Is UM-Shuttle Effective?

Shuttle - UM

Early this month, the City received a letter from the University of Maryland Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) asking the City to complete a short questionnaire about the impact of UM-Shuttle services on the City as well as the future needs of our community from DOTS.

The City pays several thousands dollars every year to UMD DOTS, so that residents can ride these shuttles free. Residents must register with the City before they ride UM-Shuttles.

The questionnaire serves as an opportunity for the City to give input to DOTS as part of their ten year strategic plan update.

The questions include:

(1) How the City sees DOT’s current impact?

(2) does it have concerns with Current Shuttle-UM service areas and/or bus stop locations, current hours of Shuttle-UM service and current volume (amount) of Shuttle-UM bus traffic

(3) What does the City envision for DOT’s future role, Is the City interested in more, less, or roughly the same amount of Shuttle-UM commuter transit service in the future?

The request for City input about DOTS services aligns well with timing of the City’s FY 2013 Action Plan and the City’s desire to improve public transportation. Council has the opportunity to discuss larger public transportation goals while determining answers to the DOTS questionnaire.

In tomorrow’s worksession, the Council will discuss to generate answers to the these DOTS questionnaire. It will also talk about of the City’s future transportation-related needs, how the City can obtain them, and who else needs to partner in the effort to accomplish the goals.

In Pictures – Maryland Day, 2012

NCP Crime Stats: April 17 – 26

Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
04/15/2012 1024 THEFT 9100 Block BALTIMORE AVE
04/17/2012 1113 THEFT 9500 Block 48TH PL
04/17/2012 1839 THEFT 5000 Block  MANGUM RD
04/17/2012 1909 THEFT FROM AUTO 9100 Block RHODE ISLAND AVE
04/18/2012 853 THEFT 4700 Block CHERRY HILL RD
04/19/2012 1512 THEFT 4700 Block CHERRY HILL RD
04/21/2012 126 THEFT 8100 Block BALTIMORE AVE
04/21/2012 330 AUTO, STOLEN & RECOVERED 9300 Block CHERRY HILL RD

04/24/2012 2315 THEFT FROM AUTO 4700 Block CHERRY HILL RD
04/25/2012 1428 THEFT 10100 Block 52ND AVE
04/25/2012 1913 ASSAULT 9100 BlockBALTIMORE AVE
04/26/2012 215 AUTO, STOLEN 9200 Block WOFFORD LN
04/26/2012 758 AUTO, STOLEN 3600 Block MARLBROUGH WAY
04/26/2012 848 THEFT FROM AUTO 9300 Block CHERRY HILL RD
04/26/2012 2049 AUTO, IMPOUND 5000 Block MUSKOGEE ST
04/26/2012 2110 THEFT FROM AUTO 8700 Block BALTIMORE AVE

College Park to Brace Thousands on Maryland Day, Tomorrow

Maryland Day – the University of Maryland’s popular – and free – open house – will celebrate its fourteenth anniversary April 28 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. in College Park.

Now one of the top annual events in the state of Maryland, the university welcomes the entire Washington, D.C.  region to have fun, learn and explore.

This year the University will  be highlighted as a 21st Century Land Grant Institution that has a major impact not just in the Washington, DC region but in the state, nation and world!

All over Maryland’s 1250 acre campus, visitors can “Explore Our World” with tours, exhibits and demonstrations. The university is broken up into six specific areas of exploration, learning and fun:  Science and Tech Way, Ag Day Avenue, Arts Alley, Sports and Rec Row, Biz and Society Hill, Terp Town Center.

Maryland sports fans can head over to Comcast Center for autographs with their favorite Terp men and women’s basketball players. Terp gear will also be on sale. The men’s football team — including coach Randy Edsall – will be signing autographs at Byrd Stadium. There will be no red-white football scrimmage on Maryland Day this year.

The National Archives, NASA, NIST and Smithsonian Institution will all be at Maryland Day with exhibits, information and fun.

Visitors can pet animals at the campus farm, instruments at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and insects in the Plant Sciences Building. Explore majors and college financing, talk to our deans, be part of an archeological dig or get blown away in our famous wind tunnel. Alumni find Maryland Day is a great way to reconnect with campus.

