KabirCares.org
Jul
1
2019

City to Celebrate July 4th!

Happy July 4th!

This week, on July 4th, we’ve a great reason to re-unite with friends and family.

The City and the University are once again breaking out the red, white and blue for a fabulous Independence Day celebration! A FREE concert and fireworks spectacular are on tap for Thursday, July 4, 2019 at the University of Maryland Campus in Parking Lot 1 adjacent to Campus Drive. NightLife will entertain from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. followed by a 30 minute Fireworks Extravaganza at dusk! Fun for all ages!

All City offices will be closed on Thursday, July 4, 2019 in observation of Independence Day. There are no changes to the regular refuse and recycling schedule that week except that special and brush collections will only occur on Friday, July 5. Always call the Department of Public Works for an appointment before putting your items to the curb.

Jun
30
2019

City’s All-New Mobility Share System will Include Pedal Bikes and Scooters

Staff have worked to identify a new vendor to operate a pilot shared mobility program offering traditional pedal bikes as well as e-bikes and scooters. After evaluating available options, City staff and our bike share partners chose VeoRide to recommend as the preferred vendor for the new system. VeoRide serves cities and university campuses across the country with programs that offer a mix of vehicles types, including pedal bikes, e-bikes, fat-tire bikes, cargo bikes, ADA-compliant bikes and electric scooters, depending on the community’s needs.

VeoRide would launch within the footprint of the existing mBike system and serve the City, UMD campus, and Town of University Park. Current mBike stations to be replaced by VeoRide hubs that co-locate bike and scooter parking in familiar locations. After the initial launch, more hubs can be added where the need for expanded service has already been identified. Soft launch building to an initial fleet of 70 pedal bikes, 150 e-bikes, and 70 scooters Pedal and electric bikes can be parked at any bike rack, promoting flexibility. If bikes are improperly parked, the last user will receive a notification of improper parking behavior, and repeat offenders may be assessed a fine and their account may be suspended or canceled. Electric scooters must be parked within designated “hubs” delineated by painted boxes or decals. Using geofencing technology, riders will not be able to end their rides outside of a hub without accruing charges and the potential for account suspension or cancellation.

VeoRide has found that users typically prefer pay-as-you-go plans to memberships; this has been the City’s experience with mBike riders as well. VeoRide offers pedal bike memberships at $25.99 per month or $99.99 per year, but does not currently offer membership options that cover all three modes. Pay-as-you-go pricing is as follows:
follows:

Fares Unlock Cost Per Minute
Pedal Bike $1 $0.05
E-Bike, Scooter $1 $0.15
Access Program (Reduced Fare) $0 $0.05 (pedal bike); $0.15 (e-fleet)
New User $1 Free: Four 15-minute rides

The VeoRide program is offered at no cost to the City. There may be minimal costs associated with converting the mBike stations into VeoRide hubs and adding new hubs to the system, and for accessible bikes. These expenses would be offset by the money owed to the City by Zagster and the current balance of $227,135 in the Bikeshare CIP

VeoRide is expected to launch in late August or early September. A soft launch is to occur at the beginning of August.

Jun
29
2019

City May Help Homeless People Vote at this Year’s City Election

At this week’s meeting, the Council will discuss a proposal allowing individuals who are experiencing homelessness to use a City building address in the district in which they reside as their residential address on the County’s Voter Registration forms, which would enable them to vote in City elections.

Last spring, Giovanni Marchand, a student in the Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program at the University of Maryland contacted the City about building a nonprofit organization to address hunger and homelessness in Washington D.C., Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County.

Their goal is to empower low-income people by hosting voter registration and voter education events at food pantries and soup kitchens, so they can elect candidates who advocate for policies that support their best interests. They have identified the November municipal election in College Park as a local election on which to focus their efforts before they expand their reach to a larger population.

Mr. Marchand asked the City to assist with a voter registration drive for the homeless in this area by allowing people experiencing homelessness to use the address of a City of College Park building as their residential address so that they can register to vote. He originally asked to use only the YFS building address.

Giovanni ‘s proposal was that the registrant would use the City building address as their residence address and would use the address for the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland for the mailing address. The completed voter registration form would then be submitted to the Prince George’s County Board of Elections, where they will process the documents and send the voter registration cards to the mailing address provided (the School of Public Policy). Once the voter registration cards have arrived at the School of Public Policy, the students will distribute them to the newly registered voter.

The Prince George’s County Election Board processes voter registration for the City. The County, not the City, is responsible for ensuring that a person must be:
• A U.S. citizen;
• A Maryland resident; and
• At least 16 years old [they cannot vote until they are 18].

