Nixle Safety Alert System

NixleEarlier, I blogged about sites like the crimereports.com to get safety alert / notification. Here is another one – Nixle.

The good thing about Nixle is that it’s used by the PG Co police; thus in addition to the safety alerts (I’m yet to receive any) , it also sends news about the police department.

To register for the Nixle service, please go to http://local.nixle.com/register/. The registration process is simple and fast.

Recession Hits UMD Development

The University of Maryland’s much publicized East Campus development suffered a setback after the University and the developers agreed to put an end to the proposed development. The current “economic downturn and difficult financial and real estate markets” forced them to make this decision.

The University is however willing to go ahead with the development, though not in full scale, but in chunks. More here on the Post article:


Mixed Use Zoning Seminar

I attended a presentation by the MNCPPC on the PG County’s new mixed use zoning at the PG Community College. The MNCPPC planner Chad Williams gave the presentation. The new zoning law’s intent is to create a “sense of place” in urban-like centers where there is high pedestrian traffic. This Urban Center code (UC) would emphasize how buildings and structures would appear (height, size, window and door openings, color, etc.). With exception to a few restrictions, the new zoning rules will focus on the appearance, instead of the use of the new buildings. This will give developers to build properties with faster approval. For example, unless a plan is put through rigorous public hearings etc., the approval process may take as little as 7 months, as compared to a minimum of 2-3 years that it currently takes. The faster approval process may pose challenges to the community members, who may not have enough say about the development in their neighborhoods.

The development of the Hollywood commercial district as envisioned in the Rt. 1 sector plan is not part of the mixed use zoning regulation, mainly due to “lack of time” issue – the new regulations are not passed into law yet. Also, the City of College Park and Greenbelt have requested the Park and Planning to postpone the implementation of the zoning rules in these two cities until further studies are done.

Membership Rule Change at the NCPCA

We had a brief but lively meeting at the NCPCA last night.

Other than the officers’ reports and announcements, two major issues that dominated the meeting were: (1) a brief presentation by the UMD for Clean Energy and (2) a long but vibrant discussion on a proposed membership rule change at the NCPCA.

First, my thanks to Matt and Flora for taking their time to come and made a presentation on their vision to make College Park a sustainable greener city. I think as residents, we can do a lot in terms of encouraging our residents becoming more aware of environmentally friendly.  I hope the NCPCA and the UMD for Clean Energy spend more time in future in exploring collaborative programs to make our neighborhoods a greener and healthier place to live.

The other item we discussed was a set of proposed membership rule changes at the NCPCA. According to the Section 3 of the current NCPCA by-laws, dues are paid per family, not per individual. The proposals, in a few variations, seek to change that per individual.

If I understood correctly, the reason for such changes was mainly driven by the fact that it was difficult to identify family members in a household. However the downside of such changes would require large families pay a hefty membership fees per year. For example, I know a family on the 51st Avenue who has a total of 7 members in their families, mom, dad and 5 high school / college going children, all 18+ in age. They currently pay $10 per year; with the proposed changes, they will have to pay $70 per year. With NCPCA’s membership not being a huge attraction, I’m afraid such changes will discourage large families like these renewing their memberships or attract new members to the NCPCA.

I do, however, understand the importance of identifying individual members living in a household. This identifying business should be as simple as having a periodic review of the membership list by the officers. To do that even better, we should work harder to strengthen our community based programs such as Neighborhood Watch. Programs like these will not only make the neighbors feel safe about their neighborhoods, but will definitely allow the neighbors know each other better.

The voting on this issue was postponed due to the lack of enough attendance.

NCPCA Meeting – Tonight

Please try to attend tonight’s NCPCA meeting at the Davis Hall.

Meeting will start at 7:30pm. Details are here:


Community Response Team Crime Report
UMD for Clean Energy

Housekeeping (Officers reports, minutes, etc.)
Committee reports (Variance, Hollywood Station)
Break for refreshments

New Business
Authorize purchase of signs
Discussion of bylaws, voting
Announcements, Council comments

No School Boundary Change – For Now

HollyWoodESBoundary If the PG County School Board’s website is still up-to-date, the boundaries for two schools(Hollywood and PaintBranch) remain unchanged. The boundaries of the Hollywood ES school district is shown in grey in the map above.

