Perry’s Race Card Fails to Convince Council Against Hollywood Community Center

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Council member Jack Perry brought an amendment in last week’s budget session opposing the inclusion of $25,000 to study a Hollywood community center in the Capital Improvement Project part of the budget. One of the reasons he presented against the idea of having a community center in Hollywood is based on “race”. He thinks the current community center in African American dominated Lakeland area is good enough for the city.

His amendment failed at the end by 5-3. Please watch the complete segment. His “race” comments start at 2:25.

Was Eminent Domain a Factor in City’s U-Turn on #1 Liquor?

Residents at #1 Liquor discussion

As we predicted earlier, in last week’s council meeting, the City council finally put a stop to the acquisition of #1 Liquor business on Route 1, reversing its own 2009 decision.

The political drama surrounding the council decision leaves one wondering what happened over the past two years that  has led to this U-turn decision.

The interesting part of the unfolding of this event is that at least two council members who reversed their earlier 2009 opinion had to scramble to give a good reason for their reversing decision. Facing a November re-election challenge, they kept their explanation saying that opposition from their constituents was the main reason.

I think the 2009 council, led by then Mayor Brayman went for an ambitious or even a rather extreme  goal in their resolution by using the eminent domain option. “Use all actions necessary to proceed with condemnation” – the resolution asked the City.

They could have kept the resolution language at the “arm – length” negotiation level only.

The eminent domain option was included in 2009 resolution as a last ditch option, in case the negotiation with the owner fails; yet it gave its opponents several ammunitions to convince other residents on this subject.

Many residents took this option as a rather forceful one, especially when the option was targeted to a privately owned city business. To these residents, the city was going after a legitimate business wanting to shut it down. As one resident said: “let’s keep #1 Liquor in business“.

Loss of tax from the business was also an important factor to some, even though the yearly amount the City receives from the business is no more than $1200. Also, this tax factor was a moot point since it was quite possible that the business could be relocated somewhere in the city.

I think without the mention of eminent domain option in its 2009 resolution, the council had a better chance in keeping the negotiation going with #1 Liquor. In the mean time, the City will probably have to lose State’s Open Space Fund and let another town to make its good use.

Greenbelt Sector Plan Meeting, June 14

Greenbelt Sector Plan Map

Join your fellow neighbors and residents at the Multipurpose Room of the Greenbelt Middle School on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 between 6:30 and 9:00 p.m. for the first of six in-depth community workshops.

This meeting will include an overview of the sector plan project, and will focus on the eastern portion of the sector plan area: Greenway Center, the Maryland Trade Center, and office/commercial properties along Hanover Parkway.

The meeting will be organized by Prince George’s Park and Planning (M-NCPPC). They hope to post background information relating to the project area prior to the first workshop.

M-NCPPC planner Chad Williams said “we cannot wait to begin working together with the residents, employees, business owners, and others to develop collaborative approaches and solutions to the concerns residents have brought to our attention, and plan for the future of the Greenbelt Metro Station, MD 193/Greenbelt Road Corridor, and nearby areas.”

In the meantime, please keep an eye on  project’s website, www.pgplanning.org/Greenbelt.htm.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Chad Williams via e-mail or at 301-952-3171.

Group to Hold Memorial Day Service

Veterans Memorial

College Park’s American Legion will be hosting a Memorial Day service at College Park Veterans Memorial on June 30 at 11am.

Former Mayor Steve Braymen will be there as the keynote speaker. This year’s festivities also include a performance by the College Park Youth Choir.

Veterans Memorial is located at the intersection of Greenbelt Road and Route One.

By the way, the Washington Post has recently featured another former Mayor, Joseph Page, who served US Army in 1941.

Every Memorial Day, Page — who served as College Park’s mayor from 1993 to 1997 — recalls his service to the country by wearing his Army Corps of Engineers uniform and attending the city’s Veterans and Memorial Day events at the College Park Veterans Memorial.