Staff spoke to Alisha Alexander, Prince George’s County Board of Elections, who confirmed that Mr. Marchand is a certified Voter Registration Volunteer with Prince George’s County and also confirmed that this is an allowable scenario and in fact is in line with the County’s procedure to register individuals experiencing homelessness. She also provided a legal directive from the Maryland Election Law Article.

After hearing from Ms. Alexander that this scenario is allowable under state law, I told Mr. Marchand that this is a Council-level decision. In the meantime, he has contacted the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare located at 4707 Calvert Road, and says that they have agreed to let him use their address to register people experiencing homelessness to vote. He said he would also contact churches in the community to see if they would assist by allowing their address to be used.

Scaling this registration scenario down to the municipal level raises a question that doesn’t apply at the County level: which Council District the homeless registrant would designate as their Council District for municipal elections. If only the 4707 Calvert Road address is being used as their residential address, everyone would register as District 3 voters.

If the Mayor and Council are interested in assisting in these efforts, Staff could identify a different City building address in each of the four Council districts that could be used on the voter registration forms:
District 1 – Youth and Family Services
District 2 – Public Works
District 3 – City Hall
District 4 – the former College Park Woods Pool Property

In this scenario, the registrant who is experiencing homelessness would self identify their district and have the opportunity to register in any of the four Council Districts.

[City of College Park]

Jun
28
2019

New Changes Coming to WSSC Bill Next Week

WSSC is improving the way they approach customer service. These improvements include implementing a modern and simplified rate structure that will change the way they charge for water and sewer. Additionally, WSSC is introducing a redesigned bill that will be easier to read and enhancing our customer affordability program to help more customers. These enhancements all take place on July 1, 2019.

While the WSSC engaged in extensive public outreach to ensure customers were aware of these change, they recognize that some customers may still have questions when opening their new bill after July 1. As a result, they expect a significant increase in call volumes beginning July 2. The WSSC is saying they have a plan in place to handle this increase, and WSSC will closely monitor call volumes/wait times and adjust our plan accordingly to minimize the impact to our customers. Even with the advanced planning, the WSSC expect heavy call volumes and I expect that your office may also receive calls from constituents, which is why I’m reaching out to you now. Call wait time may be longer than usual and WSSC recommends alternative methods to contact/conduct business with WSSC.

Here is a breakdown of our customer service improvements, plans to handle the expected increase in call volumes, summary of our public outreach efforts and important contact information so your office can assist constituents. WSSC understand change is difficult, and I want you to know that everyone at WSSC is committed to working with our customers every step of the way to answer their questions and ease their concerns.

Here’s what will be different starting July 1, 2019:

  • Improving how the WSSC bills for water/sewer with a modern and simplified four-tier rate structure. The amount of water in each tier and price per tier have changed to reflect how customers use water today (Efforts to conserve water and use of low-flow fixtures/appliances have changed customers’ water use.)
  • Redesigning bills to a more user-friendly format that highlights and summarizes important bill elements.
  • Enhancing our customer affordability program to help more customers afford their bills.
  • Upgrading IT infrastructure to support our new rate structure, improve customer service and significantly enhance business operations*.
  • Investing in infrastructure repair and replacement with a five percent revenue increase.

Steps taken to handle increased customer call volume:

  • More than doubling the number of Customer Service Advisors in our call center and identifying additional staff to handle calls during peak demand (Mondays and after holidays).
  • Increasing staff to research and respond to customers emails.
  • Creating an online bill calculator so customers can estimate future bills.
  • Providing resources and messages on our website to detail all the changes and highlight options for customers to contact WSSC without having to call.
  • Adding detailed messages to our Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) to highlight different options for customers to contact WSSC without having to call.
  • Communicating via social, paid and earned media the different options for customers to contact WSSC without having to call.

Extensive public outreach
The adoption of a simplified rate structure, redesigned bill and enhanced customer affordability program is the culmination of a deliberate process focused extensively on transparency and public outreach. To ensure customers were informed and engaged, WSSC held or participated in more than 30 public meetings or hearings since spring 2017, which were attended by approximately 2,500 customers and generated more than 300 total comments. This includes three recently held open house meetings this spring that were attended by nearly 1,000 customers. As you are aware, the basis for the new rate structure included the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (PSC) directive to develop a new structure after ruling our old 16-tier structure was unreasonable because it was unduly preferential to low-usage customers.

Important contact information

Websites:

  • www.wsscwater.com (main page)
  • www.wsscwater.com/losethewait (provides alternative methods to contact/conduct business with WSSC)
  • www.wsscwater.com/billchanges (rate structure/redesigned bill)
  • www.wsscwater.com/calculator (online bill calculator)
  • www.wsscwater.com/assistance (affordability programs)

Email: customerservice@wsscwater.com

IVRS: 301-206-4001 (account information, bill payment, meter readings, bill arrangements)

Social Media: Twitter: @WSSCWaterNews; Facebook: WSSCWater

Address: 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, MD 20707 (all account-related information)

Call Center: 301-206-4001 (7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays). Please note, WSSC expects heavy call volumes and long wait times to speak to a representative after July 1 and continuing for several months.

