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Oct
12
2020

The Latest Recreation Report May Dash Hopes of a Community Center in North College Park

[Update 10/27/2020: GreenPlay, LLC has made some edits to the recreation report removing the “no need for a new community center language. The City Council plans to adopt the report at tonight’s meeting]

Tomorrow, the College Park City Council is expected to vote on a report that may kill the hope of many north College Park residents to have a multigenerational community center close to their homes.

The City secured the services of a consultant firm, GreenPlay LLC to run this study to gather community feedback on City’s facilities, trails, amenities, programs, future planning, communication, and more.

Though the GreenPlay survey found “a community’s desire for a new community center”, it concluded, however, “there is a difference between desire and actual need”

The concluding statement was added to the version of the report, which you can find here (page # 57).  The language was not included in the version that the Mayor and Council discussed at last week’s Council worksession.

A Conclusion based on an Insufficient, Noncomprehensive Study

The GreenPlay study looked into the use of the College Park Community Center at Lakeland by survey respondents and found that a majority of the responders do not use the center. GreenPlay is suggesting better communication of programs at the center to address the recreational need.

Unfortunately, the survey did not look into the comprehensive usage data of the College Park Community Center. We’ve been told that, during pre-COVID time, depending on the time of the day, the facility could be found very full, so much so that people are often turned away.

According to the staff at the College Park Community Center,  the center is very busy most days. This center runs programs that are inclusive of everything from childcare to recreation. Last year in addition to programmed operations the center accommodated over 350 hours of requests via the Community Connect portal. That is for outside groups and in addition to our class programs, childcare programs, recreational drop-ins for fitness, and the gymnasium. The center hosts programs for the recreation council, University of Maryland and various other entities. According to the staff, Out of 45 community centers, it is safe to say the center is in the top 10 percent and perhaps higher.

The Lakeland facility is also open to residents of all of Prince George’s County, and not only College Park residents. Thus, just because the GreenPlay survey responders may not typically use the facility, it doesn’t mean the facility is not used to its full extent by others.

The GreenPlay study also did not explore fully the reasons why residents from each neighborhood do not attend the nearby recreation/community centers more frequently. One common reason we often hear from residents for not attending programs CP Community Center is the inconveniences and the time to travel to the center, especially during rush hours, when Route 1 becomes a slow-moving parking lot. There are other reasons such as lack of programs at the CP Center for not attending. This was reflected in a survey we took in 2018 (also below). The survey also found that only 17% identified “Communication” (“Unaware”) as the reason for not attending.

 

North College Park – A Hub of a Multi-Generational Community
District-housing north-SouthThe GreenPlay report appears to assume that the entire City is a homogeneous multi-generational community – which is far from true.

College Park is proud of having neighborhoods, each having unique traits. For example, the old town is known to have beautiful historic homes, we take pride in the Lakeland community for its historic African American roots.

The North College Park neighborhood is known to have the highest concentration of residents in each age group, from toddlers to seniors.

Based on the data from the Maryland National Park and Planning’s GIS, there is a significant difference between the locations of single-family homes in different parts of the City (please see above). Almost half of the City’s single-family homes are located in District 1. Also, north College Park has more than two-thirds of the City’s single-family homes.

A majority of our children, youth, parents, and seniors most likely live in these single-family homes.

Accessibility and the convenience to get to the new facilities are very important, thus, parents with toddlers, young children, and seniors will most likely want to have the expanded services close to their homes.

A comprehensive study on a new recreation center should include these important factors.

Likely to Jeopardize Upcoming M-NCPPC Study on North College Park Community Center
For the past several years, the City Council has been asking the M-NCPPC to conduct a feasibility study on a new multigenerational community center in College Park. Responding to north College Park residents’ strong interests, and thanks to the County Council, and the effort of County Councilman Tom Dernoga (representing north College Park), $250,000 has been added to the M-NCPPC’s budget last year to explore the feasibility of building an indoor facility in north College Park.

The recommendations presented in City’s recreation report are generally good ones. Some key recommendations include improving and enhancing facilities and amenities, adding new trails and pathways, and improving access to a multi-generational community center.

However, without backed by solid data and a comprehensive study, the report should not include languages that might negatively impact M-NCPPC’s upcoming study to establish the north College Park Community Center.

