GRANOLAPARK: Dogs robbed

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

We was robbed.

Worse, it was an inside job.

The county park and planning department took Takoma Park’s dog park money, said city manager Brian Kenner at the city council’s Nov. 24 meeting (the last meeting of the year).

The $53,500 was from Maryland’s Project Open Space. It was intended to subsidize Takoma Park’s dog park expenses.

Project Open Space awards grants to cities, but it sends the funds to the counties for distribution.

But, the MNCPPC (that’s the county park and planning department’s ridiculous acronym) couldn’t resist seeing the money just lying there like a plate of homemade chocolate-chip cookies. So, they scarfed it down – to the list crumb.

And, there’s no more money coming for a long time. Project Open Space has cut all funding for post-2013 projects, and is not accepting any new requests.

dogstudy03

Slide from previous city dog-park study.

Gone

That $52,500 the city was expecting to offset the $70,000 spent on the dog park, is gone – never to be replaced.

And the $33,000 in POS funds to offset next year’s proposed $100,000 dog park costs will not be coming either.

Don’t look for future state money to subsidize the dog park – or much of anything else (like the proposed Purple Line light-rail?). Maryland has a reported $1.2 billion state budget shortfall. And the incoming Republican governor says he’ll cut spending. And when he’s got spending down, he says, he’ll cut taxes.

In short – it looks like the dog park (and other expenses) are all on the city for at least the next four years. Which means it is all on city taxpayers. Those taxpayers already “enjoy” the highest city residential-tax rate in Montgomery County.

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

Part of the dog park lobbying effort has been marching in the Takoma Park July 4th parade. Seen here in 2013.

What are the chances?

The city council COULD decide to scale back or delay the dog park plan. They could all turn into flying turnips, too. The chances of either happening are about the same.

The dog park activists have been . . . dogged. They’ve lobbied with their big brown eyes and floppy ears. Their dogs are cute, too. They’ve put a lot of volunteer time in on the project. Their architect, working for free, helped the city develop a proposed plan. The city made commitments. The council would find it very awkward to pull back on the dog park at this point.

It’s a pretty fancy plan. It has two enclosed, isolated “activity areas,” one for small dogs/low activity the other for big dogs/high activity. There’s a tiered bioswale, a sculpture/art location, a sturdy bridge for maintenance vehicles and a 20′ X 20′ bridge/look-out deck. And, a commemorative plaque. Perhaps it will commemorate all the Takoma Park homeowners forced to move because they could no longer afford the city’s tax rate.

dogpark02

McLauglin School lot seized by IRS

The city council may be on recess until January, but they are still on the job – hatching schemes to spend city revenue. In an email to constituents, Ward 3 council member Kate Stewart reports that the IRS has seized the back portion of the McLauglin School property at the corner of Popular and Gude Avenues (near Poplar’s intersection with New Hampshire Avenue).

Seized for failure to pay taxes, a 2.68 acre lot will be sold at auction Jan. 22.

A resident alerted Ward 2 councilmember Tim Male about this, Stewart said.

“Since Tuesday, Councilmember Male, myself and others on the Council have discussed this issue and support scheduling time on the Council agenda to talk about this property and whether there is a case to be made for the city to attempt to acquire the property for green space, forest protection or recreation uses. Mayor Williams has scheduled time for this discussion on January 5th at the Council meeting that night,” Stewart wrote.

Buy the lot for green space or recreation?

Your Gilbert is not so good with math. But when we add up: the current fracas over re-development of the city’s Takoma Junction lot + the loss of Project Open Space money now and in the foreseeable future + the state’s 1.2 billion budget shortfall + the governor elect sharpening his budget- and tax-cutting ax, we get the sum of “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?”

We don’t get “Buy another lot and turn it into a tax revenue sinkhole.”

– Gilbert

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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.

1 Comment on "GRANOLAPARK: Dogs robbed"

  1. In the article on the dog parks (“Dogs Robbed”) the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is described as the “county park and planning department.” I think that leaves the impression that it is a Montgomery County agency, which would put it under the control of the County Executive. In that case county residents (In Takoma Park and elsewhere) would presumably be in the position to lobby the Executive (and ask the Council to lobby the Executive) to change the decision on the allocation of funds. But since it is a Montgomery/Prince George’s County joint commission whose members are appointed by the two County Councils, the Commissioners don’t answer to the voters.

    Ed Sharp
    [Ed Sharp served as Takoma Park mayor from 1990 to 1997 – ED]

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