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Group Sets Strategies for ‘Community Building’ in College Park

The Community Building Task Force of College Park Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Work Group worked over the past several months to develop a number of potential strategies for the various stakeholders and policy makers to consider. This is an interim and draft document that outlines ideas raised by committee members and members of the public at the previous public forum held on January 29, 2013, and it is meant to give the public an opportunity to provide input on these ideas and potential strategies.

It is important to note that these are not “recommendations” of the committee- the committee was asked to compile all of the suggestions and not to eliminate any from consideration at this time. There are various challenges to each suggested strategy, and the Task Force’s final report will discuss pros and cons as well as challenges for each strategy.

The Task Force was informed by the various groups represented on the Task Force as well as the Public Testimony provided on January 29, 2013. There is a broad and general recognition that a new course of action is required by all stakeholders to address the community’s concerns and that the status quo is unacceptable.

The items that the task force discussed were not contentious; community building inherently lends itself agreeable solutions. The following are solutions to the goals of community building, the primary focus on making our community one which everyone can be proud of.

Coordinate Block Parties to Encourage Neighbors to Get to Know Each Other
Action Required: Find most appropriate areas in the city, coordinate neighbors to work together to organize the events. Establish best practices to recommend to new blocks.
Creative Trash Cans
Action Required: Public Works should determine the most useful locations for additional trash cans. They should then work with the university to design decorative Maryland-themed Trash Cans.
Create Greek Team Captains/Student Service Corps
Action Required: Have Greek organizations determine who should be team captain for each block. Organize team captains to educate and ensure students are doing what they should to be good neighbors. Work with Jackie to incorporate students into Student Service Corps.
Create Citizen Service Corps
Action Required: Determine demand for service in the city. Coordinate efforts with Student Service Corps to see if they can work together.
Proactive Walkups
Action Required: Have all parties’ involved work with the UMPD and PGPD to increase the frequency of proactive walkups, as they are effective in preventing undesired behavior

NCP Crime Map: April 21-27, 2013

Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
04/21/2013 836 THEFT FROM AUTO 9300 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
04/22/2013 1551 B & E, RESIDENTIAL 9700 Blk 52ND AVE
04/22/2013 1906 THEFT 9000 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
04/23/2013 419 AUTO, STOLEN 10100 Blk 52ND AVE
04/23/2013 741 THEFT FROM AUTO 5000 Blk ONTARIO RD
04/25/2013 1432 THEFT FROM AUTO 9500 Blk 48TH PL
04/27/2013 538 ASSAULT 5200 Blk MINEOLA RD
04/27/2013 1556 THEFT FROM AUTO 9000 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
04/27/2013 2305 AUTO, STOLEN 5100 Blk  KENESAW ST

Pepco to Give Away Free Trees to Maryland Customers

Arbor Day

In its third year as an Arbor Day Foundation partner, Pepco is providing free trees to customers in Maryland and the District of Columbia through the Energy-Saving Trees program. The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member non-profit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information about the Foundation and its conservation programs can be found at www.arborday.org.

Launched as a pilot initiative in 2011, the Energy-Saving Trees program conserves energy and reduces household electricity bills through strategic tree planting.

As a Pepco customer, you can reserve their free trees today at www.arborday.org/pepco.

Weekend Activities – Maryland Day, Festivals, Outdoor Fun and More..

Its going to be a great weekend – for loads of reasons (Maryland Day, festivals, outdoor fun, etc.) . Here is more..

Today:

