City of Takoma Park
Existing and Planned Environmental Initiatives
· The City manages its stormwater system to improve water quality, maintain system integrity, and expand the system where needed using low impact design.
o In order to meet the requirement of the federal NPDES permit, the City cleans and inspects one-third of the system each year, tests water quality at dry weather stream outfalls, conducts street sweeping operations, and provides educational information to City residents regarding how to improve the quality of stormwater discharge.
o Street sweeping is a critical method for improving water quality from stormwater runoff by removing sediment and chemicals from the street surface. The street sweeper is operated from March through October each year. The goal of the program is to sweep residential streets at least twice per month and commercial streets at least three times per month.
o Existing inlets will be evaluated for retrofitting with trash collection and sediment capture devices to meet State requirements for pollutant control. There are several systems currently in place and being evaluated: a filter at the Public Works Facility that removes pollutants and hydrocarbons and a system that includes a trash intercepter, sediment collection baskets, and removal of soluble pollutants via biological activity in a filter media that was installed at the end of Linden Avenue. Existing systems will be retrofitted to meet State requirements for pollutant removal:
o In addition to the maintenance programs above, the City has developed a Watershed Implementation Plan to provide treatment to 20% of run-off from impervious area within the City. The Plan identifies a total of 79 acres of impervious area that must receive treatment through best management practices by 2025. To date the city has implemented programs to address 14 acres. Based on the rate of progress of the program, the City anticipates treating 57 acres by 2017 and 97 acres by 2025 – which will exceed the requirements.
o Recommendations for the incorporation of stormwater management features in public and private infill development were included in the following long-range master plans: New Hampshire Avenue Concept Plan (adopted November 2009), Takoma Langley Sector Plan (adopted June 2012), Takoma Langley Design Guidelines (pending adoption September 2012), and the New Hampshire Avenue Streetscape Standards (pending adoption September 2012).
Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
· The City fleet includes 11 hybrid vehicles, out of a total fleet of 74. Of those hybrid vehicles, seven are assigned to the Police Department, two are in the administrative pool, one is in Code Enforcement, and one is assigned to Public Works. The City evaluates annually what vehicles are scheduled for replacement and whether the new vehicle can be alternatively fueled.
· The preventative maintenance schedule for each vehicle will be performed to meet or exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that vehicles are operating at their maximum efficiency and that all fuel filters, exhaust systems, and tire pressures are regularly maintained.
· The City recently completed an EECBDG grant project in the amount of $93,000, replacing the chiller and two air handling units in the Community Center.
· The City purchases Renewable Energy Credits (Wind Power), equivalent to 100% of the City’s annual electricity use, through the Montgomery County purchasing cooperative.
· The City has over 100 kW solar panel arrays on City facilities. These panels are expected to generate 20% of the City’s electricity needs. A 10kW system was installed in conjunction with the renovation of the Community Center Auditorium. The additional 90 kW system was installed through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The PPA agreement provides solar power for a period of 20 years. The solar array was installed and will be maintained at no cost to the City in exchange for the City’s purchase of the power generated by the system from the owner.
· The City has an ongoing educational program designed to encourage students and their parents to walk and bike to and from school safely. Equipment such as bike racks and skate board/scooter racks are also installed at various public schools.
Flower Avenue Green Street Project
· The City has begun the design phase for a green street development for a one mile section of Flower Avenue. The project will have two significant "green" benefits. By making the street safer and more comfortable for pedestrians, bikers, and bus riders, non-vehicular modes of transportation will be encouraged. The project will also slow, filter, and reduce stormwater runoff into Sligo Creek and Long Branch Creek through the use of bio-retention features, rain gardens, and other measures.
· The City’s Tree Ordinance prohibits the cutting down of any tree on private property without a permit. The permit requires tree replacement by the property owner. The City’s Tree law was adopted in recognition that the City’s urban forest is part of a larger ecosystem that supports wildlife and contributes significantly to air, noise, and visual pollution control. The existence of shade providing trees moderates climatic extremes and reduces energy consumption. The City’s urban forest is part of the watershed of Long Branch, Takoma Branch, and Sligo Creeks and therefore plays an important role in controlling water run-off and supports the biologic and hydrologic integrity of these watersheds. The urban forest has significant aesthetic value, which affects property values and the quality of life of the community. Regulation of actions affecting the urban forest provides mutual benefits to City residents and property owners. The Public Works Urban Forest Division manages the City’s public trees and enforces the Tree Ordinance.
· The City provides a $100 subsidy for property owners to purchase trees through the semi-annual bulk buy tree program. The goal of the program is to encourage the planting of large overstory trees on private property.
· The City spends $22,000 annually to plant trees on public right-of-way.
· The annual Arbor Day celebration promotes tree planting and care of trees on private property. Tree seedlings of several varieties are handed out at this event.
Green Space and Habitat
· The New Hampshire Avenue Corridor Community Gardens/Greening Project encourages local neighborhood associations, private property owners, and organizations to establish and maintain community gardens and landscaped areas designed to beautify the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor through the use of green space.
Commercial Property and Development/Planning
· The City plans to continue ongoing development review efforts to guide appropriate commercial and residential development and redevelopment throughout the community, working in partnership with Maryland-National Capital Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) and Montgomery County’s Permitting Services Department staff. Efforts are made to encourage low impact stormwater design and other environmental features.
