Blue Light Phone Near Metro to Come in August

Following the sexual assault incident near the Metro station, several community members engaged in a discussion on how to address the safety issue at the entrance of Metro.

It was pointed out that during the planning for the Greenbelt station, Metro made a promise to install cameras and provide foot patrol for the path. This led to further inquiry from City’s Public Service Director Bob Ryan who clarified that the blue light phone is in the works and said will be installed as part of the Lackawanna Street-scape plan.

Later I inquired further to Bob who told me that the phone may come as early as in August.  The most likely place they will get installed at the end of Lackawanna Street near 53rd Avenue.

Though a surveillance camera just out side the Metro would be more effective in deter crimes, but it looks like it will take a while for the Metro to install such cameras. In the mean time a blue light phone can be a good, though less-than-ideal solution for the Metro riders from our neighborhood.

The University of Maryland has an extensive network of blue light phones. According to UMd’s website, the “Blue light” or Public Emergency Response Telephones (PERT) provide a toll-free, direct connection to the University of Maryland Police Department. These phones are located throughout the College Park campus either inside or outside of residence halls, administrative and academic buildings.

Other university campuses, such as Missouri Western University and University of Connecticut have similar emergency telephone alert systems.

Countywide Candidates Forum at Davis Hall on Thursday, July 15th

Save the Date. 

NCPCA will host a forum for County Executive, State’s Attorney (i.e., the DA), and Sheriff candidates on Thursday, July 15th at 7:30 pm at Davis Hall, at the corner of Indian Lane and 51st Avenue. 

So far 9 of the 15 candidates for these positions have committed to attend. 

Come ask a question, hear the answers, find somebody to support for these important jobs. 

See attached flyer — see you there.


PG Schools Ban Cell Phones in Classrooms

The PG County school board has recently passed a law banning use of cell phones in classrooms of all county schools.

The students would be required to leave their phones turned off and in their lockers, from the first bell of the morning to the final bell of the school day. Students would be able to use their phones only with the Principal’s permission, or if a teacher wanted them to use it for some educational purpose.

The school board passed the policy 7-2, with the student board member dissenting along with one other.

Most school systems in the Washington region have flexible policies, allowing students to carry powered-down cellphones in their pockets during the school day and turning a blind eye to lunchtime calls; most confiscate phones used inappropriately during class.

I asked Hollywood Elementary School principal Babbara Caskey on the impact of this cell phone ban at her school. She said:

I don’t think it will affect Hollywood very much. We have had the policy that students are allowed to have cell phones but they must be kept in their back packs and turned off during the school day.  No one has asked about it….so far!

June 2010 NCPCA Meeting Minutes

In case you missed this month’s regular NCPCA meeting, here are the minutes – please take a look.


With the June meeting, NCPCA is now in recess. The next NCPCA regular meeting will be on September 9, Thursday at 7:30pm. Please try to attend. The tentative agenda will be posted on NCPCA’s website http://myncpca.org. It’s on the home page.

Suspect’s Sketch in Metro Assault Case Released

The Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) has released the sketch of the suspect in the sexual assault case near the Greenbelt Metro.

According to MTPD, the suspect is a White Hispanic male at his late 20’s to early 30’s, medium build, 5’9”, approx 180-190lb. The suspect was last seen running through the Hollywood Park adjacent to 53rd Avenue, College Park, MD.

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or incident is asked to contact Brian White at (202)731-2119 or Detective Christopher Archer at (202) 345-2249 or call the MTMD Communications Division at (202)962-2121. The case reference number id 2010-23237.

Please see the attached flyer for more details: wanted_GNBT1_2

Free Wi-Fi Near Home

New Free Wi-Fi Spot@ Starbucks

In case you don’t want to spend another broadband bill and you’d like to get some quick online work done in your laptop somewhere close to home, here is a good news. 

Recently Starbucks Coffee has announced that starting July 1, the coffee brewer will launch free Wi-Fi access throughout all of its stores nationwide, with no special registration or account required and no limits on the time people can spend online. 

The nearest Starbucks is located at the College Park Shopping center (near Shoppers groceries). This will probably be the closest place where you can get free Wi-Fi access. The store has a small but nice library like settings where you can conveniently work on your laptop, alone or with others in a meeting. 

According to Openwifispots, other nearest stores where you can get free Wi-Fi Spot are College Park Coffee House (at Rt.1 and 193), Proteus BiCycles (9217 Baltimore Ave) and McDonald’s (on Rt.1 near UMd).  The three hotels in north College Park, Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge also have free Wi-Fi spots.

Crime Alert – Strong Arm Robbery

 The following crime alert I’ve received from City’s Public Service Director Bob Ryan. The incident happened on  last Monday, at 9:30p.m.

The 22 year old male student victim was sitting outside of 240 Old Leonardtown ( http://tinyurl.com/39yx89m) on a bench working on his laptop.  The suspect approached him and snatched his laptop away from him.  The victim grabbed onto the laptop to stop the suspect from taking it when he was punched in the face causing him to release the laptop.  The suspect ran towards Lot 16 where he was joined by the second suspect.  The suspect dropped the laptop in Lot 16D and along with the second suspect fled towards Rhode Island Avenue.  The laptop was recovered from the lot.

