I bumped into Councilmember Tarlau at ZZ Pizza the other day and he mentioned that I could use items from his regular Jimmy's Ward Report e-mail for this blog. Although it is aimed at Ward 1 residents the Report will interest anyone living in Mount Rainier. I would link to it if it were online, but as far as I know it's not. And because all the items are essential, here is the whole thing. Thanks, Jimmy! And if you want me to link to your report in the future instead of posting the whole thing just give me the URL.
Neighborhood Watch Activities– As a result of the recent rash of burglaries, a new neighborhood watch organization has been formed in our City. Over 35 people came to a Neighborhood Watch meeting on February 27th. The meeting was organized by Rick Ruggles and John Campanile. On Sunday March 13th they led over 20 residents in a neighborhood walk through the center part of Mount Rainier. Their next walk is scheduled for Sunday April 10th . They plan on doing these walks the second Sunday of every month. They are looking for block captains to help out in different parts of the city. If you are interested in participating, send me an e-mail and I’ll forward it on to John and Rick.
John Campanile also has an engraver that you can use to id valuables (electronics, bikes, cameras, et al) using your driver's license number. The deterrent: Pawn shops will not accept id'd items. If you would like to borrow the engraver , email me John at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Senator Ramirez Submits State Bond Bill to Help with Civic Center – State Senator Victor Ramirez introduced in the MD State Legislature a bond bill that would give the city $250,000 to complete the detailed architectural drawings for the Civic Center planned at the current City Hall, the Eastern Starr Building and the library. Council members Knedler, Updike, and Thompson went to Annapolis last Saturday (March 12th) to testify in support of the bill. We do not know yet if it will pass in its entirety or the amount will be reduced.
Council Begins Budget Deliberations – On Tuesday March 1st the Council received a presentation from the City Manager and City Treasurer on next year’s proposed budget. Because of the cut-back of $200,000 in State Highway User Fees and the bond payment for the properties purchased by the City over the last few years, it has been proposed that the City take close to $400,000 out of its reserves to maintain its operations and not have to increase taxes. We will be continuing the discussions on March 24th and April 5th and there will be a public hearing on the budget on April 19th. I am basically in support of the transfer of the money out of the reserves. There is right now $1.6 million in the reserves and there will still be $1.2 million after the transfer. The reserves are being depleted and in the next two years we will need to get a developer to purchase the properties on Rhode Island Avenue or we will have to make some hard decisions on operations cut-backs or an increased revenue stream. You can see the whole budget presentation on our City web-site: (http://mrtv.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=ec7db10fa37366938e34d2b64a72e3a8 )
Spotlight Café Space – We were all saddened to see the close of the Spotlight Café. The owners were community minded and we were hopeful that it would succeed. Unfortunately they did not get the business they needed. The good news is that the City Manager reported that three potential tenants are interested in the spot and are in discussions with Artspace, the owners of the building. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get a well-run coffee place in the spot.
RFP Proposals for Downtown Properties – We were disappointed that no developer submitted a proposal by the March 11th deadline to develop the former Bass Liquor/Funeral Home lot. We know there still are people interested in investing in the City and we have a meeting planned with our consultant to discuss why we received no bids and to see if the RFP can be re-worked to be more attractive to potential developers.
Vacant Buildings – The City is aggressively going after abandoned property but it is a long and difficult process to get the owners to pay the fines. The City has requested $27,000 in property tax liens for failure of property owners to register vacant buildings.
Mount Rainier Day – May 21st - Save the Date
Better Block Project Coming on Saturday April 9th – 34th Street between Bunker Hill and Rhode Island Ave. Check it out!
Discussions on Noise Problems at Skate Park Continue – The City met with representatives of park and planning to discuss the continuing noise problems for the neighbors of the Skate Park at Otis and Wells Avenues. Park and Planning has budgeted $150,000 for park improvements and proposed an 8 foot sound barrier on two sides of the park but it is unclear whether that will actually improve the situation. The Council is considering all alternatives: restricting the hours, possibly turning it into a pump track (you can check it out on you-tube – it’s a bicycle track), a community garden, the proposed sound barrier, demolish the park, or keep it the way it is and improve the upper part of the park). The discussions will continue.
Revenue from Speed Cameras Decreasing which Means They are Working – The City has seen a dramatic decline in the revenue from the speed camera on Rhode Island Avenue. I do not consider this a bad development. It means that the speed cameras are working and people are slowing down. I do not believe that fines and fees should be used as a revenue generator but as a means to change behavior.
Electronic Recycling Set for April 19th - The next scheduled electronic recycling event is scheduled for Saturday April 16, 2011 between the hours of 9 AM to 1 PM. Bring stuff down to public works on Wells Avenue.
Singer Building – Resident Jack Priestly came to our Council meeting and discussed his plans for rehabilitating the Singer Building (on the corner of 33rd Street and Rhode Island Avenue). He has a working partnership with the owner, Mr. Butler. We wish him a good luck in getting financing for the project.
New Welcome Packets – The City Hall staff has developed a packet of materials for new residents. If you are new to the City and would like a ‘Welcome Packet’ please let me know and I will get you one.
City Works On Plan for Going Green – Mayor Miles has taken the initiative of developing a Mount Rainier Plan for Going Green. The plan is now being discussed with the City’s Environmental Protection Board. The Council had a first reading of an ordinance that mandates that the City look at “green” solutions for all infrastructure problems. The ordinance calls for preserving open space, promoting ‘green streets’ as a strategy for transforming the City’s transportation infrastructure, and encouraging even more recycling. This will be a main City priority over the next few years.