Maryland Day is family friendly with many fun events for young children on McKeldin Mall. Don’t miss a scoop of Maryland ice cream at the Dairy — the express line means quicker service! Admission and parking are free, and there will be free shuttle buses to and from the College Park Metro and on campus. Visitors are encouraged to take Metro.  Navigation is easy with the help of complementary activity maps that include descriptions of all events. Plan your day online at http://www.marylandday.umd.edu/ or email questions to: mddayhelp@umd.edu.

College Park Budget for Community Review

College Park Budget for Residents Review

Our FY2013 budget book is a very large 415 page document. While some will (thankfully) take the time and pain to go over this huge book, I assume most of us will not have the time to do the same. This led me to think of a shorter version of our budget book that is easy for our residents to understand instead of going through this big complex document.

With the help of my colleagues on the Council and our City staff, I’ve prepared a short preview document that highlights the most important information about our budget. It does not include all the details, thus please feel free to ask any question you may have.

You can download this preview document here.

Also, please attend our Budget Town Hall meeting tonight at 7pm at Davis Hall. Five College Park Council members (Wojahn, Kabir, Afzali, Catlin and Mitchell) will be there to answer your questions. Seee you all there.

PGPOA Petitions “Legally Insufficient” – City Attorney Says

Letter showing City Attorney's opinion on PGPOA petitions

At last night’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Ms. Suellen Ferguson reported that the recently submitted petitions by the Prince George’s Property Owners’ Association are “Legally insufficient”.

City received two charter referendum petitions on March 22, 2012 meeting, when the Council referred the petitions to the attorney for a legal opinion whether he subject matter of each petition is appropriate for a proposed charter amendment placed on the ballot.

Ms. Ferguson said her opinion was based on a number of reasons.

She said the form of petition does not comply with the requirements of the City Charter, as they do not include each signer’s City district. Board of Election Supervisor Jack Robson also spoke later to the Council on this ballot format issue.

She also said, according to the City Charter, the amendment must embrace only one subject, whereas the PGPOA petitions were based on two subject.

Finally, she said the amendment has the effect of transferring the Council’s ability to set tax rate to voters ans this is an unreasonable limit on the Council’s legislative power. The tax revenues would eventually hamper the City government that it would be unable to perform teh duties required by state law, she added.

You can see the reports from Ms. Ferguson and the Board of Elections Supervisor here and here respectively.

City to Spend $1M on Davis Hall Improvement

Davis Hall

At tonight’s regular meeting, the Council will introduce an ordinance to amend FY 2012 budget to fund public works modular building replacement and City Hall expansion.

In FY2011, the City had an undesignated surplus of $1,405,053. We have previously identified the need for capital project funding for the Public Works Facility modular building replacement and the proposed City Hall expansion.

In order to reduce the need for borrowing for these projects, staff is proposing that we transfer $1,400,000 from the unassigned (formerly known as “undesignated”) reserve to the C.I.P. $1,000,000 should cover the estimated cost of the modular building replacement, including removal of the existing modular building and site preparation.

The remaining $400,000 is a deposit toward the City Hall expansion. The FYI3 requested budget provides an additional $500,000 for the City Hall expansion project.

This budget amendment reduces the unassigned reserve as a percentage of the FYI3 requested expenditure budget from 38.84% to 29.18%.

A public hearing will be held on the proposed Ordinance at 7:20 p.m. on the 8th day of May, 2012.

[Council member Wojahn and I will miss the public hearings tomorrow night and possibly the beginning of the meeting, because the County public hearing on the Park and Planning budget will be taking place at the same time.  We will be there to testify in support of earlier funding for a feasibility study for the North College Park Community Center, as well as for a number of other projects to improve Birch Field and other College Park facilities.]

City Attorney to Present Report on PGPOA Rent Control Petitions

PGPOA petition letter

The Prince George’s Property Owner Association (PGPOA) recently submitted a series of two proposed Charter amendments, which, if legally valid and if they include the appropriate number of valid signatures, will appear on the ballot for an upcoming City special election.

At the April 10 regular meeting, the Council approved these petitions so that they can be reviewed by the Board of Elections Supervisors and the City attorney.

