Danger in the Crosswalks

Let’s face it! The crosswalks in north College Park’s streets aren’t safe. There have been quite a few incidents on these streets that can be termed as ‘close calls’.

Say for example the crosswalk on Route 1 near Edgewood Road. First the crosswalk there isn’t marked properly. I’ve seen pedestrians often crossing the street running to the other end.

The same is true for the crosswalks on Rhode Island Avenue that stretches from Sunnyside to Rt193. This is the street where residents often cross between the east and the west side of the neighborhood.

The North College Park Citizens Association will discuss this continuing pedestrian hazards with the State Highway Administration (SHA) and the the County Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) in its upcoming September 9 meeting. Ever curious why two different entities are invited to discuss the crosswalk safety issues on our major streets? – because SHA and DPWT own / regulate Route 1 and Rhode Island Avenue respectively.

The details about the meting has been posted on NCPCA’s website http://myncpca.org .  Please mark your calendar.

Smalls Shows Off Experience, Charges Lehman on Discrimination Case

Fred Smalls

Fred Smalls

 After Mary Lehman, Crystal Thompson and Sam Epps, I approached the fourth County Council primary candidate Fredrick Smalls, the four term council member of Laurel City Council.

In addition to answering my questions, he also added comments on his opponent Mary Lehman’s earlier response on a Laurel Church discrimination case. Please see that additional response at the end his interview.

As always, if you have further questions or comments on Mr. Small’s responses, please feel free to post them in the comment section at the end of the article.

I thank Mr. Smalls and other candidates for taking time from their busy campaign schedule and responding to interview questions.

(1) There are five council candidates running in this year’s council election for District 1. Why do you think you are the best candidate in this crowded race?

A) I have the experience to lead; a strong desire to move the County forward; and the ability to make things happen for District 1. For more than 15-years I have been involved as a civic and community leader.  I began that service as president of my homeowner association and PTA president.    My service to the community broadened when I was elected to the Laurel City Council where I have served four two-year terms; two years as council president.  I have supported all aspects of public safety and helped bring Laurel to the forefront with my support of the first Emergency Services Commission.  I understand the priority of full staffing and modern training to ensure first-rate public safety capabilities.

Additionally, my hands-on experience with a tax-payer supported budget gives me direct experience managing tax-payer dollars.  I know the difficulty in stretching the dollar.  It is important to note that the City of Laurel has survived the weak economy better than most – and without furloughs or layoffs. I feel my experience is in areas the County needs most:  budgeting, emergency services, land use planning, and general management will contribute greatly to the future success of District 1 and our County. 

(2) One of your opponent candidate Mary Lehman enjoys strong endorsements from MD Delegate Joscelin Pena-Melnyk and Councilman Tom Dernoga. Do you feel that your campaign is weakened by these endorsements?

No.  I have equally strong endorsements from 21stDistrict Delegates Barbara Frush and Ben Barnes.  Additionally, I have been endorsed by the Washington Post, the Prince George’s County Gazette, the Prince George’s County Professional and Volunteer Firefighters, the Prince George’s County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89, the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association, and the African Leadership Empowerment Council.  All of these organizations understand my commitment to public service, my experience as an open, honest and hardworking municipal legislator and they support my vision and plan to move our county forward.

 (3) The City of College Park does not have a police service. The city residents pay nearly $1 million to hire 6 contract police officers (3 P/T and 3F/T)from the county, because the police service from the county’s regular police PGFD is not enough. If elected, what will you do offset such extra cost of law enforcement from local municipalities?

The real concern I have heard has been that residents feel they are paying the additional money and they are not getting the level of service they expect.  I will focus on improving communication so the police service College Park receives is more effective.   Additionally, I will work with the mayor and council to obtain Federal Homeland Security funding and use the money for additional officers.

I think the bottom line is residents and business owners want to see that the police service is effective and responsive.  If the level of service meets the needs of the community, people may not have serious issue with the cost.

(4) The current councilman Mr. Dernoga has been criticized by some for his strong stance against redevelopment in North College Park. The implementation of “form-based codes”  in the North College Park area, north of Greenbelt Road (Rt 193) has recently been blocked as part of Rt 1 sector plan. If elected, will you continue to support Mr. Dernoga’s position?

