NCP’s 7/11 Hit by Another Robbery – 5th in Recent Months

7/11 reward poster November 29

On this Monday, at approximately 3:30 am, suspects committed a robbery at the 7-Eleven located at 4921 Edgewood Road College Park MD.

This is 5th time the north College Park store was hit by robbery in recent months. The fourth arnmed robbery occured in last September

The Prince George’s County Police Department is working to identify the suspects shown in the surveillance photographs.

Anyone with information that may assist in this investigation is asked to call CRIME SOLVERS at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or CID-Robbery Unit at 301-772-4905 as soon as possible. Please refer to case number 11-332-0263. Whenever information is given to the Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Line, you do not have to leave your name.

A REWARD of up to $1000.00 is being offered for the tip that leads to the arrest and indictment of the suspects responsible for this robbery.

Four Corner Property Owner Questions Zoning Changes

Dry Cleaner at the Four Corner - the property has been down zoned as Open Space

The owner of a property at the four corner area (Rhode Island Ave, / Edgewood Road) is asking some questions about its recent zoning changes.

The parcel includes a dry cleaner and a grassy area behind it.

The property is owned by Randy Sahaban, who currently lives overseas. Randy’s son-in-law Sid Saab came to NCPCA’s November meeting and spoke about the zoning changes in the property.

Sid said on June 18, 2010, the M-NCPPC sent a letter to them informing that their property was zoned as Open Space.

The property had been zoned as commercial (C-S-C) before. He expressed surprise on singling out their property as a target for down zoning, whereas every other property around the four corner area remains as fully commercial zoned (C-S-C).

“It’s unconstitutional, the county cannot do this to us” – said Mr. Saab with frustration.

One NCPCA member asked if the zoning changes happened during the Route 1 sector plan revision process two years ago, when Tom Dernoga served as county council member.

“The more innocent explanation of (this changes) is that the County may have included the building property along with the grassy land and they marked the entire property as Open Space.” – said NCPCA president and former council member Mark Shroder.

Mr. Shroder however said “the less innocent explanation is probably turning the property into a Open Space and make this into a park eventually”.

Sid said under the new Open Space zoning, the options to use the property is limited; it can only be used as a barn, a contractor lot or the space must be left open. The property can only have the use it had before it was down zoned (a dry cleaner) for only six months.

NCPCA members supported a motion to up zone the property back to C-S-C, should the issue come before City council again.

Stop Signs Come to Rhode Island Ave. / Niagara Rd., But Are We Safer?

New stop signs at Rhode Island and Niagara Road

Since we first reported the safety situation at the new Rhode Island / Niagara intersection, our City and County officials have been working hard to address that. We would like to thank them for their excellent coordinated work, as they actually brought two stop signs at the intersection sooner than we expected (they said the sign would be installed by next Wednesday). A job well done!

One of the two signs is located at the service road ending at the Niagara Road and the other one is installed at the east end of Niagara Road ending at Rhode Island Avenue. These two signs will definitely improve traffic safety situation, but we still have concerns about vehicles going into Niagara Road from Rhode Island Avenue. These vehicles often come to the intersection too fast, so much so that other vehicles on the service road and Niagara Road may face the danger of accidents.

We hope to discuss the safety situation in a meeting with the City engineer and the officials from County’s Public Works sometime next week. Hopefully we can find a solution to this remaining safety problem in that meeting. If you have any other concern or idea about the safety at that intersection, please let me know.

Upcoming Events, Missing Cat, Found Dog

Community Library Donation Day
The College Park Community Library will be holding a book drive (aka: “Donation Day) Saturday, December 3 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. So, if you have books you’d like to donate to the effort (no book will be turned away!) this would be a great time. For more information, see library’s web site here. And if you’re on Facebook, please consider “liking” them.

The National Museum of Language Invites you to THE ANNUAL RECEPTION Sunday, December 4th, 2011, 2:00 – 5:00 P.M. Executive Office Building, 7100 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 202. Light refreshments will be served. Come join us in an afternoon of fellowship. Please feel free to bring a guest(s). Perhaps you’ll be the lucky winner of the door prize!

