Saturday, October 29, 2016

Takoma Park vs. the Environment

Almost two years ago, the city of Takoma Park purchased a vacant, overgrown lot, essentially bidding against itself in the process.  Or as the Voice succinctly described it, "Takoma Park citizens are so excited – the city spent $253,000 of their money, including $115,000 in donations – on a sorry lump of vine-choked badly-drained real estate behind the McLaughlin School, a lump of real estate that will continue to cost taxpayer’s money to pay off liens, fix and maintain."

And why did the city purchase the property?  They'll claim to be saving the environment, but the more obvious reason are saving certain people's views and property values.  Again, from the Voice, "Don’t talk to us about preserving “wetlands.” The Plan C partnership had the property assessed and they say the wet bit is actually the result of inadequate storm drainage. There is a spring and a small stream – which was diverted underground decades ago – but no wetlands.  The trees may not be very old. Somebody claimed the land was a field, perhaps even a war-time victory garden, within living memory.  But, now it makes a nice back-drop for the surrounding houses, and that’s why the community fought for it – and forked over donations. So, the rest of the city is going to subsidize their pretty backdrop. How nice for them."

And has the city made any effort to responsibly develop the property?  Of course not.  Instead, Historic Takoma and the Commemoration Committee have gotten together to have the city name the property for an elderly woman living in an assisted-living facility.  After all, nothing facilitates reasonable redevelopment like naming the property in honor of a 94 year old woman who grew up near there.  Then again, I don't expect anything less from Historic Takoma.

Anyway, the environmental issues are obvious.  We have a certain number of people, who need to be housed somewhere.  We can do so in developed urban areas such as Takoma Park, which already have existing infrastructure, or we can chop down a lot of trees and destroy a lot of green space in outlying areas to facilitate suburban sprawl.  Takoma Park residents would prefer to save a few dozen trees and more importantly their perceived quality of life by sacrificing thousands elsewhere.  It makes about as much sense as being concerned about an inconsequential patch of grass next to a Metro station while actively threatening litigation against developers for trying to put housing on top of said station, even though that's exactly where we should be putting that housing.
Note:  The above caption is not meant to be ironic.


Gettin' Stuff Done

From the fine people at Bethesda Beat:
"On Friday, county officials celebrated the opening of the new Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy in Montgomery Village. The complex is the major piece of the 40 acre, $101 million service park that also includes a training facility for Ride On bus drivers, a food distribution center for the public school system and a maintenance facility for schools and the parks department.
It’s also a central component of County Executive Ike Leggett’s “Smart Growth Initiative,” which he launched in 2008 as a way to sell valuable county land to developers while repurposing less valuable county properties to build new county facilities.
The completion of the academy on Snouffer School Road in Montgomery Village will allow the county to demolish its old public safety training facilities on Great Seneca Highway in Rockville and eventually sell the more than 50 acres of land to bring it back onto the tax rolls."
Hey, that actually makes sense!  Between this project and the announced move of Marriott's headquarters to downtown Bethesday, Montgomery County is on a roll!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Information Is Good

There's a new source for information about the Silver Spring / Takoma Park area - Source of the Spring.  I was a big fan of the Gazette, reading it cover to cover on my commute from the Crossroads to Shady Grove by MetroBus, Metro, and Ride-on, but don't believe that Jeff Bezos had an ethical obligation to operate a publication if he did not want to do so.  Anyway, information is good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Only in Takoma Park (And That's Not a Good Thing)

Takoma Park is actually considering a public scatter garden, and that's a bad thing.

The city even devoted space in the city newsletter to the idea, writing:
"When one characterizes the typical Takoma Park resident, two of the key attributes that come to mind are loyalty to the city and a commitment to the earth."
That's odd - I'm embarrassed by the city and think that city residents, although well intentioned, are often anti-environmentalists in their land use policies.

Anyway, the article goes on to explain that a scatter garden is a place to scatter someone's cremated remains and erect a memorial to the deceased.  The article then states:
"Scatter gardens are common, but are found exclusively within existing cemeteries or churches. What makes the proposed Takoma Park scatter garden unique is that it would be free-standing and located on city-owned land.
“We have done a lot of research and talked with someone from the Cremation Association of America, and we have not found an example of one being started by a municipality for its residents,” Beman White said. “In fact the association was very excited about the proposition and wants us to keep them informed on how it works out.” Baker believes the proposed scatter garden is “in keeping with the city’s tradition of being nontraditional.”"
Of course, scatter gardens are located within existing cemeteries, and no municipality has ever created one.  Why in the world would a locality willingly incur the liability and land use issues that such a garden would inevitably cause?  How could the city ever change the use of the property when loved ones inevitably protest that it dishonors the memory and remains of the deceased?  Don't these people realize these issues are the reason we have designated cemeteries in the first place?

Anyway, the Commemoration Committee is on board, so that's more reason to get rid of that committee.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

MoCo Politico Provides Value

I haven't seen former county executive Doug Duncan says he was gamely passing our campus literature at Shady Grove Metro in the summer of 2014, but his Twitter feed is a must follow.  It's basically just him complaining about the Red Line and Metro in general.  To wit -
"Another rotten start to my day on Metro.
"Man beaten on Red Line last night during rush hour. Puts my litany of complaints in perspective. Hope he's doing better! "
and finally
"The Red Line is now officially the Dread Line to me. "
Anyway, according to his thoroughly detailed Wikipedia entry, "in February 2010, several Maryland politicians, including Kumar P. Barve and Christopher Van Hollen, expressed support for Duncan's becoming the Metro general manager, after John Catoe announced his resignation from the position, effective April 2010."

It looks as though someone missed his calling!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Perhaps Connie Chung Will Make an Appearance!

It's a shame that the activity causes brain damage, because Montgomery Blair's football team is now 6-0.  After beating Paint Branch for the first time in recorded history (seriously, people reported that it was the first time since at least 1974), they will play 6-0 Sherwood this Friday at Four Corners.

Maybe Blazer alum Ben Stein  (class of '62) will attend the game, perhaps with classmate Carl Bernstein.  He'll have plenty of time now that he's no longer shilling for Donald Trump, which he said that he did because Trump was a "force for change."  Also, the "fundamental decency" of George W. Bush was never in doubt, but the Obama administration represents "eight years of mess and lies and deceit."

Stein does recall that he was a speechwriter for the Nixon administration, doesn't he?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We Can Finally Get Rid of Piney Branch Pool!

The brilliant people in downtown Silver Spring, who know how to work productively with developers to produce a better community, may be getting a spiffy new aquatic and recreation center as part of a new mixed-used development -
"The aquatic and recreation center will feature a 25-meter long, 8-lane lap pool (half the size of an Olympic swimming pool), a multi-purpose therapy pool, a spa, fitness center, basketball court and locker rooms, according to Stacy Spann, executive director of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunity Commission (HOC), which is working with the Lee Development Group on the project. The county’s recreation department will operate the new center which will face a new, open-air central plaza. The center will span two buildings on the ground floor of the project.
In an email sent to Bethesda Beat Wednesday, Spann said the plan for the site is to create a multigenerational affordable living community that entices the general public to interact with its residents. Fifteen percent of the project’s units will be designated as moderately priced and 10 percent will be set aside for workforce housing, according to documents filed with the Montgomery County Planning Department."
That's great!  Among other things, we can finally jettison the Piney Branch pool, which is perpetually on the county's budget chopping list, thus allowing for expansion of an overcrowded elementary school.