I am committed to community conscious development where the objective is to help make what lies ahead more satisfying for people living in the community. I bring 8-years of planning and zoning experience as a member of the Laurel Planning Commission.  As a commissioner I have been involved with many development and redevelopment projects and have always encouraged community input and listened to community concerns. 

I see form-based codes as one of the tools in a planning toolbox. The quality of development outcomes are dependent on the quality and objectives of the community plan that a code implements.  The US 1 Corridor Plan has very positive aspects and since it just went into effect in July I would like to give it a little time to see if it helps brings redevelopment to US 1 Corridor.

(5) Your opponent Crystal Thompson charges against you saying “Fred Smalls experience, as a city councilman, resulted in Laurel Mall and Main Street becoming run down ghost towns instead of vibrant areas that residents want to frequent.” Any comment?.

The Laurel Commons Mall is a very important project for the City of Laurel and the surrounding community.  The City has worked extensively with the Mall owners and their attorneys to assist in advancing the project.  For example, the City approved a TIF, tax increment financing,  a public financing method that is commonly used for redevelopment and community improvement projects in municipalities, to help the owner obtain needed bank financing.  Unfortunately the instability of the financial market has made it difficult for the project to move forward.  The City has and will continue to work to see this project completed as proposed.

The City has made several streetscape improvements to Main Street and will continue to work with the Laurel Board of Trade,  business and property owners to make Laurel’s Main Street a true destination stop.


My comment re. Mary Lehman’s response to the following questionAs a West Laurel resident you (along with Mr. Dernoga) strongly opposed the construction of an African American Church in your neighborhood. A Federal Judge later awarded the Church $3.7 million in a lawsuit against the county. Critics such as State’s attorney candidate Angela Alsobrooks cite this as a discrimination case. Do you regret your opposition in the case? Please explain.

First, if there were environmental concerns, those issues were addressed at the time of subdivision.  The church’s application was for a water/sewer category change and all of the requirements to attach to public water and sewer were met and there was no reason to deny the application.  It should be noted that the County Executive and the county’s Department of Environmental Resources recommended that the sewer service category for the property be changed so the proposed church could connect to existing public water and sewer lines. The County Council voted to approve the change, but later reconsidered the request and rejected it after receiving comments from councilman Dernoga.

There were statements made by the community groups in public hearings specifically saying that the community did not want this African American church coming into the community.  The Washington Post reports that “The lawsuit alleges that Dernoga acted because of pressure from constituents who “wanted to keep the perceived majority-African-American congregation” out of West Laurel. “

The Post adds, “The jury in federal court in Greenbelt that granted the multimillion-dollar award found that the county’s actions in barring the building of the sanctuary were motivated at least in part by discriminatory intent against a religious institution.”

The court correctly ruled that the actions of Chaiman Dernoga and the council was illegal and biased, and if Mary Lehman supports the county in their actions then her attitudes and motives speak for themselves. 


Delay Hits Speed Camera Plan

The City’s plan to install speed cameras is not going to happen this month; the earliest this may happen could wait until mid to late Fall this year.

The reason for this delay is the approvals from the State and the County who own the roads where these cameras would be installed. For example, in north College Park, the plan for installing cameras on Rhode Island Avenue is awaiting approval from the Prince George’s County, which owns that street.

Earlier, despite concerns from some residents, the City approved the pan to install cameras. The City awarded a contract to OptoTraffic to install and maintain these cameras. The City also held public hearing on these cameras before approving the plan.

It’s still remained to be seen how long it will take for the County to approve these cameras. The current (outgoing) Co. Executive cancelled as many as 100 cameras around the school zone early this year, citing concerns from residents.

Split Council Okays Gateway Park

A split council has voted to authorize the city staff to pursue a grant to fund design and building of the Hollywood Gateway Park.  3 council members voted against the proposal. Two District 1 council members took opposite sides on the park. While Patrick supproted, Chris opposed the idea of the park citing her concerns on the accessibilty issue. “It’s a waste of time,” said Councilman John Perry. “The property is zoned commercial and should be developed commercial.” – he said.