If you wish to comment on the recreation report, please send them to the  Mayor and Council at cpmc@collegeparkmd.gov . Thank you!

Oct
12
2020

Draft City Comments on Beltway Expansion Project

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will consider approving a letter to the MDOT/SHA about Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the I-495 and I-270 Managed Lanes Study, in particular its impact on College Park. On July 10, 2020, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) released the Notice of Availability of the DEIS and announced a 90-day review period including several public hearings. The deadline to submit comments has been extended until early next month.

The City Council has previously written to the Governor to oppose the Managed Lanes project and the P3 program. After reviewing the information provided in the DEIS, the City Council remains opposed to the project and strongly recommends the No-Build Alternative as the responsible course of action.

The City has identified significant concerns and areas requiring additional information that should be addressed in the DEIS. These are described below. I’ve asked to have languages asking alternative sites for the Odessa Parka and the Polish Club properties.
===============
Direct Access Interchanges
US 1 and I‐495: It is not clear how this intersection will be rebuilt including adjustments to the ramps and reconstruction of the US 1 bridge. Any bridge reconstruction should include bike lanes and crosswalks at ramp intersections to eliminate the barriers for pedestrians and bicyclists created by I‐495. Greenbelt Metro and I‐495: It is assumed that a full interchange at this location is in place, however, this interchange was proposed to be constructed in conjunction with private sector development of WMATA property which has been canceled. The cost of building this interchange needs to be included in the project budget. More information is also needed about the realignment of the entrance to the Greenbelt Metro Station.

Noise Barriers
All noise barriers are proposed for replacement and some will be increased in length and height. It is requested that a noise barrier be extended along the northern property line of 4700 Edgewood Road and that the maximum height be used to buffer all single‐family homes in College Park. The use of roadside vegetative barriers in these areas is highly encouraged to improve air quality and reduce concentrations of downwind pollutants.

Property Acquisition
Partial acquisition of 34 properties in College Park is proposed including two City‐owned properties. For private property, acquiring even a small strip of land could result in the property becoming nonconforming under the Prince George’s County Zoning Ordinance. These specific impacts need to be identified for each property.

Polish Club of College Park:
This 5.6‐acre property contains woodlands, wetlands and wildlife and adjoins the Hollywood neighborhood, Hollywood Park and a K‐8 school and preschool. Please clarify if a full or partial acquisition is contemplated. The proposed use of this site for construction staging and materials storage would result in unacceptable impacts to this neighborhood in terms of vehicle exhaust, noise, loss of tree canopy and construction traffic. Should this property be used in this manner for the short term, it is requested that a long‐term reuse plan be developed to provide an amenity for the community.

10020 51st Avenue:
The limit of disturbance, as shown, would eliminate driveway access to this property.

Sunnyside Outlots/Odessa Park:
Approximately half of this property, proposed to be developed by the City as a park and playground, would be used for a storm water management facility. This will reduce the design footprint of the park and place proposed improvements closer to existing residences reducing its attractiveness and utility. Odessa Park should be added to the parks inventory and evaluated. More detail on the Park Impacts

Hollywood Park:
While the impacts are listed as de minimis, there is concern about how the realignment of the Greenbelt Metro Station access road might impact the viewshed and noise in the park and larger neighborhood.

Cherry Hill Road Park:
The natural areas of this park will be significantly impacted by the substantial loss of trees, which will further degrade the green infrastructure surrounding the City. Additional information is needed so that we can understand the full extent of impacts to parkland and how to make the park systems whole through mitigation.

Streams and Waterways
The College Park area has three streams that will be impacted by the project: Indian Creek, Little Paint Branch and Paint Branch. As many neighborhoods in the City lie within the 100‐year floodplain, the
increases in impervious surface from the project and changes to groundwater and hydrology, elevate the risk for increased flooding. Additional floodplain modeling for this watershed must be done now to understand the full impacts and offer mitigation strategies. It cannot wait until later in the design phase. We are also concerned that local water quality will be degraded and endanger aquatic biota in the streams that cannot tolerate warmwater conditions.

