Category Archives: Takoma Park Newsletter

Category for original news items as well as Takoma Park Newsletter articles that are copied into takomaparkmd.gov as web content.

Residents and City leaders remain committed to sanctuary ordinance

Hundreds gathered at the Takoma Park Community Center on Feb. 4 for a public teach-in on the city’s sanctuary ordinance and how it protects their immigrant neighbors. “There’s a lot of angst in the community,” said Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg, “but we’re here to say that it’s business as usual in Takoma Park.”

The angst stems from a series of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump related to curbing immigration, including one that targets sanctuary cities like Takoma Park specifically.

The order, titled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, withholds federal funding from cities that offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants.

According to Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart, the city stands to lose $90,000 in such federal funds, but Takoma Park has no intention of revoking its ordinance. “We’re already fundraising,” said Stewart. “We’ll make up that money [in other ways.]”

At the teach-in, however, Maryland State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez warned that “that bill is mild compared to what we are going to see moving forward. It’s coming, and it’s coming very soon.”

The crowd filled the auditorium and several overflow rooms where the speakers and panel were live streamed on television screens, and some even sat on the floor in the aisles to listen as poems were recited, music was played and a brief history of Takoma’s sanctuary ordinance was given.

“When we organized together last time, it was about politics,” said community activist Tebabu Assefa while explaining one of the amendments made to the ordinance in 2007. “This time it is about humanity.”

Lilo Gonzalez led the assembled crowd in several songs in both English and Spanish. “As a former refugee from El Salvador, it is my duty to be here,” Gonzalez said. “With this new administration, it’s time to come be a part of this movement and work hard to make this country a country for everybody.”

Mayor Kate Stewart moderated a panel discussion with City Manager Suzanne Ludlow; Police Chief Alan Goldberg; Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich; Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA de Maryland and Denyse Sabagh Esq., a Partner with Duane Morris.

Katie Burn was one of the audience members and explained that her stake in the matter was personal. “My husband is an immigrant,” Burn said. “This is near and dear to us.”

President Trump’s executive order says that “it is the policy of the executive branch to ensure, to the fullest extent of the law, that a State, or a political subdivision of a State, shall comply” and cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But at the teach-in, city leaders and activists alike from Takoma Park made clear that they weren’t changing the ordinance or their operating procedures. “We have no interest or authority in the deportation of immigrants,” Goldberg said in a statement. “The mission and commitment of the Takoma Park Police Department is the safety and welfare of all our residents.”

The sentiment expressed by the hundreds of residents that filled the community center seemed to be the same. “This is a temporary setback,” Assefa said. “Love will win.”

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Waste Management 101: A review of Takoma Park’s 2016 efforts

Ever wonder what happens to all the “stuff” city crews pick up from your curb each week? Waste management is the common terminology used for all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal.

In 2016, the City collected approximately 6,957 tons of municipal waste from single-family homes, small apartment buildings, city facilities and public spaces. The four major streams of waste generated were as follows:

  1. Solid waste (46 percent)
  2. Yard waste (32 percent)
  3. Recyclable material (19 percent)
  4. Food waste (3 percent)

The City had a total recycling rate of 54 percent, meaning that more than half of the waste generated was diverted from the disposed waste stream.

Waste generated in the City of Takoma Park is collected by the sanitation staff from Monday to Friday. Yard waste is collected on Mondays, and trash, food waste and recycling is collected from four different neighborhoods between Tuesday and Friday. In addition, the City provides fall leaf collection five weeks per year generally beginning during the third week of November and ending in late December.

Here’s an overview of how the City manages waste once it’s collected from residents’ homes.

Yard waste and fall leaves: The collected yard waste and fall leaves are brought to the Public Works yard and passed through a tub grinder, which shreds the material into small pieces. This mulch is then made available to the public for pickup as well as delivery. Yard waste can be used as a top-dressing around trees and gardens. The City also uses mulch in our bio-retention facilities to help filter stormwater.

