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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 October 2, 2019 City Council Meeting


Dear Neighbors:

Here’s a link to the agenda for the October 2, 2019 City Council meeting: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-october-2-2019/. At 6:00 PM there will be a presentation from Pepco, with public Q & A, about their ongoing project in the City. During the regular meeting the Council will continue discussing the Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan, as we move toward a vote on the plan in mid to late October. We’ll also be discussing possible amendments to the City ordinance governing the posting of private signs in public areas. Our voting session includes appointments to the Ethics Commission and the Grants Review Committee, plus a contract for services with “Start-up in Residence,” a program that fosters collaborations between local governments and new businesses. In addition, the meeting will include proclamations on Indigenous Peoples Day and Energy Efficiency Day, plus an update from the Youth Council.

Pepco Presentation. While there has been a bit of progress lately with the re-surfacing of Eastern Avenue between Cedar Avenue and Piney Branch Road, the Pepco project continues to have significant negative impacts on the community. The utility hasn’t been willing to undertake a temporary smoothing of the road surface in the completed areas on Takoma Avenue and Fenton Street. In addition, communication about where and when work will take place, along with traffic control, are still falling short of where they need to be. I encourage residents who live near or travel through the work zones to join in this session and express concerns about the project to Pepco and their contractor, which will also have representatives at the presentation.


Indigenous People’s Day:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/indigenous-peoples-day-proclamation-2019.pdf. In addition to the reading of the proclamation, we will also hear remarks from Dr. Gabrielle Tayac, a historian and Takoma Park resident who is a member of the Piscataway Nation.

Energy Efficiency Day:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/mayoral-proclamations/2019/pr20191002_energy-efficiency-day.pdf


Small Cell Tower Application (902 Merrimac Dr.) -- September 30 Community Meeting: Cell Tower installation company Crown Castle has submitted an application for 902 Merrimac Dr. The required community meeting is tonight at 7:30 PM in the Community Center auditorium.

Coffee with a Cop -- Wednesday, October 2 -- 10:00 - 11:30 AM, at Takoma Bevco: Mingle informally with Takoma Park Police, fellow residents and at least one City Councilmember.

Office Hours:  I’ll be available to discuss local issues with residents from 2:00 - 4:00 PM on Wednesday, October 2 at The Girl and the Vine (7071 Carroll Ave.) No appointments needed.

Takoma Park Street Festival -- Sunday, October 6, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM: https://mainstreettakoma.org/featured-events/takoma-park-street-festival/. The location as always is along Carroll Avenue and Carroll Street, DC.


U.S. Postal Service Presentation. As noted previously, when I heard from a number of residents about inconsistent mail delivery and related problems connected to our local Post Offices, I contacted Congressman Jamie Raskin’s office. His staff then worked with Mayor Stewart and City staff to schedule a presentation with public Q and A at last week’s Council meeting where we heard from Salvatore Vacca (the USPS Capital District Manager) and Hugo Aldana, the newly appointed Silver Spring Postmaster (a position that includes supervision of the Takoma Park Post Offices in Old Town and on Holton Lane). I was pleased the two Postal Service representatives acknowledged, and apologized for, the problems, and also pledged to take steps to address them.

In particular Mr. Vaca and Mr. Aldana said they would be focused on improved training for carriers (especially those who are filling in for regular carriers); having more responsive customer service in the Post Offices; and improving the physical appearance of Post Offices and mail boxes. I think making the kinds of changes that are needed will take some time, but I was encouraged by their initial statements. They will soon be circulating phone numbers and email addresses that customers can use to register complaints or concerns. For now, they are asking that problems and concerns be forwarded to Congressman Raskin’s staffer Christa Burton (christa.burton@mail.house.gov) who will share them with Mr. Vaca and Mr. Aldana.

You can see video of the Postal Service session via the following link, starting at the 8:30 mark: https://takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/meetings-and-documents/city-council-video/


Contract for Start-up in Residence:  The background material on this agenda item was not yet available at the time this message was prepared.

Ethics Commission Reappointment:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20191002-2a.pdf. I support and will vote for the reappointment.

Grants Review Committee Appointments:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20191002-2b.pdf. I’ll be voting in favor of the reappointments.


Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20191002-3r.pdf. We’ve assembled a good set of goals and objectives for the plan, as well as a solid outline of strategies to implement them. The draft plan has more details than previously in terms of details on the kinds of initiatives and programs that we would use to implement the strategies. But it’s my sense the plan would be improved by having more specificity within the various strategies. That’s what I’m pushing for as we continue working on the plan. The plan has the potential to have a significant impact on housing and development actions in the City in the coming years, and I encourage interested residents to offer their opinions on these topics, either before the City Council or via email or other communication with me. Residents may also be interested in the blog recently posted by Mayor Stewart about the Strategic Plan, which can be accessed here:  https://takomaparkmd.gov/news/building-a-livable-community-for-all-housing-and-economic-development-strategic-plan/.

Ordinance Prohibiting Private Signs in Public Right of Way:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20191002-3r.pdf. As a result of a few recent situations in which signs for local events or activities were posted on telephone poles and in other public places and subsequently removed by City staff, there was an interest on the part of the Council in reviewing and if appropriate revising our local ordinance that governs the placement of private signs. We’ll be discussing a draft revision to the ordinance which would remove existing exceptions to the general prohibition on posting private signs in public rights of way. Current exceptions include “home centered, occasional activities” like yard sales and bake sales, along with advertisements for home day care services. In addition, lost pet notices have typically been permitted to remain posted. We need to consider carefully how to balance on the one hand keeping public areas of the City free from clutter and having unambiguous rules about public posting versus permitting short-term community oriented notices. I’m not sure yet where I come down on those points, so I look forward to the discussion, and I’d be glad to hear from residents on what they think.

Please feel free to 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

City Council Update -- Week of October 7, 2019

Agenda for September 25, 2019 City Council Meeting