The Hollywood Elementary Principal Barbara Caskey is however requesting that the School Board put an addition onto Hollywood because of it’s overcrowding. It is one of the top five overcrowded elementary schools in the County.

There will be a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 17 @ 6:30PM Northwestern High School on the proposed changes in the school districts.

Fall Food Drive

canned-foodI’m organizing a Fall Food Drive for the needy families living in our area.

If you’d like to help the less fortunate ones, please bring your non-perishable food items such as cereal, canned food etc. to this Thursday’s NCPCA meeting at the Davis Hall and drop them at the donation box marked “Fall Food Drive”.

See you at the meeting!!

A 'Cohesive' Council

It’s nice to know that the new city council is expected to be a ‘cohesive’ one, as this news article reports. In adition to the accusation of ‘puppeteering‘ business from some citizens, the city residents had seen numerous incidents of open, not-so-friendly interactions among the council members in the past council. It will be interesting to see how much cohesiveness in the new council will be on the display, where even the outgoing Mayor is not expecting all council members share the same views of the future College Park.

Let’s hope for the best.

Surprise, Surprise!!

Someone probably noticed the exciting and yet hectic experience that my young son Samir and others went through during the days leading to the election.

It was around 2pm today and I was about to take my family for a trip to my in-laws’ place in Virginia. All of a sudden, I received a call from a family friend to stop by at a residence in the West Hollywood area. And there waiting was a huge surprise party for my entire family. About two dozen families arranged a potluck lunch in appreciation of what they think a “good try”.

It’s amazing how big others think and care about you; even though what you’re doing seems so little and never enough to you. A big ‘Thank You’ to all who arranged such a great afternoon event full of fun for everyone.

R U Safe?

I attended a seminar titled “Are You Safe”, on crime prevention at the United Methodist Church on the Rhode Island Avenue. The seminar was presented by two police officers from the P.G. Police. The officers described various safety tips on crime preventions. I hope to add these tips to the resource page of this site sometime this week.

Attending the seminar also gave me an opportunity to meet Pastor Rev. Fay Lundin and many community members of the Church. Though I personally knew some of them before, it was quite an experience meeting this community ‘at-large’. I thank the Church for organizing such a great event.

I’m Humbled!!

Since last Tuesday’s Election, I’ve received numerous messages from my neighbors and well-wishers. I thought I should compile and acknowledge them in one post.

In response to all these kind and encouraging comments, all I can say – I’m humbled!!

Congratulations on running a hard race and doing a great job. I watched from afar and was very impressed. Although I know it didn’t turn out the way you had hoped, I’m sure you have made numerous friends and have grown tremendously during the process. I’ve found that there is nothing that teaches you more about yourself than an election campaign.

Keep fighting my friend!

Saqib Ali, Maryland State Delegate. http://SaqibAli.org

Thank you for your note and all the work you do in the community.  You certainly gave us a run for our money!  I look forward to continuing working with you through the NCPCA and through other community efforts.

Patrick Wojahn, College Park City Council member, District 1

You ran a great campaign and I would have loved working with you.  Let me know when there are issues you’re interested in around College Park or how I can help you.  I still consider (myself a) Kabir fan!

Marcus Afzali, College Park City Council member, District 4

You ran a strong, well-organized and well-supported campaign.  Losing isn’t easy, but if you didn’t win, it wasn’t because of any lack of energy on your part.  Take care.

Mark Shroder, Former Dist. 1 Council member and former NCPCA President

I think you did an amazing job with your campaign. You have great ideas and I really appreciate that you have a website/blog to discuss your thoughts and to receive input from others in your community. It’s good to know we have such thoughtful and caring neighbors. Don’t be discouraged by your loss, I hope to see you running again the next time around! Even though the campaign is over, please keep up with the blog. Take care! College Park Resident

Sorry about the outcome.  But at least I got to know you better.  Looking forward to working with you in the future. Best regards, College Park Resident

I wanted to let you know that it was a real pleasure to meet you and have a chance to talk to you during your recent campaign.  I’m sorry the outcome was not as hoped for, but judging from the number of your campaign signs that I saw displayed it’s easy to see that many consider you a real asset to our community.  It was very obvious to both Vicky and me that you are committed to keeping College Park a great place to live, and regardless of Tuesday’s results I wanted to thank you for being willing to serve as our councilman. College Park Resident

Thank you very much for your support of our efforts, and for your work to help make College Park a safer, cleaner and more pleasant place to live.  District 1 was a really tough competition this year, and it was great working with you to bring environmental issues more into the public eye.  As you said, this isn’t the end; we look forward to working with you again in the future!