Read the complete Post story here.

City Approves Budget with $1 million More Spending

College Park FY 2012 budget

Adding nearly 1 million dollars more to its expenses, the City Council approved the FY2012 budget this week.

The budget outlines $13.7 million spending plan for the fiscal year FY 2012, which will begin in July this year.

The additional expenses include

  • an additional $150,000 for part-time contract police coverage. It will also spend about $35,000 for the hiring of a part-time public safety coordinator, to assist the Neighborhood Watch coordinators and act as a liaison with the police. The city has earned $600,000 from speed camera revenues to use to increase public safety in the city. It must decide how to use by June 30. At the April work session, the Council purchasing security cameras and street lights, making pedestrian road crossing improvements and allocating some funds for fire department officials.
  • $25,000 allocated for the study of the development of a Hollywood Community Center in north College Park
  • $10,000 for an event organizer for the College Park Day
  • $1500 to hire a facilitator who will conduct a visioning session for the Route 1 corridor
  • $3000 allocated to the “Buy Local” and “Shop College Park”
  • The $15,000 allocated to hire consultants to revamp the city’s website is a good use of funds

Parking Restrictions in Hollywood

Emergency no parking sign in east Hollywood

During the recent WSSC milling/paving work in Hollywood, persons displaced are asked to park on streets that are not affected and abide by the posted EMERGENCY NO PARKING signs days and hours put up by WSSC.

As for parking permit holders; if a Zone-2 permit holder has no option but to park on a zone-3 permit-restricted street, they may without getting ticketed for a permit violation. Zone-2 permits will be honored in Zone-3 and Zone-3 permits will be honored in Zone-2 up until June 10th, which is the anticipated completion date of the project.

Persons displaced from streets that are not permit-restricted are asked to park on other, unaffected streets that are not permit-restricted when possible. If they cannot, and must park on a Zone-2 or Zone-3 permit-restricted street, then they should call the Parking Enforcement office with their license plate number, name and address so that we can issue a temporary permit, OR so that we may void any ticket they get for permit violations while the road construction is ongoing. Obviously any citation they get for permit violations before or after the project starts and finishes, they will have to pay or appeal.

WSSC pavement work

IF TOWED: If any vehicle is found in violation of the posted EMERGENCY NO PARKING will be ticketed for ‘NO PARKING’, but the vehicle will only be relocated, not impounded. If the vehicle is relocated, the owner will typically find it located on a nearby street that is not currently being worked on. They should call Parking Enforcement to find where it was moved to, unless it is towed by the County Police.

Parking Enforcement will continue to issue citations and tow vehicles as necessary for all other parking violations while this project goes on.

WSSC’s resurfacing contractor posted “No Parking” signs on 51st Pl, Wichita Ave, 52nd Ave, and Mangum Rd past weekend. The effected dates will be Tuesday May 24th to Friday May 27th . The contractor will start on 51st Pl.

District 1 to Get Mazza, Camden

Proposed District 1 Boundary

The Council proposed to adopt a new redistricting map that would include District 1 of College Park two new new projects, Mazza Grandmarc students housing and Camden condominiums across Route 1 (please see the proposed map).

Both projects are currently part of District 4that mostly includes neighborhood west of Route 1.

Under the City Charter, every ten years, after the decennial census, the Council must appoint a redistricting commission to adjust the City Council districts and adjust the boundaries so that the four districts have approximately the same numbers of both long-term residents and registered voters.

The City is saying that they need to realign this boundary because, while District 1 lost a lot of population (mostly due to foreclosures) since 2000, it has less population than the other districts, but since it does not have any student housing, it has fewer registered voters.  The idea of moving these two projects into District 1 was to give the district more residents but not give it more registered voters.  The intent is to try to even out the number of registered voters and residents in each district.  This also places some student housing in District 1 – currently, there is none.

