Mark You Calender – Oct 22 – College Park Day 2011

College Park Day, 2010

After the grand success of the first College Park Day 2010, the organizing committee has already started gearing up for this year’s event – College Park Day, 2011. The date has been set at October, 2011; please mark your calender.

The organizing committee members have already met twice this year to brainstorm about this year’s event activities. They also have looked into what they did last year and can be done to improve this year’s event.

We’re also seeking volunteers to help out in various subcommittees, such as activities, community groups , food, publicity, public safety, logistics  and fundraising.

Event volunteers will be in full force at the Maryland Day, 2011 to spread the words about College Park Day 2011. This year’s Maryland Day will be on April 30 (from 10-4). Please contact me if you want to volunteer.

Annual Bulk Recycling Starts this Saturday

Got junk? Have them recycled

The City of College Park Public Works facility (9217 51st Avenue) will be open all four Saturdays in April from 7:30 a.m. until 12:00pm.

City residents may drop off bulky trash, electronics for recycling, and yard waste; however hazardous materials, including but not limited to, paint, compressed cylinders, shingles, asphalt, chemicals, etc. will NOT be accepted. 

Air conditioners, heat pumps, refrigerators and freezers may incur a collection fee; tires will incur a disposal fee of $4.00 each.

These weekend events are only open for College Park city residents; you must show proof of residency in the City of College Park to participate.

Also, like in last year, Public Works will also have two donations groups back to accept your reusable, leftover  items – keep them out of the landfill and get a tax deduction.

  • Clothes, household/kitchen items, small furniture pieces, books, sporting goods, etc., will be accepted for donation by American Rescue Workers (Capitol Heights; 301-336-6200; www.arwus.com)
  • Building and remodeling materials (surplus or in very good condition) including bricks and paving materials, doors, hardware, tools, reusable lumber, gardening supplies, vanities, light fixtures, etc., will be donated to Community Forklift.

If there are any questions please feel free to contact Public Works Recycling Coordinator Stacey King by phone (240-487-3593) or email (sking@collegeparkmd.gov).

On Greenbelt Sector Plan, Krouse Cautions about its Troubled Impact, Asks Residents to Get Involved

John Krouse at the 2007 Greenbelt development balloon demonstration (RethinkCollegePark)

Former councilmember John Krouse recently gave me an interview on why he is so troubled by the proposed Greenbelt development and why he thinks north College Park residents should get more involved in the process.

Along with other City officials, he is organizing a town hall meeting on this Thursday (7 pm, March 31, 2011) at Davis Hall. Please spread tthe word and try to attend.

In terms of proposed Greenbelt development, there seems to be a lot of ambiguity. Can you please elaborate this?

The process of discussion and planning really only ends when something is built (and even then, it’s never really ‘over’).   So far, nothing has been built.

Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights and College Park (including NCPCA) all supported the 2001 Sector Plan.  Since that time, the County supported a different ‘vision’ for the area near the station that did not conform with the Sector Plan that we all worked on, and agreed with.

The approved conceptual site plan of the Developer allowed much taller buildings than the Sector Plan, and did not conform to the step-back in building heights required by the Sector Plan.  Thus, the conceptual plan allowed much greater sight impacts and reflected noise impacts on the community.  It also propsed greater density, and had greater traffic impacts.

The issue of the enormous parking garage at the end of Lackawanna Street was another major problem.  Metro insisted upon construction of it’s own garage, just south of the station, which ended up as a proposed building about the size of the Washington Post Plant (!)

Is that the kind of building that we all want to see at the end of Lackawanna Street Street… and all the way down to Iroquios Street and beyond?

If not, then we might have to be involved in a process to ‘encourage’ the construction of smaller garages on the property, and less enormous buildings right next to our homes.

And there were other problems, too.  It’s a long list, really.

Read more »

AT&T Plans to Install Cell Phone Tower in Sunnyside

Proposed Cell Phone Tower in Sunnyside

AT&T is proposing to build a 125 ft cell phone tower on the City property at the east end of Odessa Road in Sunnyside. Please see the map below.  

