I appreciate the positive impact emerging businesses can have on the vitality of the City, but we need to ensure that economic growth and development projects are respectful of the features we like about our community, and that Takoma Park remains an affordable place for homeowners and renters. To me, that means appreciating and supporting important institutions like the Library, the Co-op, and the Farmers Market, working to right-size projects like Takoma Junction and the new Montgomery College building planned for North Takoma, as well as engaging with affected neighborhoods to solicit residents’ views on renovating the New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center or on future uses for the Washington Adventist Hospital site. But we can’t just focus on larger projects -- they may have unintended effects on small businesses and housing costs. So we need to provide support to help preserve and grow all facets of our economy without pricing out residents and small businesses.
Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan -- I played a key part in creating this plan, which includes provisions aimed at retaining and strengthening existing businesses, attracting new ones, imposing higher taxes on vacant commercial properties to spur re-use, and using Federal and State tax benefits to encourage development that meshes well with our neighborhoods.
- Library Renovation -- I’m supportive, provided the impact on the City budget for the cost of the project can be kept close to where it currently is (the $7 million in bond funds we borrowed, with the other money coming from State grants and surplus cable TV contract dollars). We’ll have an opportunity to review the costs this fall, and will then be in a better position to decide about construction.
- Takoma Junction -- I agree with the idea of developing the Junction, but I don’t support and I voted against the proposed NDC site plan, primarily because it has insufficient public space and is too large and too tall for the location. When the Council considered the site plan I offered amendments to reduce the building footprint, but they weren’t approved. As the review process moves forward, I’ll be exploring whether there are opportunities for reducing the scale of the project.
- Montgomery College -- I’ve been active since joining the Council in efforts first to identify another site for the Math-Science Building, and more recently to press for a better sized structure that’s a reasonable fit for the residential neighborhood by the North Takoma campus.
- Piney Branch Elementary School -- I joined my Council colleagues in encouraging the County to preserve the swimming pool in any school rebuilding plans, and in criticizing the poor choices for a potential new area elementary school (near the beltway) put forward by the County site selection committee.
- New Hampshire Avenue Recreation Center -- I strongly back the concept of working with an outside non-profit or for-profit developer to renovate the Rec. Center and include construction of a multi-family apartment building on the site.
- Washington Adventist Hospital Site -- It’s been mentioned as a potential future location for an elementary school, housing, retail businesses, a pool, and no doubt other ideas. I can envision several of these as potentially being good matches, and I’m pleased the Council and residents will have significant opportunities to shape the future of the site through the master plan process for the area recently begun by the County Planning Office.