March 2010 NCPCA Meeting Minutes

In case you missed this month’s regular NCPCA meeting, here is the minutes – please take a look.

http://myncpca.org/2010/03/11/minutes-2/

The next NCPCA regular meeting will be on April 8, Thursday at 7:30pm. Please try to attend. The tentative agenda has been posted on NCPCA’s website http://myncpca.org. It’s on the home page.

Making East Campus a Beast Campus

[The following is a guest column by Rachel Hare of the UMD for Clean Energy]

Since developer Foulger-Pratt pulled out of plans for the University of Maryland’s East Campus Development project last fall, the entire endeavor has been thrown into uncertainty.  The university has reconsidered the project’s design, the timeline, and even toyed with the idea of postponing or abandoning the plan.  But among the growing uncertainty, there is something else: an opportunity.

The East Campus project presents an opportunity for the University of Maryland to become the benchmark for sustainable development in Maryland.
On April 5, UMD for Clean Energy will host Green for College Park II: Making East Campus a Beast Campus, a panel discussion exploring green initiatives to make the East Campus project a pioneer in environmentally sound development.  The panel will consider innovative solutions including green building, storm water management, smart growth, and transit-oriented development.

The event will bring together sustainability specialists Tom Liebel, an architect and one of the first 25 U.S. professionals to receive LEED accreditation, an internationally recognized green building certification; Ralph Bennett, Director of Purple Line Now, an organization that advocates for the Purple Line on behalf of the community, businesses and the environment; and James Foster, president of the Anacostia Watershed Society, an environmental group that works to protect the Anacostia River.

The university has recently committed to ambitious environmental standards, including the Climate Action Plan for a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 and complete carbon neutrality by 2050.   By adopting initiatives such as the Climate Action Plan, the university has placed itself at the forefront of energy conservation and green development.

The East Campus Redevelopment project presents another opportunity for the University of Maryland to take a stand on the climate issue and make a statement to institutions across the nation.  The university should set strict and firm goals for this new undertaking; goals that take into account sustainable building practices, the surrounding environment, and smart growth, and advance the university’s position on the front lines of climate action.

The East Campus Project could set a new standard for environmentally sound development and urban planning.

The red and white has a chance to make a big green statement.

Storm Drain Marking Event Roundup

Yesterday I attended the storm drain marking event that took place in most part of the north College Park. The Committee for a Better Environment of the City of College Park organized this event. 

Many community members took part in this event. Volunteers also included several members from the Pan-Hellenic Association (the U-MD sororities). The event started from 9am and continued until 2pm. Volunteers started their work at the corner of Rt 1 and Erie St. at Wood’s Flowers store. 

The area was divided into a dozen or so sub sections. Volunteers were assigned to take care of the areas of their choices. They walked / drove through designated streets and followed a County map where storm drains are supposed to be. They cleaned off the area of the curb where the marker would go and used adhesive to place the marker on that cleaned spot. They also marked the location on the County map where they really found the drain. Finally they placed door hangers describing this project—and the importance of not dumping in the drain–at the surrounding houses. 

Thanks to the CBE members, organizers and volunteers for making this great event a success. 

I took a few shots of the event. Here they are. Please enjoy.  

 

Rt.1 Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment Hearing

The second public hearing for the Amended US 1 Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment will be held at the County Administration Building, 14741 Governor Owen Bowie Drive, in Annapolis, on Tuesday, April 6, 2010, at 7 pm.

The City will once again be taking a shuttle down for anyone who would like a ride.  The shuttle will leave Davis Hall at 5:30 pm and, if anyone from the south part of the City is interested in riding the shuttle, will leave City Hall at 5:45 pm.

Seating is limited, and the City needs to know how many people will be going in order to know which bus to send.  Please call to reserve a spot if you wish to ride with the shuttle.  If interested, please contact City Clerk Janeen Miller at 240-487-3501, by 5 pm on Monday, April 5.

More on the amendments can be found here:

Preparing for a Disaster – April 10

Disaster drill

The National Medical Response Team will be holding a mass casualty drill on Saturday, April 10th2010 at FedEx Field in Landover, MD.  With your assistance, the capability to respond to a mass casualty event within the DC region will be tested and the information obtained will produce a study in order to share the outcomes with other local and national teams.