Green Infrastructure and Forest Mitigation
College Park is already experiencing a decrease in tree canopy based on development activity, which will be exacerbated by this project. The green infrastructure corridor along the Beltway offers ecologically important undeveloped land which will be disrupted by the project. Study area impacts are reported in the DEIS but are not broken down to the local level. Please provide this information in the FEIS. While the City is poised to lose green infrastructure, it is unlikely to be the beneficiary of forest mitigation. Under Maryland Reforestation Law, a minimum of five contiguous acres of public land is needed for replanting within the same watershed. Please reconsider this standard in College Park and other communities in the Developed Tier where this standard cannot be met. City staff will work with M‐NCPPC and your team to identify alternative sites to help restore the tree canopy in the College Park area.

Traffic Congestion
The stated purpose and need for the project is to provide congestion relief and accommodate future long‐term traffic growth. The traffic modeling and analysis in the DEIS is insufficient to conclude that the project will meet this need for several reasons. The analysis needs to be updated using the most recent traffic data from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), and to consider the impacts of increased capacity on land use. It is unrealistic to assume that there will be no effect, therefore, the number of new trips generated is underestimated. Consideration also needs to be given to the effects of the pandemic on traffic growth patterns as many people may permanently transition to telework. The likely increase in the use of Autonomous Vehicles in the future is not addressed and should be.

The City is concerned that induced traffic demand on arterial and collector roads leading to the Beltway such as Baltimore Avenue, Rhode Island Avenue and MD 193 is underestimated. These roads are already highly congested and specific details for them need to be provided in the FEIS including an analysis of traffic, noise, and air quality impacts.

It is unfortunate that no public transit options were included as alternatives retained for detailed study in the DEIS. This should be revisited along with transportation systems management (TSM) and transportation demand management (TDM) as serious strategies with less environmental and financial costs.

Environmental Justice
The DEIS claims that all Build Alternatives under consideration will benefit minority and low‐income populations (Environmental Justice (EJ) communities) but does not adequately explain this conclusion. College Park census blocks in the study area meet the definition of an EJ community yet measures to mitigate any potential disproportionate effect on them is missing. The report does not give sufficient attention to the fact that the expected high toll prices may be too much of a cost burden to the EJ community. Equitable access to the managed lanes has not been demonstrated and recommendations such as toll subsidies should be included.

Outreach and input from the EJ community is also missing and must be addressed prior to any second phase of construction. Only one stakeholder meeting in June 2019 is reported but the feedback from the meeting has not been included. Better public participation and involvement is needed. For the reasons stated, the City Council finds that the DEIS falls short of meeting the purpose and need for the project, and that the environmental and other costs far outweigh the benefits of the project.

Oct
12
2020

Latest Updates on Duvall Field and Hollywood Streetscape Projects

Thanks to City staff who attended last week’s North College Park Community Association and gave the following report about two projects in north College Park.

Duvall Field
A Request for Proposals (RFP) for design consultants was advertised on September 3 and was opened on September 28. Twelve submissions were received and are being reviewed by staff. A recommendation for contract award will go to City Council on October 27. The design phase will take 7-12 months, followed by a bidding and construction phase that will take about 9 months. Completion is planned for the summer 2022. The design phase calls for the consultant to submit 3 preliminary conceptual design alternatives and cost estimates which will be presented at a community meeting and to the City Council. Once an alternative is selected by the City Council, the consultant will prepare detailed design plans and construction drawings. When these plans are at the 60% completion stage, they will be presented at another community meeting and City Council meeting for review and comment.

Hollywood Streetscape
The design plans and construction drawings for this project are 95% complete and just waiting for final comments and permits from DPIE. Even with a permit expediter, this review has taken an extraordinary amount of time and has been impacted by the pandemic. According to our consulting engineer, we should have the permit within a month and then be able to solicit construction bids. It is anticipated that a construction contract will be awarded by City Council over the winter with construction beginning in March 2021 and completion by November 2021. We are still working with Carrollton Enterprises (owner of the Hollywood Shopping Center) to get an agreement for paving the “goat path” from Rhode Island Avenue to the parking lot and hope to be able to include it as part of the project.

Oct
10
2020

Community Police Meeting – This Monday, October 12, 7:30 PM

At a time when police-community relation is on everyone’s mind, it’s important that we bring residents and police officers on a forum, and have a dialogue on what both groups want to see – keeping our neighborhood a safe place to live for everyone. Our Community Police meetings are regularly attended by the police officers who actually patrol our streets and officials who run City’s police programs. Please bring any public safety and crime – related issues that you or your neighbor may have experienced. The officers and officials will be at the meeting to listen and address your questions/concerns and give practical advice on how to make your neighborhood safer.

