City council update, July 27, and Should the city ban plastic single-use carryout bags?

The Monday evening city council meeting is the last before a summer recess. The council has a packed agenda. Highlighting certain items — the council expects to:

– Approve FY16 community grants. The council discussed the Grants Committee’s recommendations last week and decided to shift $11,200 to the Old Takoma Business Association for festival support and $3,800 to the New Hampshire Gardens Civic Association.

– Authorize a contract for continued library renovation design. The council had included $200,000 in the city’s FY16 budget for redesign next steps. We are not yet committed to library renovation but do need to proceed with detailed design to support the renovation decision. The aim is modernize the staff, stack, and program space and the restrooms and make the library accessible to persons with disabilities and improve overall flexibility and usability.

– Authorize purchase of thirty police body cameras and replacement tasers, and also of replacement police vehicles and equipment.

– Receive the city manager’s quarterly report (which is not yet available). I’ll just say that it has been a pleasure working with CM Suzanne Ludlow in the 3 months since the council appointed her. The city continues to operate well, and Suzie’s work, extending back over the last few years, has been instrumental in bringing complicated matters such as union negotiations to successful conclusions.

– Discuss a request for proposals for a consultant who would look at police-community relations and recommend, per the draft RFP, an “implementable approach to building, strengthening and maintaining a strong positive relationship between the Takoma Park Police Department and the various communities of Takoma Park.”

– Discuss options for refresh of the city’s noise ordinance. This is the last item on the agenda, slated for 9:30 pm discussion.

The public meeting will be preceded by a 6:00 pm closed session “to receive legal advice related to terms and conditions to be included in a letter of intent with NDC for the redevelopment of the Takoma Junction property.” NDC is the Neighborhood Development Company, the developer the council chose to move forward with revitalization of the city-owned lot in Takoma Junction. We’re making progress!

Finally, should the city ban plastic single-use carryout bags?

Councilmember Jarrett Smith has drafted an ordinance that states, “a store may not distribute plastic disposable carryout bags to a customer at the point of sale.” The proposed ban would not apply to packaging for bulk items, for restaurant carry-out, or certain other uses. It would address environmental and litter concerns. 

Montgomery County requires a 5-cent charge for each bag provided by county retail establishments that sell goods and provide the customer a carryout bag (either paper or plastic) to carry their purchases out of the store. It went into effect January 1, 2012. A city law would take precedence within our borders.

What do you think?

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