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GRANOLAPARK: Five weird things the city council faces in 2014

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GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Research indicates that using the word “weird” in a headline and presenting articles as numbered lists gets more “hits.” Another way to get more hits, we’re told, is to mention the Mormon church, as in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be fascinated to read our list of 5 weird things the Takoma Park City Council is facing this year. Our Dear Readers will be fascinated, too.

We would have listed the five weird things the council did last year, but we already reviewed the city council’s 2013 January-July session.  We also reviewed their whole last term at election time.

election21

There’s no point in reviewing the fall. It was the city election season and not much got done, except the number 1 weirdest thing the council did all year – they got re-elected.

Why is this weird? Because after two years of ticking many constituents off, (almost) nobody ran against them.

So, that’s actually a weird thing the constituents did.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not taken a public position on this.

Five weird things the council will have to deal with in 2014

1. The weird budget

Mormons would probably agree that spring budget sessions are weird. The council meets twice instead of once a week for a month or two to deal with it all.

Even though they spend a lot of time on it, it is not their budget. It is the city manager Brian Kenner’s budget. He’s the professional budget writer. This will be his first time at this, so all eyes will be watching. No pressure.

2. The hospital weird-out

This is a weird crisis the size and speed of a glacier. The  Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH) wants to move. The city doesn’t really want it to go, but has come around to admitting that WAH has a point. The WAH campus is too small and outdated to be viable.

Washington Adventist Hospital

Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH)

Keeping the hospital is no longer the issue. What to replace it with is. The council wants some kind of medical facility left there, something like an emergency room. WAH says it does too. We emphasize the word “says.” There are state regulatory barriers to having a free-standing emergency-room. BUT, there may be a loophole. Stand by for developments this year.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no official position on this matter.

3. Weird WMATA

This is the second battle over the development of Takoma Metro station’s lot. WMATA (Washington Metro Area Transit Authority) and developer  EYA are back with this new proposal. Much of the critical feedback about the previous development proposal has been incorporated. Instead of row housing, now proposed is a multistory 210-unit residential building. The new proposal is more appropriate for this public-transportation site. The project has been relocated to the back of the lot, preserving the green space – for now.

EYA-metro2

Proposed development

Critics have found plenty to object to, however: traffic increases, too much building height too close to the street, awkward location of loading docks and insufficient future protection of the green-space. So you can count on mobs of Peety-Beeties (PTBTs – Pitchfork- and Torch-Bearing Townsfolk) haranguing the council to oppose the development this year.

Mormons and other readers can find a description of the project here in this Voice article by Lyle Kendrick.

4. The weird activist council members

The four council members entering their second term introduced a lot of controversial proposals in their first. Your Gilbert predicts they will try to decriminalize marijuana. The words “decriminalize marijuana” have crossed at least one council member’s lips, and two current state-election candidates – both Takoma Park residents – favor legalization.  Heather Mizeur (running for governor) and David Moon (running for delegate) claim the flood of income from regulated marijuana sales will fund everything from education to public-transportation.  Legalization is the new casino gambling.

We doubt The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would approve of this.

5. The weird city lot

The council will discuss this in a Jan. 6 council work session. The lot, currently a parking lot and a steep, wooded slope, is in Takoma Junction (intersection of Carroll and Ethan Allen Avenues). The lot is one between the TPSS Co-op and the car repair shop to the west. Currently, the co-op leases the lot from the city for $18,000 a year.

Options are: leaving it as it is, turning it into a city-owned park or public building, cuting a deal with a “selected interested party” (Co-op) to build/lease, or opening the lot up for bids.

Gilbert Tower

This could be the time to suggest our Gibert Tower idea again.

The council is probably hoping this will shock the coop into action. The coop made a presentation to the council August 2012 about various options it was considering including buying the lot and the store and constructing a new, bigger building with a better parking lot. Another option was to relocate the coop to a storefront down the street. Not much has been heard of these plans since then.

There were no plans to relocate the coop to Salt Lake City, location of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide headquarters.

6. Weird Dog Parks

Oh, we thought of this sixth weird thing! A group of citizens starting pushing for dog parks last year. This could come to a head in 2014. The costs, administrative headache and insurance complications may cause the city to bark, . . . er, baulk. If that happens this could come down to a nasty community argument between dog-owners and others – should non-dog owning taxpayers have to pay for dog parks?

Dog park supporters in the July 4th, 2013 parade.

Dog park supporters in the July 4th, 2013 parade.

Some Mormons own dogs, we understand.

- Gilbert

About the author: Gilbert

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

3 comments

  1. Mitchell Tropin says:

    There is a former member of the Mormon Church who lives in Takoma Park who would probably be happy to give his opinion on the five weird measures. He has a long time connection with the Voice.

  2. Gilbert says:

    Wow, that’s so . . . weird!

  3. mela says:

    #5 and #6 could share the steep hillside but it’s hard to picture the dogs running back uphill after chasing the stick downhill. The folks who live next to that hill and across the street won’t like anything happening to it. It will take a mighty wall to put any type of structure there.

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