August Update from the City Manager
From Suzanne Ludlow, City Manager of Takoma Park
Dear Takoma Park Residents,
Despite the fact that the City Council is on recess for the month of August, quite a lot is happening in Takoma Park. Here are a few things you should know about:
Elections – Elections for the City Council take place this November 7, with the Nominating Caucus on September 12. Since we’re only a month away from the Nominating Caucus there has been quite a lot of activity by potential candidates. Both the current issue of the Takoma Park Newsletter and the City’s website have really good election information for you. The Nominating Caucus is a true Takoma Park Event that you won’t want to miss (either in person or via video), and soon there will be candidate forums and other opportunities to learn about the candidates. The website has information on early voting times and locations. At least three candidates are running in Ward 2 and there may be multiple candidates in several races, so you will want to be familiar with our Instant Runoff Voting process where you rank your choices. It’s not hard to do, and our elections volunteers and staff are great and helpful, but you might want to become familiar with the Takoma Park system in advance. This election will be special because the Council will have their seats for three years rather than two, it will be the last Takoma Park election in an odd-numbered year, and it will be the Takoma Park election held at the Community Center.
Want to run for Council or serve as an elections worker? Contact City Clerk Jessie Carpenter at JessieC@takomaparkmd.gov or 301-891-7267.
Stormwater Bills That Reflect an Increased Rate Coming Soon – City of Takoma Park stormwater bills will be mailed soon. The amounts will be almost twice as large as in past years due to substantial work needed to our stormwater infrastructure. While the City Council cut the property tax rate for this fiscal year by a very large amount (much more than I proposed in my recommended budget), they did approve my recommendation to increase the stormwater fee. Stormwater fees pay for installing, cleaning and maintaining stormwater drains, inlets, and bio-retention areas, and doing stream restoration projects. The stormwater fee had not kept up with the costs of the program and there seems to be less grant money available now for the work we need to do. The need for doing the stormwater work is particularly critical due to what seems to be the impacts of climate change on our area. We have recently seen flooding in areas that rarely flooded in the past, and, in many areas, flooding is much worse than normal. We not only want to reduce flooding impacts, but we also want to make sure that stormwater runoff is slowed and cleaned before entering creeks, the Anacostia River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Major Construction Projects – Two weeks ago, City officials signed the paperwork borrowing $7 million for Library renovation and $2 million towards the costs of the Ethan Allen Gateway Street Project and the Flower Avenue Green Street Project. Detailed design of the Library Renovation project is beginning and we are looking for a location to store most of our books for the duration. (Know a location that might work? Let us know! The books need to be stored in order and in a way to be able to be retrieved by Library staff.) The final designs of the two big street projects have been approved and a contractor is on board for the Ethan Allen project. Actual construction of the Ethan Allen project will not begin until next spring, but a lot of preliminary work has begun. The Flower Avenue project is getting ready to go out to bid and construction work is also expected to begin in the spring. The work by Washington Gas on the street is nearly complete. Check the Project Directory on our Initiatives Page of our website for information on these and other projects.
Search for a Police Chief – An executive search firm has been retained by the City to begin advertising for and recruiting candidates for the position of Police Chief. Surveys of residents and Police Department staff have been done regarding the desired characteristics of a new chief. The City Council has weighed in with its thoughts as well and adopted Resolution 2017-45 on Goals and Priorities for the Police Department. The role of Police Chief is a difficult one, requiring skill in management, organizational development, budgeting, diplomacy, communication with all kinds of persons and groups, in addition to knowledge of best practices in 21st Century policing and specialized police skills. Takoma Park has an excellent Police Department and they, and we, deserve an excellent Chief. Speaking of our excellent Department, thank you to Captains Bowers, Collington and Frishkorn for handling the rotating Acting Chief responsibilities well. I appreciate your service!
A personal note – Many of you know that my mother, Anne Ludlow, who lived on Carroll Avenue, died a year ago and my husband, Vince Taylor, died of cancer in June. I am very thankful to the City Council and my staff for their support of me in these times, particularly for allowing me time off in my husband’s last weeks. There is something remarkable about being present at these life transitions. Just as with the upcoming solar eclipse, there is a sense of us all being part of a much larger and interconnected universe, seen and unseen. More than ever I appreciate the beauty of life and love and friendship and nature. I see it in Takoma Park and I know it is present around the globe, in all the ways we care for each other and for our world. I am so glad to have had a window into that beauty.
Have a wonderful and safe summer!