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Council to Discuss Staffing Issues at the Branchville Fire Department

Branchville Fire Department

In next week’s worksession, teh City Council will discuss the recent staffing issues at the Branchville Fire Volunteer Fire Department.

Recent reassignment of County Fire/EMS career staff from the Branchville VFC&RS station has resulted in that station being staffed solely by volunteers. The College Park VFD and Berwyn Heights VFD stations continue to have weekday career staffing. The County advanced life support (ALS) “medic” unit stationed at CPVFD is staffed 24/7.

Berwyn Heights, Branchville, and College Park fire stations are the three stations with first due response assignments in most of the City. These are the volunteer stations which are provided annual City support grants. Council Members have heard reports regarding the impact of staff changes on response to calls for service from the community and increased demand on adjacent stations when BVFC & RS is not available. Council has also heard of various ideas for future station relocations or
mergers.

County Fire/EMS Chief Bashoor, and Volunteer Chiefs Corrigan (CPVFD), Leizear (BVFC&RS), and McCoy (BHVFD) have been invited to participate in the Council work session on 4 March 14. They will be able to provide accurate and current information to the Council regarding staffing, service demands, and future facility and staffing plans.

 

UMD to Extend Credit Monitoring for Security Breach Victims

The University of Maryland is offering four more years of credit monitoring for anyone affected by a computer security breach that compromised hundreds of thousands of personal records.

UMD President Dr. Loh made that announcement on UMD’s website:
“I have ordered an extension of credit protection services from one year to a full five years of coverage. This extended protection will be available at no cost to every person affected by this breach. To register, please call Experian at 1-866-274-3891. “

Please see more about that announcement here.

Groups to Screen Movie on Healthy Diet

This Saturday (March 1), 1pm the College Park Community Library (CPCL) and the Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) will screen the movie Forks Over Knives (2011) at the City Hall chamber. The movie is 96 minutes long. There is no fee to watch the movie.

Please RSVP if you plan to watch (for planning purposes—email) to janiso@erols.com or call 301-474-5358

FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods and adopting a whole-foods plant-based diet. The film traces the personal journeys of two physician-researchers*—T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn. The filmmakers travel with Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn on their separate but similar paths then their partnership of exploring ideas that challenged established thinking, including their own. The film also features other leading experts on health, who discuss the issue of diet and disease.
____
*T. Colin Campbell is an American biochemist and professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University. Campbell conducted the China-Oxford-Cor­­nell study, which fol­lowed millions of Chinese over decades and found that increases in their incidence of cancer and heart disease directly paralleled their adoption of a Western diet. Caldwell Blakeman Esselstyn Jr. is an American surgeon and former Olympic rowing champion. He is a “leading proponent” in the field of plant-based diets.

The movie will screen again on Monday, March 17 at 7 pm at CPCL at the Church of the Nazarene, 9704 Rhode Island Ave., North College Park.

Council to Ask SHA to Improve Pedestrian and Biker Safety on Greenbelt Road

Greenbelt Rd design schematic

Greenbelt Rd design schematic

At tonight’s Council meeting, the City Council will send a letter to the State Highway Administrator (SHA) to ensure safety of pedestrians and bikers during their reconstruction work on Greenbelt Road (MD 430).

Please click here to see a map of the proposed design here.

Last week, a representative from the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) presented the Council a plan for improvements to Greenbelt Road as part of a SHA resurfacing project.

This is an important opportunity to create a safer road and connectivity for multiple users on both sides of the street, as the current vehicular capacity and lack of bicycle facilities are not in line with desired use and safety.

In the meeting, the Council expressed some concerns about the safety of the cyclists and pedestrians in the proposed design. The Council will consider sending a letter to SHA about these concerns. In the letter the City will ask the SHA to provide SHA’s study of actual vehicular speeds, and its assessment of the appropriate speed for this area that would protect drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

The letter says that if the actual speeds are in excess of the appropriate speed, then additional measures should be designed to ensure that the changes will in fact reduce speeds to the appropriate level.

The letter also asks for separated bicycle lanes, or at least wider on-road bicycle lanes, with rumble strips or reflectors to help protect the lives of cyclists. Additionally, it will recommend convenient pedestrian and bicycle crossings with activated priority crossing lights and visible signage encourage drivers to slow down and anticipate pedestrians and cyclists, and encourage the safe use of the road by these users.

