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With Johnson Guilty Plea, Can Prince George’s Get into Real Business ?

Yesterday, former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson pleaded guilty to extortion and witness tampering. Under the plea agreement, Johnson will have to forfeit proceeds from the crimes. He also faces a possible 20-year sentence for each charge and $250,000 in fines. Sentencing is set for September 15. He will remain under home monitoring until that time.

I thank the prosecutors in this case for doing a vigorous prosecution and I think yesterday’s development is a victory for the Prince George’s county residents.

The prosecution should send a strong signal to the county officials in regards to doing any such future wrongdoings and corruptions. They should rather mind their real businesses – make the county a better and safe place for its citizens.

Council May Make a U-Turn on #1 Liquor Purchase

#1 Liquor

With council election only a few months away, and an increasing number of residents are voicing their oppositions, the City Council may soon vote on a motion that will permanently put a stop to the negotiation to purchase #1 Liquor property on Route 1.

The small parcel of property (8200 Baltimore Avenue) is sandwiched in between two recently built enormous high rises: the University View and the Varsity.

In December 2009, the City Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate the acquisition of  the property and turn this into a park for general public use.

City Council members who supported the motion in 2009, argued that the property was “an eyesore” for a long time. They also said that the purchase would be an opportunity “to improve that portion of Route 1 corridor“.

The 2009 resolution allows the City to pursue the acquisition using all “actions necessary to proceed with condemnation if negotiations are not successful.” This points to an option called “eminent domain” or compulsory purchase by the a local or federal government.

However, opposition to the eminent domain option from the residents in recent days have forced some council members to soften or even reverse their support for this extreme option.

One of these council members is Patrick Wojahn (Dist 1), who has come under a fierce opposition from a small but vocal group of residents in his north College Park constituency.

I was on the fence initially about eminent domain, and after hearing what residents have had to say, I oppose it.” -wrote Mr. Wojahn in an email to his north College Park newsgroup.

However, Mr. Wojahn’s reversal on eminent domain option did not completely please the group of residents; they want the Council to stop negotiation with the #1 Liquor owner altogether.

The City should stop going after this particular business.  You [Mr. Wojahn] and Mr. Catlin keep saying the City should continue because the owner is still willing to negotiate [to sell]” – charged one resident.

I have not seen anyone on the council move to amend this item be removed” – continued the resident.

During the recent budget worksession, this topic was brought up and the City Manager (Mr. Nagro) said the only way to stop the negotiation would be for the Mayor and Council to do another vote to “unauthorize” it.

Mr. Wojahn’s counterpart in District 1, Councilmember Nagle, who has been a vocal opponent to the #1 Liquor purchase from the beginning,  has recently done just that. She has asked the City to unauthorize the City Manager from pursuing any further negotiations to obtain the property (arms-length or otherwise). The Council will vote on that motion in next Tuesday’s (May 24) regular council session.

In the mean time, the debate on the property deal is intensifying.

Most opponents to the idea of acquiring the property argue that “uglinesss” should never be the reason for purchasing the property.

.. if you want to get rid of it, why don’t you get rid of town hall or that vacant building that is an eyesore between Burger King and Taco Bell (on Rt. 1).” – said one long time residents.

If we are looking to make the city look good, there is nothing on US 1 in my opinion from the IKEA corridor on down except the University of Maryland that looks attractive to anyone wanting to relocate to the city.” – continued the resident.

Council member Robert Catlin (Dist 2), who sponsored the 2009 motion disagrees. Catlin thinks location, and not the look, should be a major factor why the City should buy the property.

(The location of the property) is great because of the large population that will be living or passing through there.  It can be a place for people to buy food from the adjacent food establishments and enjoy eating outside or interact with people (like Dupont Circle). ” – said Mr. Catlin.

In addition to location, Mr. Catlin argues that  the property would make for a good bus superstop location, as it the southernmost point that southbound buses can stop to pick up passengers.

Mr. Catlin also points out that  the current business owner is not the same business owner that was there when University View was built.

The current liquor store owner is free to lease space elsewhere in College Park. ” – he argued.

In response to argument that the City will be losing precious tax dollars from a legitimate business, Mr Catlin said: “The $1,500 in revenue derived from the store is insignificant in the city’s budget, especially when considering that the redevelopment here generates hundreds of times more revenue than was generated here before redevelopment.

What could we buy, only church property?” – asks Mr. Catlin.

Some residents want the City to spend the fund to purchase the property in the Design and Rehabilitation of Duvall Field project in north College Park. The City originally received $300K as part of State’s Program Open Space (POS) fund, however it could not use the money due to a related fund from a Greenbelt south core development project.