If you plan to attend: Please provide the NML with name(s) of attendees, # of attendees, phone #(s) or contact information. You can either phone us at (301) 864-7071 (leave voice mail message) or email us at info@languagemuseum.org.

Missing Cat:
Here is a notice on missing cat; See if you can please help find him.
Our cat, Harvey, “escaped” on Thanksgiving morning. He’s been mostly an indoor  cat trying to escape since we got him a few years ago. So, now he’s on an adventure but we wish we could find him and bring him home. If anyone sees him, please call 301-474-5358 or 240-888-6972 and let us know where exactly you saw him and when. Thanks, Janis (Oppelt)

Found Dog:
Yellow lab found wandering the neighborhood (Niagara Rd, west of RI ave). Has red collar, no tag. Thin, but otherwise seems well cared for. Please call Bonnie for more information: 202.746.8313

City to Name College Park Woods Park After Mayor Owens

College Park Woods Community Park


In last week’s Council meeting, the City Council voted to formally request that the ball field at the College Park Woods Community Park be named “Owens Field” in recognition of the years of public service that Mayor Anna Owens provided to her home community of College Park Woods and to the entire City of College Park.

Mayor Owens lived in College Park Woods for 48 years and served as a City Councilmember from 1981 1987, and as the first and only female Mayor of the City from 1987 – 1993. Before, during and after her years as an elected official, Mayor Owens provided exceptional leadership in the community.

In a letter to the Park and Planning, that owns the park, Mayor Fellows wrote “She is highly regarded and respected as a dedicated public servant. Naming this particular ball field in her honor would be especially significant”.

Route 1 Developement Opportunities

In case you missed last Saturday’s Route 1 visioning session, here are a few resources you may want to check:

Presentation Slides

Discussion

Survey

The survey will be open until November 28. So please take a moment to complete this in the next few days.

Stop Signs to Address Safety Issue at Niagara / Rhode Island Intersection

Design showing stop signs at Niagara Road

A number of residents in the area have expressed concerns about safety at the new entrance on the Niagara Rd (West), as part of the Rhode Island / Edgewood intersection improvement project.

As one resident emailed me: “There are now four exits and entrances for automobiles at Niagara. In other words you have to look out for cars in four different directions, whereas before you just looked left and right. the other day I tried to cross Rhode Island as usual, and was startled by a car exiting from the opposite side of Rhode Island and trying to enter on my side. The driver managed to stop, even though he threw his hands up in the air like he was startled by me being on the way over in front of him. I quickly retreated.”

The County and the City have been contacted on this and thankfully the County’s contractors have agreed to install two stop signs there to address the issue. They said that two stop signs will be installed by this coming Wednesday if not sooner.

Please see the attached map for more details on the proposed stop signs. Here is a Google map, in case you want to know the location of the intersection.

Support City’s Local Businesses, This Season

Shopping Guide, 2011

On Saturday, November 26th, the 2nd Annual Small Business Saturday takes place to support local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday is a national movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the U.S. on the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were nearly 28 million small businesses in the United States last year.  Over the past two decades, they created 65 percent of net new jobs.  Their importance to local communities extends even further.  For every $100 spent in locally-owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.

In order to promote our own small businesses, the City of College Park created a 2011 Holiday Shopping Guide that provides a list of several independent businesses offering great gifts. As the holiday season approaches please consider these local businesses, along with the other unique retailers in College Park, as part of your shopping plans.

The City has an excellent website called http://ShopCollegePark.org , that lists alll businesses operating within the city. Let’s all browse the website, and make an habit to shop busnesses within the city.

Also, City’s economic development team has published a shopping guide for this holiday season. You can grab that guide here.

