KabirCares.org
Jan
22
2020

Making the Choices that are Right for You as You Age

Jan
21
2020

Hollywood Streetscape Inches to Final Design

The Hollywood project team has recently completed the 60% design of the project. A public meeting was held on November 18, when they presented the plan and solicit feedback from the community. A meeting targeted to the commercial businesses and property owners was held on January 17, 2019. Many comments on the project were received and the consultants have worked to address as many of them as possible.

This project includes improvements along Rhode Island Avenue between Muskogee Street and Ontario Road for pedestrian, bicycle and bus stop access, safer intersections, enhanced landscaping, and street lighting. It also includes the conversion of a portion of the service roads to linear parks (parklets) to provide public gathering space and create a sense of place for the commercial area. A trail is proposed along the north side of Muskogee Street as well as additional pedestrian connections to the Hollywood Shopping Center.

You can see a summary of the project’s elements here on my blog.

The team now intends to complete 100% design plans, apply for permits and prepare construction bid documents.

The estimated budget to complete the project’s elements is about $2.5 million. Currently, the project has $1.45 million in the Capital Projects Fund. Additional funding needs to be identified to complete the project in its entirety. It is also possible to construct certain elements of the project in phases based on priorities and funding availability.

At this tonight’s meeting, the City Council will discuss the 60% design and give future direction to the project’s team.

Jan
20
2020

TODAY: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Today is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. This day marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. All City Offices will be closed today. Refuse and recycling collections will shift forward one day (Monday collections will occur on Tuesday, Tuesday collections on Wednesday, and so forth) and special collections will only occur on Friday next week.

In north College Park, please join your neighbors at the POSH Fitness Studio to make PB&J sandwiches for the homeless. The event will start at 12:30pm. Please bring and donate bread, peanut butter, and/or jelly. I hope to see many of you at this community service event.

Jan
19
2020

City Spent More in 2019 Election, Yet Fewer Residents Went to Poll

In order to increase voter turnouts, the City increased the election budget to $67,171 in the last year’s November election. That was a whopping 139% increase from what the City spent ($28,118) in the 2017 election.

Yet, the voter turnout in the latest election went down by 21% – from 2,648 in 2017 to 2,092 in 2019.

The decrease of voter turnout will be a topic the College Park City Council is expected to discuss at next week’s City Council meeting. City’s advisory board – the Board of Election Supervisor will join the discussion with the Council.

In addition to increasing the City budget for last year’s election, the City also added one polling station, at the UMD’s Stamp Union. Additionally, the City introduced early voting and enabled no-excuse voting. Finally, the City allowed residents to vote at any of the 4 voting centers. Unfortunately, none of these measures appear to help in increasing voter turnout.

It’s hard to tell the cause of the decrease in voter turn out. One theory could be related to the absence of a student candidate, which may have caused a larger drop (36%) in voter participation in the student heavy District 3.

As an option to increase voter turnout, the Council may discuss the option of Vote-by-Mail in the future College Park elections. In the City of Rockville, the voter turnout has nearly doubled after they adopted voter by mail option in the last year’s election. Rockville spent $86,000 to send voting materials to more than 43,000 registered voters, along with four mailers informing residents of the new system and the available options for voting. Rockville, however, spent a lot more on the outreach effort to the residents about this new voting method. This number is expected level out in future years as residents will get used to the way they are expected to vote. In the last election, College Park spent $67,171 on approximately registered 16,723 voters.

In addition to discussing voter turnout, the Council will review and discuss a few other topics about last year’s election. These topics include: Discussion could include: BOES Post-election Report and Recommendations, Review and evaluate Early Voting, including survey results, Review and evaluate the Voting Center concept, Review and evaluate the three poll locations, Recommendation to change the BOES appointment effective date from the current March 1 in an election year, to July 1 in the year prior to the election.

Additionally, the Council will also discuss ways to make it easier for an 18-year-old resident to run as a candidate. Currently, the Charter requires them to be “registered” as a voter for one year. This could be changed to allow other ways to check a candidate’s residency.

