Sexual Assault on Pathway from Metro to Lackawanna St

News Story being reported this morning is that a 15year old girl was sexually assaulted on the portion of the metro access between the Greenbelt Metro station and College Park.  The attack occurred at 6:30 pm on Friday evening.  (see story and link below).

The Prince Georges County police were aware of a increased incident of robberies taking place in the evening as residents are walking home from the Metro station and had increased their ppresence at and around the Metro Station.

As you know, the pathway between the end of the metro tunnel and  the point where Lackawanna street begins is not well lighted, and does not have surveillance cameras along the pathway.

The victim said she was leaving the station when a man attempted to speak to her. He followed as she walked from the station on a footpath that led into a neighborhood. He sexually assaulted her and then fled.

The assailant is described as a heavyset Hispanic male in his 30′s with dark curly hair, a dark reddish complexion and a tattoo of a snake on his left arm. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt and jeans.

A man who uses that path often was alarmed to hear about the attack. “I’m shocked that it happened at 6:30,” Fawaz Oteju said. “I’m very worried being that happened to someone so young.”

Metrorail riders access the path through a tunnel. The path connects to a neighborhood and a community park.

There are surveillance cameras inside the tunnels facing both ways. However, it’s not clear whether the cameras captured the attack.

Riders tell News4 that more security is needed on and around Metro property.

“I think it’s dangerous; it should be more secure,” Metro rider Tynecia Cannie said. “Even after the incident, there’s no one (security) here.”

Metro Transit Police are asking anyone who may have information about the case to call (202) 962-2121.

[Source: NBC Washington, NCP Listserve]

On Crime and Police Responsiveness

Recently, I came across an interesting debate among a few north College Park residents on the subject of police responsiveness as crimes happen in the area.

The debate started when a neighbor living on the Lackawanna Street heard a loud noise what she thought a gun shot. The noise was so loud that she said she had to take cover behind the walls inside her house. Fortunately, it was later found that the there wasn’t actually any gunshot – the loud noise was caused by a baseball hit on a car glass shield.

The police was called by the neighbor and they did come on time. However, the residents found it extremely frustrating to find the details of what actually happened.  It took her about a week for the police get back to her and inform her details of the incident. Police told her that there wasn’t any gunshot after all, someone broke a car window that caused a gunshot like sound.

True the resident found it relieving that there wasn’t any serious crime like gunshot in the neighborhood, but she still had to go through the trauma of a ‘gunshot’ incident in her neighborhood.

Could a city operated police force be a remedy for this resident’s frustration? Many think it possibly could. according to these residents, a city owned police would’ve been a lot more transparent in terms of its accountability on the work they do. If previous experiences are any guide, residents have generally found most City officials fairly responsive whenever they’re asked to provide details of a city related incident. They think such level of responsiveness will very well apply to a police force that they will claim their own.

City Okays Speed Cameras

In last week’s council meeting, the City has finally approved to award the speed camera contract to a Lanham-based company called Optotraffic. In March, the city conducted a public hearing on the subject.  
According to this Gazette report, Optotraffic would receive 39 percent of revenue from the cameras. Optotraffic will pay installation costs and city officials expect operating costs to be covered by revenue. The city also will be allowed to use as much as 10 percent of total revenue for public safety, with the remainder going to the state. 
The Channel 8 news reports that the cameras are set to be up and running by August 15. They could be ready sooner, but the city council wants a 30-day warning period — the time before actual tickets are issued — to include part of the University of Maryland’s fall semester.
 
The council will still have to hold public hearings before the cameras are placed in any specific location, and due to the ordinance that the Council passed last month.

21st Delegation at the Paint Branch ES

I know it’s a bit short notice, but you’ll have an opportunity to meet the 21st Delegation today at the Paint Branch Elementary School.

The 21st Delegation includes Senator Jim Rosapepe, Delegate Barbara Frush, Delegate Ben Barnes and Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk. They represent the part of the state that includes College Park.

The event has been dubbed as a ‘Community Day’. The Delegates will spend the most of the day (from 9am to 3pm) with the community members. It’s a great opportunity to learn about all that has been going on at Paint Branch and the surrounding community. 

The Paint Branch Elementary is located at 5101 Pierce Avenue, College Park MD 20740 (map below).

