Bill to Repeal Property Tax Credit Cap Tabled

Yesterday, I joined dozens of our residents voicing concerns over the negative impact of the County bill CB-48-2020 on our property tax bills. Thankfully, the County Council voted to table its decision in the end.

As I said in my testimony, I think the timing of even considering this bill could not be worse. Our homeowners are struggling with huge unemployment and many of them are struggling with their mortgage payments.

Our College Park City Council sent a letter to the County Council recently requesting them to give more information to the voters that explain the effects of the amendment language and offers examples to the taxpayer of how it may affect their property taxes. I wish our City council could take a stronger position against the proposed bill.

Personally, I find it a little frustrating that the County Council is considering this bill, because at the College Park City Council, over the years, we have been trying to reduce the homestead tax credit cap on the College Park’s portion of the property tax. This cap could be as high as 10%, as some other towns have, but in College Park, it has been reduced to 0%. It’s frustrating because the County Council’s effort to repeal the cap on the County’s portion of the tax is going in the opposite direction that College Park is trying to do.

We know the County needs additional sources of revenues, especially when it’s projecting significant losses due to COVID-19 pandemic, but I do not think to tax our residents more during this difficult time is the right thing to do. Could there be other opportunities to generate revenues, such as attracting more successful and sustainable businesses to the county? Historically, Prince George’s has an unduly high proportion (68%-32%) of residential tax base compared to the commercial tax base.

Here you can find more about yesterday’s vote.


City Renews VeoRide Contract, with New Pricing Structure

At the last week’s City Council meeting, the Council approved the Pilot Program be extended for one year to August 1, 2021 and to approve the Amended Mobility Share Agreement – Pilot Program.
(a) An extension of one additional year of the micro-mobility pilot program was approved since the use of the service has been disrupted due to the global pandemic.
(b) VeoRide recommends and City, Town, and University staff agree with the removal of pedal bikes from the shared system as they require more maintenance and receive much less use. VeoRide can work with the parties to repurpose or donate pedal bikes in the local community. A limited number of ADA compliant pedal bikes will be made available through the University of Maryland.
(c) Staff proposed allowing scooters and e-bikes to park at any bike racks or at any of the geofenced parking locations. Previously, scooters were required to park only at geofenced parking locations.
(d) Staff proposed modifying the hours of operation to make all vehicle types available 24/7. The Town is adopting these hours. The University of Maryland may limit hours of operation (5am-9pm) on campus through a digital “no-ride zone.”
(e) VeoRide requests an increase in pay-as-you-go pricing to match their national rates as follows:
(f) Staff proposed issuing a $35 fine to VeoRide for every improperly parked vehicle in the service area that is reported to VeoRide and not relocated within 24 hours.
(g) VeoRide will follow all CDC guidelines and each vehicle in service will be sanitized at least once a day.

Council Okays New College Park Marriott

At last week’s City Council meeting, the Council supported the approval of Detailed Site Plan 18047 with conditions in accordance with a few staff recommendations.

The Applicant, New County Hotel, LLC (Republic Properties), is requesting Detailed Site Plan (DSP) review to construct a 5-story Marriott Residence Inn with 161 hotel rooms, 6,800 square feet of ground-floor retail and 80 surface parking spaces.

The 2.11-acre property is a triangular-shaped corner through lot located on the northwest corner of Campus Drive and Corporal Frank Scott Drive.

The property is currently used as a 240 space County parking lot. The Planning Board is scheduled to hear the DSP on July 30th.


City Awards Hollywood Dog Park Construction Contract

At last week’s Council meeting, the City Council will awarded contract CP-20-07 to WGCI Enterprises for the construction of the Hollywood Dog Park in the amount of $314,806.75. Residents have expressed interest in the creation of an open access dog park.
Mayor & Council approved a Design & Engineering contract to A. Morton Thomas & Associates in November 2018 to develop construction plans, bid specifications and obtain required permits for the project on the Prince George’s County Board of Education parcel located in the 9300 block of 51st Ave.
An RFP was advertised in June 2020; thirteen bids were received by the closing date on June 29,2020, with WGCI Enterprises providing the lowest bid amount. Weather permitting, the park is expected to be built by the end of this year.
You can read more about the project her on City’s website: https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/304/Hollywood-DogPark

Tired of Being Bit by Mosquitoes in Your Yard?