  • On your marks! Start off at 8am with the Tortoise and Hare 5K Race at the Greenbelt Youth Center.
  • Get set! Sprint off to the Mount Rainier-Gateway 5K at Mount Rainier City hall at 10am.
  • GO! Go to Maryland Day from 10am to 4pm at the University of Maryland. Find us at McKeldin Mall and say hello!
  • Maybe you are in for a slower pace today? The Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Tea, and the Arts is a great day among vendors for herbs, teas, handmade items, and more – or listen to music and play games. Lots of great kids activiteis too. Runs from 10 am to 4pm at Montpelier Mansion gardens.
  • Also at 10am, at Bladensburg Waterfront Park are Kayak Lessons (sign up required) and Arts Drop In at College Park Community Center.
  • Later in the day – at 1pm, you can have some Geocaching and Scavenger Hunt fun at Bladensburg Waterfront Park.
  • If 1812 archeology is more your style, head out to Nottingham (south of Upper Marlboro on Croom Road) to see some of the finds made in this historic community as part of Archeology and the War of 1812.
  • At 3pm, another performance of Following Sarah at Venus Theater Play Shack.
  • At 5pm, its the return of the Anacostia River Pontoon Boat Tours (every Saturday and Sunday!) for a peaceful trip out of Bladensburg Waterfront Park.
  • At 8pm, Following Sarah at Venus Theater Play Shack; Big River at Greenbelt Arts Center; and Dallas Black Dance Theater at Publick Playhouse.

Tomorrow:
This is a fuller Sunday than we are used to, but that’s ok! Start out early at 10am with Fishing 101 at Bladensburg Waterfront Park.

  • At 2pm, we really get moving with: In Time of Roses (Theater) at CSPAC; Graduate Fellowship Chamber Ensemble (Music) at CSPAC; and the UMD Koto Ensemble (Japanese Music) at CSPAC.
  • Also at 2pm, the National Wildlife Visitors Center has a program for those 8-10 about the Chesapeake Bay called – Down by the Bay.
  • Still keeping things moving, at 3pm, Gavin Fallow with classical violin at the College Park Arts Exchange or catch the matinee of Following Sarah at Venus Theater Play Shack.
  • At 4pm, the Dallas Black Theater returns for their last performance of the weekend at the Publick Playhouse.

[Courtesy of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area]

FY 2014 Budget for Community Review

FY2014 Budget for Community Review

Our 2014 budget book is a very large 400+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. This will be the second year we’re doing this for teh community to review.

You can download this preview document here.

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

Seee you all there.

PGPD Releases Bike Safety Tips

Bike safety tips


Now that the weather is getting nice make sure we follow these tips while riding a bicycle.

Riding a bike is beneficial because it is exercise for your body, and it conserves fuel; however, it must be done in a safe manner. Knowing proper protocol while riding on the street with motor vehicles is a must!

Thanks to Prince George’s Police for releasing these tips.

  • Make sure the reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
  • Make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors and a light if you ride in low-light conditions.
  • Wear clothes and accessories that have retro reflective materials to improve biker visibility to motorists.
  • Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against.
  • Stay as far to the right as possible.
- Always use hand signals before turning or stopping. 
- Respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stop lights.
  • Stop and look left, right and left again before entering a street or crossing an intersection.
  • Look back and yield to traffic coming from behind before turning left. 
- Ride in a straight line… no weaving. 
- Make eye contact with other drivers before turning.
  • Watch carefully for cars.
  • Allow enough room to your left for cars to pass.
  • ALWAYS need to wear a helmet and eye protection that meets safety standards.

Maryland Day, 2013 @ UMd, This Saturday

Tonight’ Council Meeting, April 23, 2013

College Park City Hall

Here is the agenda for tonight’s Council meeting.

Proclamations and Presentations:
1.ARBOR DAY PROCLAMATION. The Council will be issuing a proclamation for Labor Day, which is April 26, marking the day in 1872 that J. Sterling Morton planted more than a million trees in Nebraska. College Park has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA due to its practices preserving our tree canopy.

2.MARYLAND DAY 2013: EXPLORE OUR WORLD OF FEARLESS IDEAS. Maryland Day is a massive annual event at the University of Maryland typically attended by tens of thousands of people, with events and activities from just about every department and student organization on campus. This year, Maryland Day will be taking place next Saturday, April 27, from 10 am-4 pm. The University of Maryland will be present Tuesday night to talk about some of the features of the event. Please try to come next week, and if you do, come visit us at the College Park City tent on McKeldin Mall!

3.LAKELAND STARs PRESENTATION BY PAINT BRANCH STUDENTS AND U-MD TUTORS. The Lakeland STARs (which stands for Students Taking Active Responsibility) program is a collaboration between the University of Maryland and Paint Branch Elementary School to tutor students from the Lakeland neighborhood in College Park. Every year, tutors from the STARs program come before the Council with some of the students they’ve tutored to talk about the experience. This year, the program will be giving special recognition to graduating senior Niklas Berry.