There are two suspects (1)  Black male, approximately 20 years old, thin build, wearing dark shorts and a dark shirt and (2) Black male, approximately 20 years old, thin build, wearing dark shorts and a white shirt.

When available for release, additional information, including updated descriptions of suspect, may be obtained by accessing the “Crime Alerts” portion of UMd’s Public Safety Dept. web site. Individuals with any information regarding this incident, or the possible identity of the suspects, are encouraged to contact police (911 or 301-405-3555).  You may also email any information to investigations@umpd.umd.edu.

Explore College Park @ Plato’s, Tonight

The second Experience College Park will be held tonight (@ 7pm) at Plato’s Diner. This time the featured guest will be MD 21st District Senator Jim Rosapepe.

The door is open to anyone living in College Park and want to have a discussion on anything and everything of our great city.

21st Delegation Gets an ‘F’, But Wait..

If you  follow the local politics at the MD State legislature level,  this news might have already caught your attention..

Legislators representing a portion of the county who had the lowest scores were Dels. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, D-College Park, Ben Barnes, D-College Park, House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, and Sen. Jim Rosapepe, D-College Park. Dels. Barbara Frush, D-Beltsville, and Virginia Clagett, D-West River, were tied for the fifth slot.

But wait, this is only one side of the coin, to see the other side, please read on..

First, let’s all be frank, we all like score cards. Like our kids get scorecards at their schools, politicians get theirs too. They get at the national level, and now we see they are getting at the local level too.

This political scorecards got me interested mainly because it’s the MD election time and average voters like you and me would be interested to know how to vote for their incumbent candidates.

I also wanted to know how they measure politicians’ performance. To that end, I think the poll takers I’ll mention shortly did a fairly good job by defining the way they took the poll.

The ratings card I just mentioned above, was given by Maryland Business for Responsive Government (www.mbrg.org). Many consider MBRG as a conservative advocacy group, who have generally favored Republican candidates in the past. For example, in 2006,  local conservative lawmakers earned high marks from MBRG.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you want to see high marks for Democratic candidates, go to advocacy groups such as Progressive Maryland Education Fund ( www.Pmef.org ). PMEF did their score cards for 21st Delegation this week as well, and guess what, all 3 Delegates and the Senator have received A+ grades.

I wish there could be a more independent poll takers in our local politics; but I doubt that will ever happen when independence is a scarce thing to find – even in our mainstream national media outlets.


2nd Skate Spot Open House, This Thursday

There will be a second open house on the skate spot at the Sunnyside Park. The City will review three conceptual designs developed by Grindline Skateparks, Inc. based on input provided at the April 22nd meeting. I attended the first open house and guess what, it was jam packed.

They need your ideas and hope that you can attend. Spread the word to your fellow skaters!

Date: Thursday, June 24, 2010
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: City Hall Council Chambers
4500 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740

Contact Elisa Vitale at 240-487-3542 or evitale@collegeparkmd.gov with questions.

Second Skate Spot Open House 2 flyer

County Council District One Candidate Forum

 There will be a debate among candidates for County Council District 1 on Sunday, July 11, 6pm-8pm.  Five candidates are running to replace our term limited incumbent Tom Dernoga.  The doors will open at 5:30 pm at which time we will have note cards and be taking questions from the audience for the candidates. 

This debate will include opening statements from each candidate, questions delivered by a moderator, and closing statements during which candidates will be given an opportunity to give their final pitch.  College Park Mayor, Andrew Fellows will moderate the debate.

We will be providing candidates with the first two questions a week ahead of the debate. Six additional questions will be selected from the written questions submitted by the audience prior to the debate.  This debate will be focused on College Park issues and be open primarily for North College Park residents. 

Location: Davis Hall, 9217 51st Avenue

Hosts: College Park District One (Christine Nagle and Patrick Wojahn) & College Park District Four (Denise Mitchell and Marcus Afzali)

For further questions please contact one of the debate coordinators.  Christine Nagle (cnagle@collegeparkmd.gov) or Marcus Afzali (mafzali@collegeparkmd.gov)

Central US 1 Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment Approved

In case you haven’t heard, earlier this month, County Council has approved the US1 Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment. There are 84 amendments in total, which I have uploaded here: 

US 1 Sector Plan Amendments 

It appears that most of the 26 amendments that the City requested for are in the final amendment list. Most notably they include the Amendment 5 asking to exclude North College Park from Form-based zoning regulations. 

AMENDMENT FIVE:: Add the following text to page 50: ―Corridor nodes located north of MD 20 193 shall not be considered for future application of Subtitle 27A of the County Code. 

It also asks to retain Hollywood commercial district to its current designation of Commercial Shopping Center zone. 

