Thursday, June 04, 2009

Interruption in Streetscrape Project Ends

Yesterday evening's meeting between MAC, MDHA, CM Erica Gilmore, Salemtown leaders, and (to my surprise) the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods turned out to be much more productive than I thought it would going in.

Metro Action Executive Director Cynthia Croom told the group first of all that she was withdrawing the agency's request to MDHA to remove some of the traffic calming elements in the streetscape project. That concession seemed to produce a collective sense of relief among the 9 or 10 neighbors attending, because it was the one non-negotiable point for which we were willing to go to the mat defending. For me the other issues constituting sources of conflict are more long-term and were not going to be resolved last night. Also, MDHA assured us that the 3-week delay in construction was not costing any block grant money.

Ms. Croom also said that it was not her intention in her May 23 letter to communicate that the MAC kitchen facility was going to be built at the Fehr school building. In fact, her intention was exactly the opposite; so, she cleared up any confusion that I had about any new additions at the Salemtown site. The Mayor's representative, Scott Wallace (MOON), encouraged residents to continue to give feedback to the Mayor about their expectations for the long-term conditions of the Fehr school building.

The only issue that remained unresolved was how to deal with the excess litter on those days when MAC clients utilize the building. Ms. Croom expressed a strong sense that MAC service workers not have to travel far off the school building property to pick up litter. She told the group that they have put trash cans out, but those trash cans were stolen. The group asked CM Gilmore to contact Public Works and see if they could provide trash cans outside MAC that are bolted to the ground.

For her part, Ms. Gilmore ably refereed the meeting, and while she vocalized her support for Metro Action because of their service to many of the clients in District 19, she also emphasized the need for fairness from both sides in the dispute. Not only does Erica Gilmore deserve praise for going farther beyond anything her predecessor, Ludye Wallace, ever did for this community, but I would say that she played a significant role in the two sides coming to a mutual understanding. I walked out of the meeting feeling better about supporting the Metro Action Commission than I did while walking in. Consequently, I sent an e-mail to CM Gilmore withdrawing my council public hearing objection to MAC's kitchen expansion as an expression of that support.

UPDATE:  A neighbor writes to tell me that I neglected to mention another unresolved dispute between Salemtown residents and MAC is the problem of the latter taking up a chunk of street parking in a neighborhood with few driveways or garages. That reminds me that I also forgot to mention that CM Gilmore suggested assigning streetside reserved parking for residents and told us that she would explore the possibility with Public Works.

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