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The Emergency Preparedness Committee met on February 28, 2019. The committee acknowledged the inclusion of its role in advising on town safety and incorporated by consensus the word “Safety” into its name as the “Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee (EPSC)”. The committee also welcomed a new member and town resident, Dave Lutter.

The committee has provided it suggested additions of a new section on emergency preparedness for the Master Plan update. They also discussed finalizing a draft document “Town of Washington Grove Risk Management and Safety Procedures” compiled using material from the Local Government Insurance Trust to be presented to the Town Council for approval and adoption. The visual and noise barrier for the new Town Hall generator remains to be installed, and Pepco’s electrical connection for the 200-amp upgrade is expected within about 2 months.

Several ongoing safety issues need to be addressed by the Town. (1) There has not been any recent County DOT activity to lower the Railroad Street drainage pipe and reduce the standing water hazard. The EPSC recommends contacting County DOT regarding this situation after formal adoption of the pending County Hazard Mitigation Plan; (2) Town road intersections should be revisited in the Spring to continue identifying situations where vegetation obstructs vision and impairs traffic safety; (3) EPSC to compile examples of house number signs to display at the Annual Town Meeting in May.

EPSC Recommendations to the Town Council: (1) On-site discussions with County DOT regarding pedestrian and traffic safety strategies to follow up the report from County DOT Engineer Mark Terry. For traffic approaching the Deer Park Bridge from both sides, EPSC recommends replacement or repainting of hold back lines to increase visibility; (2) On the East Deer Park Drive side, suggestion to move or augment the sensor coil in the pavement that triggers the traffic signal, noting there are occurrences when a vehicle stops too far from the bridge to trip the signal; (3) recommends a left turn prohibition for traffic on Railroad Street approaching Chestnut Road from the “hump” due to limited visibility and the danger of rear-end collision; (4) reiterates the recommendation to augment the Railroad Street crosswalk with a speed table to be aligned with the MARC train/RideOn bus location where the new streetlight installation is also expected to improve pedestrian visibility; (5) recommendation that Town maintenance be consulted to determine if removable bollards are practical to replace the Brown Street red gate near Hickory Street with either key or combination locks to allow emergency vehicle access.

EPSC Recommendation to the Town Council on Commercial Corner Handrail Requirements: The EPSC discussed a request from Mayor Compton regarding a handrail at the steps on the Commercial Corner property connecting the parking area along Hickory Road with the walkway next to the Post Office. The Town’s Code of Ordinances and Montgomery County Code were reviewed to identify applicable standards and requirements. The Town does not have ordinance specifications for handrails but there is reference to the Town’s Article XIII selection of County Code Chapters that apply in Town with County enforcement. Article XIII Section 4 states: “The Town of Washington Grove hereby reserves the right to request Montgomery County to administer and enforce within the Town such laws of Montgomery County as shall hereby become applicable in the Town.”

The current handrail height is consistent with some County safety regulations. The walkway alongside the Post Office was included in a Commercial Corner site plan approved by the Town many years ago. The committee considers the presence of a handrail to be a public safety issue for our Town residents and others using that walkway. Therefore, the EPSC recommends that Mayor Compton contact the County (via a letter or 311) to request an inspection of the existing handrail and walkway situation, and that the County contact the Commercial Corner property owner to ensure that public safety measures and code compliance are addressed.

The next EPSC meeting is scheduled on March 28, 2019.

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