Thursday, November 20, 2008

City recommends light-rail for Purple Line - Gazette

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008 | Council Notes | Jeremy Arias

Council vote includes residents' and business owners' concerns over redevelopment in Crossroads area

The Takoma Park City Council voted to approve a recommendation to the Maryland Transit Administration calling for a light-rail transit system for the Purple Line with an emphasis on community-involved planning and a balance between walker-safe sidewalks that don't infringe on businesses.

The council amended Deputy City Manager Suzanne Ludlow's original recommendation to include concerns from Crossroads area residents and business owners regarding maintenance along the proposed route down University Boulevard and a balance between safe sidewalks and the parking spaces area businesses say they need to ensure a profit.

"You can understand that there's nervousness and some concern about what's going to happen [to local businesses at the Crossroads]," said Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development Authority Director Erwin H. Mack, who represented both the authority and the Xroads group comprised of business owners. "We're simply saying ‘be careful, please.'"

Ludlow met with Xroads members last week to get input from business owners but restated her desire to forward the light-rail option now and work out details with property owners later.

"There's plenty of time to talk about easement with property owners on a case-by-case basis," she said of Mack's proposal to ensure sidewalks are both wide enough for safe pedestrian use and did not eliminate too many parking spaces for businesses in the Takoma Park/Langley crossroads area.

The council drafted mostly general changes to the wording of their recommendation, including encouraging "continuing the coordination and cooperation between the existing government agencies towards the emergence of the strongest possible plan," according to Councilman Doug Barry's (Ward 6) wording.

Executive Director of the Maryland International Corridor Laurie Kelly represented businesses on the Prince George's side of the planned renewal of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue. She suggested businesses conduct surveys to determine how many parking spaces they will need to accommodate customers who commute from out of the area.

Mayor Bruce Williams will represent the city Nov. 22 at a meeting regarding the Purple Line at Montgomery College's Falcon Hall, 7600 Takoma Ave. in Takoma Park. The meeting, which will begin at 1 p.m., will be the final public hearing before the Maryland Transit Administration makes its decision on the project.

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