I’ve begun playing around with geospatial information and how it can be used at the local level. The first experiment involved walking around the perimeter of the neighborhood with a GPS receiver, and cataloging all the utility poles along the state highways that make up much of the border around the New Hampshire Gardens neighborhood.
The idea is to be able to quickly identify poles with street lights and report them to Pepco when the lights go out. As the winter approaches with shorter days, keeping the lights is not only practical; keeping the streetscape well lit can also make the neighborhood safer. To report an outage call it in by dialing 877-737-2662, or going online and report it using Pepco’s streetlight outage reporting webform.
I dumped the list of poles into a free service powered by The Library of Congress called Viewshare. I will be playing around with different views of the data over time, but the current version is available from this link.
It feels good to be unencumbered with a campaign. Now I have time to get back into the grass roots that got me into local politics in the first place. I have many observations to share after delving into myriad issues, and will be blogging about these over the next month. Stay tuned…
After a five month hiatus on Horn of Takoma, I’m redirecting my energy on running for Ward 6 Councilmember on the City Council. Going forward I will be blogging from http://howard4ward6.wordpress.com.
Pan-proprietorship of 1101 University Blvd
It’s easy to miss the “new” grocery store at 1101 University Boulevard East. It suffers from an identity crisis perpetuated by history, lack if branding, and limited marketing.
The store is called PanAm Supermarket and has been at this location for about half a year. From the street, the only clue of its current proprietorship are 3 delivery vans. The signs still advertise Expo Emart, which lasted for about a year after the Safeway exited, and the shopping cart shelters are still branded for Safeway.
Safeway had been in the space for 3-4 decades, so it’s easy to understand why some folks around these parts still refer to the property by that name. However, if PanAm really wants to stake a claim in the area, it would be fitting to take down the Expo Emart signage. As for what PanAm has to offer, it is a locally owned business with other locations in Laurel and DC, and a bent towards Hispanic foods. There is an excellent fish market, and a butcher counter with cut-rate deals. There’s also plenty of standard American processed foods like canned soup and breakfast cereals, along with a produce section with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
During the month of April, Ward 6 residents engaged in the design process for a project to lay new sidewalks in the area. There were two preliminary meetings before the three April ones, and the City will schedule one more before its all over.
While these meetings have been valuable for gathering public input, and moving the decision process forward regarding location and materials, there has been little discussion of cost. Perhaps the Dept of Public Works thinks this of little concern to residents, which is probably true on most accounts. However, the City Council has been busy reconciling the fiscal year 2012 budget, and there are councilmembers who don’t support new sidewalks and would prefer to reallocate the money.
Despite the issue that some councilmembers want to derail the sidewalks project, there is a big discrepency in the two estimates of what it would cost. The Toole Design Group estimates for the roughly half a mile of sidewalks is $1,020,986. I’ll have to go back to the 2009 report to be reminded of how they came up with that figure. However the City Manager’s current budget estimates sidewalks construction would cost $303,500. Even with the bill for the design work taking place in FY2011, that’s a huge difference. It just doesn’t add up!
Mountable curb gone too far
At about 8:00 p.m. this evening, some poor soul mounted the mountable curb of the traffic circle at Kennewick Avenue and Kirklynn Avenue, and came to a grinding halt. The bio-rention field in the middle is retaining much more than water this evening; the better part of 70,000 pounds of a fully loaded truck.
This is actually the second accident that I am aware of since the traffic circle was installed in the fall of 2010. The first involved a car that overturned. Some neighbors opposed this circle on the grounds that trucks couldn’t circumnavigate it easily. How does this prove the point?