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Takoma Park City Council debates bikes on sidewalks

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TAKOMA PARK – The Takoma Park City Council discussed amending the city’s laws to allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks Wednesday.

“I’m not a bicyclist myself, but there’s a few things I understand, bicycling in a city or urban area, is understood to be inherently dangerous,” said Council member Fred Schultz (Ward 6). “But when you’re walking, walking is not supposed to be a dangerous endeavor,” he added.

The city’s current laws do not allow the riding bicycles on sidewalks within the city limits but the law remains unenforced. Earlier this year, the council decided to explore a proposal to change the city’s laws to grant bicyclists the same privileges afforded to pedestrians when using sidewalks.

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While searching for new chief, Takoma Park sets goals for police department

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takoma park logoTAKOMA PARK – The Takoma Park City Council voted on a resolution to lay out goals and priorities July 26 for its law enforcement agency while searching for a new police chief.

“I think the resolution is great, and I love the emphasis that it places on community policing and greater engaging with the public,” said Council member Peter Kovar (Ward 1).

The resolution outlines 12 priorities the police department is expected to follow. Priorities include upholding citizen rights, commitment to transparency, ensuring accountability, and community outreach.

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Takoma Park City Council experiences difficulties with youth-mentoring nonprofit

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Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK – Over two straight meetings, members of the Takoma Park City Council discussed the difficulties they experienced when attempting to contact one of their nonprofit partners.

The organization in question, Making a New United People, had an agreement with the City Council to help young adults find summer employment.

The agreement, which Council member Fred Schultz (Ward 6) described as a "handshake agreement," involved the organization to assist 20 young adults in getting hired at a Taco Bell restaurant located near New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park. The agreement was not related to any other contracts the organization has with the city.

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Takoma Park moves forward with library

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Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK- The bond issuance for two major projects in Takoma Park has passed its first reading unanimously and has moved onto a second one, a major step forward for the renovation of the Takoma Park Library.

The bond will also finance improvements to the Ethan Allen Gateway and the Flower Avenue Green Street project.

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Takoma Park votes and changes its election laws

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Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK— The City mayor and Council changed the voting rules in the city charter May 10, bringing a slew of changes to the election process.

“It passed, we just changed our elections…it was harder than giving birth,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.

With the adoption of the charter amendment, the date of City elections will change from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, synchronizing it with State and County elections.

It will also change the date of the nominating meeting, the day which the mayor and Council take office, and will extend the time for certification of election results. The length of the 2017 term will change, too.

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Stormwater fees discussed in Takoma Park and may nearly double

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Takoma Park held a presentation on the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, introducing new expenses and possible changes, including an increase to the city’s stormwater fee.

The plans are currently in a proposal stage and will go through public hearings and other stages.

There were areas of contention for some of the council members, such as a proposed increase to the stormwater fee from $55 to $92.

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Takoma Park concerned about status

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Takoma Park is concerned after the Trump administration issued an executive order that may punish sanctuary cities.

The City of Takoma Park considers itself to be a sanctuary city, where city officials (including police) will not identify illegal immigrants. The city has been a sanctuary city since 1985, and its sanctuary law specifically prohibits city employees from asking city residents about their citizenship and immigration status, as well as cooperating with federal laws that may lead to deportations, according to the city.

“One of the things we want to make sure is that people have the information they need and resources they need to answer their questions and to meet the challenges that are facing us,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.

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Takoma Park examines plans for New Hampshire Ave.

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The City Council discussed potential plans for the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor to improve its aesthetic and the business potential.

March 7 was also one of the first public appearances of the new city planner, Daniel Sonenklar.

Various ideas, all in the brainstorming stage at this point, were put forward, such as housing, differing architectural styles, green buildings and more.

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Takoma Park talks about bicycle riding

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The Takoma Park City Council discussed the possibility of amending the city code to allow wheelchairs and bicycles on sidewalks, and will discuss it again after not coming to a consensus.

The issue at hand fell to bicycles on sidewalks, as there were arguments for both options, also backed by different studies. Wheelchairs on sidewalks are currently not accommodated by the city code, but it was barely mentioned at the meeting.

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Takoma Park to provide college scholarship to M.C.

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Takoma Park passed a resolution Jan. 18 to create a $5,000 grant to Montgomery College to be used for scholarships.

The $5,000 would be split into five $1,000 scholarships, and students would be eligible only if they qualified through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid program and resided in Takoma Park, although the prospective student does not need to be a U.S. citizen.

“From my perspective, certainly in the first year of the program, focusing on youth that are from Takoma Park is certainly a good way to start it off,” said Council member Tim Male.

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