Proposed Consent Agenda:
4.13-G-56 – SPRING FIELD USE REQUESTS FOR USE OF DUVALL FIELD AND CONCESSION BUILDING AND CALVERT SCHOOL FIELD BY THE COLLEGE PARK BOYS & GIRLS CLUB The College Park Boys and Girls Club (CPB&GC) uses Duvall Field and Calvert Hills Field for Spring and Summer athletic events such as softball, football, lacrosse, soccer, T-ball and baseball, at times specified by the approved Field Use Requests. The CPB&GC has submitted field use requests to the Recreation Board as required. The CPB&GC has submitted requests to use Duvall Field and the Calvert Hills for consideration. The requests are to hold various sports events and activities from March 1, 2012 through July 31, 2013 and include a request for use of the Duvall Field Concession Stand throughout the year for all sports events. The City Council has determined that the CPB&GC should have precedence over all other field use requests. This is established by Council adoption of Section IV.2 of the City Recreation Facilities Rules and Regulations; the full text of which is available on the City’s website here . The Council will consider approval of the Field Use Requests from the CPB&GC for the use of Duvall Field (and the Refreshment Stand) and Calvert Hills Field for 2013 Spring sports events as part of the consent agenda at tomorrow’s meeting.

Read more »

Group Sets Strategies to Increase City’s Home Ownership

Home ownership

The College Park Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Work Group has recently come up with a set of strategies to increase the number and percent of owner-occupied houses in the City and creating a stable, low-turnover resident population.

While many of these strategies are focused on the University of Maryland, many of them could also be applicable to staff of other large employers in the area, including the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), NASA-Goddard, and others.

The will host a second public forum at the City Hall on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. to present and take public comment on potential strategies it is compiling for addressing challenges related to rental properties in our community.

The strategies include:
1. Forgivable home purchasing loan program. The University of Maryland and other employers could provide forgivable loans to encourage their staff to purchase homes and live in the city of College Park. Unlike grant programs, forgivable loan programs do not have to be considered as taxable income and therefore may be more attractive.

2. Mortgage insurance program. The University of Maryland can provide incentives to faculty and staff by offering a mortgage insurance program in which the University backs the mortgages of staff and/or faculty that choose to live in College Park.

3. Home ownership grants. The city currently has a “New Neighbor Homeownership Grant Program” that provides grants to encourage homeowners to purchase homes in College Park; the program is specifically focused on purchases of a previously rented home and foreclosed or short sale properties, but this restriction does not apply to purchasers who are a police officer, career firefighter, or EMT (who can use the grant to support any College Park home purchase).

4. Forgivable home improvement loans. Forgivable loans to support home improvements could help to retain homeowners who already own homes in College Park but want to upgrade their homes. Existing programs in other places sometimes restrict such loans just to façade renovations, while others allow interior repairs, exterior repairs, or to conversion of a property from a multi-family to a single-family residence.

5. Housing resource center. This strategy would focus on helping prospective homeowners and renters find housing that matches their needs.

6. Ground lease for-sale development program. Homes would be sold under a long-term ground lease arrangement. This means that a buyer would purchase the home, but not the land, which the buyer would lease from UM or a UM-affiliated entity. The ground lease program enhances affordability by removing the cost of the land from the purchase price.

7. Reduce or eliminate school facilities surcharge exemption for student housing. This exemption, created by state legislation, provides an incentive for developers to focus just on student housing – and conversely, a disincentive to build other housing types that do not receive this exemption.

8. Aging-in-place programs. These programs may contribute to preventing the conversion of owner-occupied housing to rental properties if they help home-owners stay in their houses longer.

9. Marketing materials to encourage potential residents to live in College Park. Developing and disseminating marketing materials may help to attract prospective homeowners. University faculty and staff are one obvious audience for such marketing efforts but other large employers in the area should also be considered.

10. Institute a waiting period before investors can bid on a home. When a home goes up for sale, the city might require an extended waiting period before investors can bid on the home, giving potential owner-occupants more time to make a bid and purchase the house.