The City still needs to wait to hear if it can receive the state’s Open Space Fund grant before it can proceed with planning and construction.

“So it’s still unknown at this point when actual construction will start, or even when the design phase will start.  If the city receives the full amount for the grant, it will cover the full design of the project – whether it will cover the construction of the park depends on the design, but I believe the grant would at least cover most of it.  The design phase will involve input from the public, probably with a number of meetings to review and discuss the design, and review by both the NCPCA and the CBE” – wrote Patrick Wojahn in an email to me.

The NCPCA earlier voted to approve the concept of the park, provided the City gets back to its members during design phase of the park.

It looks like the city has taken some the suggestions given by some concerned residents. The park would include amenities such as edible plants and rain gardens to teach residents the importance of environmental friendliness per this Gazette report.

Tour Explores Taste of NCP @ NY Deli

I attended the Experience and Enjoy College Park Tour at the NY Deli, the first of its kind in North College Park.

The UMd’s new police chief Dave Mitchell was the chief guest. Our current and former Mayors Andy Fellows and Steve Brayman were also there. Among others were 3 NCP council members, Patrick, Chris and Marcus Afzali. Also, our former NCPCA president Larry Bleau came with his wife Valerie Bleau, who live only a street away. There were also a dozen or so residents at the gathering.

Here are a few snaps I took, please enjoy.

Can New UMd Prez Help Close Varsity-Resident Rift?

Wallace D. Loh

Wallace D. Loh

The search is finally over – the University of Maryland has found a new president.

Dr. Wallace (Wally) Loh will replace Mr. Mote, who served as the UMd president for the past 12 years and will retire at the end of this month. UMd spent nearly 6 months in its search for Mr. Mote’s replacement. 400 candidates applied for the job, out of which 18 were interviewed. Dr. Loh came out to be lucky guy at the end.

So an appointment such as this after a lengthy and tough search must be a good news for our university town, right?

Perhaps so. I can feel a sense of optimism surrounding Mr. Loh’s appointment among City residents. Prior to coming to College Park, Mr. Loh served as the provost of Iowa University, where he is said to be very close to city residents there. That sounds like a good resume to lead a varsity that has deep rooted distrust among its neighbors towards it.

This also signals that in his new residence in College Park, Mr. Loh has a lot of heavy liftings to do. For a number of years, the University has been regarded by many of its neighbors as ‘one sided’, ‘unconcerned’ and even ‘arrogant’. Part of the reason, as many residents say, lies in the fact that the outgoing president Mr. Mote wasn’t quite ‘caring’ about what the residents have to say in the university affairs that also affect the native neighborhoods. Whatever the reasons are, simply put, many long time residents I’ve talked to, don’t trust UMd as a good neighbor.

Take for example the vandalism and destruction that the City’s downtown witnesses almost every year following major games. To many residents, behaviors such as these give our city black eyes to outsiders.

Then there are also issues of economic impact on the city’s taxpayers who think they often pay too much for UMd’s expansions. The UMd does pay the in Lieu of tax for such accusations, but residents think the city lose important tax base, which they think not as attractive as what could have been paid by commercial entities. The recent takeover of the old Washington Post plant just south of Greenbelt Rd is an example, residents argue.

The residents also have grievances on the matters of transportation and redevelopment of Rt 1 and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood. The purple line is another issue where residents think the UMd should take more residents’ input.

Dr. Loh’s international background can be good news for our city which is seeing changes in its ethnic compositions. Mr. Loh was born in China, grew up in Peru for some time before he migrated to the US with $200 before he fulfilled his American dream, as he said in an interview.

Unlike his predecessor, Mr. Loh has promised to listen more in the first days of his tenure. Does it mean we’ll get to see an UMd president in our neighborhood association meetings for the first time?

Thankfully, the City is doing its part in closing the rift. For the first time, it’s going to organize a Welcome back student day at the City Hall’s parking lot.  The upcoming College park Day will be another opportunity for bridging the gap between the city and the Varsity. I can already see a number of groups within the university are taking part in this event.