Hilary Staver, UMD for Clean Energy

Finally a young man is doing the right thing which should have done years before.

Mansur Khan

During the race I was so proud of you! I thought to myself that his, and the life of his family will change forever. No more coming straight home from work and relaxing, but now constantly on the campaign trail.  You took a leap that none of us I know thought to take, It took and showed true courage. You’ve been there from the beginning, and never wavered! You are our hero! This is only the beginning!

Ebyan, College Park Resident

Official Results

The City has published the official results. Here are the updated numbers:

Lawrence R. BLEAU           140
Jeffrey S. GOMOLJAK          36
S. M. Fazlul KABIR              214
Christine L. NAGLE            295
Patrick L. WOJAHN            355

So You'll Go Back to Normal Life?

Over the past several months,  I gathered some unused vacation hours from my day-job. I used some of this time in the entire past week and the past two days.

You guessed this right. I couldn’t spend this time going to Bahamas to escape the often cold and rainy weather here. Instead I went into the neighborhood talking to the neighbors.

The election was over last night. This morning, at our family breakfast table, my 6th grader son, Samir asked me a question that I’ll probably remember for a long time to come,

“.. so you’ll be going back to normal life today?”

Now that question gave me a pause.

I knew where Samir was coming from. Last few days have been very hectic for the entire family – call this a marathon “full time” campaign job.

I tried to engage them in the campaign work with me – so that they don’t get bored. My wife prepared a bunch of packets filled with campaign literature for the prospective voters. My first son Arif, who helped design this website and the campaign flyers, helped me in organizing the GoTV (Get Out The Vote) stuff with his college friends.  Samir opted to go with his candidate dad in the field to do the knock-and-talk work. I found him excited when he saw someone positive buying into his dad’s campaign platform, however, I saw that excitement occasionally fading away with not-so-positive response from the voters. I think, at the end, he did a pretty good job in accepting the hard reality in life – the polite rejection. He was probably relating our citizens’ “democratic choice” with the win-win principle his teachers often try to teach him at his school’s many competitions – “you’re always a winner, you only lose when you give up trying”

I’m glad that I’ll get a chance to reclaim the “normal” life that Samir was referring to this morning, but I’m also happy for his enthusiasm of many community works that he often enjoys working with me. He has probably figured out by now that a “normal” family life doesn’t need to exclude the community activism – blending both can make lives even spicier.

Thank You!!

I’m just back from the City Hall’s vote counting session, and I know many of you’re anxious to know the outcome of the election result. So here are the unofficial numbers:

Lawrence R. Bleau        135

Jeffery S. Gomoljak       35

S. M. Fazlul Kabir         208

Christine L. Nagle        281 (winner)

Patrick L. Wojahn        341 (winner)

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of my neighbors who have put their trusts in my platform and voted for me.

But first I’d like to thank my wife and my sons who have supported me throughout the campaign. I’d also like to thank all the volunteers who have spent so much time and energy in this campaign.

My sincere thanks also go to the important endorsements I received from the UMD for Clean Energy and UMD Student Government Association (SGA)’s former president Jonathan Sachs.

Congratulations to Patrick and Chris – who will be representing our district in the next two years. I look forward to working with them at the civic association and other community levels.

This year’s election has seen amazing number of voter turnout – a whopping 583 (in 2007, this number was around 340). This has set the record in the history of our city’s election. Here are the results of the 2007 election:

Patrick L. Wojahn             221  (winner)
Jonathan R. Molinatto    163  (winner)
Lawrence R. Bleau            137 
William S. Flanigen          77

I’d like to thank all other candidates for running vigorous campaigns to make this huge turnout a possibility.

I hope to stay in touch with all of you in the coming weeks and months and serve all of you in any way I can.

Thank you.


Please Vote!!

vote1Today is the election day.

I’d request everyone reading this post to come out and VOTE!! It’s the only way to make your voice heard.

The poll will open at 11am at the Davis Hall for our district, and will continue until 8pm. Please see the map on the sidebar if you need direction to Davis Hall.

Our volunteers will be providing shuttle services to and from Davis Hall during the polling period. Please feel free to call me @ (301)659-6295 if you need a ride.