11. Offer assistance to sellers to help target prospective owner-occupants. Provide resources or educational materials to help sellers target potential owner-occupants. These materials could help sellers prepare their house to appeal to potential homeowners, through repairs, staging and improving “curb appeal.”

12. Improve K-12 education options for College Park residents. The College Park Academy could be a valuable tool for attracting University faculty and staff to live in College Park if some seats were set aside for College Park residents. Converting this charter school to a hybrid of neighborhood school as well as choice school would allow the school to continue to serve the county as a whole while also meeting the particular needs of College Park to increase home ownership.

13. Resident discount for or access to University amenities. This includes activities such as the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and athletic events. This might also include lifelong learning programs for city residents, use of the library, and recreational facilities.

14. Summer camp scholarships. Continue, and possibly expand, the recently started summer camp scholarship program for city residents attending camps at the University.

NCP Crime Stats: April 17 – 20, 2013

Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
04/17/2013 1725 ASSAULT 9600 Blk 52ND AVE
04/18/2013 2106 ROBBERY, OTHER 9300 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
04/19/2013 1413 AUTO, RECOVERED 9500 Blk 48TH AVE

City’s Code and Parking Enforcement Staff Salaries and Rates

Recently, a resident asked about salaries / rates of our code and parking enforcement officers. I thought, some of you may find this information helpful as well.

ANNUAL SALARIES RANGE
Parking Enforcement Officers :
PEO I Grade-6 $ 33,221 – $ 57,090
PEO II Grade-7 $ 34,606 – $ 59,471

Code Enforcement Officers:
CEO I Grade-8 $ 35,990 – $ 61,850
CEO II Grade-10 $ 38,761 – $ 66,611
CEO III Grade-12 $ 41,531 – 71,370

HOURLY SALARY RANGE
Parking Enforcement Officers:
PEO I G-6 $ 15.97 – $ 27.44
PEO II G-7 $ 16.63 – $ 28.59

PEO NIGHT SHIFT DIFFERENTIAL OF $1.00/hour after 5 p.m.

Code Enforcement Officers:
CEO I G-8 $ 17.30 – $ 29.73
CEO II G-10 $ 18.63 –$ 32.02
CEO III G-12 $ 29.96 –$ 34.31

CEO NIGHT SHIFT DIFFERENTIAL OF $1.00/hour after 6 p.m.

Staff are routinely scheduled to work on Saturdays (PEO & CEO ) , Sundays ( CEO), and nights ( PEO Monday-Saturday, CEO Thursday –Saturday. They are paid at their regular Grade and Merit Step for a normal 40 hour work week and receive applicable Night Shift Differential. Staff are normally scheduled to cover these hours and shifts as part of their regular 40 hour work week. When it is necessary to schedule staff over 40 hours/week to cover shifts vacant due to leave, sickness, or special events they are paid at an overtime rate that is 1.5 times their base hourly rate.

Forum to Discuss Rental Related Quality of Life Issues

The City of College Park’s Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Workgroup will host a second public forum on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, to present and take public comment on potential strategies they have compiled for addressing challenges we face from rental properties in our community.

At the workgroup’s first public forum on January 29, members of the College Park community spoke about their quality of life concerns, the need to maintain owner-occupied housing, and the need to provide a diverse range of housing opportunities for students, faculty and staff of the University of Maryland, and other employees in and residents of College Park. Since that time, four task forces have been working to develop possible strategies to address the concerns raised at the public forum, focusing on four topics: 1) Reducing loud parties and other quality of life issues, 2) Increasing home-ownership in the City, 3) Building positive student-resident relations, and 4) Increasing the diversity of housing types.

The potential strategies compiled by the task forces will be shared with the public via the City website, at http://collegeparkmd.gov/NSQLWG.php.

Members of the public are encouraged to provide their comments on these potential strategies, either by attending the Public Forum on April 30 or by submitting written comments via email to qualityoflife@collegeparkmd.gov or via regular mail to Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Workgroup, 4500 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740. The record will remain open until May 7, 2013.

Route 1 Ride Bus Wrap Unveiled

Route 1 Bus Design

Please see at the left a picture of the new Route 1 Ride (TheBus Route 17) wrap! This design was selected by a committee of local leaders from designs submitted by residents.