The growth and the survival of the university and the city are very much intertwined. And for that very reason, Mr. Loh has an unique opportunity to address these concerns and help build bridges between the two.

July’10 Crime Map

Here is the District1 crime map for the month of July 2010. The crime data was obtained from the PG County crime police reports and the contarct police reports from the City of College Park. I’m still waiting to receive the contract police report for the week of July 23. Once I’ve that, I’ll update the map.

Please click on the red markers to find more about related crime incidents.

As always, let’s hope reports such as this will help us realize the importance of having a stronger public safety initiative in our city. Neighborhood Watch is one avenue that all residents can be part of. Please email me or a leave a comment below if you want to get involved.


Patch Features Camera Petition Drive

Thanks to the College Park Patch editor Lauren Evans, who did a piece yesterday on our ongoing surveillance camera drive at the Greenbelt Metro station. Here is the link:


Lauren went out to speak with a Metro spokesperson who has this to say:

Steven Taubenkibel, a spokesperson for WMATA, said that while all stations have cameras inside, only some have cameras positioned at the entrances.

One such station is Columbia Heights in Washington D.C.  In this case, the cameras situated at the exterior of the station were actually paid for by the District of Columbia, not Metro, he said.

Taubenkibel could not comment in the cost of security cameras, or whether paying for them is an option for the city of College Park.

As the Patch article says, the petition has now been supported by the Maryland state Senator Jim Rosapepe,  MD Delegates Ben Barnes, Joseline Penamelnyk, Barbara Frush, and City council members Patrick, Chris and Marcus (Afzali). We thank them all.

In case you haven’t signed the petition, please do so soon – it shouldn’t take more than a minute. The more signature we get, is better. 

Again, here is the link to the online petition site: http://www.petitiononline.com/z1237654/petition.html

Sam Epps Seeks Council Seat to Help Working Families

In my pursuit to find the best District 1 council candidate, I approached Sam Epps, a Laurel resident of 10 years, and best known for his involvement as a community organizer. Despite his busy schedule, Sam found time to answer a few questions I sent to him earlier. (Thanks Sam).

Sam Epps is the 3rd of the 5 candidates I’ve interviewed so far. Please see the interviews with other 2 candidates, Mary Lehman and Crystal Thompson here and here.

As always, if you have additional questions or comments, please post them at the end of the article.

(1) There are five council candidates running in this year’s council election for District 1. Why do you think you are the best candidate in this crowded race?

My years of experience working for nonprofits, government, and labor, where I have fought for social and economic justice on behalf of working men and women makes me the best candidate in this race.

I am running because our comunities can’t afford politics as usual in Prince George’s County. I am a honest leader who will fight for a government that is more transparent and responsive. I will represent all the neighborhoods in District 1, not just certain ones.
(2) Two of your opponent candidates Mary Lehman and Fred Smalls enjoy strong endorsements from well known political figures. Do you feel that your campaign is weakened by these endorsements? What do you say to those who’re skeptical about your experience to hold a public office?

I don’t feel my campaign is weaken by not having endorsements from political figures. What that should tell voters is that I am not “the establishment” candidate. My candidacy is about working families, and I am proud to have received strong endorsements from working men and women that are teachers, janitors, security officers, health care workers, transit workers, and laborers.

Endorsed by:
Prince George’s County Educational Association
1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers
Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 689
MD/DC State Council of SEIU
Metropolitian Washington Council, AFL-CIO

(3) The City of College Park residents pay nearly 1 million dollars to hire 6 contract police officers (3 P/T, 3 F/T) from the county, because the police service from the county’s regular police PGFD is not enough. If elected, what will you do to help offset such extra cost of law enforcement from local municipalities?

I will work with the next county executive and the fraternal order of police to:

1) Retain retiring officers that has reached their 20 years of service.

2) Increase the number of classes at the police academy.

3) Provide incentives to individuals to become police officers.

I believe these steps would be a starting point to helping to offet the extra cost of law enforcement on municipalities.
(4) The current councilman has been criticized by some for his strong stance against redevelopment in North College Park. The implementation of “form-based codes”  in the North College Park area, north of Greenbelt Road (Rt 193) has recently been blocked as part of Rt 1 sector plan. If elected, will you also support such position?