Finally, the letter asks that the SHA consider enhanced connectivity to the bicycle trails, and possibly safety areas for pedestrians to use when crossing.

UMD Eyes to Build Child Care and Staff Housing at the Calvert Rd School Site

UMD proposal for staff housing

UMD proposal for staff housing

In last week’s worksession, the University came to the Council to present design concepts of the of the UMD faculty / staff housing at the Calvert school site. The concept proposal aims to have faculty and staff housing and a child care facility. The child care facility will be built at the current school building, where as the staff housing will be built on both sides.

For some time, the University has suggested that the City should allow it to use the Old Calvert Road school site as a possible faculty and staff housing.

This proposal is also related to possible relocation of the College Park Academy to the Terrapin Trader which is currently owned by the University.

City has also been considering the Calvert Rd school site as the possible relocation of the City Hall. The City owned the property in the 70’s from a the County’s Board of Education.

In the past, there had also been considerable opposition from local residents to keep the Calvert Road site for some community use.  The current proposal to include a child care facility will likely to make the proposal attractive to local residents.

The Council will decide on the fate of the property some time in near future.

North College Park Crime Stats: February 15-22, 2014

Please see below last week’s crime report and let me know if you have any questions.

Breaking And Entering Residential

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[2/19/14] BREAKR 08:58 10:15 10100 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
[2/22/14] BREAKR 03:18 04:19 9000 Blk RHODE ISLAND AVE,

Theft

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[2/19/14] THEFT 09:05 11:20 9200 Blk ST ANDREWS PL,
[2/19/14] THEFT 17:43 18:48 9700 Blk 52ND AVE,
[2/21/14] THEFT 16:43 17:30 9300 BALTIMORE AVE,

Theft from Auto

Event

Type

From

To

Location

2/17/14 THEFA1 05:56 06:34 9000 Blk 49TH PL,

City Announces Summer Camps Scholarships

eac_camp_flyerrev Feb 11 2014 general pop

2014 College Park Summer camp scholarship

Like last year, the City pf College Park is providing scholarships to College Park students so that they can attend summer camps at the University of Maryland.The deadline is March 14.

The City will be paying upto $500 to each student.

Applications are available online at www.collegeparkmd.gov. and at Youth and Family Services 4912 Nantucket Rd, College Park and City Hall – 4500 Knox Rd, College Park

For more information call 240-487-3550 or email phenderson@collegeparkmd.gov

Please let me know if you have any questions. Details are in the flyer (please click the image on the left).

College Park Seeking Farmers Market Master for Downtown and Hollywood

Ripe berries, cherries and apples at Tuckey’s Mountain Grown at the Hollywood Farmers Market

Ripe berries, cherries and apples at Tuckey’s Mountain Grown at the Hollywood Farmers Market

This is an excellent opportunity to support City’s one or both farmers markets in the upcoming 2014 market season and get paid. which mainly include spending 4-5 hours every market day and interact with your neighbors and other customers and vendors.

The City of College Park is seeking bids from qualified firms or individuals to act as market master for the Downtown College Park Farmers Market (Sundays from 10am-2pm) and Hollywood Farmers Market (Saturdays from 9am-1pm) this season. The market master will manage in-season operations on site each week including overseeing an information table, organizing the market area before opening, and breaking down the market after its closing. Additionally, the contractor will meet with City staff and others to review various issues at the market.

Please note: you will not be required to do much of the market work behind then scene, such as recruiting vendors, promoting the market etc. In the case of Hollywood Farmers Market, those tasks will be done by the Hollywood Farmers Market committee, which consists of a group of very hardworking residents.

Also, please note that respondents have the option of bidding on one or both markets. Responses are due on Monday, March 10th by 4:00pm.

For more information please review the Request for Qualifications posted on the City’s website.

If there are any questions please contact me know.

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: College Park Academy, Greenbelt Metro and More..

NCPCA - Your neighborhood association

NCPCA – Your neighborhood association

NCPCA’s last weeek’s meeting was postponed due to the inclement weather. That meeting will take place tonight.

The meeting will start will a number of updates on some recent developments. The include (1) College Park Academy’s funding, traffic management and other considerations. (2) Charter Amendment: City will to allow 18 Olds to serve on City Council. members will provide feedback and (3) Greenbelt Metro: FBI Relocation, Impacts to Naragansett Run & North-South highway from I-95 to MD 193.