Emergencies: 301-206-4002 (For emergencies only – open 24/7/365)

Jun
27
2019

Council Supports Metro Apartment Development, Minus Tax Credit

At the June 11, 2019 meeting, the City Council supported the proposed Metro Apartment project “Artworth”, with some conditions.

Gilbane Development Corporation is requesting an expedited Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) review of a DSP to construct a five-story building with 451 multifamily dwelling units and approximately 5,000 square feet of retail.

According to the Gilbane, the project consists of a 431-unit mixed-use enclave defined by great streets and a vibrant Inter-modal Village Green. Pedestrian and bike friendly one-way vehicular lanes wrap the site, while highly active building frontages on all four sides of the site will ensure constant foot traffic, continuous eyes on the street and no “back side” to the project. The design avoids dead zones (e.g. parking garages exposed to the street) by programming our primary streets with ground level retail and residential units.

The project’s primary street level frontage is activated by 11,884 SF of retail, 23 two-story town home units, 27 live-work loft units and two apartment building residential lobbies.

This is the first application submitted under the College Park-Riverdale Park Transit District Development Plan (TDDP) approved in 2015 and will be the first housing constructed in the transit district.

The site is on WMATA land used as surface parking serving the Metro Station and adjoins a greenway known as the Brooks Parcel also owned by WMATA. The Planning Board hearing is scheduled for June 13, 2019.

Preliminary Plan 4-17009 for the subject site was approved by the Prince George’s County Planning Board on October 19, 2017 with the City’s support and subject to 15 conditions. Some of these conditions are relevant to the DSP review and are discussed in the attached City staff report. Staff recommends approval of the DSP with additional conditions including an Agreement with the Applicant regarding certain site details and payments. Staff also supports 13 out of 14 modifications to the development standards that have been requested since they will not negatively affect the community or the purposes and intent of the TDDP.

Council, however, did not approve of a Resolution granting a City Revitalization Tax Credit due to a disagreement about a condition that would protect the city in the event the property is later sold to a non-taxable entity (such as the University of Maryland). Qualifying projects are eligible to receive a five-year tax credit on the increased assessment attributed to the taxable improvements upon project completion. The maximum tax credit is an amount equal to 75% of the increased assessment of City tax imposed in the first year, 60% in the second year, 45% in the third year, 30% in the fourth year, and 15% in the fifth year. Currently, the properties are assessed at a value of $4,126,700, while the anticipated completion of the Project at the end of 2021 is estimated to increase the total assessment to $81,400,000. Therefore, the total increased assessment would be $77,273,300, which given the City’s current real property tax rate of $.335 per $100 results in a future annual tax bill of $258,865.56 upon completion. Total five year credit is estimated at $582,447.50.

The city’s condition states that the purchaser of the property would be required to make an annual payment equal to the amount being paid to the city by the developer pursuant to any tax abatement or, if no tax abatement is in effect, the annual city real property taxes on the property and any improvements, based on assessed value of the property.

Jun
26
2019

Mosquito Spraying Tonight

MDA will be spraying for mosquitoes in College Park this evening. Weather permitting, they will spray in section 2 (north or Rt. 193, and west of Rhode Island Avenue, up to the beltway) and section 3 (Berwyn/ Lakeland/Patricia Court). Please see the maps below.

 

Jun
25
2019

Taking Care of Young Athletes Seminar

Do you have a young athlete? This Thursday, hear “Taking Care of Young Athletes” from the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Cervieri of U.S. Figure Skating Team at the JTCC Study Hall this Thursday, June 27 at 6:30PM

Jun
24
2019

Free Summer Parking in Downtown College Park

Tired of dealing with pay stations? The City of College Park is here to make your summer a little easier, as you can park in the Downtown garage for free every Saturday.

Now through August 18, 2019, the Downtown Garage and City Hall lot will have free parking after 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and all-day on weekends. Be sure check out a restaurant or local business this summer!

The garage is located at the corner of Knox Road and Yale Avenue, convenient to more than 65 retailers.

Jun
23
2019

Dr. Monica Goldson Named New CEO of Prince George’s County Schools

Earlier this week, Dr. Monica Goldson was selected to be the permanent CEO for Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Goldson was assigned to the post as an interim CEO after the controversial severance package for departing CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell was voted on by the board July 12, last year.