I believe developers should be held to these type of zoning codes for redevelopment. In addition to the “form based codes”, any development that I support must have a Community Benefits Agreement. The agreement with the community shall include 1) environmental standards 2) labor standards 3) adequate facilities standards.

Voter Registration Ends Tuesday

For those of you who haven’t registered yet to vote for the next Sept 14 primary elections, please note: the voter registration will end in just two days.

Since time is very short between now and Tuesday, I’d recommend sending your voter registration form by overnight mail tomorrow early morning. Better  yet, make a trip to the Prince George’s County Board of Elections office, which is located at 16201 Trade Zone Avenue, Suite 108, Upper Marlboro. It will only take about half an hour to make the trip to Upper Marlboro office from College Park. The election office will be open extended hours on the deadline date, tomorrow, August 24th from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

You can download the voter registration form from here. Since all primaries will be on Democratic candidates, make sure you register with Democratic party affiliation. If you’re already registered and not sure your party affiliation, you can go to http://mdelections.org to check your registration details.


Glenn Ivey, Washington Post Pick Alsobrooks, Dump Others

The campaigns for State’s Attorney candidates entered into a new drama this week as the (outgoing) State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey broke his silence and threw his support for candidate Angela Alsobrooks as his successor. 

“Angela Alsobrooks is the best-qualified candidate in the race. It is that simple,” Ivey said. “I know what it takes to be an effective state’s attorney, and Angela has those qualities and more. I will vote for Angela and I encourage others to do the same.” said the popular State’s attorney. 

“We are one community, with the potential for greatness.” – said Alsobrooks commenting on this important endorsement. 

Two other former prosecutors in the race include Joseph Wright and police department inspector general Mark Spencer, who says Ivey’s endorsement of Alsobrooks is underwhelming. “He’s endorsing continued mediocrity in that office by endorsing my opponent,” says Spencer. 

Mr Ivey’s endorsement also bears bad news for the other candidate Joseph Wright, who serves as the assistant to Mr. Ivey.

Earlier, the Washington Post and the local Gazette also endorsed Angela Alsobrooks. “Smart, personable, direct and tough-minded, Ms. Alsobrooks would make a strong lobbyist for the state grants and increased county funding the prosecutor’s office badly needs, and an effective advocate for outreach and intervention programs. She has a firm handle on the county’s high rate of recidivism, domestic violence and gang activity, and a no-nonsense strategy to improve the quality and consistency of prosecutions.” – said the Post in its endorsement column

The Post’s endorsement also had an interesting twist for other candidates who did not get the paper’s blessings. Though candidates  Mark Spencer, Joseph Wright and Peggy Magee received mild criticism for not being qualified to rise upto Post’s standards, the fifth candidate Tom Dernoga received a rather harsh one. 

He is simply not qualified to be the state’s attorney. Although he knows the county’s budget and land-use laws well, Mr. Dernoga has never worked as a prosecutor, nor even as a criminal defense lawyer; in fact, he hasn’t practiced law of any sort in almost a decade. Lacking that basic background and familiarity with criminal law, Mr. Dernoga has no business running a prosecutor’s office in one of Maryland’s biggest and most crime-ridden counties” – commented Post criticizing Mr. Dernoga. 

Despite Post’s harsh disapproval, Mr. Dernoga enjoys strong support in our part of the county, where he has been serving as a term-limited county councilman. A number of Mayor and  council members of municipalities in this part of the county have endorsed him. He has also led a poll in the early part of the campaign and has strong funds to go through the rest of the campaign.  

The Democratic primary election is scheduled on Sept 14. It’s too early to tell about the outcome of this election. 

[Source: Washington Post, Examiner, WAMU]

Nix(le)ing Neighborhood Crime

Yesterday, I received an email from City’s public Service Dept. on the Nixle crime report system. As I blogged earlier, the  Nixle system allows residents to receive community crime alerts and public safety information as SMS or emails.