Trash: The City collects trash from single family and multi-family homes that are fewer than 13 units. On average, a Takoma Park household produces 38 pounds of trash per week. With an assumption of a typical four-member household, the per capita production is significantly lower than the national average of 80.36 pounds of trash, as estimated by the EPA.

Trash collected in Takoma Park is taken to the Northeast Transfer Station in DC, operated by Waste Management Inc. Most waste processed at this facility is then moved by trailer to either King George Landfill or Middle Peninsula Landfill in Virginia. Takoma Park uses this DC facility instead of the Montgomery County trash processing facility in Gaithersburg because the price per ton is lower, and the location is closer.

Recycling: The City collects recycling in a single stream from single-family homes and multi-family homes that are fewer than 13 units. The average household in Takoma Park produces 18 pounds of recycling per week. With an assumption of a typical four-member household, the per capita production is significantly lower than the national average of 30.8 pounds of recycling, as estimated by the EPA. Recycling collected by the City is processed in a facility operated by the Maryland Environmental Service in Prince George’s County.

The City uses the Prince George’s County facility because it accepts recycling in a single stream. The Montgomery County recycling facility requires paper to be delivered separately from the other recyclables – also known as split-stream or dual stream. The City changed from dual-stream to single-stream collection to reduce program costs by using one truck for recycling collection instead of two.

Food waste: Food waste is collected on the same day as trash and recycling weekly. Participation in the food waste collection program is voluntary, and households can sign up for the program on the city website. The collected food waste is transported to Prince George’s County Composting facility operated by Maryland Environmental Service. This facility is the only one in our area currently providing food composting services.

Moving Forward

The City relies on regional waste disposal facilities to process its waste. The Maryland Environmental Services Food Waste Composting facility has set a cap on the tonnage of food waste the city can haul to its composting facility to five tons per week. Currently the City brings just less than four tons of food waste to the facility weekly. Efforts to increase participation in the food waste program would help reduce the amount of waste requiring disposal slightly. However, more is needed to meet area waste reduction goals.

Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties have set solid waste management goals to achieve a new 65 and 60 percent waste diversion rate by 2020, respectively. Their plans highlight public outreach, new policy implementation and innovation to be key strategies toward achieving their goal.

From 2010 through 2015, Takoma Park’s yearly recycling collection remained relatively constant with an average yearly collection of 1,500 tons. Public outreach to better inform residents what is and what is not recyclable and compostable may help us increase recycling tonnage. The City implemented an online tool in 2016 to provide that type of help for residents. The Waste Wizard search bar can be accessed at: takomaparkmd. gov/government/public-works/curbsidecollection-services/recycling-collection.

Additional outreach efforts under consideration include informational mailings, distribution of educational materials to new residents and seasonal signage on bus shelters.

The City has already instituted several policies, including a polystyrene and plastic bag ban to help to decrease trash as well as litter. Additionally, City-sponsored events require collection of recycling and food waste, in addition to trash, to reduce the waste generated from special events. Many communities have used a “Pay as You Throw” system to encourage residents to reduce their waste and increase their recycling participation by charging for the amount of trash generated by each household. These programs use a bag fee or a can fee to generate funding to cover the program. This financial incentive often increases waste diversion by residents as they can more clearly see the cost for the waste they generate. Staff is exploring this option for the City.

Additionally, the next stage of the Green Home Certification program in Takoma Park is expected to include Backyard Habitat and Waste Reduction as new categories for earning light, medium or dark green certifications. Stay tuned to learn more this spring!

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Scatter garden advocates turned down by council

By Rick Henry

A group in Takoma Park was looking for eternal life. The big question – where will one go to achieve it? After a several-month search, members of the Committee for a Takoma Park Scatter Garden identified three possible sites within the city that they feel are ideal candidates for locating the city’s first municipal “scatter garden,” a place where people scatter the ashes of their loved ones, whose names are displayed on small plaques.

However, the City Council did a hand vote at its meeting on Feb. 22, indicating no interest in pursuing a scatter garden on city land at this time.

