Its great that County Councilmember Cherri Branson is coming to speak with the City Council and City on Monday night. Attached are some of the questions I hope to ask Councilmember Branson and have sent to her in advance - thanks to residents who suggested some of these!
- McLaughlin School at 6501 Poplar Avenue is an abandoned former school of Prince Georges County that was sold to a private individual for $300,000 in the 1990s. However, it has been vacant and falling into disrepair for years and frequently the property is behind on taxes. Despite this, and despite almost a $1 million downgrade in the assessed value of the buildings on the site in 2013, reflecting the absence of basic maintenance, the county has continued to provide tax credits for the property. Currently, the property tax database lists $144,000 in credit for this property. Rather than providing tax breaks, I wish the County would either acquire the site for a future elementary school or open space - elementary schools in the area are all over capacity. Or that the County would treat the property as a derelict one, subject to penalties, not tax credits. Can you update me on the reason for the tax credits this property is receiving and whether the county/state property appraisal office has been coordinating with the county's property tax office?
- The development plan at White Oak does not include any reservation of space for either a Middle or High School despite approximately 3 million additional square feet of residential space in the plan. Do you think this was an oversight by the Planning Board and is there a way to correct for this gap? When a future school is needed, would the cost of the school be borne by White Oak developers, White Oak residents or by taxpayers throughout the county? Will it create competition for school construction funds with this portion of the county?
- The County owns a Recreation Center on New Hampshire Avenue, which is currently operated and maintained by the city, however the quality of the building is in poor condition. Would the County Council consider putting capital improvement funds into a future CIP budget to rebuild or renovate this facility or develop a public-private partnership to do so (which could take advantage of the significant open space on the property for additional residential apartment construction). I believe the city would be interested in continuing long term operation of the facility or taking over a renovated facility entirely but I don't believe we could do so at present because the condition of the site makes it too much of a liability.
- Rolling Terrace Elementary School is in Silver Spring but serves many Takoma Park children and the overcrowding of the school (by hundreds), extensive mold problem that may return this year, and poor condition of the school building should make it a target for significant CIP funds for expansion and renovation. Would you consider making this a priority as a request to the County Executive to add to next year (or this year) CIP budget?
- The city would like to expand green space next to Sligo Creek at the junction of Flower Avenue and Sligo Creek Parkway, while also creating a safer and more T-shaped intersection of the two roads that would reduce vehicle speeds. We are currently in the planning stages of funding (with city dollars) the engineering designs to describe this work. The Park and Planning Commission is ultimately in the position to approve or disapprove this project and it would be really helpful if Takoma Park staff, Park and Planning Commission staff and the two of us could meet to talk about this project and ideally ensure it is considered a priority for review.