Accordingly, the City Attorney Ms. Ferguson is currently reviewing these petitions to determine whether they meet the legal requirements under State law for a municipal Charter amendment, including both the requirements of Article 23A of the State Code and case law interpreting these provisions.

Ms. Ferguson will report on the results of her review at tomorrow night’s council meeting. The Council will not vote on Ms. Ferguson’s report.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Council Requests More Funds for Police, Noise Control and Other Programs

Council requested additional $100K for Contract police program

In the two worksessions we had past two Saturdays, Council made a number of additions to the exiting budget. They include

  • Additional $100 for contrat police program
  • $25K for business recycling incentive program
  • $20K for noise control enforcement
  • $20K for Duvall Field netting work
  • Put funds in the budget to increase the number of trees that the City can plant in our community
  • Put in funds to support the start of the College Park Academy public charter school
  • Put in a small amount of funds for a City Council retreat sometime in the next year
  • Small fund for College Park Community Foundation
  • Increase funds for Meals on Wheels

The budget also includes a 2% COLA for staff and a 2.5% merit increase for employees who meet required standards.

Please let me know if you have any questions

Transparency in City Budget Presentation

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

City has been working hard to make our budget transparent to our residents. Here are a few steps it has taken towards that goal:

After the City publishes its draft budget on its website, the City Council holds two long worksessions to go over the parts of budget allocated to different departments. These work sessions are broadcast live and are also recorded for residents to watch at a later time.

Additionally, the City holds public hearing for residents to make comments on the budget.

City Council members also often hold town hall meetings with their constituents to discuss the budget. This year we will be holding our meeting on this Thursday at 7:30pm at Davis Hall.

Internal audits on City’s financial situation are performed periodically, as needed, to ensure fiscalcompliance and safeguarding of City assets. Maryland state law and the City’s Charterrequire that an annual audit be performed by independent certified public accountants inaccordance with generally accepted auditing standards. The auditing firm is selected byand directs its report to the City Council.

Because of the transparency and excellence in City’s budget presentation, The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) presented its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award to City for its annual budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012 (fiscal year 2012).

Earth Day Festival, This Weekend

Earth Day event at Duvall Field, 2011

This weekend, the City of College Park, Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission, College Park Arts Exchange, and donors Brita FilterForGood., Polar Bottle, LunchSkins, and ecoartware.com will be organize a City wide Earth Day festival

The Festival starts at 9 a.m. with the Volunteer Project. Volunteers will remove invasive species and trash from the Paint Branch Stream off of Cherry Hill Road in College Park, MD.

Signing up for the project guarantees your Brita FilterForGood. or Polar Bottle reusable water bottle. The Festival continues at Duvall Field, 9601 Rhode Island Avenue, College Park, MD, with performance and film in the evening.

On April 22, the Festival starts at 12 noon and continues until 8 p.m. at Duvall Field and features more performance, environmental and leadership speakers, information tables, the opportunity to speak with your representatives, and green vendors.

To sign up for the Volunteer Project and to get up-to-date details about the Festival, go to http://cpearthday.wordpress.com/ and follow us on Twitter @cpedfestival

Is Contract Police Program Effective?

As part of our current FY 2013 budget review process, I was looking at the  latest residents’ satisfaction survey on City’s contract police program.

The City currently employs 9.22 full time contract police officers in its pay roll (8 hrs a day). This means at any given time during 24 hours a day, we should be seeing nearly 3 (3.07 to be exact) contract police officers patrolling our entire city. We also have 2 full time PGPD officers who patrol the entire city in two patrols beats – Beat 7 in north and Beat 6 in south College Park. This means we have about 1.25 police officer patrolling our streets in each district, 24 hours a day.

Additionally the PGPD has some 8-10 officers who patrol in a much larger area, stretching from IKEA in the north to Eastern avenue in the south but  there is no guarantee that they would be in one particular neighborhood in one given time. There is also a fairly large number of UMD police officers who patrol the concurrent jurisdiction areas in south College Park. North College park is not part of this jurisdiction,

Per the residents survey, there appears to be fairly good number of residents who have not-so-good views of the current contract police program. For example, only 52% of city residents consider the effectiveness of the contract police program is either good or excellent, the rest consider it either poor or fair. Unless we lower our bar of measuring excellence and consider the numbers in the “fair” category lie within the satisfactory range, the survey results seem alarming to me.

