Introduction and Welcome:
Liz Brennan introduced herself and the other officers. She also thanked resident and realtor Kathy Byars for sponsoring one of the three new meeting signs.
Approval of Minutes:
December 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.
Guest Speaker: James Song, Director of Construction, MCPS
Mr. Song attended our meeting to discuss the KP modernization project and any impact it may have on the neighborhood, and to answer resident’s questions. Final County Council approval of the funds for the modernization of Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School will take place in May. They are proceeding as if the process has already been approved, so construction can begin in July. The school will be temporarily housed at the old Grosvenor Elementary school on Grosvenor Lane. The design phase was complete over 1 year ago and took 4-5 years. It has taken this long due to a moratorium on projects as a result of the high construction costs. Cost is down now due to increased competition so they are continuing to refine the plans and are ready to file for a permit. The plans will go out for bidding in early May and a contract will be awarded in late May. They are using a multi-step process for screening the general contractors, however they cannot control who the sub-contractors are. Staging for the project will likely be along the current parking lot. The first phase will be hazardous material abatement (asbestos and lead) and will take approximately 3 weeks. Next will be demolition to the foundation which will last for several months and will be the noisiest and dustiest phase. The workers will be on site between 6-7am and will comply with county ordinances regarding noise (up to 50 decibels) [webmaster note: I believe this is the nighttime (before 7am) limit]. Work will be done between 7am-7pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on weekends as necessary. Most construction traffic will come down Saul Road. When the general contractor picks up the permit, they are required to put up a bond to cover any damage to the road. All liabilities regarding the site will be the responsibility of the contractor. The contractor will most likely put up a fence surrounding the site and the field will not be accessible for use. The fence toward Edgefield will stay during construction and then will be replaced with a vinyl coated chain link fence in approx. the same place. There will be an inspector on site and a point of contact who will keep communication flowing to the PRA and KP PTA. The new building will be approx. 68,000 square feet (the old is 35,000sq. ft.) and will have a larger footprint. There will be improvements to the storm drainage system and there will be access to the fields for wheelchairs via a walkway. The new building will not come closer to Franklin Street, however it will face Franklin and there will be curb cuts to allow for parking and drop-off. The new school will accommodate approx. 560 students. The modernization is not really for increased population, but rather to provide an adequate core facility for the current population of approx. 500 students. During construction our polling place will be Kensington Library.
Election of Officers 2004-2006:
Liz Brennan thanked Jan Rothman and Debbie Zwick for their service as Vice-President and Secretary. She also recognized and thanked the following volunteers: Claire Murphy and Jean Wirsching who head the Gardening Committee; Kitty Stone, Membership; Kathy Byars, who got the Block Captain program up and running; Peter Mansbach who maintains the website; and Heidi Lipson who established and maintains our listserve. Newly elected officers are:
President – Liz Brennan
Vice-President – Mary Ann Dillon
Treasurer – Chris St.Clair
Secretary – Brenda Marshall
Gardening Committee – Jean Wirsching thanked Liz for her continued service. The Saul Road island is looking good. They need someone to join the Garden Committee to help with the island on Wildwood. $275 in the budget will go to Saul Rd. island clean-up. They are inquiring about a "Neighborhood Beautification" grant from the county which will match up to $500 including in-kind services. Liz suggested they get out a to-do list so we can give jobs to students looking for required community service projects. Liz will put a reminder in the newsletter asking people not to dump trash on the islands.
Membership – Kitty reported that we don’t have as many members as we did at the end of 2003, but that there is a flurry of activity after every newsletter.
Block Captains – Kathy Byars reported that it is going well and the block captains deliver the newsletter twice per year. Still needed are volunteers from Everett, Edgefield, Conifer and Delmont. She is passing the job of coordinating block captains to Paula Flicker. Kathy will continue to handle the welcome packets.
Noise Barrier – Tom Robertson will head up a committee to pursue this issue.
Approval of 2004 Budget:
Overall, the budget stayed the same. It will cost more to rent meeting space due to charges for air and heat. $150.00 was set aside for a PRA social activity. There was a question about the proposed directory. It will not happen due to expense and lack of interest. There was a question regarding expense of mailing the newsletter twice per year. Now that we have a good block captain system in place we may be able to deliver it 3 times per year. The budget passed.
County Executive Duncan requested an additional $7.6 million in additional funds for the Strathmore Arts Center project. Liz testified on behalf of the PRA and asked that they find the money another place. The solution is a 10 year no-interest loan. [webmaster note: Liz's testimony can be found here.]
At the December meeting a motion was passed 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. Liz wrote a letter reflecting these views. The February hearing did not happen and the project is still not approved. [webmaster note: view this letter here.]
Liz met with the mayor of Kensington regarding the proposed community center at the HOC site. Councilman Tom Perez is trying to broker a deal to help HOC relocate. The town is still enthusiastic about a small community center designed to accommodate our community and not attract from out of the neighborhood.
Trash cans were removed from the park as of December. The initiative is failing in some areas. Councilman Perez proposed to bring them back to parks near streams. Liz will write a letter supporting this proposal.
Duncan is asking the school system to release land for affordable housing. Across the county the land will be given up piece by piece. This presents a problem as the schools will not have extra space to use in case of overcrowding. There was a proposal to write request to Duncan asking to slow down this process to surplus the land and not move forward until more information is distributed to residents as to why it is necessary. The motion passed.
It was reported that there has been an increase in windows broken on cars in Parkwood. Liz urged residents to report crime. Our community police officer is Denise Gill. Her phone # is 301-657-0692.
Next meeting June 2004.