Monday, March 30, 2009

Out Like A Lamb

The Growler's not afraid to admit it: the Cranky One has a severe touch of spring fever and has been raking the yard rather than raking the muck.

Not that there's been a lot happening. We do have an upcoming Council race — moderately interesting because the Republicans have finally shucked their perennial losers and fielded some credible candidates. The Growler notes with interest the Fannon signs, as ubiquitous as crocuses, popping up all over the neighborhood.

More on the election later. For now, just a few items of note:

Pruning or Chopping?

The City's supposedly lean budget for FY 2010 is nearing approval, and (LOL) it's been nipped a mere 3.3% from last year's budget. Look for your tax bill to go up by $85.00 next year if the Council approves a 6 cent per $100 value increase in residential property taxes.

Things could be worse: Mayor William D. Euille and lame duck council member Ludwig Gaines were looking for another one cent raise, which fortunately does not at this stage seem to have overwhelming support among the rest of the Council.

Who's coming up roses right now? Local business, which escaped an increase in the commercial property tax this year. So we, dear readers, continue to carry the burden since a majority of the City's revenue continues to come from the residential property tax.

Let's not forget that the City budget fundamentally doubled in the last 10 years. And the current proposed budget contains relatively minimal cuts in staffing, yet as the Growler pointed out in a recent posting the City concedes there haven't been any reductions in force for years.

Where's the discipline here? Sigh ...

Swapping?

One of the biggest civic controversies brewing right now is on the fringes of our own neighborhood, although it's not our fight ... yet.

At a Potomac Yard community meeting earlier this year, Del Ray residents floated the suggestion that the City swap out Landbay L for the George Washington Middle School athletic fields ("Braddock Fields") at Mt. Vernon Avenue and Braddock Road. This would put development immediately behind the school.

Rosemont is unhappy, and the parent network around town is already buzzing angrily, with moms concerned that their children will have to walk much further to Landbay L to access the playing fields and worried about having high-rises in close proximity to the school.

The City is going to evaluate whether developing the Braddock Fields is actually feasible. Currently there is a major storm water system beneath the fields as well as a large capacity electrical line. Once this is sorted out, it's up to Council to decide whether to keep any evaluation of a Landbay L swap under the current Potomac Yard planning rubric or set it aside as a separate study.

What does this mean for us? Well, under the old plans there was no ingress and egress into Landbay L through our community. Instead, Landbay L would be served by a street that joins Route 1 well north of our neighborhood. If this revised plan goes forward, the City may be tempted to approve a street that provides access directly from Braddock Road. That could pour traffic headed for Route 1 and the GW Parkway into our neighborhood.

Something to think about ...

Lopping

On the home front in Parker-Gray, things are looking up despite the rocky economy.

The American Legion building at 224 N. Fayette has been sold for development and several of the Parker-Gray residential eyesores that were dragging our neighborhood backwards have quietly been foreclosed. Investors (bless their mercenary little hearts!) are hard at work getting them renovated for sale. For once, it's good to hear the sound of hammers and chainsaws in the morning.

Speaking of chainsaws, the Growler is normally quite protective about trees but watched in awe recently as a skilled tree trimmer shinnied 100 feet up a badly leaning trash tree behind one of the foreclosed homes and took it down a section at a time.

And a tip of the Growler's fuzzy ears to the City's Transportation & Environmental Services Department for the sidewalk improvements in the 300 and 400 blocks of N. West Street. Construction crews recently dug out and relaid all of the decorative brick and repoured new concrete, so the sidewalks are now flat, level and easy to walk on. Sweeeeet!

Shopping

The Curmudgeonly One also notices that the Washington Post ads for the Prescott at Henry and Cameron state there are only four units left to be sold. Why was this project such a success and the Monarch such a failure?