Friday, January 27, 2012

Update on 410 ownership & resurfacing, 36 Philadelphia Avenue

Here is an update on the status of negotiations with the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) concerning ownership of State Route 410 (Philadelphia Avenue and Ethan Allen Avenue) in Takoma Park --

  • The city manager and city attorney revised the proposed SHA-city Memorandum of Understanding. They sent the revised version to the SHA's attorney last Friday, January 20.
  • The city council is slated to discuss the MOU on Monday evening, February 6. This will be a worksession, open to the public but not a public hearing. As soon as I get the draft MOU, I'll plan to send it to Ward 1 residents for comment.
  • The SHA has proposed a larger-scale meeting between SHA and city officials (staff & council members). This is tentatively slated for February 10 but my understanding is that it may not cover specific issues.

The SHA is slated to resurface Philadelphia Ave from Park to Carroll, in the spring, once the MOU is signed. I'm looking into ensuring that storm-water management and safety needs are covered, also the problem with vibrations from large vehicles that affect houses bordering that stretch of Philadelphia. And I'm working on the best way to pursue a safety upgrade to the Holly & Philadelphia intersection, which will also involve the SHA.

Regarding the abandoned house at 36 Philadelphia Avenue, near the intersection with Park Ave --

  • The city has signed a contract with an engineering firm to do a structural evaluation of the house to determine if/how the house could be restored. The firms that bid had looked at the house back in December and said that it needed to be cleared out prior to the evaluation. Clearing-out hasn't happened yet but will.
  • If the city determines that the best, or only feasible, option is demolition, the city will need an Historic Area Work Permit. The city has started work on getting the permit.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about these issues at this point.

3 comments:

  1. I wonder why the city is committing staff time to securing a demolition permit when the structural evaluation has not been completed. Is the house so far gone that the evaluation is just a formality?

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  2. Yeah what Tom F. said. My understanding of the HAWP process says that the city is putting the cart before the horse here. In essence they are doing what city staff have always done and going to HPC telling them an outcome before the outcome has been determined.

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  3. I wasn't sure which house it was until I drove by today. IMHO that could be a nice, attractive looking house of the more modest size that contributes to the fabric of the street and the neighborhood.

    If it is demolished, at some point the lot will be sold and the house will be replaced with something twice the size that won't really fit. City staff should be working to preserve the house as part of the historic neighborhood, demolition should only be a last resort.

    A better solution might be to simply sell the property as is, making it patently clear that all work will require a HAWP. Let an investor take the risk and expend the time and money to determine what can be done with the property under the existing law and regulations.

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