The National Medical Response Team-National Capital Region (NMRT-NCR) (formally Metropolitan Medical Strike Team) was the first weapons of mass destruction response team developed in the United States. The primary mission of the NMRT-NCR is to respond to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction within the National Capital Region. Additionally, the team can quickly move into an area and provide immediate mass casualty care, triage services, responder medical support, strike team capabilities and other operations similar to a standard Disaster Medical Assistance Team. It is comprised of over 150 firefighters, paramedics, hazardous materials technicians and specialists, law enforcement officers, doctors, physician assistants and nurses. Fifteen local and federal agencies are represented on the team. NMRT-NCR has many capabilities to supplement a catastrophic emergency, which includes mass decontamination, mass treatment and hazardous materials detection and identification.

Students who wish to volunteer will serve as mock patients in disaster drill. The volunteers will be assigned a patient scenario, made up to represent the specific injury pattern and placed in a safe but active disaster scene. Each volunteer will be “rescued” and directed through a decontamination shower in which they will become wet. After decontamination final care will be provided according to their specific patient scenario. The volunteers will be given a tee shirt to wear over their clothing and should anticipate their clothes getting wet. The volunteers will need to arrive at FedEx Field by 10am and the mock disaster drill will conclude by 1pm. Transportation to and from the Morgan Boulevard metro station as well as lunch will be provided. Individuals may park onsite if desired.

You can sign up by emailing at volunteer@nmrt-drill.com and can receive more information on the volunteer website at www.nmrt-drill.com.

At 9:30 am, buses begin shuttling volunteers from Morgan Blvd metro. Volunteer check-in will begin at 10:00 am. The  drill will start at 11:30am and end at 12:30pm. Buses will return volunteers to the metro.

Skate Boarding Near Home

After nearly three years of waiting, the residents of our neighborhood will finally see the skateboard park near their homes.

In this week’s council session (Mar 22), the City of College Park has awarded Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks (http://www.grindline.com/) a contract to design and build a skateboard park in Sunnyside Neighborhood Park. The skate spot will be built within the confines of Sunnyside Park on Rhode Island Avenue just north of Edgewood.  (please see below for map). 

A bid submitted by Grindline in December said the $250,000 park would be built on land formerly occupied by a tennis court and could be completed by Aug. 4.

The council first approved the building of the park in February last year.

The north College Park residents in NCPCA have always supported the project, dating back Spetember 2007.

While the city is responsible for building the skate park, it will be funded, owned and operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which owns Sunnyside Neighborhood Park.

The City has scheduled an Open House for the Sunnyside Skate Spot for Thursday, April 22nd at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers at City Hall (4500 Knox Road). Grindline Skateparks, Inc. will be on hand to gather input from skaters about what they would like to see in the park and will take this information back to prepare three conceptual park designs. For more information, please contact  the city’s planner Elisa M. Vitale (email: evitale@collegeparkmd.gov )

Save Chesapeake Bay, Anacostia Watershed. Let’s Do Our Part, This Sunday

Tons of trash in Anacostia – Can we see ours?

Anything we put in a storm drain goes directly to our streams. The Anacostia River and all of our streams drains to the Potomac River, which in turn drains to the Chesapeake Bay.

When the trash we dump has toxic chemicals are extremely harmful to humans, animals and plants. Just one quart of motor oil can ruin the quality of 250,000 gallons of water.

 

To help prevent this happening, the Committee for a Better Environment is hosting this weekend, to spray paint “no dumping” stencils on storm drains around the City.  Please come out if you can!!

Don't Pollute

 The event will be held on this upcoming Sunday, March 28, meeting at Wood’s Flowers and Gifts at 9223 Baltimore Ave., on the corner of Route One and Erie Street  ( Please see the map below.).  The event will go from 9 am-2 pm, but you can come and go as you wish, and stay as long as you want!!

Council Approves Speed Cameras in School Zones

In last night’s council session, the city council approved speed cameras in the city’s school zones.  The zones includes most of the City, including all of Route One and Rhode Island Ave. north of Route 193. 

In order to make the approval, the council approved an amendment to the Chapter 184 of an ordinance “Vehicles and Traffic” by adding article Viii, “Speed Monitoring Systems” Section 184-45 “Speed Monitoring System In School Zones”.

The council voted unanimously on the proposed change.

“ I believe that the restrictions on use of the speed cameras provide sufficient protection for the rights of innocent people, while still helping to ensure that we can promote public safety on these roads”- said council member Patrick Wojahn.