May 2010 NCPCA Meeting Minutes

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

http://myncpca.org/2010/05/13/minutes-4/

The next NCPCA regular meeting will be on June 10, 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.

Crime Alert – Strong Arm Robbery

[The following is a brief synopsis of information reported to the PG County Police]

INCIDENT:     Off-campus Strong Arm Robbery
OCCURRED:     May 22, 2010 at 3:23a.m.
LOCATION:     College Avenue at Yale Avenue
PGPD CASE #:  10-142-0387

BRIEF DETAILS:

The 22 years old student victim was walking on the sidewalk at the intersection of College Avenue and Yale Avenue (map below) when one of the suspects punched him and then both suspects began punching and kicking him. The suspects took the victim’s wallet and cell phone and fled the scene.  The suspects did not say anything to the victim during the incident.

Suspect(1) Description: Black male, dark complexion, 6 feet 5 inches tall, 250 pounds, short dreadlocks or corn rows, wearing a red shirt and blue pants.

Suspect(2) Description: Black male, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 175 pounds, no further description.

The Prince George’s County Police Department is conducting an investigation.  Individuals with any information regarding this incident or the possible identity of suspects are encouraged to contact police (911 or 301-699-2601).

Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411 TIPS (8477) or text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or go to www.pgpolice.org and submit a tip online. Email address is: pgcrimesolvers@co.pg.md.us.

When available for release, additional information, including updated descriptions of suspect, may be obtained by accessing the “Crime Alerts” portion of our web site:

Prepared by:
Paul Dillon
Office of the Chief
301-405-5762
dillon@umd.edu

UMD ALERT – Receive campus emergency information on your text enabled device.  Subscribe at alert.umd.edu or text UMD to 411911 from your device.

Hurricane Preparedness Week

[This week (May 23-29) marks the National Hurricane Preparedness Week. The following message was sent by Bob Ryan, the City of College Park's Public Service Director.]

WASHINGTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are partnering during National Hurricane Preparedness Week to share valuable hurricane preparedness information.  FEMA continues to work with state, local, tribal, federal and private sector partners to increase preparedness and coordinate response and recovery in the case of a hurricane or disaster.  FEMA also urges Americans to use this week as an annual reminder to assess their personal readiness to respond to emergencies.

President Obama recently designated May 23-29, 2010, as National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and called upon all Americans, especially those in hurricane prone areas, to learn more about protecting themselves against hurricanes and to work together to respond to them.

The Presidential Proclamation is available at here.

“We never know where the next hurricane or disaster will strike, but we know that the more we do to prepare now, the better the outcome will be,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  “FEMA will continue to work with our private sector, local, state, tribal and federal partners to ensure that we are prepared, but it is also important that all Americans take the necessary steps now- like developing a family disaster plan – before a hurricane or disaster strikes.”

“Regardless of the number of storms that may form this season, make your preparation plans with the idea that is the year you will be struck,” said Bill Read, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Everyone, including those living outside of hurricane-risk areas, should check personal preparations such as emergency kit supplies, note messages from local emergency officials, and rehearse emergency evacuation routes.
Important items to have ready in case of an emergency include a battery-powered radio (like a NOAA Weather Radio), flashlight, extra batteries, medicines, non-perishable food, hand-operated can opener, utility knife and first aid supplies. Copy and store your important documents in a waterproof bag.  These may include medical records, contracts, property deeds, leases, banking records, insurance records and birth certificates.

This is the time to consider potential needs of everyone in the household during an emergency. If your household includes a person with a disability, special steps to assist them may be necessary and should be considered now.
Pets also require special handling. They may become agitated during the onset of a storm, so a pet carrier is a must for safe travel.  Pet owners should research pet boarding facilities now within a certain radius of where you may evacuate, since animals may not be welcome in all shelters or hotels.  

Take steps now to purchase a flood insurance policy. Not only are homes and businesses in hurricane-prone states at risk for flood, but inland flooding is common in nearby states.  To assess flood risk for your home or find a local agent selling national flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call toll-free at 1-888-379-9531.

FEMA continues to support the coordinated federal response to the BP oil spill, and this season’s hurricane planning has involved consideration of the effects that the BP oil spill could have on the response capabilities and recovery scenarios. 