The three sites that the group had proposed are:

  1. Upper Portal Park, located at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Piney Branch Road, adjacent to the CadyLee Mansion;
  2. Stuart Armstrong Park/Woods, a big section of woods located at Philadelphia and Holly Avenues between Takoma Elementary School and Piney Branch Road; and
  3. Thomas-Siegler House and Garden, located at the intersection of Tulip and Maple Avenues

After hearing about and researching scatter gardens, a group of Takoma Park residents last year began pursuing a proposed Takoma Park scatter garden. Many cities have municipally-owned and operated cemeteries and many of those have scatter gardens in them. The Takoma Park scatter garden would follow a long tradition of cities providing a place for memorials to departed residents.

Encouraged by community feedback and working in concert with City parks and recreation staff and the Commemoration Commission, residents, including Jennifer Beman, have spent the last few months exploring the issue and location options in response to inquiries from the City Council.

“The City Council asked us to gather information about where it (the scatter garden) might be located, what it might look like and how it might function and then present it to them,” Beman said.

According to Beman, five criteria were used to evaluate the final three sites that were selected.

  1. The property has to be owned and maintained by the City, not the county.
  2. Immediate neighbors of the property must be supportive. “We went and talked with a lot of neighbors, and no one objected to the idea,” Beman said.
  3. The sites must be able to be adopted without a lot of change.
  4. The site must be “appropriate.” According to Beman, appropriate means “serene and tranquil, but also visible. It’s a hard balance to find.”
  5. The site must be underutilized, meaning it is not really being used for any other purpose.

Beman White said each proposed site has its virtues. “There are a number of markers already at Upper Portal,” she said. “And there is already a garden at the Thomas Siegler property, and we propose to locate the scatter garden behind the Carriage House.”

The Stuart Armstrong property was suggested by City gardener Mike Welsh. “It is basically an unused park with a lot of woods and is close to the municipal heart of town,” Beman said.

As to the other two issues the City Council raised, Beman said that she does not expect that any of the three areas would change significantly. “We would need a sign and maybe a bench or two, and we are not asking the City to pay. We would do a fundraising campaign to pay for those costs,” she said, noting that the group has received lots of support and encouragement and minimal concern from residents about the project.

She added that in addition to extensive canvassing of the neighborhoods near the proposed sites, around 200 signatures on a petition supporting the garden have been gathered, and public comment has been available through a website and a public meeting held on Sunday, Feb. 5.

However, at the Takoma Park City Council’s Nov. 2 meeting, councilmembers expressed concerns about a range of issues, including how eligibility for use of the garden would be determined, the costs the City would incur in maintenance and staff time, and in general, whether the City should be involved in this endeavor based on its other priorities.

Further, following Beman’s presentation at the council’s Feb. 22 meeting, Mayor Kate Stewart called for a show of hands to determine whether council members were in favor of the committee continuing its work or they were against the proposal for the scatter garden. The vote was 4 to 3 against the proposal with Council Members Kovar, Qureshi, Schultz and Smith opposing the idea.

Still Beman and the other supporters plan to meet with them individually during the next few months in hopes of changing their minds. They feel that a scatter garden within the city is something that should and will happen. “The histories of many towns are written in cemeteries,” she said. “This will leave a legacy of the City and create a space for those who are left behind to visit and reflect.”

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Five Questions for Mike Tidwell, Founder & Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Mike Tidwell has lived in Takoma Park since January 1989. He, his wife Beth, their “come-and-go son” Sasha, who is a student at University of Maryland, and cat Macy Gray reside on upper Willow Avenue in the PEN neighborhood. “It’s basically downtown Takoma Park,” Tidwell notes. “Twenty years ago, Roscoe the rooster used to spend a lot of time in my backyard.”

