Crime, Schools Top PG Envision List

With $700,000 already spent, and another spending of $390,000 in sight, the Envision PG has released a wish list on what the residents want for the next 20 years in their county. The M-NCPPC funded the intiative.

The list was presented at a breakfast economic forum held at the UMd last Friday. This forum was an extension to a series of other forums that PG Envision organized in the past two years. I personally attended one late last year.

Envision listed some 47 items in their wish list. Out of that, they will address 14 high priority items first. Residents want less crime, better schools and a more affordable county to call home. Some of the goals and recommendations made by the group include increasing the number of PTAs by at least 50 percent by August 2015, developing a zero-tolerance corruption policy throughout all government agencies and creating more than 66 percent of the county’s job and housing growth around the county’s 15 Metro stations by 2014 (Washington Post).

Toll Set for First Segment of ICC

 MD Transportation Authority has set the toll rate for the first segment of the toll road, covering from Gaithersburg to Olney (Georgia Avenue).

And it won’t be cheap. In fact critics have declared this as the most expensive toll rate in the entire country.

Drivers who use this five and a half mile segment will have to pay $1.45 during peak hours, $1.15 off peak and $0.60 during overnight hours, according to WTOP News.

The peak travel period is between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. The first segment of the ICC is scheduled to open late this year or early next year.

Truckers will pay much more, Maryland transportation officials said Friday. The tolls for six-axle trucks will be $10.60 during rush hour, $8.50 in off-peak hours and $4.25 overnight.

The segment from Laurel and Olney will take at least one more year to open.

Discount Prescription Card for City Residents

The City of College Park has a new program to offer savings on prescription drugs to residents who are without health insurance, a traditional benefits plan, or have prescriptions that are not covered by insurance.

The Prescription Discount Card is made available to residents by the City of College Park in collaboration with the National League of Cities (NLC) and is made possible through City of College Park membership in NLC.

The card is FREE to all City of College Park residents, regardless of age, income or existing health insurance. By using this card you may save an average of 20% off the regular retail price of prescription drugs at participating pharmacies.

To discover the savings and learning more about the program, CLICK HERE to access the program online and print a card, check drug prices and locate participating pharmacies. Residents may also pick up a card at the following locations:

  • City Hall
  • Public Services
  • Youth and Family Services
  • Attick Towers
  • Spellman House

For more information, call toll free: 1-888-620-1749.

[Source: City of College Park]

Auto Theft Prevention Tips

There have been quite a few crime incidents involving auto thefts.

I’ve received the attached PowerPoint from City’s public Service Dept. director Bob Ryan in regards to auto theft prevention and education.

The PowerPoint has been prepared and provided for your use by the Special Investigations Division. 

To open, just click on “Read-only” after it opens.

Auto Theft Prevention Tips

Last Night’s Meeting Recap

We had a productive NCPCA meeting last night at Davis Hall. Here goes a brief summary:

PG COPS police officer Sarita briefed us about the incident of sexual assault at the Metro and the robbery at the Mundo Latino Market. She also mentioned that on June 24th, the Pawn shop at the Rhode Island and Edgewood Road was robbed, two assault rifles were stolen. She said there have been 5 B&Es from May 1st to June 6th. There have been 7 auto thefts during this period, mostly GPSs were stolen.

NCPCA had its new board of directors for the year 2010-2011. Mark Shroder was elected as President; Bill Robertson was elected as Vice President; I was elected as Secretary. Joseph Smith was elected as Treasurer.  The President elect later announced that he appointed Mohammed Taluckder and Donna Weene as members of the Board of Directors.

Sean Kirk and Brian Haddad of the Bamboo Eater made a short presentation on their newly opened tobacco shop on 9935 Rhode Island Avenue. They said their store does not sell tobacco and only sells tobacco accessories, jewelry and local art works. They will only sell their tobacco related products to adults (18+) and will ensure that underage children do not gather in front of their store. When asked about a MD state law banning sales and display of drug paraphernalia items such as glass pipes etc. in their store, they claimed that they checked with local government officials, who verified their business practice as legal.

Senator Jim Rosapepe, Delegates Barbara Frush, Ben Barnes and Joseline Pena Melnyk of MD 21st Delegation presented their report on the 2010 Maryland Legislative session. Their major accomplishments in the past legislative session include: use of stimulus funds in repairing roads, schools and transit lines and preservation of police and teachers jobs. They also passed several bills –  a bill banning hand-held cell phones while driving, a bill closing down health insurance loopholes, a bill extending sentencing terms for sex offender, a bill protecting senior citizens from reverse mortgage scams, a bill requiring banks to try working with homeowners and state officials before foreclosure on homes. They also approved 3.8% increase in public school funding over 2010 levels and kept state funding for local transits.

With last night’s meeting, NCPCA will go into summer recess. The next regular monthly meeting is scheduled in September.

NCPCA Meeting Tonight, Please Attend

Today is the second Thursday of the month and thus is the day of the regular meeting for this month.