The Atlantic and Central Pacific Hurricane Season runs from June 1-November 30. The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season started on May 15. 

For more preparedness information, please visit www.Ready.gov

MGM – First Student Housing in North College Park to Open This Fall

Mazza GrandMarc The Mazza GrandMarc (MGM), the first student housing in north College Park is set to open this fall.

The property is located at 9540 Baltimore Avenue, at the west end of Hollywood Road, and north of Jordan Kitt’s piano shop.

The rent ranges from $889 to $1560 a bed depending on the type of units (4br or 1br unit). The  Shuttle UM will provide service to campus every 20 minutes throughout the day.

The complex is mainly designed with the graduate students in mind – the MGM website advertises a 10% discount for the grad students.

The complex will house 630 beds in 231 units. There are 637 parking spaces. The DSP (detailed site plan) of the project can be found here.

The project took some 10 years and $43 million to get completed. The Mazza received preliminary approval in November 2004 and final approval from the PG County Planning Commission in May 2006.

The project went through a protracted battle between the UM students and Tom Dernoga, the district 1 county councilman. In august 2007, the UMd’s Graduate Student Government president accused that the project was being held hostage by Mr. Dernoga, something he dismissed later.

The NCPCA members discussed the Mazza plan several times in the past and generally approved the project’s goal.

The Rethink College Park (RTCP) made extensive coverage of the MGM project throughout its development.

 

Water Bill To Go Up in July

After a hike in PEPCO bill, beginning July 1, your average water bill will go up $4.6 monthly, or $55 annually.

Twelve county council members from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties voted unanimously Thursday to approve a $1.1 billion Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission budget.

Customers should expect rate increases for the next 10 years to maintain a modest program of replacing and repairing old water lines.

WSSC planned to replace approximately 4 miles of water main in our neighborhood. Construction began this spring and is expected to be completed by the summer next year, weather permitting. The affected streets are located between the following boundaries: the Beltway to the north, Hollywood Rd. to the south; 53rd Avenue to the west and Baltimore Avenue to the east.

Read more: WSSC budget approved with rate hikes – Washington Business Journal

Ben Barnes and Peña-Melnyk Seek Reelection

The College Park residents Delegates Ben Barnes and Peña-Melnyk are seeking second term in the upcoming MD Delegate election for District 21 at the end of this year.

According to the Gazette (see here  and here ), their relection will be on a on a slate that includes fellow District 21 incumbents Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D) and delegates Barbara Frush (D) and Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D). As of Tuesday, Barnes, Peña-Melnyk and Beltsville attorney Brian McDaniel have filed for the three delegate seats.

District 21 includes Laurel, Beltsville, College Park, Berwyn Heights and a portion of Anne Arundel County. The primary election will take place Sept. 14 and the general election will follow on Nov. 2.

To know more on the campaign, please visit these campaign websites

http://www.benbarnes.us/

http://www.votejoseline.com/

http://votebrianmcdaniel.com/

Experience & Enjoy College Park Tour

A group of residents, including myself, are starting up an Explore and Enjoy College Park Tour.  The purpose is to get together to promote shopping and eating locally, as well as to bring residents from across the city together to build a sense of community and talk about local issues in a relaxed setting.

Our first monthly get-together will be on Monday, May 24th, starting at 7 pm at RJ Bentley’s in downtown College Park.  We will be visiting a different local business every month.  A flyer is attached, and I highly encourage you all to attend!  Thanks!

College Park Tour Flyer

The College Park Day – Celebrating Our Diversity and Heritage

Perhaps we’re witnessing a history in making – Do I feel excited?

Let’s backtrack a bit first. Last October, I attended a community seminar at the Youth and Family Services (YFS) on Nantucket Avenue. The theme of the seminar was centered on families and communities in the neighborhood. In that seminar, we proposed to have a community event in the city to celebrate the cultural heritage and diversity.

The city used to have a similar event several years ago. The event, known as “The Taste of College Park (TOCP)” – was mainly focused on multi-ethnic food shared by city residents. My fellow NCP blogger Joe Smith wrote about this now defunct event here on his blog.

A few months ago, the possibility of having such a city wide event surfaced again following a slew of emails among city residents. Thanks to a few kind-hearted residents and city officials, who agreed to host the first exploratory meeting, we had our first meeting at Davis Hall in early March. I wrote this post on the day we had our first meeting.