Members will also discuss NCPCA Participation at Book Festival on Mar. 22, Good Neighbor Day on Mar. 29 and at other possible events.

There will be a discussion on College Park Budget Wish List. This is your chance to weigh-in on the things that matter most to you!

The NCPCA officer Larry Bleau will provide and update on tax , both Federal & State. Tax seaon is upon us and this will be a useful session.

As usual, the meeting will take place at Davis Hall, at 7:30pm. See you all tonight.

Support Lions Club Chrity Drive Tomorrow

Free Ledo Coupon

The Lions Club will be doing a charity drive at the Ledo restaurant at 4509 Knox Road (Tel 301-422-8622 301-422-8122 )tomorrow.

Enjoy your lunch, dinner or carryout at the store and 15% of your check will go directly to support the Lions Club.

Please note, you must bring the coupon on the left to be included in the fund raiser.

Enjoy the great food at the Ledo and support the charitable work by College Park Lions Club

Greenbelt Road in College Park to Get Repair Maintenance

Kate Mazzara and Venu Nemani of SHA District 3 will be at tonight’s work session to present SHA’s future maintenance plan of the Greenbelt Road (MD 430) from US 1 (Baltimore Avenue) to MD 193 (University Boulevard). The total distance of the project is approximately 0.42 miles.

The maintenance work includes pavement patching, grinding and resurfacing the existing pavement, repairing existing inlets, cleaning of existing inlets and pipes, curb and gutters repair/replacement, installing pavement markings, ADA Ramp replacements and Installation of crosswalks.

Details on the scope of the work can be found here: http://goo.gl/Tt41q2 .

Route 1 Utility Undergrounding Discussion Continues..

On February 4, the consultant from KCI Technologies Inc. presented the results of its feasibility study to underground utilities on Route 1 from Lakeland Road and Greenbelt Road.

While it seems logical to plan an undergrounding project while the road is already under construction, the study estimates a total cost of $14 million and could extend the current Route1 reconstruction project by about 17 months, for a total project length of up to seven years. Since Route 1 is a state highway and not a city road, College Park wouldn’t necessarily be responsible for the entire $14 million, but it appears that no contributions from other stakeholders have been finalized so far. The State Highway Administration has also indicated that the state would not fund the undergrounding.

A meeting was held on January 28, 2014 with stakeholders from the city, county, state and CPCUP to begin to explore options for funding this cost. The first option of funding would utilize general obligation bonds sold separately by the city ($1 0,000,000) and county ($4,000,000) for this undergrounding project only.

The second option establishes a tax increment financing district along most of the Route 1 corridor, which would support this project as well as other revitalization projects and goals including possible undergrounding for the second phase of Route 1 improvements.

The SHA has stated that a decision by the city as to whether or not to pay for the undergrounding of utilities needs to be made by April1, 2014. The Council will discuss these options further ahead of SHA’s April 1st deadline.

Council to Review Feedback from City’s Senior Citizens

For the third year in a row, the Youth, Family and Seniors staff has run surveys among both in Attick Towers and Spellman House residents. These surveys were run during May / June of 2013.

Survey Distribution:
The survey form is first provided to Attick Towers and Spellman House management and then delivered to the residents. Residents are instructed to return the surveys to the confidential box in the Seniors Program office in each building. Staff entered the surveys into the online survey software, www.surveymonkey.com, and then analyzed the survey conclusions in order to produce this report.

Total Surveys Returned:
Total number of units in Attick Towers is 108 and 141 in Spellman House. Staff distributed one survey per unit/household in each building. The 2013 Attick Towers response rate is 27% or 29 respondents and 17% or 25 Spellman House respondents.

Possible Survey Bias:
Response to the survey is voluntary. Response bias can occur in voluntary situations where the people who care enough to complete the survey may not necessarily be a statistically representative sample of the actual population.

Bias can also occur as residents in both subsidized housing buildings have state that they are not willing to complete surveys because they worry about repercussions if they report any negative information about the building or building staff would result in eviction. Their sense of vulnerability is consistent with aging. Survey Results/Summary of Major Changes in 2013 and 2012 Survey Results:

In next Tuesday’s worksession, the management from both Attick Towers and Spellman House will present the survey results for an independent review by the Council. Since the surveys were conducted, there is new management at both facilities. A review of the surveys with Council is an opportunity for new management to update Council on the status of addressing resident concerns that were raised before their tenure.