AT&T attorney Gregory E. Rapisarda, Esq. and other representatives will make a presentation at its meeting on April 14th, at the North College Park Citizens Association (NCPCA). 

They will discuss AT&T’s proposed project and address questions and concerns about how AT&T seeks to improve its wireless services in the area.  

Though AT&T has been marketing the tower to boost cell phone reception in North College Park, there have been concerns from residents elsewhere about the health risks caused by these cell towers.

The World Health Organization has said there are no established adverse health effects from cell phone base towers, but also recommended more research be conducted.

This piece of property is in the backyards of maybe 10 families.  A resident living  in that area is already furious about a piece of mail relating to this tower she had just received from AT&T.  I won’t be surprised that there are a many other residents sharing the same concern.

If you’re concerned about the proposed tower or want to find about it from the AT&T representative, please attend at the April 14th meeting.

March Experience & Enjoy College Park to Host Rep. Steny Hoyer

Seven Seas Chinese Restaurant

This month, the Experience and Enjoy College Park Tour will be visiting Seven Seas Restaurant (8503 Baltimore Ave.) tomorrow from 7:00pm – 10:00pm.

March’s guest speaker will be U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, who represents 5th Congressional district that includes College Park. 

The “Experience & Enjoy College Park Tour” is designed to bring those who work, live, and play in College Park together once a month to talk about local issues while patronizing a local restaurant. It was created by College Park residents who want to promote the idea of supporting local business.

I highly encourage anyone interested in supporting our local restaurants, meeting with other city residents, or wanting to find out more about what is going on around College Park to attend. These events are always fun and if you haven’t been to one yet now is as good a time as any to check one out.

Greenbelt Metro Station to Get Surveillance Cameras

Greenbelt Metro north entrance

Metro revealed Thursday that it plans to install security cameras at the Greenbelt Metro entrance, the Washington Post reports.

The cameras will be part of 153 cameras that the Metro is planning to have at all stations.

The cameras will be bought using a $2.8 million from the Homeland Security Department, said Metro Chief Michael Taborn.

It’s unclear to say if there will be any camera installed in the northern entrance of the Greenbelt Metro.

North College Park residents have long demanded surveillance cameras on the path way from the Metro entrance to their neighborhood. Last year, reseidents sent a 300 signature petition to the WMATA. Metro did not respond to residents’ demand.

As for the reasons for installing the new cameras, Metro cites rise in crime activities inside the Metro station. It also says the bike theft has increased at the outside bike stations. Serious crimes in Metro have hit five year high.

Three stations  — Greenbelt, Branch Avenue and New Carrollton — were the top three stations for serious crimes in 2010.

New Rules Aim to Prevent Bamboo Spread in Neighborhood

Bamboo

In last Tuesday’s council session, the City of College Park introduced a resolution to prevent spread of bamboo onto adjacent properties.

The City says it has received a number of complaints from adjoining landowners that bamboo has spread onto their property without their permission, thereby creating a noxious growth.

Currently, there is no law in the city preventing the spread of bamboo to adjoining properties without permission.

The new rule will only be enforced if a neighbor complains about it, and a resident can easily address the problem by putting in barriers to prevent their bamboo from spreading into neighboring yards.

Violators of the rule will get $200 for the first violation and $400 for the second and subsequent violation every 30 days.  The penalty matches what is assessed in Tacoma Park for a violation – the City claims.

Most types of bamboo in the city are non-native species and are invasive. Once established, bamboo is extremely difficult to control, and tends to take over adjacent areas and properties, which makes it a noxious growth.

If a resident doesn’t address the problem, the City can step in and give the person a citation and a fine unless they put in a barrier.

There will be a public hearing on April 12, 2011, at 7:45 pm.

Dissecting City’s New Zoning Ordinance

The new zoning ordinance that the City has recently introduced is certainly fairly complex and needs some explanation. NCPCA has recently published a side-by-side comparison chart that Larry Bleau has thankfully prepared. I’ve embedded that below for your reading. The City officials will also be having a Town Hall meeting this evening at 7pm at Davis Hall to discuss this further. Please attend, if you can.