Here are a few key agenda items:

·     We’ll start with the officers’ election for the year 2010-2011. Mark Shroder, Bill Robertson and myself are running for President, V.P and Secretary positions respectively. Joe Smith and Mohammed Taluckder are running for the treasurer position. Write-ins are allowed.

·      Community Response Team Safety Report: PG COPS Officer Sarita will give a report on recent crime activities, such as sexual assault, house break-ins and armed robbery at the Mundo Latino market.

·     There will be a presentation from the representatives from The Bamboo Eater, who has recently opened in our neighborhood. I  blogged about this business earlier. It will be interesting to hear what the owners say to sway the residents’ concerns on the nature of their business.

·     The MD 21st Delegation will come and present their annual Annapolis legislative report to NCPCA members.

More on the meeting agenda can be found at the NCPCA’s website http://myncpca.org

See you all tonight at the meeting.

Daylight Armed Robbery at Mundo Latino

I came to know through the CP Crime Watch that on last Monday, there was an armed robbery, reportedly by two males, at Mundo Latino Market on Edgewood Road (5000 Edgewood Rd.) . No one was injured. Prince George’s County Police and the forensics unit responded.

I spoke to the store owner Mr. Rafael yesterday to find more on the incident. He told me that the incident happened at around 4:30pm (open day light!!) . The perpetrators did not damage anything in the store, however they took cash from the cashier under gunpoint. Fortunately, the store’s surveillance camera captured the incident. The suspects are Hispanic males, around 160 lb, 5 ft 7inch.

Details of Speed Cameras Emerge

More details have emerged on the speed camera installations that the city has awarded to a Lanham company OptoTraffic in last Tuesday’s council session.

After a 30-day warning-only grace period, motorists who pass a speed camera more than 12 miles per hour over the posted speed limit will receive a $40 ticket. If the city’s camera earnings add up to 10 percent of its budget — which typically totals around $13 million — any additional ticket revenue starts to go to the state instead. Until that point, College Park will receive $24 from each ticket. Optotraffic takes the rest but is fully responsible for installing and maintaining the cameras.

Cameras will likely be installed along Paint Branch Parkway and Greenbelt Road, and possibly on stretches of University Boulevard and Rhode Island Avenue.

In tonight’s session, the Council will consider an ordinance to establish school zones for the purpose of authorizing the use of speed cameras in those zones.  Two school zones will be established relevant to north College Park – a school zone within a 1/2-mile radius around Hollywood Elementary School and one around Berwyn Christian.  This will allow the City to place speed cameras on any part of Rhode Island Ave. south of the Beltway down to Route 193, and on most of US 1 in North College Park.  Also, the City will establish any area within a 1/2-mile around the University of Maryland as a school zone – this will include University Blvd. and Greenbelt Road from the University to the City boundaries, and most of the major roads in the south part of the City.

[Source, The Diamondback, NCP listserve]

Field Day, Storm Drain Marking Recap

I took my son and his freind to last Saturday’s BARC Field day event in Beltsville. The event was organized to celebrate BARC’s 100th  anniversary. The weather was gorgeous which helped bring a lot of families to the event. Inside the main large tent, the BARC employees showcased many of their research projects in an easy and fun way to understand. There were also displays of farm equipments for visitors to inspect. Also, there was a huge tractor with hay seats transporting small kids and their parents. I took a few pictures of the events, which I’ve posted below; please enjoy.

I also caught the second storm drain marking event at the Hollywood ES. Since it was too late for me to do the actual drain marking, I took a bunch of decals and related accessories (glues, gloves, brush etc.) to mark the storm drain in my part of the neighborhood,  the east Hollywood area. If you’re interested to mark storm drains in your area, please contact one of the organizers (Janis or Vicky). Vicky also told me a number of volunteers, mostly members of a local scouting troop did a great job in marking drains on both sides of Rhode Island Ave (in Hollywood).

The organizers are hoping to have another drain marking event sometime in  this coming Fall. Please stay tuned.

Taking the Streets for Neighborhood Safety

I took my youngest son last Friday in the Neighborhood Night Walk with PG COPS Police Officer Melanie Sarita. A few residents took part in the walk – they included  our two council members, Patrick and Chris and City’s Public Service Director Bob Ryan.

We met at the Duvall Field at around 7:00pm and headed to the eastern part of the neighborhood through 51st Avenue and Lackawanna Street. We then came back to Duvall Field again through Lackawanna and Rhode Island Avenue.

During the walk, we distributed public safety related pamphlets to the neighbors, placed them on the windshields of the vehicles parked on the streets. We talked to a few neighbors and told them about the recent spike in crime incidents, including the assault incident that happened on the previous Friday.

Interestingly enough, we found a few neighbors anxious about seeing a police officer in uniform placing ticket – size papers on their cars’ wind shields. “Hey, hey, what’s that on my car?” –  a neighbor came running to us, thinking he got  a ticket and trying to prove his innocence. Our response – “Never mind – this is simply a safety pamphlet” helped calm the neighbor.

