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February 18, 2002 Minutes

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Special Legislative Meeting

Town of Riverdale Park

A Special Legislative Meeting was called to order on February 18, 2002 at 7:30 P.M. Present were Mayor Herman and Councilmember's Feldberg, Tiberio, Davis, Almirez and Scott. CM Blaschke was absent.

CM Davis moved to open good-faith negotiations between the Mayor and Council of the Town of Riverdale Park and Potomac Development/Eckerd, for the purpose of locating a drug store at the southeast corner of East-West Highway and Route 1. The starting points will be on the footprint shown at the February 18 meeting and that the store follows the same setback as those remaining on the odd side of the 6200 block of Route 1, have its main entrance on Route 1, and have a drive-thru window. Points of negotiation will involve architectural character of the building, the parking lot for the entire block, Beale Circle Park, pedestrian access and traffic pattern, lighting and landscaping, loading docks and dumpsters, signage, hours of operation, and long-term commitment of Eckerd to the community. By majority vote of the council, other items may be added at a later date. Negotiations may involve the town government, entities of the county and state governments, the State Highway Administration, and other business owners on the odd side of the 6200 block of Route 1, or immediately adjacent on Queensbury Road. Where not involving contract or confidential matters, negotiations will be open to the public. CM Tiberio seconded the motion.

Joe Caputo of Potomac Development Corporation gave an update.

Numerous residents and business owners testified for and against the Eckerd negotiations.

Susan McElrath, which buildings would be affected? Corner to church.

Paul C. Low, opposed another pharmacy, wondered about the small businesses, mural? Mayor Herman explained the mural will be moved, not destroyed.

Bruce Wernek, confused as to the direction of the town, asked if Eckerd could be built if we had a historic district, have a citizens advisory committee.

Catherine Bergman, Eckerd just wants to put Rite-Aid out of business.

Mr. Romero, Ravenswood Rd, Rite Aid seems to be going out of business soon, so put the Eckerd there

Marita Novicki, renovate Rite-Aid, we don't use McDonald's.

Joe Caputo, Eckerd does things differently, jobs, revitalization, park improvement, 20 - 50 years depending on lease. State Highway reviewed the process, JC - preliminary plan, have not done a traffic study.

Peter Calomeris, lone wolf, not here as businessman, but as a part of the community. No one cared when the biggest dental practice opened across the street from me, be allowed to be there, I shouldn't be here if someone does a better job than me. Slum at the other end of the block, Nazi bunker, Eckerd should be willing to make it look “antiquey” instead of “mallish”, every part of College Park is restored.

Susan Hines, town has a lot invested a lot in historic character. Will Rite-Aid be demolished? Everyone hates that, we hate the empty store front. Council would be voting against two visions if it votes for this project. It all starts at the corner, how we present ourself to the public. Do consumers have any rights?

J.D. Williams, would welcome Eckerd as a neighbor. He sits on the county HPC, districts are nearly completed, four businesses no longer in business but not contributing to Riverdale Park. Eckerd would employ 35 people, some might be at minimum wage, if not paying the rent, landlord will rent to other tenants. Town good since 1920, and will be good for another 20 years.

Theresa Nordino from Takoma Park, people want little business, are dying to live in a community , want to preserve community.

Nancy Carlson, owner of “Nazi bunker”, insulting adjectives floating around, keep it viable, too expensive to operate, didn't sell and didn't sell, where was the help, putting brick in the sidewalk and building a town clock. Contract in place, always one month away from settlement, don't have money to make it viable, no AC, bunker is a bunker. Happy to get the second contract. Not a carpet bagger, complement the council for moving ahead, moving forward. Mr. Bruno owns 6235 - 37 Baltimore Ave, resents the fact that we threw tenants out, developed into something.

Lisa Archer, 4808 Riverdale Rd, came here because it is a small town, people know their neighbors, great historical building, have several small businesses to move in, not a giant corporation.

Joe Caputo, I'm a small corporation in Silver Spring, need cash to make it happen, need another drug store.

Doug Honkala, 44th Place, worried about toxicity issue, is it contained now, what will it cost to foot bill? Don't really want another drug store but want to see something nice there.

Nancy Carlson, underground tank and second tank, nothing above a level of concern, do not have those files, will have to deal with it, I am liable to cover that.

Joe Caputo, oil tanks easier to deal with, chemical tanks will cost, in our budget.

