Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Letter to WMATA on Takoma Metro Station Development

Washington DC ANC 4B Commissioners Sara Green and Faith Wheeler and I have written to WMATA concerning development at the Takoma Metro Station.

(ANC = Advisory Neighborhood Commission. ANCs are local-level elected bodies. Decoding abbreviations in the letter: EYA is the developer, and PUD stands for Planned Unit Development, a Washington DC development-review process.)

Mayor Williams has scheduled a WMATA presentation on development plans for the July 22 city-council meeting. Time is of the essence, however; WMATA staff's schedule calls for plans to be presented on July 11, for approval, to the WMATA board's Planning, Program Development, and Real Estate (PPDRE) committee, and on July 25 to the full WMATA board for approval of modification of the earlier WMATA-EYA joint-development agreement.

This is our letter -- and please do forward this message to anyone you think might be interested in seeing it --


June 19, 2013

Mr. Stan Wall, Director
Real Estate and Station Planning
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
600 5th Street, NW
Washington DC 20001

Dear Mr. Wall,

Thank you for meeting with us, elected officials in the Takoma DC and Takoma Park MD area that includes and surrounds the Takoma Metro station,to discuss plans for real estate development on the Takoma Metro site. This responsive and transparent approach to community outreach is a welcome change, and is very much appreciated.

We are eager to work with you to ensure that plans for the Takoma Metro site advance in a way that is prompt, open and collaborative, which will lead to the best result: a design that serves community transit needs and preserves the quality of life for surrounding residents and transit users. And we are interested in moving forward swiftly, without unnecessary delays.

At the same time, we cannot agree to a rushed, opaque process that puts the cart before the horse by granting approval before the proposed design is thoroughly vetted. Decision makers at WMATA should not be asked to vote to approve a contract, contract amendment, or design before having in hand a comprehensive traffic impact analysis. Nor should they act without consulting with the affected local governments and the community. Thus, we are firmly opposed to the WMATA Committee taking a vote before a traffic impact analysis is thoroughly reviewed by citizens and local officials. The very first step should be to make the proposed design public immediately. At our May 31 meeting, you said that a station-planning study was nearing completion. Please also release that study as soon as it is complete.

A comprehensive traffic impact analysis is essential. Since a study of the impact of the proposed design on traffic, safety and access to the station might affect the proposed design, it would cost less and save time to have the study in hand before reaching decisions about the final design instead of making adjustments after the study is completed. We are interested in discussing with you the details of such a study. Thank you in advance for making sure that this analysis is promptly undertaken.

Once the traffic impact analysis is complete, citizens and local officials need a reasonable amount of time to review and comment on the design and its traffic impacts. We would consider a 45 day public comment period to be the minimum acceptable. Then and only then will it be appropriate for the Board to consider the merits of the design and take action. The sooner the design is public and the study is commenced, the sooner the entire process can be concluded. In the meantime, no Committee or Board votes should be held. Nor should the PUD process begin until traffic and transit access issues are fully aired. Therefore, WMATA should include in any contract or amendments with the developers a requirement that no PUD filing be made until there has been a final WMATA Board vote on the project.

We intend to organize a community meeting as soon as possible to inform the public about the development and will invite WMATA and EYA to come to discuss the design and explain the process. We look forward to seeing you there and to working with you and the Federal Transit Administration to thoughtfully and carefully review the development and its impact on transit, commuters and the community.

Sincerely,

Sara Green, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 4B01, District of Columbia

Faith Wheeler, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 4B02, District of
Columbia

Seth Grimes, Councilmember, City of Takoma Park, Maryland

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