The unveiling of the new wrap will be on Monday, April 29 at 11 am at a location yet to be announced.

The public is welcome to attend. Refreshments from local Route 1 businesses will be served after the ceremony. RSVP to Tina Butler at ttbutler@co.pg.md.us, 301-952-3060

Thanks to County Councilmember Olson for his work in making this happen!

You can find more about the bus here on the Route 1 bus’s website.

Council Decides to Reduce Property Tax Hike

The Mayor and Council went over City manager’s proposed FY 2014 budget last Saturday and also last night and made some adjustments.

The major change we made was reducing the property tax hike by 25% (from 0.34 to 0.335 per $100 of assessed value). Considering the PILOTs and the impact on personal property tax, this will cost the City approximately to generate $110,000 in revenue.

The City plans to make up this amount from a number of sources:

  • Decrease litigation expenditures from $25,000 to $15,000. Since the Council has places rent stabilization on hold, the City’s litigation expenditures have decreased, so we voted to amend the budget to reflect that.
  • Decrease the Assistant City Manager position from 12 months to 9 months – with salary and benefits this will save the City about $27,000.
  • Restore the contract police program to the full number of hours – due to benefit changes for police officers, the cost of hiring them has increased, and the City Manager proposed reducing the hours of contract police by 0.05 FTE’s. This will keep the FTE’s constant at a cost of $5,200.
  • Increase occupancy permit fees approximately 6% to have occupancy permit revenue cover 75% self-support of Code Enforcement programs – this will raise approximately $45,000.

The other changes include an increase in mayor and council’s salary (for new Council) 10% with fringe benefits, effective 01/01/14 ( for 6 months). This will only cost the City 2,562. My colleagues argued that the salary has not increased for the past 6 years following the inflation rate changes. It passed 7-0-1. I abstained from voting, given timing of change, when we’re asking our residents to pay extra in their property taxes. The Council also decided to increase student liaison stipend by 10% ($150/month).

Council member Wojahn and I, together with Councilmembers Dennis, Catlin and Mitchell, will be holding a town hall meeting to answer questions about the budget and the FY 14 Action Plan and hear your comments and concerns on Monday, April 29 at 7 pm at Davis Hall. The public hearing on the budget will be held on Tuesday, May 14, before the Council meeting.

Council to Discuss Greenbelt Development Agreement and FBI Relocation

The Council will hear an update on the North Core development tonight and consider a revision to the North Core development agreement. The State of Maryland recently agreed to support one location for the FBI at the Greenbelt Metro station, while at least two different Virginia locations are also vying for the development (see here).

We will hear about any new information about what the prospects are for the FBI relocating to Greenbelt Station. The City has an existing agreement in place from October 2005, which included both the North Core and the South Core and required the developer to give $2.5 million to the City for various improvements around the City, to be adjusted for inflation. Half of this amount was to become available at the first major outsale of the North Core, and half of this was to become available at the first major outsale of the South Core.

The funds are meant to go toward improvements at Duvall Field and in the Hollywood Commercial District. The developer was also required to build the Beltway interchange to Greenbelt Metro Station. In exchange, the City agreed to support any proposed development that met the requirements of plans supported by the City prior to that date, while retaining the right to comment on issues such as the height of the buildings, mix of uses, and floodplain mitigation.

Last year, the City Council entered into a new agreement with CRM Mid-Atlantic, the new developer of the South Core, which replaced the old one and required to provide $1.25 million to the City at the time of out-sale of the apartment component of the South Core. Renard Development, which now owns the North Core and is the successor to Metroland developers, has proposed a new agreement with the City.

This proposed new agreement also would require Renard to give the City $1.25 million (adjusted for inflation from the date of the agreement onward) for various improvements to public facilities at the time of first major out-sale, and not to occur later than seven years after the date of the agreement. In exchange, the City would agree to general support any plans incorporating a portion of the North Core by the FBI as long as the plans are in substantial conformance with the plans submitted to the General Services Administration in response to the Request for Information related to relocation of the FBI building. The City would retain the right to address any issue not previously addressed in the RFI response or in the Conceptual Site Plan.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

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