To Doug Honkala, Joe Caputo replied definitely level 1 and level 2 contamination, don't know until you get there. $50,000 - could cost less, could cost much more.

Michael Herman, all has to be remediated before anything is done.

Jennie Reinhardt, if it's going to cost $1 million, mom and pop is my first choice, along with council's first choice.

Joe Caputo, answer question, spend some money, more than happy to share them with you.

Gerard Kiernan, CM Davis' resolution leaves interesting parking on East-West Highway. Mike Herman at a business association meeting, talked about the adopted master plan from 1993, architecturally compatible buildings, close West Beale Circle, install pedestrian walkway. What about Ernie's lock? Would there be 56 parking spaces? Joe Caputo to build a CVS in Beltsville.

Joe Caputo, said items are subject to negotiations.

Ron Oppenheim found current buildings to be ugly and a shame, looks like entering a ghetto, a significant improvement to the corner general merchandise stores. If one were to do so only on empty building, now we have four, all may be occupied.

Pete Spiropoulos, owns Dumm's corner, a lot of investment in this town, since 1988 going to invest if sees things happening. Not afraid of competition, corner of E/W Hwy is vacant. He cannot spend $1 million, as he is a small business man. Most of you are my customers. I am talking as business, since want you to come to Dumm's Corner. I do not want those buildings to be vacant for another 15 years. I'm supporting new business.

Jack Bond, is Rite-Aid closing up? Why not have a Savage Mill? Why have another drug store?

Dorothy Murdoch, not opposed to redevelopment of a 2-story structure. Do not want to see an Eckerd Drug store, but not opposed to brand new building.

J.D. DiMattio, I don't care if you like what I say. Town Center is being restored. Take exception that the corner is not a gateway not what I am seeing now. People want a fantasy, this is reality, it isn't going to happen. Why don't we negotiate have something in there that we can be proud of.

Maureen Smith, uses the Rite-Aid, had horror stories from Rite-Aid.

Janet Bond, one drug store may go out. Don't want a Value Village. We need restrictions on what can and cannot go in.

Gordon Brigham, thinking pie in the sky. Possible in the realm of free will to have what you want. Possible to make a fantasy building.

Mary Donaldson, not surprised that Eckerd is here again. No effort was made from previous owners who do not live in the town With Eckerd 16 communities lost important structures, $11 million false prescription claim, $100 million overcharging customers, violated consumers protection laws. Come an honest businessmen. CM Davis asked for a Deputy Town Administrator marketing buildings on Route 1, President of PARP would lead us to believe that she would not abandon historic vision.

Matt Hart, Ravenswood Rd, why has everyone decided that Town Center is worth saving, a good spot. Can we use developer for the Town Center on Route 1? Don't know how many historic buildings we have. Moved to a Victorian that I got cheap, can't afford to live in Takoma Park. Want to renovate the buildings on Rt 1 like I'm renovating my house. Would like 3 - 4 businesses that could work out of there, go hang out.

David Appell, Sheridan and 49th, if this was anything but Eckerd, we wouldn't be having a corporate block. There is a difference between old and antique.

Pat Gladding, appreciate historic district, do not see the historic beauty in the buildings. But cannot support the development of another pharmacy.

Ann Marie Larson, Town Center Redevelopment Committee, I support the development. Old, sense of balance all want it to look like Georgetown, but there is a reality, not really going to happen. Keep an open mind. Talk with people to see if you can come to some middle ground.

Keith Chamblerlain, having one more drug store now, no benefit, took offense to one comment, may parking spaces as we can see, don't need that type business in Riverdale Park.

Audrey Bragg, wish developer success on the project, wish council luck in political aspirations, building owner luck in selling the property. Take no vote tonight but do a study by experts. None of us here are experts. David Fogle's replacement interested in the project.

Al Dombrowski, listen to everybody talk, see 2 ¬[omega] to 3 story building, Eckerd wants to build a wall, drive-in window, maybe we do need a study. If you can't beat dollar.

Jamie Dennis, Rittenhouse Street, fund to preserve the properties.

Emily Manning, dreamed of it being historic and having my own shop. Mansion is inspirations. Not against making things new and clean.

Jamie, don't want the corporate world coming into the community, council took bribes from Eckerd.

Miles Spicer, 4609 Riverdale Rd, towns people do not have a financial stake. Don't want Eckerd to be the first thing I see.

