June 26, 2018
Dear Mayor Stewart and Councilmembers Dyballa, Kostiuk, Kovar, Seamens, Searcy, and Smith:
As former City Council members we appreciate the serious thought and considerable time you have invested in Takoma Junction development. We respect the efforts of the Mayor and Council as well as City staff, many community stakeholders as well as the developer and consultants.
We can identify with the sense of “getting this project done” now after long hours of public debate. The lengthy, complex and contentious process has led to even more questions and some issues, such as traffic implications, not fully answered.
Despite many great efforts, there is still a tremendous amount of community disagreement, which unless resolved, will threaten the larger sense of community for which Takoma Park is known. We urge you to take additional time for consideration and debate to assure that Takoma Junction becomes a vital part of a larger community vision.
As you prepare for a vote on the Takoma Junction site plan we former Council members would like to share the following thoughts:
Takoma Park is a built city
Two of us served on the Council in the 1980’s. It was a time when the City was coming out of bank redlining issues (deposits from TP welcome; housing loans not so much) and beginning to deal with issues of gentrification.
We are unsure whether any of the traffic study options will have positive impact in the short term. However, we do believe that none of the options will make Takoma Park a better place to live in the long term.
Even acceptable levels of traffic today will likely mean unacceptable levels tomorrow and create pressure in an area where road widening and neighborhood spillover are unacceptable.
In a community like Takoma Park, process is at least as important as product
For so many of us who came to Takoma Park, the goal was a city welcoming for all, a city open to seeking out and hearing all opinions. It is that view that took us beyond city to community.
While we understand the desire of the Council to conclude a long process and move on, the impact on Takoma Park will be decades long. Disagreements are expected, honest and deserve consideration…and a process that assumes respectful and good faith postures can resolve them.
There are multiple stakeholders with different views on the use of the Takoma Junction property. Each believes that their view contributes best to the public good. The Council’s role is not to tinker with design (we suggest that be left to professionals) but rather, something far more important, to manage us through a process that not only delivers a better Takoma Junction but also a stronger and more engaged community.
You now have your traffic studies. You do not have a unified community. We encourage you to take some more time, bring together representatives of all stakeholders, keep your minds open and task them with creating several consensus options for your review.
We wish you our common success.
Rino Aldrighetti, Lynne Bradley, Jim Di Luigi, Sharon Levy, Hank Prensky, Marie Ritzo, and Dan Robinson