 11: https://www.takomafoundation.org/grants/grantmaking. Applications can be submitted for both project grants and operational support grants.


Community Development Block Grant:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190925-1.pdf. The City receives an annual allotment from the Federal CDBG program, generally a little over $90,000. This public hearing is for the purpose of receiving suggestions and recommendations from residents about potential uses for the money we’ll be receiving this year. CDBG program dollars must be used for initiatives that benefit low and moderate income residents, and the City has chosen to limit use of the monies to capital projects.


Police Mutual Aid Agreement with Laurel, MD:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190925-2.pdf. This will be the second and final vote on the resolution approving the agreement between the Takoma Park and Laurel Police Departments. I support this move to improve collaboration with one of our nearby sister cities, and I intend to vote yes.

Right-of-Way Tree Work Contract:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190925-3.pdf. This contract is focused on removal of trees in public rights of way along more than 20 City streets. I’ll be seeking clarification on the reasons the trees are scheduled for removal, including to what extent the removals may be connected to the borer beetle infestation that has been affecting mature oak trees, and what other steps are or can be taken to address that problem. I’ll also be inquiring about plans for replacement trees.

Purchase of Replacement Skid Steer: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190925-4.pdf. I’ll be voting in favor of the funds for purchase of this item (a Bobcat), which were included in the budget.

Tree Commission Reappointment: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190925-5.pdf. I’ll be voting for the reappointment of Tina Murray to the Commission.


Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190925-6.pdf. This will be a continuation of the discussions we’ve had on the preparation of this plan. The Council has reached broad agreement on overall goals and objectives, but we still have more work to do in terms of identifying specific strategies, programs and initiatives to help us achieve the goals and objectives. City staff are preparing an updated draft, which will be posted prior to this week’s Council meeting.

Discussion of Committee Appointments:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190925-7.pdf. We may discuss some future appointments to resident committees, depending on the status of applications, etc.

As always, please be in touch with questions or comments about any of the issues covered in this message.

Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One

240-319-6281; www.councilmemberkovar.com

Agenda for October 2, 2019 City Council Meeting

September 18, 2019 City Council Meeting Agenda