Sunday, October 4, 2015

New Hampshire Avenue opportunities and more: October 5 at the City Council

The centerpiece of Monday evening's city council meeting will be a New Hampshire Avenue item --
Discussion of Recreation Needs and Opportunities in the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor including: a) Report on Concept Plan and Site Analysis for the Site of the New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center; b) Report on Study of Recreational Needs for the New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center; c) Update on the Washington-McLaughlin Property; and, d) Other Opportunities.
This is an important item.

The New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center is owned by M-NCPPC (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission) and is operated and programmed by the City of Takoma Park, in exchange for a yearly modest fee, currently $87,650, provided via Montgomery County Park and Recreation. The facility is out-moded and should be replaced.

The council-meeting materials include reports from two city-commissioned studies:

a) Report on Concept Plan and Site Analysis for the Site of the New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center

b) Report on Study of Recreational Needs for the New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center

I won't summarize them here. I will say that it is Montgomery County's responsibility to renovate or replace this facility, soon. (The city does not receive a tax-duplication payment from the county, and city property owners, unlike Rockville's and Gaithersburg's, are not exempt from the county's line-item "Recreational" property tax.) I expect that Monday evening's council discussion will get into approaches that can bring a modern recreation facility to the eastern side of Takoma Park.

The council will discuss the Washington-McLaughlin Property, specifically, the wooded parcel that the city now owns. (Community members have suggested a better name for the property, the J. Enos Ray woods (or something similar), reverting to the name of the Prince George's County elementary school that used to operate at the site. The Takoma Voice explains, Who was J. Enos Ray anyway?)

At the time we were discussing buying the parcel, I publicly advocated consideration of selling the unwooded part of the parcel for construction of a couple of houses. As I recall, other councilmembers talked about this as well. I believe it is fiscally responsible and quite reasonable to consider recovering money we spent to buy the property. I do support preserving and restoring the woods. I don't recall covenants with anyone regarding disposition of the unwooded part of the parcel.

I would like the city to consider, as an interim measure, rehabilitating the disused basketball court, part of the unwooded portion of the site, for public use. I'm thinking nothing fancy: no lights, fences, or drinking water. Just a new, neighborhood recreational opportunity.

Finally, the agenda item contains a teaser, "At least one other site of considerable size in the eastern portion of the City may become available for recreational or other community use within the coming year." I think I know the site that's being alluded to, and the opportunity is indeed interesting.

The Rest of the Story

The full October 5 council agenda, with background materials, is online

I've separately written up two items, discussion of a resolution commenting on the 2016-26 Montgomery College Facilities Master Plan update and Boston Avenue traffic calming measures.

Otherwise, we'll be discussing:

- FY17 Community Development Block Grants. We anticipate being able to award $11,625 for community- or public-service projects. The Grants Review Committee will present recommendations -- for apartment-tenant community building and for EduCare Support Services' Takoma Park Food Pantry -- at 7:10 pm, with council discussion slated for 8:10 pm. The committee is not recommending funding for a third proposed project, "Pilot Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities," proposed by the Village of Takoma Park.

- Snow Removal Policies and Procedures, at 8:30 pm. This item continues early-2015 discussion, advanced by Safe Roadways Committee advocacy, of possible changes to city code. See the council backgrounder for staff's recommendations.

Please contact me at sethg@takomaparkmd.gov or 301-873-8225 with your comments, or send them to the full council via clerk@takomaparkmd.gov.

And don't forget: We have a city election coming up November 3, 2015, with early voting October 30-November 2.

1 comment:

  1. "At the time we were discussing buying the parcel, I publicly advocated consideration of selling the unwooded part of the parcel for construction of a couple of houses."

    This proposal makes sense. The purchase of the property struck me as somewhat problematic. Was the purpose to preserve green space? If so, then there are a lot more effective ways than buying a small lot in an urban environment. Was is to help the property owners of neighboring owners? Regardless, I think that having the city maintain a small, unconnected space in perpetuity is something of a burden that could be offset by selling property for more housing units in our urban space. Oh, and how much is just the property going to end up costing the city when the liens are paid off?

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