UP Meeting Notes: Mosquito Problem, Cafritz Decision, and Storm Cleanup
During Monday night's University Park Town Council meeting, members discussed several major issues affecting the town.
The University Park Town Council met Monday night for its regularly scheduled meeting. Members discussed a range of issues, including how that day's vote on the Cafritz project would affect the town, a mosquito problem, and the continuing efforts of the Department of Public Works to clean up the town after the recent storm.
Below is a summary of key events:
Department of Public Works report
Mickey Beall, the director of the public works department, updated the town on storm cleanup efforts.
There are currently trees blocking the sidewalk on Adelphi Road, two on the 6700 block north of Beechwood Road and one north of Underwood Street. Beall says these are considered county trees and his department has been unable to assist in their clearing.
The debris pickup is ongoing, and Beall said at this point they have managed to get through about half of the town.
Beall said that immediately following the storm, he identified 29 areas as critical, meaning the sidewalk or road was blocked, and 25 of those areas were cleared in the first two days.
Since Monday of last week, Beall says the department has taken about 40 tons of yard waste from the town. He added that he and his team have worked hard to prioritize critical areas and get areas safely cleared.
He estimated that his department will be between $5,000 and $7,000 over budget due to storm cleanup in the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30, one day after the storm hit.
In addition, he estimated that he could likely spend his entire year's budget this month on storm cleanup alone and would definitely go well over the $10,000 monthly limit. This announcement came at the end of the meeting, and as it was deemed urgent, it forced the council to bypass the 90-day formal bid process and make an emergency vote to waive that limit.
Councilmember Len Carey moved to waive the $10,000 limit for the purposes of this storm cleanup only, for a period not to exceed 60 days and for an amount not to exceed $40,000. The motion passed 6-1 with Councilmember Arlene Christiansen abstaining because she did not feel comfortable voting on short notice and without further thought.
Later in the meeting Mayor John Tabori concluded with his personal reaction to Pepco's response after the storm. Pepco held government officials telephone conversations everyday at 2 p.m. during the week following the storm, and Tabori says he made a point to be on every call, which he said were both "disheartening and interesting."
"Pepco is not very well prepared for emergencies," Tabori said, adding that it seems the company is understaffed and did not have an emergency plan in place.
Tabori announced that he would like to put together a committee made up of two or three council members, as well as involvement from citizens, to monitor the the Cafritz project as it gets underway (the district council approved the rezoning plan Monday afternoon in a 7-2 vote).
"This has been a difficult ordeal for many of us involved, and I'll be darned if they aren’t going to do what they say they are," Tabori said.
He added that he thinks it's important that the county council helps the town create a Transportation Demand Management District (TDMD) that will extend well beyond the boundaries of the Cafritz property.
Prior to work beginning on the Cafritz property, Tabori said that as part of their agreement they will be required to solve the issue of funding and obtaining permission for the planned bridge over the CSX tracks.
Tabori said there should not be any digging on the site until these issues are resolved. If residents do see digging, they can contact their council member or the mayor, but Tabori cautioned that the developers are within their rights to be on the property and to conduct drilling tests.
The project, which is in a pilot stage, involved a survey of Ward 1 residents to find out whether these mosquitoes are thought to be a problem and how educated residents are about how to keep them from breeding.
They found that of those surveyed (Brosch said about 44 percent of Ward 1 responded), 61 percent said mosquitoes were bad or really bad last summer, 86 percent said they know how to keep mosquitoes from breeding and 57 percent checked for or emptied standing water this summer.
According to Strickman, the range of an Asian Tiger Mosquito is about 200 yards, so if one house has a mosquito problem, that will likely affect the immediately surrounding homes, as well as the next layer of surrounding homes.
The council discussed possible plans to continue this as a town-wide initiative.
An application for a six month parking waiver renewal for up to five vehicles at rental home located at 6704 40th Ave. was unanimously approved.
An application to install a new 18-by-42 foot patio and step at 4200 Sheridan Street was unanimously approved.