She has served as Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning since 2016. In this role, she led school support initiatives in the areas of curriculum and instruction, special education, testing, college and career readiness and student services, according to the school board. Prior to Deputy Superintendent, she served as Chief Operating Officer.

Goldson will oversee preparations for the 2018-19 school year and join forces with the Board of Education on the school system’s five focus areas: academic excellence, high-performing workforce, safe and supportive environments, family and community engagement and organizational effectiveness.

Prince George’s County Public Schools are nationally recognized for innovative programs and initiatives that provide students with unique learning opportunities, including arts integration, environmental and financial literacy and language immersion.

Not only a product of the county schools, Goldson has spent her entire 27-year career in Prince George’s County Public Schools, steadily climbing the ranks from the classroom to district leadership. Goldson began her career at Suitland High School as a mathematics teacher. She served as assistant principal for Forestville and Frederick Douglass high schools and principal of Frederick Douglass and Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High schools.

Jun
22
2019

City Tribute to Dr. King Event Survey

Have you gone (or thought of going) to the City’s Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King? Have ideas to improve it? Take this survey about the event and tell us what you think!

Survey closes on July 12, 2019. Survey link:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CPMLKevent

[City of College Park]

Jun
21
2019

City to Participate in “Daylight Hour” Today, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Daylight Hour is a national social media campaign aimed at reducing energy use, improving work environments, and saving money by encouraging offices to turn off nonessential lighting from noon to 1:00 p.m. (local time) on the Friday closest to summer solstice.

This year, the City is participating in the effort to reduce energy consumption. If you are in an office or area where you are able to work in natural light, please turn off your nonessential lights from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. today.  We want to show the community our commitment to the environment; take pictures of your office with the lights turned off while holding this sign.

Email or text the pictures to City’s Communication Coordinator at rquinones@collegeparkmd.gov to share on the City’s social media pages.

#DaylightHour2019 may only be one day a year, but it is a powerful reminder to our staff about our commitment to sustainability. The City is proud to participate in this event.

[City of College Park]

Jun
20
2019

Today: Dump the Pump Day – Leave your Car and Take Public Transportations

Today is National Dump the Pump Day, which encourages people across the nation to save money and the environment by riding public transportation instead of driving.

Prince George’s County is offering a FREE ride on TheBus to encourage our residents to use public transportation for the day.

Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to #DumpThePump. #PrinceGeorgesProud

Jun
19
2019

Health and Human Services Need Asessment Survey

The Prince George’s County Board of Health is looking for your input! The Board is doing a needs assessment relating to health and human services and this is your opportunity to help, by filling out the survey at www.pgccouncil.us/HealthSurvey.

The deadline is this Saturday, June 22. Please see the attached flyer for more details and spread the word to anyone who might be interested!

Jun
18
2019

Volunteers Needed for the Permaculture Garden

The City’s Committee for a Better Environment is looking for volunteers on Saturday, 6/22 to help on the Trolley Trail Permaculture Garden located at the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and Tecumseh Street. The work will involve general maintenance, mostly weeding from 10:00am to 12:00pm.

Jun
17
2019

2019 Free Summer Meal Sites for School Students

While school is out for summer, meals will still be available for children in our community.

Beginning June 24, youth under age 18 can receive free summer meals at select schools, apartment communities and libraries throughout the County!

For a complete list of schools and sites offering meals and to find a location near you, visit www.mdsummermeals.org and search by zip code/ map or browse ‘2019 Sites’ by county.

Open school sites offering free meals June 24 – August 15, Monday-Thursday:
Calverton Elementary: 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Carrollton Elementary: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Edward M. Felegy Elementary: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary:10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
High Point High School: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Riverdale Elementary: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Robert Gray Elementary: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Rogers Heights Elementary: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Rosa Parks Elementary: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Templeton Elementary: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Apartment communities offering meals:
June 24 – August 9: Monday – Friday
Langley Gardens, Takoma Park
Lunch: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.

June 24 – August 16: Monday – Friday
Langley Terrace, Hyattsville
Breakfast: 9:00 -9:30 a.m.
Lunch: 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Overland Gardens, Landover
Breakfast: 9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Lunch: 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.

Penn Mar Forestville
Lunch: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Regency Point, Forestville
Breakfast: 9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Lunch: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Oxon Hill Village, Oxon Hill
Breakfast: 9:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Lunch: 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

July 9 – August 9: Monday – Friday
Carriage Hill, Hillcrest Heights
Lunch: 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.

The following libraries will offer free lunches from June 24 – August 16.
Beltsville Library: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Monday – Friday
Fairmont Heights: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday
Hillcrest Heights: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday
New Carrollton: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Monday – Friday
Oxon Hill: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Monday – Friday
Spauldings: 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Monday – Friday

[Prince George’s County School]

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