Important Holiday Safety Tips

Neighborhood Watch

With the holiday season in full swing, City’s public safety department has issued some general crime prevention tips to help remind of things we can do to reduce our chance of being a crime victim during this time of the year and to help us remain safe during the holiday shopping season:

When Shopping:

  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk in well-lit areas; populated areas; avoid cut-through paths.
  • Try to park in busy, well-lit areas and avoid parking beside large vehicles.
  • Lock your car doors, and place all valuables in the trunk or under the seats.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of cash, pay with a check or credit cards.
  • Keep your purse closed and close to your body and/or carry your wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
  • At Home:

  • Don’t display presents under the tree where they can be seen from a window.
  • Keep all windows and doors locked when you are away from home.
  • If out of town, stop mail and newspaper deliveries and place a light on a timer, this will give the appearance of someone being home.
  • Have a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your residence.
  • Beyond Visions: Challenges and Opportunities in Route 1 Development

    Vacant building across Route 1 in north College Park (courtesy: Laura Evans)

    This past Saturday, I attended the “Route 1 Site Specific Visioning Session” at the City Council Chamber. My sincere thanks go to our City officials, Terry Schum, Chris Nagle and Michael Stiefvater in particular, for organizing this great event. During the 3 hour+ event , residents had a chance to take a look at the properties across Route 1 that are potential targets for redevelopment and reuse. Residents also had a chance to share their ideas on a list of potential businesses that can go in those sites.

    Route 1 is City’s main street and thus visioning about this important gateway isn’t quite new. The City planner, Terry Schum talked about how the Park and Planning started the first Route 1 sector plan back in 2002, when it changed Route 1 corridor’s zoning category from C-S-C (Commercial Shopping Center) to M-U-I (Mixed Unit Infill). This gave a rise of hope in the development of wide range of properties, from traditional businesses to residential units.

    In 2009, the Park and Planning went further with Route 1 visioning strategy by drawing boundaries of areas across Route 1 and taking residents’ feedback on what can be done in those properties. The 2009 sector plan went through another major revision  with a set of amendments not so long after the first draft version was approved by the county council.

    Since then, Route 1 hasn’t seen huge development, especially in the northern part of the city. True, it saw some some activities in the south with a few high rise student housing developments. Also, thanks to some 8.5 million dollar funding from the States, it will go through a phase of design and planning of street development, all in the south of Greenbelt Road.

    Any such development in the northern side is not going to happen soon. As far as redevelopment of Route 1 properties are concerned, a weakened economy has contributed to a even weaker interest from the developer community to improve these properties. For example, one developer (JPI) who went through months of painful planning stage to develop a few properties in north College Park went bankrupt, and thus scrapping their plans to develop those properties.

    There are however opportunities that we ought to pursue in these challenging times. While we should persistently work with the State and County officials to find more opportunities in developments, we also need to aggressively pursue the business and developer communities to market these opportunities. City’s economic development team needs to be strengthened further with the necessary tools they need in that pursuit.

    Intermodal Town Hall Meeting, Tomorrow

    Beltsville Intermodal

    This Monday, November 21 at 7:00pm there will be an important public meeting on the truck stop plan at Beltsville Academy at 4300 Wicomico Ave off of Montgomery Rd.

    You can come, learn more about their plan, and voice your opinion.

    In an email, Senator Jim Rosapepe and 21st Delegates said

    CSX railroad has proposed building a huge new truck stop in Beltsville to load and unload freight from trains. CSX wants to build their huge truck stop on Beltsville Agricultural Research Center property north of Sunnyside Avenue. Their plan will increase truck traffic on Rt. 1 and damage the environment in Beltsville.

    Along with Councilwoman Mary Lehman, we are strongly opposed to their truck stop plan.

    Also, if you’d like to learn more about it before the meeting or simply sign our petition against the proposed truck stop, go to www.21stDistrictDelegation.com.

    Can College Park Host DC United Games?

    DC United

    Recently, a neighbor in my district sent me this post that talks about the possibility of hosting DC United games at an University of Maryland location.

    The DCU is having some serious problems with its aging 50 years old RFK stadium. If the published reports are correct, they are not getting a much needed help from the DC government to fix the stadium.

    This has generated a discussion of hosting DC Uited games somewhere else, for example  at an University of Maryland location.

    The idea of having a soccer stadium inside the UMD campus is not quite new. Years ago, as part of the campus master plan, a soccer stadium was eyed around the Comcast Center basketball arena.

    Currently, the UMD already has a modest soccer “stadium” (Ludwig Field) that seats around only 8,000.  DC United wants a stadium that could seat around 25,000, and an expanded soccer stadium on UMD campus could serve both teams.