Other significant changes include moving some of the student housing on campus from District 2 into District 4 with the assistance of services such as chicago moving services and moving the East Campus project from District 2 into District 3.

The proposed boundary was introduced last night, and a public hearing will be held sometime in the next couple of months.

Metro to Build New Tracks Near Greenbelt Station

WMATA officials at NCPCA

Charlie Scott and John D. Thomas of WMATA were at this month’s NCPCA meeting to present Metro’s proposed plan to build new test tracks.

The tracks will be built between Greenbelt and College Park Metro rail stations and the commissioning facility at the Greenbelt rail track.

They said WMATA has recently placed an order for 428 new rail cars. A test track would cut in half the time required to place the new rail cars into revenue service.

They said of 106 miles of rail corridor owned by WMATA, 46.3 miles are at-grade. For practical purposes the test track needs to be built at grade.

They said only Green line between College Park and Greenbelt station meets the criteria for the test track. Environmental analyses of each facility are being conducted in accordance with FTA criteria.

Construction to begin in the Spring of 2012. Test tracks are scheduled for completion by late summer of 2013 and commissioning facility to be completed in early CY14. The total budget for the project is estimated as $88.3 million.

Map of the proposed test track

Altercation and Arrest in REI Lot

REI in north College Park

There was an altercation in the parking lot of REI around 4pm this afternoon.

A NCP resident present newarby described the event “Someone was shouting for help and when I looked, a man (not in a police uniform) pointed a gun at another man and yelled for him to get on the ground.  I took my kid into the n arest store at that point and did see 2 uniformed police officers join the scene soon afterwards. Needless to say, it was unnerving for me and my kid. “

According to the community Police officer J. Black, a citizen observed an unknown suspect breaking into his vehicle and removing his personal items. The citizen then confronted the suspect and a physical altercation ensued.

An off duty PG County Officer who just happened to be at the scene observed the altercation and took action. The Off Duty Officer identified himself as a Police Officer and drew his firearm for Officer Safety reasons and to gain control of the situation.

On Duty Uniformed Officers arrived on the scene shortly after to assist. The suspect was then taken into custody and transported to the Department of Corrections. The citizen was not injured during the incident.

Trek the Trails: My Trip to DC on Bike

Bike to Work: Map

Though I take my bike to the Greenbelt Metro Station on my way to work in DC every day, I never took my two-wheeler to my work, ever!

But I have always wanted to make the trip by bike; I know others have done that before.

Last Friday’s Bike to Work Day made that dream a reality!

My guide in this little adventure was Google. Google has recently added an option that you can use to find a route not only using car and public transportation, but also by using a bike! Through this excellent feature in the beta mode, it helped me accomplish what it promises, giving me a route that takes advantage of the existing bike trails.

After my 27+ miles round trip between College Park and DC, I found it to be mostly enjoyable.

The best part of the trip was the opportunity to see some 7 miles of bike trails, starting with our own famous College Park Trolley trail, to the Anacostia Tributary trail, and finally the long Northeast Branch trail that took me to the doors of Washington DC.

Also, the trip (kind of) allowed me to see several cities and townships, such as Mount Rainer, Bentwood, Admonston and of course, DC.

I took a few pictures along the way as I made the trip. Please enjoy them here.

Neighborhood Cleanup – June 4

Neighborhood Cleanup - June 4, 2011

Our annual neighborhood cleaner will be held on June 4, Saturday from 10 am to 1pm.

Join your neighbors and friends as we work together, block by block to keep our neighborhood clean.

As always, please bring your families and friends to the event. Your child will love this event.

Some cleaning supplies will be provided, or you can bring your own.

We’ll gather at the parking lot of the Hollywood shopping complex (REI / MOM / Pizza Roma).

Breakfast will be served at 10am and pizza at 1pm.

Even if you can spend an hour, please do.

Please spread the word.