Join by Zoom: http://b.link/CPCommunityPolice
Join by phone: Phone: (301) 715 – 8592, Meeting ID: 863 9609 7322, Password: 464259

Oct
9
2020

Community Grab and Go Meal Distribution

Tomorrow, at 3 pm, a charity group associated with College Park’s AlHuda Community will be hosting a free “Grab and Go Meal” distribution event at the corner of Edgewood Rd and Rhode Island Avenue (at the parking lot of T& L International Market / the old dry cleaners). Please see below for details, and help spread the word. Thank you!

Oct
9
2020

October Clean Up – This Saturday and October 24

October Cleanup Saturdays & Shredding Event
October 10 & 24 from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Department of Public Works, 9217 51st Avenue
The City of College Park Public Works facility will be open for City residents to drop-off bulky trash, white goods, electronics recycling, brush, and yard trim.
You must be a resident of the City of College Park and bring proof of City residency in order to participate, although anyone can buy compost or wood mulch during this event. We will collect gently used items for donation to GreenDrop and Community Forklift.

Special events include:

Paper Shredding – October 10 from 8:00 a.m. to Noon
Paint Recycling – October 24 from 8:00 a.m. to Noon. Yuck Old Paint will be on hand to collect latex and oil-based paint. Paint needs to be in the original container
New This Year! The following will be collected:

Household batteries for recycling. This includes rechargeable batteries such as Li-Ion, Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, Ni-Zn; Single-use alkaline batteries such as AA, AAA, 9V, C, D button cell, and lithium primary. No damaged batteries; no automotive batteries.
Fluorescent light bulbs and tubes must be intact. Includes U-shaped or circular fluorescent lamps, High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps, Ultra Violet (UV) lamps, Incandescent Bulbs, Halogen or Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s).
Block Styrofoam for recycling (coolers and large blocks of packing material). No packing peanuts, cups or plates.

Oct
8
2020

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Post-Pandemic City Budget, Streetscape, Duvall field, and More..

NCPCA – It’s Your Neighborhood Association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and the day when the North College Park Community Association (NCPCA) will hold its monthly meeting.

The meeting will start with an introduction of newly elected Board Members, Lisa Ealley and Judy Blumenthal

The members will get an update on the post-pandemic  City budget from Gary Fields, Director of Finance will present, and Scott Somers, City Manager. They will be available to answer questions.

The City manager will give an update on the Hollywood Streetscape & Duvall Field projects

NCPCA president Mary Cook. Will give an update on the Stone Straw property.

The members will discuss the Beltway Expansion project and will consider a possible letter to be sent to the governor.

Finally, the group will discuss the recent recreation study report. The Council is expected to approve the report at its next month’s report.

Here is the information to join the meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87215626045?pwd=UW12RGVsdmc5ZGVWbVNualloUUZCdz09
Join by phone:
Meeting ID: 872 1562 6045
Passcode: 325940
(301) 715 – 8592

Oct
7
2020

City to Change City Code on Animal Welfare

Over the past two years, the Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) and the Animal Control Officer (ACO) have reviewed this Chapter for recommended revisions that would make it be more current and more compatible with County animal management regulations as adopted in Chapter 102.

The AWC has prepared a set of recommended revisions for Council discussion. The proposed revision includes the AWC recommendation to retitle the chapter as “Animal Welfare”.

The Council discussed the changes at last night’s meeting and is expected to approve them at next week’s Council meeting.

Oct
6
2020

Council to Make Changes to City Seal

As part of the construction of the new City Hall, the City Hall architect, Design Collective, is recommending that the City Seal be updated with cleaner lines.

During project discussions on this issue, it was noted that the chapel on the City Seal has a cross, but the non-denominational chapel at the University of Maryland (which resembles the chapel on the Seal) never had a cross since when it was originally built. The chapel has had a decorative flourish and a warning beacon at the top of the steeple, but not a cross.

Staff is recommending updating the City seal to reflect the actual design of the chapel.

Staff also believes that it would more accurately reflect the intent of noting the importance of religion in the City without a symbol from one religion and reflect the City’s commitment to be a welcoming community for people of all faiths and backgrounds.