    Having a larger soccer stadium in the UMD campus can be a win-win deal for both the University of Maryland and the City of College Park. The UMD can get some good chunk of revenues when it is in the middle of cutting back its athletic programs.

    The city businesses can also benefit from the influx of spectators. In addition to that, the City can also gain as much as 400,000 dollars in A & A taxes every year by providing City services during the games.

    On the flip side, I understand there could be some valid concerns in the areas of traffic and the post-game riots, but these issues can be addressed with a good plan. For example we can probably work on a public transportation program that would reduce vehicle trips on city’s main streets. Once the Purple line runs through the campus, things should even improve.

    These are my initial ideas. I’m curious to know your thoughts on these.

    Skate Park Maintenance Still an Issue

    Rendering of the proposed Sunnyside Skate Park

    The Council discussed the maintenance of the  Sunnyside Skate Park on last Tuesday’s council work session.

    The Park and Planning who currently owns the Park has made a request to College Park to maintain the Park, while keeping the ownership of the park.

    However the City wants to get the ownership of the park and once the annexation happens, it’d like to start maintaining the park.

    While we debate the ownership transfer of the park, I was wondering who’d be maintaining the park. As the City’s planning department said, the park should be ready by early next year. I asked this question to the City attorney . She said the Park and Panning will be “legally” bound to maintain the park until then.

    Let’s hope the City and the Park / Planning sort out this annexation and the maintenance business as soon as they can.

    Traffic Issue Dominates Cafritz Discussion

    Cafritz development Map

    The Cafritz development attorney Chip Reed came over to the council to update the development plan their proposed development plan.

    Though the 36 acre development is in the City of Riverdale Park, but because of its close proximity to College Park, its development has caused enormous interest among City residents and officials.

    One of the issues that dominated Wednesday night’s meeting was the traffic issues. According to some preliminary traffic studies, the development may add an estimated 19,000 daily trips to the already congested Route 1 traffic.

    There have been some suggestions to build a crossings across the CSX tracks to ease the traffic, however the developer is saying that it would cost some 10 million dollars to build it. Without public financing, this is not possible, according to the developer.

    Like Riverale Park, College Park City staff wants to proceed with changing the current zoning from MUI to MUTC (Mixed Use Town Center). The zoning change would allow the development of businesses and town houses in the west part of the site.

    Details Emerge on College Park Academy

    Old Friends School on Calvert Road - a possible site for proposed College Park Academy

    In last night’s council work session, the Council agreed to submit a letter of intent to establish a new Charter school to the Prince George’s county public schools.

    According to the letter, the mission of College Park Academy is to provide a rigorous and innovative “personalized middle college” program serving grades 7-12. Students at College Park Academy will not only have access to a top-quality college preparatory program that rivals the best in the nation, but also the opportunity to graduate from high school with significant college credit — all while enjoying a cutting-edge learning approach that adapts to their individual needs.

    College Park Academy Public Charter School proposes to offer the following:
    · A top-quality, college-preparatory curriculum aligned to state and Common Core standards, including courses offered in partnership with the University.
    · High school courses/instruction integrated into the middle school and college-level courses/instruction integrated into the high school to facilitate students graduating with up to 60 college credits.
    · Intellectually challenging projects to super-charge learning.
    · A blended learning approach to maximize student achievement while personalizing the school experience.
    · A safe, high-expectations campus where students will thrive.

    Program Focus/Theme of the charter will be “Personalized Middle College.”

    The student enrollment breakdown, by year, and the appropriate grades to be served is as follows:

    Year (based on opening year) Grades Number of Students
    2013-2014 7-9 150
    2014-2015 7-10 275
    2015-2016 7-11 425
    22016-2017 7-12 525
    2017-2018 7-12 575

    Grade levels to be served: At opening: 9th Grade At full enrollment: 7th-12th Grade

    Though the document is not specific saying that the physical location of College Park Academy Public Charter School “is within the greater College Park vicinity, at a specific site to be determined”, the old Friends Community School at Calvert Road  has been eyed as a possible location.

    The school is not willing to share a location with another school, if available.

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