The email says that both Prince George’s County Police, and University of Maryland Department of Public Safety are now using www.Nixle.com to.

This is a great news, isn’t it? Getting to know the crime around one’s neighborhood is a good thing. It certainly helps us in staying more vigilant about the crime that goes in the neighborhood. And a constant vigilance in turn helps reduce crime as a whole.

In fact the PG police reported back late last year that they would start using Nixle for sending alerts on crime and other related info. I signed up then, but honestly speaking, I was disappointed by its service. First, there weren’t too many alerts I found  useful. Even if there were a few, they were more about public safety information, and not quite about the crime itself. The few crime info I recieved was mostly related to those happened in other part of the county. I cannot remember of any crime in my own neighborhood reported by Nixle.

I think the major problem with the service in relation to crime reporting in our area is the lack of live data feed. This is the data that goes to the Nixle server from the local police departments such as PGPD. The way currently this works is pretty much manual. We will only receive a Nixle alert when our police officers / captains manually report crime to Nixle. Our District 1 police Chief major Liberati told the other day he has used the system to report a few crime recently after he assumed his new position recently.

After using for several weeks last time, I stopped using it – the service was simply filling my inbox with information that I don’t really need. Yesterday’s announcement seems like indicating that some new changes are being introduced to the system. Or may be with a new police chief is in charge now, things will get better. With these hopes, I’ve reactivated my account again yesterday – to give Nixle another chance. We’ll see how it works this time.

Hear Metro, Hear!

Yesterday’s discussion on the Metro’s “not-so-responsible” brush cleanup has resulted in some good outcome.

Just to recap, Metro wanted to do the cleanup to improve public safety, however, it turned out it wasn’t quite exactly what the residents wanted. A more practical and effective approach to the safety situation would be to install surveillance cameras at the Metro entrance. Currently, Metro has cameras inside the tunnel (picture above), but not outside.

But then there was a sense of frustration. Everyone knew that cameras aren’t coming anytime soon, given the months and years we already have been waiting. Frustrated, one resident said: “Perhaps folks (Metro officials) [need] to recognize that we [residents] pay their salaries and they work for us.  Remember…its the squeaky wheel that gets the attention.  Our wheels have yet to squeak.”

Yes indeed, we ought to squeak our wheels to get the grease – aka attentions. Unless we raise our voices, we’ll probably have to wait for another assault or violent crime to happen to hear something again from them.

So here is what we did together to get that attention – we decided to have a camera petition drive to WMATA (Metro). We quickly put together an online petition on the petitononline.com.

Please see the petition here: http://www.petitiononline.com/z1237654/petition.html. Here is what the petition says:


We, the undersigned residents of north College Park are concerned about public safety in the area around the western entrance to the Greenbelt Metro station. The area has seen a number of frequent and often violent crimes such as assaults, thefts and muggings. Recently, a 15 year-old teenager was sexually assaulted by a lone perpetrator in broad daylight.

We believe that the only way to address such excessive crime in this area is to install surveillance cameras at the entrance of the Metro station and along the pathway that leads to the nearby neighborhood.

We ask WMATA to take immediate action to install these cameras at the suggested locations and make Metro riders from our neighborhood feel safe.


The Undersigned

We’re also planning to collect signatures from Metro riders during morning and afternoon rush hours at the Metro entrance. A number of volunteers have already signed up to volunteer in this petition drive. If you want to volunteer, please let me know.

So far the online petition drive is a success. Just in a day, some 48 residents have signed the petition (Thanks to each one of you!). More will certainly be signing up soon. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do so – soon. Remember again, squeaky wheels get the most grease.

Here are a few comments from those who signed up the petition.

