Colleen Cordes delivered a letter on behalf of Community Vision for Takoma this week warning of predicted “alarming” cell tower radiation from multiple antennae on a Takoma Park apartment building, and the racial equity issues of this potential health threat. The City weighed in to demand more information before a new antenna is approved. The issue, and Colleen, ended up on the local news. Here is our letter:
There is great interest in the community in any number of alternative plans for Takoma Junction, with either more public space, smaller commercial space, or both. The developers maintain that they cannot afford to give us the smaller 34,000 sq ft from their original drawing, or more public space, or space for proper off-site unloading in the back of the development.
One response would be for the City to recognize that some of the open public space has great value to the community for multiple reasons (just as we recognize that the wooded slope has great value), and that the City can and should include significant public open space, even if it isn’t “cost neutral.”
But there are also lots of sources of funding out there for visionary and transformative community space–for innovative open space, city placemaking, hubs and incubators–for a design that would benefit more than just people who can afford upscale retail. Ideas that have gained traction include a food hub, a crafting/maker hub, a job training hub, and a small business incubator.
Below are some possible funding sources other than commercial developers. This is a crowd-sourced document. Please email additional resource ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. State Funding
- Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund – direct grants and low-interest loans are available for developments and infrastructure
- Economic Development Opportunities Fund (Sunny Day fund) – grants and loans especially for projects that incorporate employment training or creation for populations with high unemployment
- Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority – taxable and tax exempt bonds to the city for development of particular projects including those related to clean energy
- Community Development Block Grants
- Maryland Venture Fund – if we included a Impact Hub for start-up small businesses
- Maryland Economic Adjustment Fund
- Maryland Industrial Projects Fund – if we created a partnership with University of Maryland with our Impact Hub focused on food businesses
- Maryland Jobs Now – investing in workforce oriented projects (think a training program for lower income residents interested in business start-ups in landscaping, composting, backyard gardening, home based graphic design, etc.)
2. Philanthropic support
- Annie E. Casey – for Impact Hub focused on environmental problem solving start-ups, from tree care to composting
- Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation – for workforce development for high unemployment pockets of Takoma Park
- Abell Foundation – The Abell Foundation encourages initiatives that attract resident investment in neighborhoods, promote sustainability, increase economic development opportunities and nurture entrepreneurial talent to increase the livability of neighborhoods, the number of residents, the number of jobs and the size of the tax base.
- Town Creek Foundation
3. Impact Capital (non-profit investment firms)
- For example, https://www.calvertimpactcapital.org/ – funding community development for positive outcomes
4. TPSS Co-op members
- In Madison, WI, the co-op raised $1M in 2011 in 39 days en route to financing a larger project. See pp. 25-31 of the following document: https://drexel.edu/~/media/Files/coas2/politics/faculty-papers/EXPLORING%20COOPERATIVES.ashx?la=en. Also, they succeeded in raising capital for more expansion in 2018: https://host.madison.com/wsj/business/willy-street-co-op-hits-fundraising-goal-for-expansion-of/article_3105d033-bac5-5999-9334-a68ed921e7a5.html
5. Other funders interested in community building and placemaking, such as those listed here: https://www.pps.org/article/innovative-funding-programs-for-placemaking.
6. Community crowd-sourcing and other forms of resident investment, including IOBY
Whether you are primarily concerned about traffic congestion, pedestrian and biker safety, gentrification from rising rents at the Junction, or the threat to the Co-op, now is the time to take action. We only have a few weeks until the final Council vote.
If you only have 30 seconds, please sign the PETITION to ask City Council to reject the current plan. It is time to reclaim the Junction as public land for the public good, and come up with alternatives for best use of this community space.
On the sidebar on the left, you can see a whole list of additional ways to communicate to our elected officials on the Junction situation in the final weeks before the final vote.
Please sign the PETITION here.
Then, send the link to friends, and post on your facebook page, and on your neighborhood listserve.
Now is the moment to insist that elected officials represent the community.
Welcome to Community Vision for Takoma, an informal network of over 1000 Takoma residents and nearby neighbors, who want a Takoma Junction revitalization that uses public land for the public good. We also work on other issues relating to health, safety, and economic well-being, structural racism and gentrification, and transparency and responsibility in local government.
We are concerned that plans for the development of the publicly-owned property at the Junction–land that was secured for the purpose of benefiting the residents of the community–has evolved into a developer-driven project that will not be affordable for small, locally-owned businesses, or inclusive of all Takoma residents. We also believe that the plan would: exacerbate the Junction traffic congestion and related safety concerns; eliminate space for community activities and public gathering; and threaten the survival of the community-owned grocery store which is one of the largest employers in the City.
What We Stand FOR at the Junction:
- Visionary placemaking at the Junction to create a town square open to all
- Use of public space that is inclusive and welcoming without requiring consumption
- Preservation of affordable retail spaces
- Support for innovative, local, independent small businesses
- Pop-ups, coffee shops, food trucks & Union-Market-style business incubator space
- Respect for the “low and open” small town neighborhood architecture
- Prioritizing innovative programming over building massive permanent structures
- Continued support for our only downtown grocery store
- Optimized use of public space for public events, music, and art
- New landscaping and preservation, improvement, & expansion of green space
- Highest environmental standards
- Improvement in Junction traffic
- Improvement in Junction safety
- Development prioritizing public good rather than maximum income