Would you like to trap and kill those pesky mosquitoes without harming bees or birds? There is a solution, and for a limited time, it’s free.
The City of College Park Committee for a Better Environment has purchased 48 GAT traps. These traps are designed to attract and capture mosquitoes without any toxic chemicals. They are used successfully throughout neighboring University Park.
The Committee for a Better Environment would like to test the traps out in a few neighborhoods. They work best if they are deployed two per yard and several neighbors take part together. If you and four or five of your neighbors are interested in trying these traps out, the City will drop them off for free at your houses. In exchange, all we ask is that you take a short survey at the end of the summer letting us know if it was easy to use the traps and if they worked.
Contact Janet McCaslin at 240-487-3590 or jmccaslin@collegeparkmd.gov if you and several neighbors are interested in deploying GAT traps in your yards.
[City of College Park]

Pepco to Perform Tree line Clearance Work in College Park

Power line clearance tree work along Albion Road will be occurring very soon this month (July). The tree pruning will be performed by Asplundh, PEPCO’s contracted tree company.

Click here for a map of the planned power line clearance work in Old Town, Lakeland, North College Park, Yarrow, Berwyn, College Park Estates, Berwyn, and Calvert Hills.

PEPCO is beginning to plan for routine tree work to maintain required clearance from the overhead electric lines to provide for reliable electric service and reduce outages caused by trees.

The PEPCO planners will be working in all City neighborhoods planning for line clearance work this year, beginning in The College Park Estates and Yarrow neighborhoods. All trees, including those on private property, growing near the electric power lines will be inspected by an arborist to determine what will need to be done, whether pruning will accomplish the required clearance or a tree removal may be needed. Pepco arborists will leave a door hanger with contact information if a tree on private property is planned for trimming or removal. Residents should respond directly to the planner with comments or questions related to the tree work planned for their privately owned tree.

The City will be working with PEPCO planners to review the tree work plan and approve or deny work planned on trees in the public right-of-way.

[City of College Park]



New school year will begin with distance learning for the first two quarters

Recently, CEO Dr. Monica Goldson announced her plan to safely and responsibly reopen Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) for the 2020-21 academic year. Following broad input from families, employees and community members, PGCPS will continue distance learning through January 2021. Prince George’s County has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 public health crisis in Maryland. In light of the health disparities in communities that house more than 136,500 students and 20,000 employees, there is a significant public health concern if schools were to reopen this fall for in-person instruction.

Recently parents, educators and administrators were surveyed about their preferences for the upcoming school year given the ongoing pandemic. Forty-six percent of families expressed their preference to continue the distance learning model implemented in the spring; the percentages of educators and administrators in favor of distance learning exceeded 50 percent.

“During this global pandemic, we cannot ignore the health and safety of our students, parents and educators even while working each day to provide the highest quality teaching, learning and leadership at every school,” said Dr. Goldson. “Our students and families are facing a disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognize that no scenario is perfect or comparable to a traditional school year. While it is a difficult decision to not reopen our school buildings for in-person instruction, it is necessary to keep our students and communities safe.”

This fall, PGCPS will enhance the distance learning program with enhanced learning software and more live instruction blended with pre-recorded lessons. Student meals will be available for distribution at all schools. The school system will also establish Parent Support Centers throughout the county to assist families with technology support and other aspects of distance learning.

Today’s announcement is an important step forward in providing families with information to help make the best decisions for their children. Dr. Goldson will host a Family & Community Tele Town Hall on Wednesday evening to discuss the plan and hear from stakeholders. A similar event will be held Thursday evening for employees. Both town halls will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Next week, PGCPS will release a report outlining how the school system will support all students, in particular English language learners, those with special needs and youth from families with low-income, during the distance learning phase. A special Board of Education meeting will be held in late July to review the plan.

As during the initial distance learning phase, PGCPS will invest in helping to close the digital divide by providing devices and internet connectivity for families in need. The school system will distribute additional devices prior to the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 31. As part of a new districtwide 1:1 technology initiative, PGCPS aims to equip every student with their own digital device.