On a related election matter, the County’s Election Board has started cleaning up the voter list by removing voters who have moved out or are deceased. In order to expedite this cleanup effort, the fund for additional mailings by the County to registered voters could be increased, and coordinate that mailing with PSAs reminding people to return any and all outdated voter notification cards (VNC) through the mail back to the County.

Over the years, the total spending (by all candidates) in our city elections has increased. It will be helpful to get some data on how these figures have changed over the years? An increased election budget discourages new candidates to join the race. The question is – what can we do on limiting the election budget by candidates?

The Council may also discuss the results of the Advisory Ballot Question on 2- or 4-year terms and how to move forward?

Jan
18
2020

Council to Consider a New Law Limiting Amount of Bulk Trash

At the last week’s Council meeting, an ordinance was introduced to implement a bulk trash fee schedule for collection of more than 20 items per year.

The Ordinance 20-O-02 will be introduced with respect to implementing a bulk trash fee schedule for collection of more than 29 items a year for single-family rental units that utilize City trash services, and 20 items per year for single-family owner-occupied units, with an effective date of May 1, 2020.

This ordinance includes the following provisions:
• All bulky refuse collections must be scheduled in advance
• Quantity and type of items must be identified for bulky refuse collection when scheduling a collection
• Up to four bulky refuse collections per the calendar year will be free of charge
• A maximum of 20 bulky refuse items collected per the calendar year will be free of charge for single-family owner-occupied units
• A maximum of 29 bulky refuse items collected per the calendar year will be collected free of charge for single-family rental units that utilize City trash services
• Bulky refuse items must be set out neatly and separated by type
• Collection fees for bulky refuse items exceeding identified quantities or incurring a charge must be paid in advance.

The Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. at Davis Hall, 9217 51st Avenue. If the Council approves the ordinance, the new law will become effective May 1

 

Jan
16
2020

Police Arrests 3 Suspects in North College Park

Recent reports to Police regarding several thefts from vehicles and residences, and reported suspicious behavior, helped Police focus resources in the North College Park area. As a result, PGPD Police working both for the City contract program and County patrols arrested three (3) suspects in the 5000 block of Huron Street shortly after 2:30 a.m. this morning, Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Police Detectives continue their investigation of recent reported incidents. PGPD Officers assigned to County patrols and the City contract program continue to focus additional resources in areas where residents have reported crimes and suspicious activity. The best way for residents to help Police solve these crimes and arrest suspects is to report all observed criminal and suspicious activity immediately to 9-1-1.

Residents are invited to attend the monthly police-community meeting at MOM’s at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month, and the Police-Community Coffee Club at Jason’s Deli most Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m. , to learn about crime prevention and to discuss public safety concerns with Police Officers.
[City of College Park PSA]

Jan
16
2020

SHA Updates Council about Ongoing Projects in College Park

The State Highway Administration came to this week’s City Council meeting and made its annual presentation to the Council about the ongoing projects the SHA and the MDOT (Maryland Department of Transportation) are currently working on.

These projects include:

(a) Improvement of the intersection at MD 430 Greenbelt Rd at Rhode Island Ave:
The City of College Park requested SHA to evaluate the installation of medians at the subject location to further calm traffic and provide refuge areas for those crossing MD 430. This would eliminate the pedestrian and bicyclist crash pattern at the access for the College Park Trolley Trail. The project proposes to install medians along MD 430 from west of Rhode Island Avenue to west of MD 193 (University Boulevard). Additionally, small sidewalk improvements are needed to address the permanent closure of the south leg of Rhode Island Avenue. The project is currently in construction with an anticipated completion date of Spring 2020.

(b) Improvement of the intersection MD 193 at Rhode Island Ave Project :
The proposed improvements will extend the left turn lane of eastbound MD 193 by 200’, provide an additional thru lane on westbound MD 193, and extend the southbound right turn lane on Rhode Island Avenue by 300’. A traffic study was completed, and the current configuration does not have the capacity to support the vehicles traveling through the intersection. Currently, this project is on hold indefinitely.