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Council Approves ‘Neighborhood Friendly’ Skate Park Design

A skate park desiged by Gridline

The City Counci last night approved the design of College Park’s first skate park.

The skate spot will be built within the confines of Sunnyside Park on Rhode Island Avenue just north of Edgewood Road.

Exactly a year ago, (on Mar 22, 2010), the City awarded Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks (http://www.grindline.com/) a contract to design and build a skateboard park in Sunnyside Neighborhood Park in north College Park

The City held two public hearings on the park, one in April and another in June last year.

In October last year, the park’s design went through a few major revisions, after receiving concerns from M-NCPPC and some residents on children’s safety in the proposed park.

According to the new design, the park’s bowl wil be much shallower (four feet) compared to the previous one, which was more more than seven feet deep. The new design is expected to attract more beginning skaters and would be more safe for the community and easier to maintain. There will also be an addition of a stair element to the new design, and Grindline  presented the design at last week’s worksession.

M-NCPPC continues to have concems about maintenance and has requested that the City provide assistance. The City Manager and Public Works Director indicated that supplemental maintenance could be provided as part of the City’s routine park maintenance program.

What’s Next to Gateway Park?

Site trip – March 2011

The much discussed proposed Hollywood Gateway Park design work has been going “as scheduled”, with some minor changes.

At the request of the Landscape Architecture Department, student involvement in this project will be in the form of a Design Competition instead of a class assignment. 

“The Department believes that the city will get a better result because more time can be allotted, graduate students as well as undergrads could participate, preferably in teams, and they would have an incentive to work harder.” – said City Planner Terry Schum.

 The City has agreed to offer a total of $1,500 in prize money for first, second and third places.
 
Staff was scheduled to meet this week with Jack Sullivan, Landscape Architect and liaison for the Department, and provided him with the design recommendations and sketch prepared by the community. 

The Landscaping and Architecture Department has already provided information about the Design Competition to students and the students visited the site Site on March 21.

The Faculty will hold a review session with students on March 30 and the projects are due to L.A. Department on April 6. On April 13, students will present projects at community meeting at Davis Hall. On the next day (April 14), projects will be left at Davis Hall for additional review and comments by North College Park Citizens Association.

On April 18, Jury will select winners.  City will announce the Jury soon. They could include City staff and community members.

Have a Community Building Idea? City Can Help!

Welcome to College Park

Got a nifty idea that could serve your neighborhood? The city has the money to support that.

The purpose of the City of College Park Community Services Grant is to provide opportunities for community-based programs and projects. 

The City will provide grants to fund programs and activities that promote enhanced community opportunities for its residents. 

Like last year, the maximum community services grant award per organization for fiscal year 2011 is $2,500.  Community services grants are only awarded to organizations, not to individuals.

According to grant’s application guidelines, here are a few criteria that a project should satisfy to qualify for the grant:

  • Support collaborative initiatives that increase partnerships between community residents and public or private agencies
  • Improve neighborhood quality of life
  • Support recreational activities for College Park youth
  • Increase voter registration and turnout
  • Encourage businesses to provide assistance to community-based organizations
  • Celebrate the diversity of the College Park community
  • Support and/or improve educational opportunities for College Park children
  • Support life-enhancing activities for children and/or adults
  • Build civic education (Definition: A well-informed, competent citizenry, comprised of people of all ages, must develop the values, knowledge and skills that will contribute to the greater good and civic health of their community.)
  • Increase community volunteerism
  • Provide operating funds for an organization whose programs meet one or more of the above listed priorities.

Here is the link to the grant application. The applicant also need to submit a harmless agreement when applying for the grant.

But hurry! the deadline for the grant application is fast approaching! It’s this Thursday – March 24, 2011.

College Park Green Awards, 2011

College Park Green Awards 2011

Know someone who has started a garden? Cleaned up a street? Made their house more energy-efficient? College Park has a great way to give them a pat on the back (and $100 worth of green merchandise!): nominate them for one of the City’s Green Awards!

Every year, the Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) gives awards to City residents and businesses who demonstrate “a commitment to improving and protecting our natural environment”.