What was his main motivation for becoming an advocate for climate change issues? “A relentless, unshakable concern for justice.” Tidwell lives in constant fear that his teenage son will have a fraction of the opportunities in his lifetime that he’s had in his – due to climate change. “I was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Congo in my 20s. I lived with barefoot, car-free people who contribute almost nothing to climate change but who are already being made hungry by drought, strange floods, and ecological upheaval,” he explains. “All this when the promise of a carbon-free world is totally within our grasp through affordable wind power and solar and electric cars.”

Through his work with Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Tidwell has learned “that people will take action – bold action – if you simply ask them and you have good plan.” He recalls several instances where his powers of persuasion were in full effect: “I’ve persuaded dozens of people to go peacefully to jail with me over the Keystone XL pipeline. I’ve gotten countless people to play hooky from work to lobby for solar and wind power legislation in Annapolis.”

“And I’ve gotten thousands of people over the years to jump into the Potomac River in January to raise money and awareness about the need to, “Keep winter cold!” More people than you think will take action if you have a concrete goal and you simply pick up the phone or shoot them an email and ask.”

Last year a series of “quick interviews” was introduced in this newsletter to help residents learn a little more about some of their neighbors. Here’s Tidwell’s take on our five questions.

Favorite Place/Activity in Takoma Park: Hanging out at the Thomas-Siegler Carriage House garden on Tulip Avenue. I love sitting on the little wooden bench there and taking in the Azaleas in spring and the autumn colors in October. I take my Sunday school class there some mornings because the garden itself is a beautiful little prayer.

Best Thing about Living in Takoma Park: It’s a neighborhood that values its “characters.” Everyone can pretty much just be themselves. I like never having to explain myself when I march in the July 4th parade with my old-fashioned push lawn mower to make a statement about global warming. We all pretty much get each other here.

What’s on Your Desk Right Now: Trying to get my fellow Marylanders to see that Governor Larry Hogan is a total environmental phony. Plus just finishing this interview by 6 p.m. on a Friday night, so I can meet my wife at Republic before happy hour ends.

What You Do in Your “Spare Time”: Watch Flamenco dance performances throughout the region with my Flamenco-crazed wife. When I’m not doing that I watch baseball. Read about baseball. Dream about baseball.

Best Advice You Ever Got (and from who): “Mike, after college, you should join the Peace Corps.” From a friend of a friend of a friend. The two years I spent in a Congo village changed my life forever.

BONUS: If I had a magic wand for a day, I would take a wrecking ball to the ugly 10-story high-rise office building on Carroll Avenue (I work on the 7th floor!). Then I would turn the lot into a Little League baseball park with a veggie hot dog stand.

For more information about the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, visit chesapeakeclimate.org

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Takoma Park 4-H Club hosts annual animal support drive

“People helping animals and Animals helping people” is the theme for this annual event, which will be held on TBD, March 25 in the Takoma Park Library parking lot. Takoma Park 4H Club is in its 7th year, and this is the organization’s 7th Annual Animal Drive.

Every year the 4Hers make toys for the cats and dogs at the Humane Rescue Alliance (formerly Washington Animal Rescue League) to coincide with the animal drive. In past years, the club has collected over $700 in donations, both in cash and in-kind donations. Help the alliance by dropping off gently used or new pet toys, unopened pet food, clean used towels and blankets, and cash or check donations. For more information, contact pptakoma@mindspring.com.

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Cirincione to be featured speaker at Friends Annual Meeting

By Tim Rahn

Takoma Park resident and advocate for nuclear nonproliferation Joe Cirincione will speak at annual meeting of the Friends of Takoma Park Maryland Library on Thursday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the children’s room of the Library.

An author of several books and numerous articles, Cirincione is an expert on the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the post-Cold War era. Currently, Cirincione serves as president of the Ploughshares Fund, a Washington-based foundation that provides grants aimed at reducing weapons stockpiles.

Cirincione was vice-president of national security at the Center for American Progress prior to joining Ploughshares. He has also worked for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and served on the staffs of the U.S. House of Representatives committees on Armed Services and Government Operations.