Joe Caputo, you all are financially involved, majority of the people...... the ones who voted. Majority of the people don't want Eckerd. Feelings of the people have not changed. Reflect the desires of the people who voted for them.

Mike Herman, decision of the prior administration was wrong.

Mary Carlson, like aesthetics as much as the next person. You do this, who do you think “you” is. I'll be bankrupt if property does not go to settlement.

Susan Hines, group of citizens wanted to buy those buildings but couldn't get people to rent to us. People did not vote for elected officials to destroy the character of our town. Let's hold them accountable.

Lissa Scott, did Eckerd consider renovating?

Joe Caputo, tried to look at your suggestion. Cannot change inside of store.

Lissa Scott, in Albany, with significant community pressure, Eckerd will do whatever we want not by any means the final say, this is a process, that footprint is what we take or leave.

Joe Caputo, could not change actual location of the building, could not keep facades.

Guy Tiberio, re finding other people. In presentation by Ram Development, vote on the issue by previous mayor changed votes on the council. A developer was interested in doing those buildings. We talked to that developer. Town Center developer will not invest in that corner. He believed that it should be torn down. Key things are renovation. Erroneous that the Carlson's were money grabbers. I had numerous calls from my ward, not yet heard one. No there is not another developer - we would all love to see a facade saved, a second story go through the roof, and are still open to this.

Maureen Smith, didn't think it would do any good to call.

Rebecca Feldberg, thank all of the citizens who have called me, apologize that the community and the council in the past - the majority does not support the proposal. Volunteer effort. Into master plan, and a vision for the plan. Long way from that. Not gone through a citizen process. Town Center. Frustrating that there is no assistant town manager in place. Communities are getting much. Should not write this off - does not require work, drawbacks unfortunate to give away this beautiful park lot is very generous of them to offer that. Done an extraordinary job. Vote against.

Mike Herman, involved in this process since the 1993 Master Plan. Looking at an economic plan. Norkeen Insurance moved. Peelers Drive Cleaners closed. The church not a contributing building. Own a house built in the 1800's. Testified before the Historic Preservation Commission. Economic reality forces us to look at our vision of the world. We want an Americana. Very deliberate process - in the Town Center it was a struggle. Could use double taxes, eminent domain, redevelopment at an economic loss. Re: code enforcement: exterior is not the problem on the outside. Re: chapter 69: urban renewal authority must pay $1.5 - $2 million as decided by a court. Offering price is considered the fair market price. Re: borrowing authority: we do not have enough borrowing authority to buy the buildings. Voters don't want us to have the authority to take the buildings. Vision statement which dares to dream big. We're the living, breathing example of fantasy. That type of corner, a lot of traffic on Route 1, ironically Kenilworth Ave is more pedestrian friendly. Route 1 is dangerous. Voted to close West Beale Circle to make that plan happen. Town has a $449,000 deficit. Economic development is in the budget, but we have struggled to pay for the Town Center. Passionate about the future, but if we do not take it as a reality, the cost of service delivery go up.

Jose Almirez, so many years no one cares to come in. Eckerd is improving the community. Leave old buildings over there. No art over there. For me this is fine. This is the future.

Chris Davis read statement about reluctant support to negotiate.

Matt Hart, buy the property. Haven't met my council person whose mother is dying. Feel sorry that I do not have a voice on the council.

Mrs....., 14 people, 11 didn't want it. One guy didn't care, one guy likes it, one lady didn't vote. Gets to do whatever they want.

Rebecca Feldberg, some people trust their councilmen, not everyone cares. Are you calling them to find out?

Mary Paradiso, new to all of this. Do we have to vote tonight? A lot of work being put into improvements, what about affects on town after town center. What if people chomping at the bit to get in? What if Fresh Fields are looking to come in?

Michael Herman, we are now voting for future resolutions given future constraints. Do we even entertain the discussion.

Janet Bond, other projects took just a shell of a building. Can developer keep the shell of the building?

Dr. Calomeris, talking to my dental practice, why? Have no clue - one way or another with no discussion of why - have no parking - reality check - we mirror College Park - proud of it. Route 1 is not a historic community - bank building, my building, Peelers getting mixed up on what is historic but what it is not. Thought about buying Peelers. Put up to $400,000 in that building and still could not make it work.

Jean, a newcomer. I don't like that the buildings are empty, think they are unsafe. Buildings on Route 1 do not reflect the town center.

Gerry Kiernan, not against new building, short side on Route 1 could be turned 90 degrees. The town did not know about this until eviction notices showed up the Second Time Around shop.