At next week’s meeting, the City is expected to approve the suggested changes.

Oct
5
2020

Virtual Town Hall on Proposed Fish Processing / Agricultural Facility at Stone Industrial Site

This Wednesday, October 7, 2020, at 7 pm, County Councilmember Tom Dernoga and Mayor Wojahn will hold a virtual town hall to discuss the proposed fish processing / agricultural campus and market at the Stone Industrial site on 51st Avenue. This is an opportunity to meet the owners of ProFish, hear their proposal, and ask questions.

Registration required to join the meeting http://bit.ly/StoneStrawPropertyMtg2.

Last month, Councilmember Dernoga discussed two development options (including ProFish) at the Stone site.

Oct
4
2020

Water Main Break on Route 1 at Cherry Hill Rd is Fixed – All Lanes are Open


The water main break on Route 1 at Cherry Hill Rd is now ixed. According to City staff, all lanes are now open.
A major water main break happened at Cherry Hill and Balt Ave. near Dunkin Donuts yesterday early morning.

WSSC and SHA had been working round the clock since the incident and fixed the broken pipe yesterday evening.

SHA had set up a detour at Lackawanna St To 47th place. They diverted truck traffics to Rhode Island Avenue from US 1 at Greenbelt Rd.

Residents on the neighborhood streets, especially on Lackawanna st, 47th Place, Hollywood Road, and Rhode Island avenue experienced lots of traffic weaving through city streets to get to the beltway from the south.

Oct
3
2020

Gateway Park Ribbon Cutting – Next Monday

Please join us for the City’s ribbon cuttings of the Hollywood Gateway Park Monday, October 5 at 10:00 a.m.

Please RSVP by clicking the links below or responding to this email. Information about parking is including in the link.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hollywood-gateway-park-ribbon-cutting-tickets-123073717803

COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines will be enforced at this event. Face coverings must be worn at all times and physical distancing (at least six feet apart) must be adhered to.

Thank you and I hope to see you there,

Oct
2
2020

Police Investigates Fatal Shooting in Berwyn

Detectives are working to determine the circumstances that led to a fatal shooting yesterday evening in College Park. The decedent is 28-year-old Christopher Ryan Harrison of Camp Springs. Preliminarily, detectives do not believe this was a random shooting.

According to police, on October 1st, at approximately 5:10 pm, patrol officers responded to the 4800 block of Berwyn House Road for a shooting. The decedent was located in a parking lot suffering from gunshot wounds. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Homicide Unit at 301-516-2512. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), or go online at www.pgcrimesolvers.com, or use the “P3 Tips” mobile app (search “P3 Tips” in the Apple Store or Google Play to download the app onto your mobile device.) Please refer to case number 20-0045768.

Oct
1
2020

Council Appoints Members to City’s Advisory Boards

Back in November 2019. The City Council decided to set consistent membership terms and appoint or reappoint all members to advisory boards at one time and appoint or reappoint all members to advisory boards at one time. The City solicited applications for board vacancies and the Mayor and Council twice extended the application period to gain additional applicants and allow more time to consider appointments.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council reviewed the applications and made the appointments at this week’s meeting.

Regarding the initial term lengths, the Council resolution states: “Reappointment to a one (1), two (2), or three (3) year
term shall be based on a lottery system whereby one-third of a board or committee’s existing membership anticipated on June 30, 2020 would be reappointed for a 3-year, 2-year, and 1-year term.”

Thereafter, all terms will be for three years, thus providing staggered terms. The question has arisen, and staff seeks clarity and guidance, on how to assign these initial 1-, 2- or 3-year terms. (a) Everyone on the roster is randomly assigned a 1-, 2- or 3-year term (regardless of whether they are new or returning). (b) Reappoint a board’s returning membership to a 3-year, 2-year, and 1-year term. Newly appointed members get 3-year terms. Council will select one of these options.

Thank you all who stepped up to serve the City and its residents.

Sep
30
2020

Pepco Tree Line Clearance Work

Pepco crew performing clearing work

Pepco electric line clearance work will continue as Asplundh tree crews perform work in the Berwyn, Hollywood, Daniels Park and Oak Springs neighborhoods. Other neighborhoods where work is planned and may occur is Autoville, Crystal Springs and Patricia Court.

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