Council to Discuss College Park’s IT Infrastructure

At next Tuesday’s worksession, the Council will discuss the IT services and infrastructures, primarily used by the City government at the City Hall and elsewhere. The IT staff will be present at the meeting to address some concerns expressed during Council comments by explaining some of the procedures they follow in IT.

Green Initiatives
Staff  understand the concern for creating a smaller carbon footprint within the City. IT has made some suggested changes from our “Green Team”, which was formed with direction from the CBE. The City no longer purchases PC’s that have a tower and monitor; they are being replaced with ali-in-one desktops as they reach end of lifespan. All employees are instructed to power their PC off before leaving at the end of their workday. Whereas each PC user previously had a dedicated printer at their desk, IT is replacing them with shared network printers as they reach the end of their lifespan. We also have a few virtualized servers which we plan on expanding in the future.

E-mail
In an earlier worksession with the Council, it was explained that we recently purchased a new email server and, soon after, a redundant e-mail server (located at Public Works) to eliminate the loss of e-mails in the event of server failure. Purchasing servers currently is the most cost effective means to sustain our network infrastructure, primarily since hardware and software attached to our network (including audio-visual equipment) may be purchased with P.E.G. funds that we receive under the Com cast and V erizon franchise agreements. If IT includes a maintenance agreement with the hardware purchase, we can use P.E.G. funds for the maintenance. P.E.G. funds are capital equipment grants equal to 3% of cable subscriber fees which are passed through to subscribers on their cable bill. P.E.G. funds may be used for capital equipment purchases but may not be used for maintenance or services. The rules are slightly less restrictive for use of the Verizon grant than the Comcast grant. IT  currently has over $1 million in accumulated P.E.G. funds. As we have recently upgraded all servers using P.E.G. funds, we do not need to budget General Fund monies, which would be the case if we switched to cloud-based services that will increase as mailbox sizes increase due to retention requirements.

IT is very cognizant of what we believe to be the best case scenario for the City. The City has a data warehouse process that was implemented over 9 years ago wherein many reports that are generated from the financial and payroll software are never printed, but are sent directly from the iSeries (AS/400) to our Metafile system (data warehouse). We backup all servers every day to storage servers at City Hall and Public Works, and backup the AS/400 data to Vault400, an offsite disaster recovery vendor.

Tele-work
To address the question of tele-work, in the public sector it becomes a little difficult because many of the services provided by the City are delivered by a multi-agency approach, some conducted in person others via inter-office mail and e-mail, unlike some federal agencies who have numerous employees evaluating or entering data. Although IT staff and some Finance staff have the ability to remotely access the AS/400 and file server from their homes over a virtual private network (VPN), it is simply not practical for any of us to work remotely on any regular basis. The large volume of paperwork and files generated each day would be difficult to cart around. Our City is more “service oriented” for the residents and customers who come in for their transactions.

Listserv
Our IT has also reviewed a listserv option, known as “Constant Contact” which would provide information directly to residents who could subscribe to items like the agenda or maybe a newsletter in the future. It has been researched and can be embedded within our website. It is a very simple process: users would subscribe, they would be added to a distribution list for the particular item they wish to receive, and once the item is created by staff it gets e-mailed out. If you follow this link, there is an example on the website for the City of West Hartford, CT.  http://www.west-hartford.com/i_want_to/register/index.php

Comcate Mobile App
IT has investigated the mobile add-on application offered by Comcate. We use Comcate to administer “College Park Central”, our request and complaint tracking software. We could purchase the module and would be charged an implementation cost. This module would allow anyone with a Smartphone or tablet equipped with WiFi capabilities to take a photo of an issue, open a new case and submit the photo with the new case from their device. Information on the Comcate app is attached. Purchasing the app from Comcate would be much cheaper, easier and faster than having it developed by others.

Book Exchange Moves to Knox Road

New Book Exchange

New Book Exchange


The longtime Route 1 fixture has found a temporary home as construction of the mixed-use development on its former site progresses.

The new location opened on January 24th and is significantly smaller than the previous store. With the reduced space, the bookstore has less merchandise on hand but the usual selection can be found on their website.

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