(c) The crosswalk/pedestrian signal project at Cherry Hill Rd and US 1:
The NTP on the project occurred on 9/15/19. The completion is expected to be late Winter/early Spring 2020.

(d) US 1 signal operations/synchronization:
No operations related complaints for US 1 have been received. All signals on US 1 from the DC line to Hollywood Ave have been upgraded with 3G/4G cellular communication and in SHA’s Centracs ATMS. This gives the SHA continuous monitoring of the signals, alarms for critical failures, split and cycle logs and the ability to make timing changes quickly. So if an intersection goes into flash the SHA gets a pop-up alarm and if someone complains our team can review logs to see exactly what was going on. The signal shop also upgraded the intersections along MD 193 in preparation for the UMD-Penn State game. We have gone from about 250 intersections upgraded statewide last year to over 700 now. For the UMD-Penn State game cell modems were installed at the key intersections along MD 193 in preparation of the game. Standard PM timing plans were used for the noon campus dismissal. Then at 3 PM, we switched to standard AM timing plans to get fans into the game. There were a few small problems and a few adjustments were made on the fly, but we essentially stuck to this plan. We are still assessing the outcome, but it appears that we were successful

(e) The Beltway I-495 & I-270 expansion project with the Public, Private Partnership Program (P3) Program:
Last Wednesday, State’s Board of Public Works (BPW) voted in favor of expanding Beltway at the American Legion Bridge and the part of the beltway up to I 270, and part of I-270 to I-370. This happened after Gov Hogan secured a key vote from Comptroller Franchot, who expressed concerns earlier about the $11 billion project to expand the entire beltway in Maryland.

Jan
15
2020

Council Asks the County to Give Northgate Developers Partial Exemption from School Facilities Surcharge

At the last night’s meeting, the Council supported a partial exemption from the school facilities surcharge that Prince George’s County applies to new residential developments or redevelopments.

This surcharge covers anticipated increases in public educational services required to accommodate the residents that new development brings.

Inside the Capital Beltway-or if the building is located within a basic or conceptual site plan that abuts an existing or planned mass transit rail station operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)-the surcharge is $9,035 per unit. With proposed 296 units development, Northgate is asking for an exemption of $2.67 million of County School Facilities Surcharge.

College Park’s student housing market is strong. In the past several years, our city has seen nationally recognized, record sales on projects like Landmark and University View, as noted by the Washington Business Journal. For this reason, the Council felt strongly that large financial incentives (waivers and credits) for additional, highly lucrative student housing projects should be scrutinized.

In the letter to the County Council, the Council asked supporting a partial waiver for this project and it may defer to the County Council to determine the amount of the partial waiver. Alternatively, the letter asked the County Council that it may consider allowing the developer to pay the school facility surcharge over a period of time, to minimize the immediate impact on the developer’s financing position.

Jan
13
2020

City to Send Letter to Prince George’s County School Board Regarding Bus Transportation

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the Council will consider approving a letter with its concerns about school bus transportation.

There have been many reports of buses not picking up students or being chronically late to bring or return students from the school. This critical situation is a public safety issue, prevents students from learning, and is a disruption to all students in the school.

Recently a group of parents sent a petition from over 350 County residents who are concerned about the current situation. Currently, the school board has brought together a task force that is looking at the issue both in the short and long term.

The letter asks (1) to evaluate and ensure proper use of the app called “Here Comes the Bus (2) to ensure all bus drivers understand their rout (3) to coordinate with school, administration to ensure attendance policies do not wrongfully punish students whose day is disrupted by a late bus (4) to ensure that all students whose bus is late still have the option to eat breakfast

Jan
12
2020

Arrest Made in Armed Robbery on Lackawanna St.

Police report that two arrests have been made for the robbery reported on Wednesday, 8 Jan. 2020 on Lackawanna Street. Shortly after midnight, Wed. 8 Jan. 2020,  PGPD Officers responded to the 4900 block of Lackawanna St. for a report of a citizen armed robbery. Police believe this was a targeted incident and that there is no related threat to the community. Police are continuing their investigation.

