Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dog Park Decision Time

The city council agenda for Monday evening, March 9, includes a Dog Park update, slated for 8:10 pm. You can check out the revised site plan and estimated cost schedule, part of the council packet for the meeting.

Dog Park site plan (March 4, 2015)
City staff members have been working closely with Takoma Dogs and architect Eric Saul, who has donated design services. Thanks! They have revised plans based on construction cost estimates for earlier iterations that came in very high. (The last council presentation and discussion occurred on November 24, 2014.) Note, however, that the site plan in the council packet is not final. Joe Edgell says that of Takoma Dogs is producing a new drawing this weekend that incorporates city staff changes.

At the March 9 meeting, the council will almost certainly approve moving forward with dog park construction. I support it, although the cost is higher than we had expected. According to city staff, the current construction estimate is $190,000 to $200,000. That does include $35,500 for a water line and fountain, which I would treat as an option, more on which in a bit.

Next steps would include land-use and permitting discussions with Montgomery County Parks and development of a construction request for proposals. I do plan to raise a number of questions at the meeting, and I'm sure my council colleagues will have their own.

My questions include whether we can get Montgomery County to run a water line to the end of the Darwin Avenue parking lot, to the planned entrance to the dog park, which if feasible could save the city over $35 thousand, according to staff's estimate of water-line cost. (The water fountain (for people and dogs both!) nearby in Takoma Piney Branch Park is out of order right now, but we'll try to get that fixed.) Another question is whether staff have identified any non-city funding that could make up for the $50+ thousand in Maryland Program Open Space money that we had hoped to use for the project this current fiscal year. The money is channeled through Montgomery County and had been approved by the county, but the county clawed it back.

A possible second phase would expand the dog park. I've asked city staff to provide a rough estimate of costs although Takoma Dogs suggests that an "option for the Council to consider is to hold off on phase 2 and instead put the money into opening a couple of the smaller, neighborhood parks that we proposed in our initial presentation."

Finally, I have asked city staff to address the status of development of the planned Colby Avenue and Sligo Mill Overlook parks, at Monday evening's meeting. Completing these parks is a priority.

Public comment, regarding the dog park or any other city topic you wish to speak about, takes place at 7:30 pm.

The dog park item will be followed by discussion of a proposal to locate advertising-supported bulletin board in city parks. And prior to the public meeting, the council will meet in closed, adminstrative-function session to discuss next steps in our search for a new city manager. I expect we will conclude that process by mid/late April if not sooner.

Thanks,

Seth, 301-873-8225

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