Fall 2015 Message From the City Manager
From Suzanne Ludlow, City Manager of Takoma Park:
Dear Residents, Happy fall! As the air grows crisper, the leaves turn yellow and red, and jack o’lanterns decorate front porches, all Takoma Park eyes look forward to….elections!
Yes, Takoma Park city elections are on November 3 and early voting starts this week. Nearly every resident 16 years old or older may vote in our city elections. While people generally think of federal and state elections as more important, remember that most public services that affect the comfort, safety and enjoyment of your home and neighborhood are provided by the City of Takoma Park.
Each ballot will have three things to vote on – who should be the Councilmember for your Ward, who should be the Mayor, and an advisory question on whether or not you support moving Takoma Park elections to even-numbered years to be consistent with federal and state elections.
Your vote is important, and the Board of Elections works hard to help make voting easy. Look for the pullout Elections section of the Takoma Park Newsletter or go to elections.takomaparkmd.gov for everything you need to know about this year’s election and how to vote. Besides the important business of elections, there are a couple of other matters I want to draw your attention to—
Takoma Park Library Renovation Plan
A concept plan for a remodeled Takoma Park Library will be presented to the Council on Thursday, October 29. See the plan on the Library Renovation page.
I am really excited and pleased with this proposal. The walls of the library would move a little closer to Philadelphia and would fill in space on the parking lot side. The mosaic would stay in place. A welcoming main entrance would be on the parking lot side. Just one tree on the Philadelphia Avenue side would need to be removed.
The renovated library would have windows on the Philadelphia Avenue side, allowing people to see in and readers to enjoy the light and the trees. Inside, new bathrooms, a room for programs and flexible space for books, computers, tables and gatherings will allow the library to meet the vision of a 21st Century library, perfectly sized for Takoma Park.
I’m particularly pleased with this plan because just a modest building enlargement will allow for a terrific community library. The current structure is in bad shape – it’s worn out. It is only usable due to a great library staff and our creative facilities manager who has found ways to provide heat or air conditioning most of the time it’s needed. The building does not meet ADA or environmental sustainability standards. Even if we did not do the small enlargement proposed, we would need to overhaul the building. It makes sense to improve both the systems and the functionality of the building at this time. We will be getting some cost estimates soon and those will be discussed with Council and the public. The City would need to borrow money to pay for the improvements, as we always must for major capital projects. We will look to make wise design choices and then monitor the project closely to keep costs down, while getting a project we will be proud of. I look forward to hearing from you about this proposal.
Snow Removal Policies
Council will be voting on snow removal policies in the next weeks. One main revision of current law would require earlier removal of snow from sidewalks so that people can get to school and bus stops safely when it snows. Fine amounts for not clearing snow promptly would be reduced from the current $200, but would increase with subsequent violations. For those residents with sidewalks that are difficult to clear completely (such as those between a curb and a retaining wall), at least a three-foot wide path must be cleared. Check out the proposed Snow and Ice Regulations Ordinance is in the October 29, 2015 City Council Meeting packet.
Website and Software Improvements
In my last Message from the City Manager, I reported that work was being done on three major software systems over the summer. We have completed the transition to a new financial system and a new time and attendance system. We will move to a new website right after the elections. You can check out our Beta version of the new website and make comments on it now. Go to takomaparkmd.gov and see how it works for you. There is still content being moved into the pages and the search functions are still limited, but I think you’ll like it. If you find a problem, there is a brief reporting survey there to let us know what it is.
I want to give a shout out to our IT, Finance Department, and Human Resources staff and to our Media Specialist and web consultants for the terrific, and really hard, work they have put in to make our software transitions take place. There was no down time for them this summer. Work remains, but we are past the big hurdles. They just did a great job.
Finally, Halloween is this Saturday, with the fun Monster Bash on Carroll Avenue during the day and trick or treating in the evening. It’s a great community gathering time.
Halloween is a special day at my house because it’s my husband’s birthday. In addition to Halloween candy, we get birthday cake!
I hope your Halloween is happy and safe and then on November 3, you vote!