Sunday, January 5, 2014

Monday on the Council Agenda: The City Owned Lot in Takoma Junction (Jan 6, 2014)

Recess is over: The Takoma Park City Council resumes its weekly meetings on Monday, January 6, 2014. Highlights are a 7 pm presentation from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), and then, following public, councilmember, and city manager comments, a worksession discussion on the city-owned lot in Takoma Junction, scheduled for 8 pm.

The meeting agenda is posted on the city's Web site.

The presentation by COG Executive Director Chuck Bean, on membership services and benefits, will be of interest to some. COG is a multi-jurisdictional organization of Washington DC area governments. The city is a member (as is Montgomery County) and participates on a variety of COG boards and committees. I represent the city on the Transportation Planning Board. Please see the backgrounder.

The council-staff discussion of the Takoma Junction lot -- the public parking lot between the TPSS Co-op and the Takoma Auto Clinic (Johnny's) -- will be of broader interest. The backgrounder includes a presentation that covers status, options analysis, and the city manager's recommendation -- in line with councilmember suggestions from the spring of 2013 -- to solicit proposals to re-develop the lot. Please note that a solicitation would not lock the city into accepting a proposal or taking any redevelopment action. The presentation includes a solicitation framework and timeline.

Monday evening's presentation and discussion are the latest steps in efforts to improve the Takoma Junction area: Traffic flow and pedestrian safety, the business climate, community amenities, and general attractiveness. Junction focus revived several years ago, upon completion of fire-station rebuilding. Efforts have involved residents, the Old Takoma Business Association (OTBA), organizations including the TPSS Co-op and Historic Takoma Inc. (HTI), city staff, and the council, which chartered a Takoma Junction Task Force back in 2010. (I served as co-chair but resigned when I joined the council in November 2011.) The task force's report includes an extensive examination of options, starting on page 20, as well as recommendations. Also see the TF's Web page.

In the last couple of years, the city and OTBA inaugurated the junction food-truck program and Grant Avenue Market; HTI opened its newly completed Carroll Avenue building for community programming; the city assigned a second crossing guard near the co-op and replaced the sidewalk near the city lot; a BikeShare station was installed near the lot; the State Highway Administration committed to installing a new pedestrian crosswalk across Carroll/Ethan Allen at the Grant Avenue intersection in FY15, which starts July 1; the city completed an environmental assessment of the city-owned lot; and the TPSS Co-op has continued to develop plans for expansion of its Takoma Junction store.

The Monday evening presentation and discussion provide an opportunity to further advance Takoma Junction revitalization efforts.

If you have comments on Takoma Junction or any other city topic, please write me at sethg@takomaparkmd.gov, or the whole council via clerk@takomaparkmd.gov, or phone me at 301-873-8225. Also, come see me if you wish at my Ward 1 drop-in office time, 5-6 pm on Tuesday January 14 and 8-9 am on Wednesday January 22, at 7006 Carroll Ave. #202.

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