  • A security camera outside of the Greenbelt Metro station along the path to Lackawanna Street is long overdue. Many people have been mugged or robbed along this path. This is the least that WMATA can do to help ensure the safety of its users along this path.
  • This is long overdue. WMATA needs to demonstrate they care about the safety of their customers
  • Safety Safety Safety … It’s all about Safety. Do the right thing and protect Metro customers.
  • Security is an issue at this metro station, particularly when exciting the back path to the Hollywood neighborhood.
  • This is safety issue for all Metro customers as well as residents of the neighborhood who do not use Metro. Thank you.
  • Needed very badly
  • Metro is once again behind the eight ball and deservedly so.
  • Please Install Surveillance camera at greenbelt metro
  • Considering the jurisdictional issues and difficulty of providing a consistent police presence, the installation of surveillance cameras on the west side of the station and along the pathway to Lackawanna Street is an appropriate way to improve safety for Metro riders and the local community.
  • cameras and lighting must provide recorded views sharp enough to identify suspects along entire length of path on WMATA property
  • Surveillance Cameras & Better Lightning Badly Needed @ Greenbelt Metro Station. What’s going to take? A Death? Please advise!
  • Safety and security of the patrons should and must be one of the top service goals for metro.
  • These cameras are obviously needed.
  • This is an imperative that you get this done ASAP. Plus have someone monitoring the cameras and also install a set of alarm boxes that people may use along and at the end of the path.
  • Your station exit is in a very dark area, and crime is rising here. Don’t be a part of the problem; show that you care about your riders. THANK YOU.

Can Metro hear these voices?

Metro’s Brush Cleanup Irks Some Residents

Right after the sexual assault incident in last May near the Metro entrance, there was an outcry among the local residents on what to do to prevent such incident again in future. Some suggested to have a ‘neighbor escorting service’ to take riders to their homes, especially after the dark. Some talked about installing security cameras at the entrance of Metro – a move that very few thought was happening in near future. Others discussed having a blue light telephone system at the 53rd / Lackawanna intersection – the prospect of this realizing seemed better than that of cameras at the entrance.

Others advocated a cleaner, transparent area near the Metro entrance,e specially on the south side of the Hollywood Park. Some even went further discussing to have a community garden around the area. I hope to have another discussion on this idea sometime in future.

The City did (at least tried to do) its part too. They called (or rather summoned?) folks from the Metro in its June meeting and talked about stuff like cameras and cleanup at the entrance. Metro responded with some moves. Though the idea of having cameras are still in the air, their police department, Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) released a sketch of the suspect in the sexual assault incident. They also agreed to cleanup brushes in and around the area.

That cleanup finally happened last week, please see the pictures above.

The brush cleanup however has caused some concerns among the local residents. According to them, Metro’s cleanup was too aggressive and has probably destroyed the small stream that runs near the brushes. One resident who lives on a nearby street complained: “To me it shows the continued irresponsibility that metro is so good at. There are a number of problems with what they did. They removed the entire stream buffer which has increased the sediment in the stream, has decreased the shading of the stream, removed any remaining pollution removal capacity of the buffer, and removed any habitat that remained there.”

The resident was also concerned about the wildlife in that stream – ” I have spent many hours walking down there with my girls. We have seen turtles (that are apparently reproducing as I found a baby recently), muskrat, frogs, ducks, beaver, great blue heron, and even a juvenile black crowned night heron. Clearly local wildlife had been clinging onto this little stream.”

Other residents aren’t so appreciative also. “this sounds like a typical knee-jerk response to “safety concerns”.  A good, strong neighborhood watch would be infinitely more effective than clearing critical urban habitat.” – said another resident.

Could Metro do a better job in balancing safety concerns against protecting environment? What’s your thought?

Tour Comes Near Home

College Park Tour

College Park Tour

David Mitchell

David Mitchell

When the Experience and Enjoy College Park Tour had its first set of events in downtown restaurants, one north College Park resident complained – “Why do they always have these (events) in the south? Why don’t they have them in our part of the town?”.   

Well, her wishes will be met next week. The tour will be visiting N.Y. Deli in the Hollywood commercial district on Wednesday, August 25th.  The guest speaker for this event will be the new Police Chief for the University of Maryland – David Mitchell.    

The Experience & Enjoy College Park Tour is designed to bring those who work, live, and play in College Park together to talk about local issues and patronize a local restaurant once a month.  Previous guest speakers have included College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows, State Senator Jim Rosapepe, and County Councilman Eric Olson.   

Come and support our local businesses,  meet with other city residents, and find out more about what is going on around College Park.