This leaves me to question why residents think this way. Is this because we do not see enough police patrol cars on our streets or we think they are nor efficient enough to earn good marks. I will appreciate your feedback on this. You can email me at fkabir@collegeparkmd.gov or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Community Walk with Police, This Friday

Walk and Talk May 2011

Join Us For a Walk and Talk on Public Safety in the Hollywood Neighborhood

The Community Liaison officer of the Prince George’s Police in North College Park, Corporal Erol Lobin will be with us during the walk.

We will be meeting at the the Greenbelt Metro Station Lackawanna Street Entrance at 6:00 pm Friday, April 20.

Come with your questions about police coverage in Northern College Park and recent crime incidents.

This is the third time we’re  having such an event. We had one in May last year and  another in June in 2010 before. I hope we have more of these events in future, more frequently.

Please try to come and spread the word!

Council Set to Support Community Projects

City plans to help community projects like College Park Community Library through community services grants

In tonight’s work session, the Mayor and the Council will discuss this year’s community services grants to a number of local community organizations.

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

The City provides these grants every year to fund programs and activities that promote enhanced community opportunities for its residents.

The City has $15,000 budgeted in FY 2012 to allocate among the applicants, and may give a maximum of $2,500 to each organization.

This year, the City received applications from 11 organizations requesting a total of $25,600, making this one of the most competitive years that the grant program has ever faced. A subcommittee has made the following recommendation to the Council to allocate the funds as follows:

  • Hollywood Elementary School, for family instructional nights – $1,260 (of $2,100 requested)
  • The National Museum of Language (for exhibit improvement and development) – $1,500 (of $2,500 requested)
  • The Lakeland Community Heritage Project (for Lakeland Heritage Weekend) – $1,750 (of $2,500 requested)
  • The American Legion Auxiliary, College Park Unit 217 (for scholarships) – $1,000 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Pregnancy Aid Centers, Inc. (for food pantry program) – $2,000 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Boy Scout Troop 298 (for leadership education for young men) – $1,000 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Cub Scout Troop 298 (to subsidize Cub Scout program) – $1,000 (of $2,500 requested)
  • College Park Woods Swim Club (for Senior Summer Day Camp) – $1,500 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Girl Scout Council Unit 23-5 (f/b/o Robert Boone) (for community garden of North College Park) – $500 (of $1,000 requested)
  • College Park Church of the Nazarene (for College Park community library) – $1,740 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Embry Center for Family Life (for Lakeland All-Stars Basketball Program) – $1,750 (of $2,500 requested)

Please let me know if you have any comments about these grants.

John E. Perry (1943 – 2012)

Jack Perry

The long time ‘former’ councilman Jack Perry is not with us anymore.

Early this morning, I received an email from our City staff that brought the sad news. The email read:

It is with deep sadness that we report that Councilman Perry died this morning.  Sean Perry called Joe [City Manager] shortly after 7:00 a.m. to tell him that his Dad was in the hospital.  Before Joe could get there, at around 9:00 a.m., he had passed away.  Joe visited with Jack at home on Friday afternoon.  It was Sunday afternoon that Jack took a turn for the worse and was taken to the hospital.

For those of you who know Mr Perry, I’m sure the news of his death brings immense shock and sadness. He had been a hard working councilman who always looked after his constituents. It’s true at times he was critical towards his colleagues on the Council, but his opposition was all about the well being of his constituents.

There are many lessons to learn for me and my colleagues on the Council from the legacy of Jack’s long and dedicated years of service.

The main one is his tireless and consistent constituency services. It has become a legend how Jack used to drive around his neighborhood every weekend and made a list of issues that needed to be addressed. Our City manager Joe Nagro told us how Jack used to report to him every Sunday evening with the list of issues he found during his weekly neighborhood trip.

The other issue for which I have deep respect for Jack is about his fearlessness in speaking out against the issues he did not agree with. Often on the Council session, he did not go with his colleagues and thus gave his lone negative vote. He did not fear the consequence of being “singled out” among his colleagues. His reasoned opposition to issues made the council under check. He helped our council stay away from becoming a “rubber-stamped” council.

Jack has left us, but his legacy must live among us for years to come.

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