My First CBE Meeting

I attended my first Committee for Better Environment (CBE) meeting last night at the City Hall. CBE members meet fourth Monday of every month to discuss and plan various activities related to environmental issues in the city.

It was quite an experience to meet and discuss with the fellow members. Everyone I found was passionate about making the city a better and cleaner place to live. There were also two presentations from outsiders. A few UMD student representatives also attended the meeting.

There are a few exciting CBE events coming soon that the College Park residents can benefit from. I hope to discuss those public events in future posts. Please stay tuned.

Clothing Drive Update

As some of you may recall, we organized a winter clothing drive a few weeks ago. I thought I should give you all an update on that.

I think the drive went pretty well. We collected nearly 15 boxes of warm clothes from the neighbors and school parents. At the end, the entire collection was donated to the local charities. They include

On behalf of the organizers and volunteers, I thank everyone for their kind donations to this drive. I’m sure the recipients of your donations will much appreciate your efforts. Thank you.

Putting a Brake on Tax

In an effort to put a break on three taxes that the county residents pay to the local governments, the state senators representing the PgCo has presented a bill; a hearing of the bill was held on March 9.

Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Dist. 23) of Bowie is the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 683, which aims to expand the state’s Homestead Tax Credit — a limit on how much an owner-occupied property’s taxable value can increase each year — to include taxes Prince George’s homeowners pay to park and planning, transit and storm water management, according to this report.

If passed, tax increases for transit, storm water management and Park and Planning would not rise more than 10 percent each year. Each fee has gone up 14 percent each year since 2006.

WaPo Building Sale to UMD Closes

Finally, the Washington Post building sale to the University of Maryland closes this week. The University of Maryland purchased the 326,000-square-foot industrial building on 18.6 acres for $12 million. The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the purchase Feb. 24, and the deal officially closed on March 1.

PG Co Budget Cut to Hit Education, Employment

In his announcement, the Co. executive Jack Johnson unveiled this week the $2.6 billion FY2011 county budget with a cut of $7 million from last year. The cut will hit the school and county employees. The county is also facing about $44 million in proposed cutsfrom the state — cuts Johnson has said he hopes to persuade Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to abandon, at least partially, before the state budget is approved. The county will also furlough all its employees for 8 days in the coming year. The schools will also take a huge hit - with some 800 positions will be gone form the county schools.

The budget cut is the result of the falling revenues from the property taxes, a trend that all counties in the DC metro area have seen over the last year. As a result, other counties in the region are also facing similar cuts.

For a Better Environment

Last week the Mayor and the the council appointed me as a member of the City’s Committee for the Better Environment (CBE). The CBE strives to  make the city clean and beautify its look to everyone.

This will be a great opportunity to serve in this committee, since I’ve a passion to do some of the tasks the CBE does on a regular basis. My thanks go to the Mayor and the council for giving me this opportunity.

In the past I’ve organized (and helped organize) various environment related events; such as Hollywood cleanup, tree planting event etc. It feels great and very rewarding in doing such volunteering work.

Our city is aging and thus needs a lot of work to keep it clean and beautiful. But most of all, it needs a lot of volunteers to make that happen. Please let me know if you have ideas on this and want to participate.

The Little House at the Gateway

The Little House

You must have seen this house.

It’s a little house at the corner of Rt.1 and the Edgewood Rd.

For north College Park residents, the corner is considereded as the gateway to the neighborhood.

The house is positioned at an odd location. In a 5-3 votes, the city decided last week to remove the house and turn this into a park. It’ll spend $25,000 plus use $25,000 in Open Space (POS) funds – a state fund managed by Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Some expressed concerns on the use of the city’s matching fund for the project. Others don’t agree.

 It’s going to serve as the entryway to our community, and I believe a welcoming landmark could help ensure that our City cares about its appearance and welcomes people.  Also, I feel that more green space and parks on Route One would help improve the use of Route One and help make it more pedestrian-friendly.  The City has proposed using money set aside for the Hollywood Commercial District to help improve this property – although I would like to see funds put toward improving the appearance of the Hollywood Commercial District, we need to first see what the County does with that intersection before engaging in other infrastructure improvements. – says council member Patrick Wojahn.

The NCPCA passed a motion in its Regular Meeting in November 13, 2008 authorizing the city to build the “concept of construction of the Hollywood Gateway Park, under the city ownership”. It also asked to get the citizens’ feedback on the construction.

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