Thank you Officer Sarita for organizing the event and thanks everyone who participated and made the ‘Walk’ a success. We’ll let you know when the next Walk is organized.

A Family Fun Day – BARC Field Day Today

Want to see hay rides, animal or farm exhibits somewhere near home? Look no further, it’s just around the corner of our neighborhood!!

The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, BARC (map below) will be organizing a Field Day tomorrow  (10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

This will be a fun-filled day for the entire family.  Find out what BARC scientists are doing to help improve agriculture—and our lives. The events will feature many exciting things: animal and research exhibits, educational hayrides and farm machinery hands-on demonstrations.

All exhibits will be under a tented area – so don’t worry about the weather. Light refreshments will be available for sale. Signing and handicapped access vans will also be available.

Fo more information, please visit:  www.ars.usda.gov/ba/field-day


Metro Riders’ Other Pain – Stolen Bikes

Along with the threat of physical attacks such as the recent sexual assault incident on the pathway to Greenbelt Metro, riders from our neighborhood face another problem – stolen bikes. The bikes that many rides park at the north side of the Metro are often stolen from the bike stands.  

I’ve been hearing this problem for sometimes, but never knew that the problem was so widespread.

This week, I happened to meet Fawaz Oteju, who was interviewed last week by the NBC Washington on the assault incident. Fawaz has recently moved to the neighborhood and currently lives on 51stAvenue. He used to live on the other side of the Metro and take the train from College Park Metro station. We spoke for some time on the train on this issue of safety at the Metro station. Fawaz told me that just last Sunday, his bike was stolen from Metro. Before this happened, he lost two other bikes in the College Park Metro station.

Recently both of the wheels of my bike were stolen – making it completely unusable. The thief could not take the frame because it was locked, but that frame I guess, doesn’t have any value any more.

I met a rider very recently who also said his bike’s wheels were stolen. The other day, I saw another bike locked at the bike stand – the bike doesn’t have any wheels.

Another resident – a victim of this bike theft incident writes:

Of everyone I’ve talked to who bike to that metro stop, then park their bike there, they’ve had a bike stolen from them. I say “a bike” because they obviously had to get it replaced.   My roommate got his bike stolen there a couple weeks ago, another housemate got her motorized scooter stolen there as well just last week.   One of my friends had his bike stolen a couple months ago.

Given the number of incidents on stolen bikes, many residents think that these are acts of members of an organized gang. I’m not however sure how often these incidents are reported to Metro Police.

Storm Drain Marking This Saturday

In last spring, the CBE  and CCRIC had their first storm drain marking project of the year. It was agreat event and I took a few pictures which you can see here.

They will be organizing the second event on this Saturday morning. Volunteers will again be working on the East and West sides of Rhode Island Ave. between Edgewood Rd. and Univ Blvd. Several Boy Scouts will be participating, along with some residents too. 
It’s a project you can do in your very own neighborhood. All you have to do is come to Hollywood ES and pick up supplies, have breakfast, and you’re on your way back to your neighborhood. It’s an easy job if you don’t mind a little walking and also satisfying to know that you might be helping the uninformed from depositing their used oil, trash, etc. down a storm drain that ends up in our local waterways. 

Please contact CBE member Janis Oppelt ( janiso@erols.com ) if you want more info on the event.


Budget, Parking Permit Fee Hike Approved

The City has approved the FY2011 budget in last week’s council meeting. This year’s budget has been termed as the “smallest” ($12.65  million) in the past three years. The loss of revenues due to declining property values has forced the city cut spending in a number of areas. Please check our coverage of this year’s budget here and here.

The draft budget was first introduced April 27. After a public hearing  on May 11, the council made a few minor additions. The council approves a grant of $3500 for the Meals on Wheels (MoW) program to purchase a refrigerator. The MoW delivers low cost meals to area’s senior citizens.

Another attempt by the District 2 council member Jack Perry to eliminate $12,500 funding to the Boys and Girls club was voted down (1-6-1).

The budget was approved with only dissenting vote from Jack Perry. Dist. 1 council member Chris Nagle abstained from voting.

The council also approved an increases in occupancy permit application fees ($10.00 per permit) and residential parking permits (an increase from $5.00 to $10.00 per permit). We took a poll on this earlier, which can be found here.

Neighborhood Walk, This Week

You may be frustrated for not seeing much needed cameras in the most dangerous spots in the neighborhood. You may also agree or disagree on having our own City Police, but you shouldn’t have any disagreement on having a walk with your fellow residents – and keep a watchful eye in the neighborhood. Why? Because it’s a proven method to deter crime, it’s completely free – and most of all, it’ll be fun.

The dates for the walk are as follows: the “Day Walk” will be on June 2nd (it’s tomorrow) from 10-12 and the “Night Walk will be on June 4th from 7-9. Both of the walks will begin at Duvall Field. For the night walk, please bring a flashlight so we will be more visible.

Thanks to PG COPS Officer Melanie Sarita for organizing these Neighborhood Walks.