Since the first meeting, we had two more meetings- both at the City Hall. We also expanded the core group to include many representatives from various ethnic, schools, faith and student groups. The M-NCPPC, the YFS, City Public Service were also gotten involved. We plan to include a few more groups in the coming months to have a broader representation in this event. A number of subcommittees (food, media, outreach, activities etc.) are already formed.

The date has been set on October 9 this year. Location: Paint Branch Elementary School and the College Park Community Center. A ‘Save the Date’ flyer is being designed. A website, solely dedicated to the event, is also in making. We’re hoping to reach out as many city residents, participants and vendors through this website and the flyer.

The city has set aside $5000 in the draft FY2011 budget for the event, yet it looks like we need to raise more funds to cover the expenses.

All in all, it’s a great, coordinated movement. Thanks and kudos to everyone who’re working hard to make the event a success – in an effort to bring communities together.

Please stay tuned for further update as things progress. In the meantime, if you have ideas, please feel free to send those to us.

County Residents Speak of Top Priorities

Last December, I attended a community forum, which was organized by a focus group called ‘Envision Prince George’s”. Participants were asked to discuss the current issues or problems in the county that the Vision and Goals should address. The Envision PG organized a number of such events across various parts of the county. The last of these events happened on March 20.

After getting feedback from participating residents in all these forums, the county has published the priorities the county residents want to see in future.

Here is that list. Not surprising, the public safety and the education remain the two top priority items in the county residents’ mind.

  • Improve public safety—and reduce crime.
  • Improve our public schools.
  • Provide more public transportation—especially for youth & seniors.
  • Improve the image of the county—especially in regard to schools and public safety.
  • Focus on economic development—more job training and job creation.
  • Expand tax base to put less burden on residents and be more responsible in spending our tax dollars.
  • Improve road infrastructure.
  • Develop more quality shopping and restaurants.
  • Provide help to reduce foreclosures and increase quality affordable housing.

The more on these studies can be found here.

The Envision PG also hosts an annual economic outlook forum, the 3rd of this will take place on June 11, 2010. Click here to find more about the forum and how to register.

Candidate Forum Tonight

There will be a “Candidates Open Forum” tonight, from 6:30 PM until 9:30 PM at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, 7601 Hanover Parkway, Greenbelt, MD.  Civic leaders and residents are invited to come out and meet the candidates at this FREE event.
 
The Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association is organizing this joint Candidates Forum to educate voters about our choices for the offices of County Executive, County Council, and State’s Attorney.  Candidates will share their views on how the County should be governed, how County taxes should be spent, and give their opinion about what is important for the future of Prince George’s County.  All candidates have been invited to attend.

According to this Gazette report, “The Prince George’s County state’s attorney is the county’s chief prosecutor. State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey is not seeking re-election at the end of the term. State’s attorney candidates include Angela Alsobrooks, Revenue Authority director; County Councilman Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Dist. 1) of Laurel; Clerk of the Court Peggy Magee; Mark Spencer, police department inspector general; and Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Wright.”

Here you can find more about the State’s attorney candidates:

http://www.angelaalsobrooks.com/

http://www.tomdernoga.org/

http://www.peggymagee.com/default.aspx

http://friendsofmarkspencer.com/

Are You Pumped?

I bike to Metro on my way to my work everyday; so this got my attention.

The City of College Park, along with other municipal governments and businesses in the Washington DC area are sponsoring a Bike to Work day on Friday, May 21st.

Join thousands of area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work!  Meet up with your neighbors at one of 35 regional pit stops, ride into the city with experienced commuter convoys and meet your fellow cyclists at Freedom Plaza. Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Commuter Connections invite you to try bicycling to work as an alternative to solo driving. Help the Washington region become a better place to ride.  Bike to Work Day is a FREE event and open to all area commuters.  There will be a raffle, prizes, food, drink and more at all pit stops throughout the region.

Free T-shirts will available for the first 8.500 registrants who are in attendance at the pit stop they registered for.

Registration for Bike to Work Day 2010 is now open!

Follow the link below and register for the pit stop rally you plan to attend.  Raffles will be held at each pit stop for prizes including commuter bags, bike locks, and bicycles.

http://waba.org/events/btwd/pitstops.php

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