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.

1 comment:

  1. The Takoma Metro development thing drives me up one of the many ivy-infested trees in Takoma Park. I cannot fathom what is so historic about that grassy area with some trees. How much of that dates to pre-Metro? I can't imagine much if any. Before being blight/an under-used parking lot, wasn't it actually a commercial area? Maybe history to Historic Takoma is late 60s...