AMENDMENT EIGHTY FOUR: Retain the C-S-C (Commercial Shopping Center) Zone for the Hollywood Commercial District 11 as recommended by the Planning Board, but revise the language on pages 100-101 to better 12 describe how the residents desire to redevelop the Hollywood Commercial District to better 13 serve the surrounding community. 

There have been a number of amendments on local transportation, such as bike lanes etc., something I’d like to cover in a later post.

Congratulations, Our ‘Green’ Residents!!

Congratulations Resident Russell Robinette and Joanna Calabrese, a former University of Maryland student, for receiving annual ‘Green Awards’ at a June 8 City Council meeting.

Every year, the Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) gives awards to City residents and businesses who demonstrate “a commitment to improving and protecting our natural environment”.

Robinette, 53, has been picking up litter — paper, bottles, cans and cups, often left by partying students from the University of Maryland, College Park — almost daily for about five years. He was featured earlier in this Gazette report.

Calabrese — who graduated from UM this past spring — helped lead a successful effort last year to prevent UM from clearing nine acres of on-campus forest to make way for proposed development. Last year, she was awarded Udall Scholarship for Environmental Leadership by the University of Maryland.

City Mosquito Control Program, 2010

[The following message was sent by Stacey King, Admin. Assist./Recycling Coordinator, Department of Public Works – (via NCPCA listserve) ]

The mosquito control program for 2010 has begun in College Park and will continue through the summer; the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has already begun the attack by spreading larvicide granules in some of the low-lying wooded areas that hold water for long periods of time and are known  mosquito breeding areas. Spraying for adult mosquitoes will start soon on Wednesday nights. Mosquito problems and spray requests must be made by residents in order for MDA to conduct surveys, and adult thresholds must be met and weather must be conducive for spraying to occur.

I am sure everyone has noticed at least one or two mosquitoes out by now, so this is a reminder to please forward this email to College Park residents and encourage them to contact me regarding mosquito complaints. I will report the information on a weekly basis to the Entomologist in charge of our program, so residents experiencing mosquito problems, want to put in a spray request, or have a spray objection, please call me directly at 240-487-3593, or email me at sking@collegeparkmd.gov. I will need the following important pieces of information from residents reporting complaints:
1.       Name and address
2.       Problem area(s)
3.       Time of day mosquitoes are worse, and
4.       Any areas of stagnant water to report
Now is also a good time to remind everyone that the spraying, when it occurs, is conducted overnight and is to help control the native mosquito populations; spraying is not effective against the Asian tiger mosquito, which is active mostly during the day, is aggressive (will follow you into the house or car), and only breeds in contained water. The best way to really control this mosquito is to eliminate its breeding habitat – containerized standing water. What do I mean by containerized standing water? Here are some examples:
·         bird baths,
·         wading pools,
·         gutters that haven’t been cleaned,
·         corrugated landscape pipe,
·         rain barrels,
·         free-standing basketball hoops (fill them with sand instead of water!),
·         toys (child or dog toys left alone will most likely collect water, even playground equipment),
·         upside-down or empty containers,
·         tarps that sag or are too big for the items they’re covering (any fold created in the tarp will hold enough water for mosquitoes to breed, so think about that wood pile or boat you have covered up!),
·         trays under flower pots,
·         tire swings and loose tires 

Look around your yard (and work with your neighbors!) to help eliminate these and the other endless sources of items that will hold just a few drops of water, which is all the Asian tiger mosquito needs. Make sure your gutters are cleared, and tip out or flush bird baths, pools, and other containers that hold water. Jeannine Dorothy, the Entomologist in charge of our program, has also offered to make house calls and help residents identify potential mosquito breeding areas, but she needs to have groups of at least 6 houses agree. The Asian tiger mosquito can fly up to a football field in distance, so even if your yard is clear of breeding opportunities, all of your neighbors need to make an effort as well in order to have a noticeable effect.

Additionally, we have mosquito dunks (donut-shaped larvicide granules) available at Public Works for College Park residents to pick up at no charge to help treat any areas of standing water (particularly bird baths, rain barrels, ornamental ponds that don’t have fish, etc.), and prevent mosquito larvae from maturing to the adult stage.

So, don’t forget to report problems or questions to me; I don’t know all the answers when it comes to mosquito control but I will find answers for you. Finally, please feel free to visit the MDA website on Mosquito Control to learn more about these summertime pests and how we can attempt to reduce the troubles they cause us: http://www.mda.state.md.us/plants-pests/mosquito_control/index.php

Thank you!

Mundo Latino Crime Alert

The PG Police has issued a crime alert involving the armed robbery I wrote last week.

Be a crime buster and earn $1000.00.

Here is the text of the alert. Also please feel free to download the alert flyer (link below) and share that with others.

The Prince George’s County Police Department is working to identify the Suspect shown in the above surveillance photographs. The Suspect robbed the Mundo Latino Market at 5000 Edgewood Rd, College Park, MD, on June 7, 2010.

Whenever information is given to the Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Line, you do not have to leave your name. A REWARD of up to $1,000 is being offered for the tip that leads to the arrest and indictment of the suspect responsible for this robbery.

Download Crime Solvers Reward Poster