Monday, May 28, 2012

Takoma Park redistricting, round 1 + Resolutions for Reuben Snipper & Ron Wylie

Due to the Memorial Day holiday, this week the city council will meet on Tuesday evening, May 29. Of particular interest to Ward 1 and other city residents: A report from the city's Redistricting Task Force, slated for 9:20 pm. (It may come up earlier, if preceding items wrap up quickly.) Redistricting will redraw ward boundaries. One option would reassign portions of Hodges Heights, half the 7100-7200 stretch of Carroll Avenue, and Victory Tower to another ward.

More on redistricting in a moment. First, two earlier agenda items are worth calling out --

  • A Resolution Recognizing Former Ward 5 City Councilmember Reuben Snipper, with opportunity for public comment. Reuben resigned his council seat effective last Tuesday. He plans to move soon to Rome, where his wife, Cheryl Morden, has taken a job. A special Ward 5 election to replace Reuben will be held in July. Meanwhile, the city wishes to honor Reuben.
    Reuben began his council service in early 2007. His was voice of calm and common sense on the council. Extra: The community is invited to a reception to honor Reuben, from 7 pm to the 7:30 pm start of the council meeting, at the community center.
  • A Resolution Expressing Condolences to the Family and Friends of Ron Wylie, again with opportunity for public comment. I was very sad to learn of Ron's death, on May 15. He was director of local Adventist Community Services (ACS). He stepped in to save the organization from closing. He rebuilt it to help meet a broad set of community needs via programs (for example) to address hunger in the community and to refurbish used computers for distribution to folks without the resources to buy new equipment and provide computer training. Under Ron's leadership, ACS took on operating the Piney Branch Elementary School pool, offering lessons, exercise programs, and open swim periods.
    Ron was a wonderful person. You can read more about him on the Columbia Union conference Web site.

You can read the two draft resolutions in the council agenda packet, where you can also read the Redistricting Task Force Report report.

Redistricting Task Force (RTF) members include Ward 1 residents Lyndon Wilkes and Douglas Grube. Douglas served as co-chair with Ward 3 resident Ellen Zavian.

The RTF considered many options, guided by requirements and considerations related to population numbers and characteristics. The report describes two consensus options, which they will present at the council meeting. I found a pair of maps, created by Councilmember Terry Seamens, to be very effective illustrations of the two options. The maps overlay the proposed redrawn wards with the current ward boundaries.

Option A leaves Ward 1 boundaries as-is. It geographically enlarges Wards 5 and 6 by reassigning streets from Wards 2, 3, and 4. One notable change is that moves Geneva Avenue and one side of Richie Avenue, including the residence of Councilmember Seamens, from Ward 4 to Ward 5.

Option B alters Ward 1. It places Darwin Avenue and Grant Avenue downhill from Holly Avenue into Ward 4; that is, it splits the Hodges Heights neighborhood. It places Victory Tower and the odd-numbered side of the 7100-7200 stretch of Carroll Avenue into Ward 3. It also divides the Ward 3's SS Carroll neighborhood amoung three wards, 1, 2, and 3.

Judging from the 2003 redistricting exercise, I expect the 2012 redistricting process to involve exploration of additional options before we arrive at a best option. Please do share your thoughts about redistricting (or any other city matter) with me, and please do attend the Tuesday evening, May 29 council meeting if you wish to add your voice, personally, in honor of Reuben Snipper and in memory of Ron Wylie.

Seth, 301-873-8225

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