On another incident, shortly after 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 Jan. 2020, Prince George’s County Police (PGPD) Officers responded to the 9800 block of 51st Avenue for a report of a resident armed robbery. Two male suspects were reported to have been in a late model Honda Pilot. Police Detectives are continuing their investigation. County patrol and City contracted PGPD Officers are alerted to this incident and are focusing patrols for any related activity.

Residents should report all observed suspicious activity immediately to 9-1-1.

Residents are invited to attend the monthly police-community meeting at MOM’s at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month, and the Police-Community Coffee Club at Jason’s Deli most Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m., to learn about crime prevention and to discuss public safety concerns with Police Officers.

Jan
11
2020

Now the Beltway Expansion Put on Hold, What Can we Do?

Last Wednesday, State’s Board of Public Works (BPW) voted in favor of expanding Beltway at the American Legion Bridge and the part of the beltway up to I 270, and part of I-270 to I-370. This happened after Gov Hogan got a Key vote from Comptroller Franchot, who expressed concerns earlier about the $11 billion project to expand the entire beltway in Maryland.

According to Comptroller Franchot’s Facebook post (please see below) the rest of the beltway could be expanded later by the Board of Public Works.

For College Park and the surrounding community where Beltway was planned to be expanded, this news may bring some relief to the local residents and community members. In College Park, the expansion proposal would have impacted many Homes, causing losses of many trees and parkland, increased Pollution and noise. Additionally, with an extra 4 lanes, the traffic into Route 1 will increase.

At this time We don’t know when BPW will take that up and if the PG County portion of Beltway will be expanded first before the Montgomery part, where the opposition is a lot stronger.

Now the Beltway Expansion Put on Hold, What Can we Do?

House Legislation
The Maryland State House tried to pass several legislative reforms during the last General Assembly session. Unfortunately, all of them either died in the committees or weren’t voted on.
The bills that the House considered include: (1) the MDOT would require a Montgomery county’s consent before starting road widening on any highway. (2) n environmental impact study is completed before soliciting for construction contracts. (3) A bill would prohibit the Department of Public Works from approving a Public-Private_partnership (P3) until an independent rating assessment survey–to be completed.

Transparency of Data:
MDOT has developed a Traffic and Revenue Model that calculates the predicted traffic volumes, toll charges, and profit or loss of each potential toll lane segment in each scenario. MDOT also has assembled origin-destination data for trips in the two highway corridors

Toll Revenue: The revised agreement also says that 10% of the toll revenues will go toward transit improvement in the state before the total cost of the project is paid off. MoCo County Executive Elrich already said that the hope is that Montgomery will be able to use new state aid to do a rapid bus project transit on MD 355. We don’t know what is the Prince George’s County has a similar plan to implement a more transit-oriented solution.

Transportation plan
We should continue to advocate for smarter and more sustainable ways to address the congestion problem in the beltway.
There are local and regional transportation plans out there that can be used for this purpose. The MNCPPC has recently published a report on the North County transportation studies, called “Transportation Guide for Urban Communities” recommending some alternatives in College Park and Prince George’s County. The recommendations include Leverage transit
Complete the bicycle network, Supply, and managed parking. Additionally, Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition also recommends more transit-oriented solutions, such as more frequent MARC train service.Recently, the Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich office has been in talk of potential state-county agreements on alternatives to the current MDOT plan. Similar engagement is necessary from the Prince George’s County’s leadership.

Jan
10
2020

Heating Safety Advisory

Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January and February!

Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Install and maintain Carbon Monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.

Tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

[City of College Park]

Jan
9
2020

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Beltway Expansion, Census, City Budget and More..

NCPCA – Your neighborhood association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and thus the day we’ll be having our monthly NCPCA meeting.

Today’s meeting will start with an update on Beltway Expansion. The State Board of Public Works has approved a plan to expand the Beltway starting (and including) American Legion bridge up to I-270 , plus the I-270 up to I-370. They may decide to expand the rest of the beltway at a later time. It’s important to stay engaged and advocate for more smart transportation alternatives including rapid bus service and transit options.