PGCPS will continue working with state and local health experts, government partners and the Maryland State Department of Education as information about the pandemic continues to evolve. The school system will adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mandate social distancing and hand washing, require face masks in PGCPS buildings and conduct thorough cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

Reopen PGCPS Plan

Distance Learning Instruction

Lessons will be held five days a week.
Lessons will also be broadcast on PGCPS-TV for younger students.
Technology will be provided on a 1:1 ratio.
Digital Device Distribution

Students will continue using PGCPS-supplied Chromebooks distributed in the spring.
Additional Chromebooks will be available for pick-up in the weeks ahead and wifi hotspots will be established.
The Connect PGCPS initiative will continue to provide Internet access to families.
Student and Family Supports

All schools will serve as meal sites and offer twice-weekly pickups, similar to the model utilized this spring.
PGCPS will establish Parent Support Centers throughout the county to assist families with technology support and other aspects of distance learning.
Key Dates

Aug. 31 – First Day of School: Distance learning will begin for all grade levels through the end of the second grading quarter in January.
Dec. 1-18: Depending on health conditions, PGCPS will offer families the option to begin hybrid instruction at the start of third quarter (February) for the remainder of the school year.
February to June – Second Semester: If possible, PGCPS will deliver hybrid instruction with two days of in-person learning and three days of distance learning. Full-time distance learning would continue for those students who opted in.


Town Hall – Should the County Change the Charter?

Please join this virtual meeting to hear 4 County Council members about the proposed County bill CB-48-2020. Here is the Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8087145270?pwd=dlhIZElBR2plLzlyOTIzN0NhUlkrUT09#success


Canceled – This Year’s College Park Day Event

At last night’s City Council meeting, the Council decided to cancel College Park Day 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council also authorized staff to explore other event options that could enable residents to celebrate in a safe manner.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many City events have been canceled: Brunch with Bunny, Spring Egg Hunt, Memorial Day Tribute, 75th Anniversary Parade and Festival, the new Lake Artemesia Concert Series (a mutual decision between Berwyn Heights and College Park), and the Fourth of July Fireworks & Celebration.


County Food Distribution location this Weekend

Capital Area Food Bank – July 17: The Prince George’s County Friday grocery distributions continue, and please see below the flyers


Afordable Housing is Coming to Branchville

Cruz Development Corporation is requesting Detailed Site Plan (DSP) review for property located on the north side of Branchville Road, west of its intersection with University Boulevard and Rhode Island Avenue.

The purpose of the DSP is to construct a 7-story, 81-unit apartment building with 130 parking spaces (35 surface and 95 structured). The proposed density is 37 dwelling units per acre. This project is proposed to be affordable housing financed with bonds from the State Department of Housing and Community Development. Residents will need to meet income eligibility requirements.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hear the DSP on July 23rd. Since the Worksession on July 7th, City staff has met with the Applicant and a representative of the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department to develop mutually agreeable conditions. The City Council will consider the approval of Detailed Site Plan 19042 with conditions at tonight’s Council meeting.


City Installs Banners, Publishes Web page Supporting Black Lives

Last week, the City installed several banners at the City Hall, Duvall Field, and the Public Works building supporting Black Lives. Please see them below.

The City has also published its Black Lives Matter webpage at https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/blacklivesmatter.  The page features the City’s resolution supporting Black Lives, the June 30 Virtual Forum, and the proclamation for Juneteenth.  The design echoes the banners that have gone up at Duvall Field, Davis Hall and the City Hall construction project.


Community – Police Meeting – 7:30 PM, Monday, July 13, 2020

Please come meet with College Park Contract Police Officers, Prince George’s County Community Police Officer, and your neighbors at our virtual Community – Police Meeting, at 7:30 PM, Monday, July 13, 2020. This is an excellent opportunity to bring your concerns directly to the Police to discuss Crime and Safety in the Neighborhood. All College Park residents are welcome. Please spread the word!

Join by Zoom – http://b.link/CPCommunityPolice
Join by phone: 3017158592, Meeting ID: 828 5917 0824 Password: 241758


Followup on CB-48-2020 Town Hall about Homestead Property Tax Credit Cap

Thank you all who joined last night’s town hall. In case you were not able to join here is the recorded video of the event

Please see below various presentations used at last night’s meeting:

  1. Slides used by the meeting moderators
  2. Slides used by Councilmember Glaros
  3. Slides used by Councilmember Dernoga

Please register here for the July 21 Public Hearing on the bill.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Virtual Q&A with Joshua Thomas

Next Wednesday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. please join a virtual Q&A with Prince George’s County District 2 Board of Education representative Joshua Thomas.

Discussion will include an assessment of the 2019/2020 school year along with plans for the upcoming school year.

To join: Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +13017158592,,97952972640# or +13126266799,,97952972640#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 6833
Webinar ID: 979 5297 2640
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/aeJPcWn5PN

Sponsored by the City’s Education Advisory Committee.

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