David Peller, questions about parking lot, if JC Penny decides to jettison Eckerd, find another tenant. Something that is viable. Not a “slum lord”.

Susan McElrath, slowly focus on Eckerd. Explore other alternatives at the same time.

Bruce Wernek, want it to look nice. Eckerd or nothing. $300,000 made available to the owners?

Joe Caputo, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, will share work product, meet as many times as it takes, but if it doesn't, hit a road block and we will be gone. Asked time frames.

Lisa Archer, there is money; tax incentives; look at more than one option; provide something that our community needs.

Mr. Bruno, be like Takoma Park; business across from Takoma metro station; CVS is there and looks good. Do prescriptions.

Mr. Puglisi, 6233 Baltimore Ave, hearing people talk, 1979 remodeled building, not historical, rent, two years - not one purchase approaches, nobody wants to buy building place is a dump; homeless tried to burn building down, pay property tax. take off the siding.

Rob Oppenhelm, delay tactic, using delay to kill it. Time to move forward.

Simon Plogg, Ravenswood Rd, any plans for a traffic study, part of the SHA approval? If not be able to get it, then the building not viable.

Paul Low, with all respect, developer not doing his homework, don't care if they come down. Eckerd is not the answer. Town has enough clout to tell developers how to build it that way.

Mary Donaldson, Eckerd meeting with us since December, is it on the fast track, is there a financial report. Over 200 stores closed within past year. JC Penny cutting Eckerd loose, showing on Wall Street. Up to CM Davis to bring to residents.

Richard James, like to see a little more historic stuff here. The town doesn't have what Caputo's got. Mike/Chris have bled for historic preservation. Not bad for round seven. Got to let it go. What right does the town have to tell this lady to go bankrupt. Be willing to give and take. Think Eckerd looks pretty good.

Al Dombrowski, not even the council, mayor, can give away the circle. Shouldn't take away. Taxes can go up, without upping the taxes. Buy it back from state from a long period of time.

Mike Herman, $300,000 grant potentially jeopardized by state.

J.D. Williams, a great place to live. Gems in this town, few national landmarks, town is going to be voted historic. Not all of the town; some will not. A historic building must be old, but not all old buildings are historic. In the district, corner buildings do not contribute. Eckerd will not jeopardize our town. Buildings recycled all the time. Different facade. A lot to benefit by having that property developed.

Mike Herman, regardless of whether the council votes. Sincerely hope that this is not a one-shot deal for you folks. Enhance participation. Will be useful in the future as we move forward. Thank you all for coming.

Roll call vote was taken: CM Feldberg - nay, CM Blaschke - absent, CM Tiberio - aye, CM Davis - aye, CM Almirez - aye, CM Scott - nay. Motion carried 3 - 2.

CM Tiberio moved to adjourn meeting at 10:19 P.M., seconded by CM Feldberg. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Davis

Councilmember, Ward 4

Special Hearing - Eckerd - February 18, 2002

A Special Hearing was held on February 18, 2002, to discuss the Eckerd Proposal. Mayor Herman and Councilmembers Fedberg, Tiberio, Davis and Scott were present at this meeting.

Residents spoke in favor - Pro, opposed - Anti, or took no position - ? on the Eckerd Proposal as follows:

Susan McElrath ?

Paul Low Anti

Bruce Werneck Anti

Murdoch Anti

Noviki Anti

Susan Hines Anti

Romero Anti

Dr. Calamaris Pro

Lady - Takoma Park Anti

J.D. Williams Pro

Carlson Pro

Bruno Pro

Archer Anti

Matt Hart Anti

Hartlove Pro

G. Kiernan Anti

R. Oppenheim Pro

P. Spiropoulis Pro

Mr. Bond Anti

Murdoch Pro

J. Dematteo Pro

Smith Anti

Ms. Bond Anti

Gordon Brigham Anti

Mary Donaldson Anti

Pat Gladding Pro

Ann Larson Pro

Audrey Bragg Anti

A. Dumbrowski Anti

O. Puglisi Pro

M. Paradiso Anti

Spicer Anti

S. Plogg Anti

Field ?

Chamberlain Anti

Man from Ravenswood Anti

Mordino Anti

Downing Anti

Numerous people in attendance spoke a second time reconfirming their position or to refute the position of another person.

This enumeration was prepared by Councilmember Guy Tiberio.

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