The group will get an update on the Hollywood Streetscape and Gateway Park projects.

Councilmember Denise Mitchell will make a presentation on the 2020 Census.

Members will then review the 2020FY budget wish list and what was accomplished. They will also discuss a proposal of items for the 2021FY budget wish list

As always, tonight’s NCPCA meeting will take place at Davis Hall at 7:30 pm. Hope to see you all there.

Jan
8
2020

Report of Armed Robbery, 4900 block Lackawanna Street

Shortly after midnight this morning, Wed. 8 Jan. 2020,  PGPD Officers responded to the 4900 block of Lackawanna St. for a report of a citizen armed robbery. Police believe this was a targeted incident and that there is no related threat to the community. Police are continuing their investigation.

County patrol and City contracted PGPD Officers are alerted to this incident and are focusing patrols for any related activity. Residents should report all observed suspicious activity immediately to 9-1-1.

Residents are invited to attend the monthly police-community meeting at MOM’s at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month to learn about crime prevention and to discuss public safety concerns with Police Officers.

[PSA about this morning’s incident from PGPD:]

Jan
7
2020

Time to Finalize the Duvall Field Design

At this tonight’s meeting, meeting, the City Council will discuss and provide direction to staff on final design elements for Duvall Field improvements. About a year ago, City hired a consultant , Greenplay, LLC, who interviewed focus groups, stakeholder, and held community meetings to explore improvements of the fields. A concept plan was prepared and the consultant proposed the following
(1) Reconfigure the athletic/recreational fields to allow Multiple game field configurations and Simultaneous group practices. The consultant proposed a synthetic turf surface
(2) Add an events space containing a stage for performances and movie show, open space, children’s play area, picnic area and informal use.
(3) Add a recreational space for sports like basketball, volleyball, cricket pitch and bounce wall.
Other amenities such as parking, bio-retention, tree preservation and a walking/jogging trail are also included in the plan.
The conceptual plan was generally well-received by the community as evidenced through public comments, although, the consultant’s recommendation to use synthetic turf as the playing field surface has been controversial. In addition to written and public comments received, a petition signed by twelve families opposed to the use of artificial turf and in favor of natural fields was submitted to the Mayor and Council.
Subsequently, the Mayor and Council asked staff to enlist the assistance of the University of Maryland to conduct further research on the pros and cons of synthetic versus natural turf. There was an opportunity to have an Environmental Science and Policy class at the University of Maryland undertake a Capstone Project to conduct this research. The student class reviewed the literature on field surface options and summarized the relative strengths and drawbacks of each field type.
The field types evaluated were native soil/natural grass, modified or engineered soil, and synthetic or artificial turf. The estimated costs for Duvall associated with the installation, maintenance, and replacement for each field type were provided. A decision-making matrix (please see below) was also developed that listed relevant factors associated with player safety, environmental concerns, and practicality for each field type.
 
(Key: 1 – Best Rating, 3 – Worst rating)
The consultant Greenplay provided an itemized cost estimate totaling $5,621,775 to construct the proposed conceptual plan, which includes $1,456,000 for approximately 112,000 square feet of synthetic turf surface for ball fields. The cost to build the field of the same size with natural grass was estimated at $784,000 – $1,148,000. According to the student report, the cost for synthetic, modified and natural grass are $672,000 – $1,148,000, $308,000 – $448,000 and $67,200 – $336,000 respectively.
Both the Greenplay and student reports concluded that upfront costs would be higher with the installation of synthetic turf and that annual maintenance costs would be higher with natural turf. Long term costs were substantially equal. The Duvall Field Project is funded through the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget and has an unencumbered balance of $5,104,570, which includes bond sale proceeds and State bond bill funds. Additional State bond bill funds and Program Open Space (POS) funding may be available if necessary. Staff is recommending the Council to pursue final design based on a hybrid of modified and natural turf fields.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...