Click here to nominate someone for this year’s Green Awards. But move fast, because the deadline for entries is April 18th!

In case you want to know what made two College Park residents winners of last year’s Green Awards, please click here

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Town Hall Meeting on Proposed Action Plan, Budget

Davis Hall

There will be a town hall meeting today at 1pm, March 19, at Davis Hall. 

District 1 council members will be on hand to answer questions and take suggestions about the FY 2012 action plan and budget. 

The City Council held a public hearing on the Action Plan on March 12. 

The draft action plan is centered around 5 main objectives – public safety, public service, environment, transportation and economic development.

You can read the FY 2012 Action Plan draft and other documents related to the City’s Strategic Plan under special reports section on City’s website. 

The City has not published the proposed draft budget yet.

City Tries to Revive Near-Dead Home Ownership Program

Home ownership - College Park style!

The City’s Homeownership Grant Program was launched in Year 2006 with $100,000 to encourage the conversion of single-family rental properties to owner occupancy.

However, the number of grant awards has decreased in the last two years, so much so that it has come to a screetching halt. The City awarded one grant in Fiscal Year 2010 and has not awarded any grants in Fiscal Year 2011. One grant is pending, but a settlement date has not been scheduled at this time.

In last Tuesday’s council session Council decided to revise the program guidelines to make foreclosures, short sales and condo properties eligible for grant assistance.

The City hopes a modification to the program may accelerate use of funds. There are 40 properties, 6 of which are condos, listed in College Park that are short sales or foreclosures. Opening the program up to allow short sales, foreclosures, and condos to be eligible for program assistance could increase the pool of eligible properties and potentially increase interest in the program.

The goal of home ownership is consistent with Goal IV, Objective 2, Action a. of City’s FY 2011 Action Plan.

The City’s program provides grants of$5,000 to individuals purchasing a single-family property that was previously rented for a minimum of two years. Grants are also available for city employees and certified police officers to purchase any property in the city to encourage employees and police officers to make their homes in College Park Grants are provided at settlement and go toward the down payment Of closing costs.

Program participants agree to occupy the property for a minimum of five years. If the property is sold prior to five years, a prorated portion of the grant must be repaid. Should the owner rent any portion of the property to any person while not living at the property or to more than two other persons while residing at the property, then the grant must be repaid in full.

In Fiscal Year 2009, $22,500, the funds remaining in the program, were transferred to the College Park City-University Partnership by Council Resolution (CR 09-R-02) dated January 13,2009, which effectively ended the program. In Fiscal Year 2010, the program was re-established in the Capital Improvement Program with funding at $20,000. Eligible grant amounts have varied over the years. In Fiscal Year 2008, grant 42 amounts were increased from $5,000 to $7,500 to increase interest in the program.

Grants were reduced to $5,000 in Fiscal Year 2010. To date, the City has awarded 13 grants (7 at $7,500 and 6 at $5,000). Ofthe thirteen grants, one property went to foreclosure (9012 Autoville Drive) and one participant has violated the terms of the agreement (6700 Rhode Island Avenue). A lien will be placed on 6700 Rhode Island Avenue to recover the grant, which if not paid will result in the property being put up for tax sale.

Foundation to Raise Funds for City Events

The <i>Other</i> College Park Foundation

The Other College Park Foundation

Earlier this month, the City Council formed a foundation called “College Park Foundation” in order to help raise funds for various city events and projects.

Such funds may support existing projects such as College Park Day, or other new events such as “an arts and performance space, providing support and services for homeless people, or other cultural events” – said council member Patrick Wojahn. 

The foundation is modelled after other similar charitable foundations such as Columbia Foundation that raises funds for various events and projects in Howard county. 

The foundation will also help the citizen driven projects such as College Park Day to keep track of donations made by private entities. Currently any unused part of these donations go to City’s general funds and managed by the City staff. 

I was a little surprised to see that the City picked up a name which is the same as another College Park Foundation; the latter being operated by the University of Maryland.  More can be found about U-Md College Park Foundation can be found at : http://www.foundation.umd.edu 

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