Introduction and Welcome:
Liz Brennan introduced herself and the other officers.
Approval of Minutes:
June minutes were distributed and approved.
Kitty Stone announced that dues are being collected now for 2004. At present approximately 150 households are members of the PRA.
The Coalition of Kensington Communities is a group of 11 local civic associations that meets bi- monthly. Liz Brennan represents PRA on the CKC.
The CKC recently provided Park and Planning with a list of traffic "hot spots". Two that are being corrected are: 1) The 24/7 left turn on to Cedar Lane from southbound Rockville Pike has been approved for 2004 and will be implemented after some road changes are made; and 2) a light has been added to Rockville Pike at Alta Vista to enable safer U-turns, however the light has not been turned on. Liz will call to find out why it isn't on yet and when they plan to turn it on.
Another topic discussed was the Countywide Bikeways Functional Master Plan. The PRA and Kensington Estates wrote a letter to support better and safer bike accessibility to Grosvenor Metro.
The CKC discussed the planned removal of trash cans from parks by the end of 2003. The CKC plans to monitor our local parks to see if there is a negative impact on our parks after the trashcan removal.
The CKC also discussed the planned Kensington Safeway rebuild. The CKC is primarily concerned about traffic as it relates to the rebuild. They looked at the traffic study, made suggestions and approved the plan. The PRA discussed the potential impact of the planned Starbucks on Café Monet. A motion was made to write a letter supporting the renovated Safeway, but expressing support for Café Monet and expressing a desire to not include Starbucks in the renovation. The motion passed 13-1.
Tom Robertson reported on the status of the level 2 and 3 Bioterrorism Facility to be built at the NE corner of Rt. 355 and Cedar lane at NIH. It was unsuccessfully argued that locating the lab at this spot is inviting an act of terrorism. Other community organizations have also expressed concern. NIH has done a risk assessment, but it is not a public document. NIH also did a worst case scenario in which they simulated the release of Anthrax spores. According to their evaluation of the simulation, this would not be a problem for the surrounding communities. Tom Robertson says he hopes to hear more regarding the risk assessment at the next committee meeting. Additionally, Chuck Floyd, a candidate for the 8th Congressional District, said he will be meeting with the director of NIH next week and will ask about our concerns. He also explained that, based on his work in the State Department with building embassies, construction materials and methods are selected based on the risk assessment so as to harden the facility.
The KPES modernization, including a gym, is expected to begin this summer. Final approval of the funds by the County Council will take place in May. Liz Brennan suggested we ask the architect to attend our March meeting to discuss the project and any impact it may have on the neighborhood.
Richard Ransom provided an update on the appeal of 2001 property tax assessments on Martin's Addition to Chevy Chase View. The court dropped their case saying that they had not exhausted the appeal process. He was also told he can not represent anyone other than himself. He plans to continue to pursue the issue and suggests the PRA form a committee to monitor tax assessments next year. He will report back to the PRA in March.
Duncan has requested an additional $7.6 million in additional funds for the Strathmore Arts Center project. This request will be part of the budget he submits to the County Council to vote on in May. Currently, Strathmore is building an endowment, but that is growing slowly and will not cover the needed funds.
Tom Robertson brought up that the number of missing and sick trees in our community has increased. Many have hit their life span. He asked if we should begin asking the county now about replacing these trees so that we are sure to have enough mature trees in the future. It was suggested that we ask an urban forester in to assess what we should do. Liz Brennan suggested we collect information from residents regarding sick and lost trees and possibly having an urban forester in to speak at a future meeting.
New PRA members asked what could be done about the beltway noise. Tom Robertson is reviving the committee that will address this issue and is looking for volunteers for the committee.
Announcements and Adjournment:
Next meeting March 2004.
[webmaster's note: PRA elections will be held at the March meeting]