Armed Robbery at Cricket Wireless on Rt 1

Cricket wireless reward poster

On last Thursday at 6:36 pm,  an armed robbery occurred at the Cricket Wireless store located at

The Prince George’s County Police Department is working to identify the suspects shown in the above surveillance photographs.

Anyone with information that may assist in this investigation is asked to call CRIME SOLVERS at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or CID-Robbery Unit at 301-772-4905 as soon as possible (case number 11-139-2167).

Whenever information is given to the Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Line, you do not have to leave your name. A cash reward of up to $1000.00 is being offered for the tip that leads to the arrest and indictment of the suspects responsible for this robbery.

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New Farmer’s Market to Open Next Month

Farmer's Market at at Ellen E. Linson Pool

Beginning Sunday, June 5, 2011, a second Farmer’s Market will operate in Downtown College Park in addition to the regular Saturday market at Ellen E. Linson Pool.   The market will be held in the parking lot at City Hall, 4500 Knox Road between the hours of 9:00 am – 2:00 pm.  The market will initially have four vendors offering fruits, vegetables, flowers and baked goods and will hopefully grow larger during the summer months.

The first College Park Farmer’s Market was one of the first of its kind in Maryland when it was established  over 30 years.  Today, still running strong, the market has 11 vendors.  Offerings include local produce, baked goods, flowers, and pottery.   This year the market will start up in May and be held every Saturday, from 7a.m. to Noon, until the end of October.  The market is held on parking lot of Herbert Wells Ice Rink/Ellen Linson Swimming Pool.

Bike to Workday, Tomorrow

Bike To Work Day, 2011

I know I’m a bit late in posting this. Tomorrow is the annual “Bike-to-Work” Day. I’m going to try going to my work in DC tomorrow. I know it will be a fun experiment!

The Bike-to-Work Day is organized by WABA ( the Washington Area Bicyclist Association) and Commuter Connections every year to join thousands of area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work!

WABA’s website says “Meet up with your neighbors at one of 49 regional pit stops, ride to work with an experienced commuter convoy and wear your FREE Bike to Work Day t-shirt at work with pride. Help the Washington region become a better place to ride.”

Bike to Work Day is a FREE event and open to all area commuters.  There will be a raffle prizes, food, drink and more at all pit

There are great resources on the WABA website for route planning. Google Maps also provides directions for traveling by bicycle using bike lanes, trails and route while avoiding hills and traffic!

Also consider joining a commuter convoy from your neighborhood.

While planning your route, be sure to stop by pit stops for snacks, waters, high-fives and fun! If this is your first time riding, try a practice run of your route before the big day on the weekend when the roads are quieter.

Group Doubts City’s “Inflated” Student Population in 2010 Census

University of Maryland

A group of City residents think City’s University of Maryland population was blown up in the recent Census result.

The group, called “redistricting commission” was appointed by the City Council and was asked to help redraw  City’s new district boundaries based on latest City population.

Under the City Charter, every ten years, after the decennial census, the Council must appoint a redistricting commission to adjust the City Council districts and adjust the boundaries so that the four districts have approximately the same numbers of both long-term residents and registered voters.

The City’s redistricting committee has brought the Council’s attention to concerns that there are particular blocks (generally, student housing) where the census count is so high as to be impossible, and clearly exceeds the actual count on that particular block.

In order to make the count for redistricting purposes better reflect reality, theredistricting committee had asked for the ability to adjust the count on specific blocks downward, based on objective evidence of bed counts from the University of Maryland.

The City already has the ability to do this in cases where there is an obvious undercount or residents who were erroneously admitted for the census count, or for structures built since the census count.  Because this matter needs to be handled quickly in order for the redistricting committee to proceed, the Council is considering passing this resolution without the usual notice and separate public hearing.

I hope to write another post on the proposals the redistricting commission has proposed. The Council will hold a public hearing on June 14 on the proposed redistricting changes.

[Source: NCP list-serve]