· The New Hampshire Avenue Concept Plan, Holton Lane Area Improvement Plan, and the Takoma Langley Crossroads Sector Plan and Design Guidelines have been adopted. They promote the creation of environmentally sustainable transit oriented development and require the inclusion of integrated stormwater infiltration facilities.
· By grinding collected leaves, the City avoids transportation for disposal at the County facility and provides a very green product. Leaf mulch can be used to enhance gardens and planting areas around the City. Cost avoidance for disposal fees ($40 per ton at Montgomery County) is about $80,000. The City offers leaf mulch for pick up at the Public Works facility and also delivers mulch for a fee to area residents.
· The Public Works Department will continue to research and explore additional opportunities to expand the types of items able to be collected for recycling from residents. The single stream recycling collection program implemented last year has reduced the number of truck trips required for collection of recycling and enables all residents who receive City collection to have their recycling and trash collected on the same day. Same day programs simplify collection for residents.
· The Public Works Department provides yard waste compost containers to residents at no cost. The containers are provided through Montgomery County. The simple compost containers can be picked up at the Public Works Facility. Publications detailing how to compost food waste and yard waste are provided with the compost bin.
· The City has many trash and recycling containers in the right-of-way. Currently, when a new trash can is located in the right-of-way, it is paired with a recycling container.
· The City also has a drop-off location for small electronics, and computer components, and compact fluorescent bulbs. These materials are processed by licensed waste companies to keep the dangerous components out of the environment.
· The Takoma Park Arts and Humanities Commission established the ReCycling Artist in Residence Program and the Trashy Art contest. These programs are designed to encourage the reuse and repurposing of materials and include educational workshops for children and adults. This year the City established an Artist In Residency Program at the Public Works facility. The commissioned art piece will be installed upon completion.
Greening City Operations
The City recently renovated its Public Works Facility to meet LEED Certified standards. It has numerous energy efficient features, including a geothermal heat pump and high efficiency cooling and heating system, high efficiency lighting, rain water harvesting, a grey water system (the first of its kind in the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission service area), and daylighting in several spaces.
The City has reduced vehicle fuel use due to the switch to hybrid vehicles and the reduction to one recycling truck from two as a result of single stream recycling collection. Fuel use has been reduced by approximately 500 gallons a month with a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
· The City’s garden and landscape maintenance program emphasizes the use of drought tolerant and hardy plants, using native plants whenever possible. Pesticides are only used after attempts to address the problem with Integrated Pest Management and non-toxic alternatives have failed.
· Currently, the primary methods of weed management used by the Public Works Department include hand weeding, use of a propane torch for burning weeds and grass, and use of high strength vinegar applications.
· The City Code includes a purchase preference for materials with recycled content and requires use of paper with recycled content. The City uses green cleaning products for all City facilities. Informational and promotional materials developed by the Housing and Community Development Department and others are made with recycled products.
· The pilot program endorsed by the City Council for the operation of mobile food vendors (food trucks) discourages the use of polystyrene or Styrofoam food service ware and containers.
· All surfactants and detergents used for facility cleaning are biodegradable and phosphate-free. Staff uses products with the lowest amount of volatile organic compounds, the highest recycled content, and low or no formaldehyde whenever possible. Supplies are purchased in bulk or condensed forms and in recyclable containers, whenever possible.
· The City has tracked energy use for each utility meter since 1994. This process has identified billing errors and alerted us to problem areas within facilities. From 1994 to the present, electricity use has increased by 15%, although the square footage of building space has almost doubled, and the use of natural gas has dropped 50%.
· The Public Works Department established an anti-idling policy for Department vehicles. GPS units have been tested and installed on a number of vehicles. The units provide real time evaluation of speeding, idling, and stops and starts. The devices have been helpful in significantly reducing idling and providing more accurate information about routing and vehicle use.
· The Public Works Department has ceased use of gasoline powered leaf blowers in its operations. Staff continues to explore options for alternatives to two-stroke engines.
· The Public Works Department ensures that all offices and public areas in City facilities have appropriate containers available for staff and the public for the collection of paper, glass, and plastic bottles.
· The City uses bio-diesel, made of 20% soy and 80% diesel, as an alternative fuel for all trucks and heavy equipment that have diesel engines. In addition to continuing use of bio-diesel, staff will continue to explore other options for reducing diesel particulate emissions from trucks and equipment.
· Staff will explore environmentally friendly turf maintenance programs and alternatively powered maintenance equipment. Grasscycling (the process of leaving grass clippings directly on the lawn when grass is cut) will be implemented when grass clippings are less than one inch.
· The Public Works Department follows COG guidelines for Air Quality Action Days. On Code Orange or Red Air Quality Days, the Department curtails line painting, mowing, and asphalt paving and refuels vehicles only in the morning.
New sidewalk construction is done in a way that encourages walkability, incorporates low impact stormwater management measures when applicable, and preserves trees whenever possible.
The City has implemented an ADA sidewalk retrofit project in 2010. The goal is to make repairs to all existing sidewalks and curb ramps in the City to bring them into compliance with accessibility laws.