As president of Ploughshares, Cirincione addresses audiences internationally about the risks of nuclear programs. Having appeared numerous times on network news shows, Cirincione writes frequent commentaries for print media as well. He also teaches at the graduate School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

The Love of Coaching

Jesse Taylor is a longtime volunteer coach for the City of Takoma Park Recreation Department’s athletic programs. Coach Jesse, as he is affectionately known, has coached and volunteered with several sports programs, including basketball, T-ball and flag football. Taylor is one of those volunteers that you can always count on to come back season after season ready to pour back into the youth. His energy, passion and patience are immeasurable, and this is what makes him such a popular pick for players and parents alike.

Jesse, who is also a former participant in the recreation department sports leagues, prides himself on taking opportunities to be a positive role model for those in and around the Takoma Park Community. This past summer, Coach Jesse (pictured with his team, far right), earned his very first Y.E.S. League Championship after several years of falling short. He often speaks on how important that championship was to the kids on his team because “they all felt like underdogs that weren’t supposed to be there.”

Coach Jesse has the innate ability to quickly build relationships and gain trust amongst his players. This attribute has allowed him to be a better teacher of the game, no matter what the sport is. The recreation department is so very appreciative to have wonderful coaches like Jesse Taylor, who continually dedicate countless hours to help aid in the success of young people. If interested in becoming a coach or participating in one of our upcoming sports programs, please visit us online at www.takomaparkmd.gov/government/recreation/ sports.

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

New Mural for Takoma/Langley

A new mural is coming to the Takoma/Langley Crossroads this spring. It will be painted on the side of 1337 Holton Lane, across the street from the large mural created in 2015. The Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development Authority (CDA) has contracted with the Krsko Group to create the new mural. Both properties are owned by JBGR, which has given its approval to the project.

The artists will seek community input on possible themes for the new mural at two community meetings at the Takoma Park Recreation Center, 7315 New Hampshire Avenue. The first meeting is Friday, March 17 from 6-8 p.m. The artists will introduce past projects, process and vision for the mural, and engage in an exchange of ideas with the community. The second meeting is on Thursday, March 23 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., where the artists will present an updated sketch that incorporates ideas from the March 17 meeting. The mural will be designed to incorporate imagery resulting from the community discussions, and participants will encouraged to create stencils representing the ideas and to paint them.

Community residents are invited to attend the March 17 and March 23 meetings and offer their ideas to the Krsko Group. For more information, call 301-445-7910.

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Save the Dates! Montgomery College and Takoma Park Community Consultation

While we are still nailing down some of the details for the meetings, we have settled on initial meeting dates for the upcoming Montgomery College and Takoma Park community consultation process. The series of meetings is designed to provide the community with information about the College’s facilities planning process in the context of County and City processes and give community members an opportunity to engage in discussion and share feedback in order to move toward an agreement between the City and the college on future construction.

The meetings will be held on the evenings of March 21, May 9, and June 6. Specific times and locations will be announced in the next couple of weeks. The meetings will be advertised through a variety of sources, including postcards sent to residences within a half mile of the College, and the City’s website, weekly ENews, and social media.

This article appeared in the March 2017 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Takoma Junction community consultation continues

This month Neighborhood Development Company (NDC) in partnership with the City of Takoma will host the second set of four community meetings to seek input and share information about the proposed project located at the intersection of Ethan Allen and Carroll Avenue. Two meetings were held last month that addressed the topics of form and character with market and retail ideas.

The topics covered at the March meetings will be the public realm and access and mobility. Come give your input on design features of the new development. The two meetings are identical in content and opportunity for feedback. Choose the option that works best for your schedule.

  • Thursday, March 9, 7-9 p.m. at the Takoma Park Community Center in the Azalea Room
  • Sunday, March 12, 3-5 p.m. at the Fire Station Meeting Room, 7201 Carroll Avenue

If you plan to attend, please call 301- 891-7119. RSVPs would be appreciated but are not required. For more information, visit takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/ takoma-junction-redevelopment.