Others have different ideas on how the fund should be spent,

Program Open Space (POS) is neither a highway beautification fund nor a blight reduction tool. A fraction of an acre park on the #1 Liquor site will not meet the city’s conservation or public recreation goals, especially in light of the fact that North Gate Park (another POS project) is about to open just to the south.” – said the ReThinkCollegePark editor David Daddio.

Daddio thinks the North Gate Park parcel would make an excellent location for a bus super stop for the emerging North Gate District.

Indeed POS funds could be used for the purchase; but let’s not pretend that there is a park deficit in the city.” – said Daddio.

Though it is unclear at this moment how the Council will vote next week, an intense lobbying by the opposing residents may likely to sway the minds of the council members. If there is a tie, Mayor Fellows will cast his vote to break the tie. Mr. Fellows who supported the original 2009 motion is also undecided.

We have not established what that cost to the City might be.  I do understand the concerns of a significant number of residents, and they are a factor in my consideration. ” – said Mr. Fellows.

In the mean time, opponents to the purchase plan are hoping that the upcoming November election could swing  the Council decision next week. As one resident has put it:

Anyone who [still] backs [the purchase], it will be noted when it’s election time and will be  noted in distributed documents, websites and listserves.

Explore MARC Rail in College Park

Dave Johnson (MARC Train)

Dave Johnson, a north College Park resident and the chief customer communications officer for MARC was at the NCPCA meeting last week to make a presentation on the MARC train service in the Greenbelt and College Park station.

Mr. Johnson said the MARC Camden Line operates between Washington and Baltimore on the CSX Transportation mainline that passes through College Park.  MARC has stations adjacent to both Metro stations (College Park and Greenbelt).

Ridership is up on the Camden Line, especially at the College Park stop.  The new FDA facility combined with increased student ridership account for the increase.

MARC now stops two additional trains in College Park that used to be express trains to handle the increased ridership. MARC has recently completed a platform expansion at the College Park station and will be doing more work in the near future to raise the platform slightly higher so that the step box will not be necessary (it will not be a “walk-on” platform like Greenbelt is).

In the near future passengers will see construction begin on the new Public address system and LED information signs.

The beige electrical cabinets that you see at both stations will contain the electronics of the system.  MARC has modified its  plans at College Park to reduce disruption to the community during the construction process.

MARC recognizes that the condition of the Greenbelt station is not up to our standards and plan a “spruce up” effort in the near future.  This will include new, clearer signage.

MARC has also introduced two new locomotives. The MP-36 model locomotive is 60% more fuel efficient and emits 70% less carbon and soot than the locomotives they are replacing.  The fuel tank is 1000 gallons smaller, however, it only has to be refueled every two days.  The locomotives are also quieter.

Mr. Johnson said the Camden Line is a great way to take a day trip to Baltimore; fares are $6 each way ($3 for senior citizens).  Tickets can be purchased from the conductor on the train (conductors accept cash only). Please pick up a schedule before you leave!

Fun Bowling Event for City’s Senior Citizens

College Park Lanes

The College Park recreation board will hold a bowling event at the AMF College Park Lanes next Saturday (May 21) for City’s senior citizens.

The event will run from 9am in the morning to 12pm.

AMF College Park Lanes are located at (Bowling Alley / next to Pizza Hut)  9021 Baltimore Ave (phone 301-474-8282)

Tickets will only be available at AMF. For seniors (age) 55 & up:
tickets will cost College Park Residents: $3.00, Non College Park Residents: $5.00.

Price includes: 3 games & shoes, 1 slice of pizza OR 1 hot dog, 1 beverage (non-alcoholic), Clowns: skits/magic/etc., masseuse, 50/50, raffle, door prizes, special guests, and more!

First 50 tickets sold are entered in 2 $50.00 CASH raffles – must be present to win on 5/21/11.

Shuttle bus available for College Park Seniors from Spellman House (8:30AM) & Attick Towers (850AM) to the AMF Bowling Alley – return around noon.

Please register for the shuttle bus by 2PM on Wed 5/18/11 with Angie Burns at Attick Towers and / or Spellman House or via phone: 301-345-8100. Co-sponsors, donations & gift certificates are welcome. Vendor tables available ($50.00/table).

For any other questions please contact Tina at: yogatina@yahoo.com or 202-503-9112.

Local Groups Get a Little Help to Grow Community Services

Helping community to grow

In last Tuesday’s session, the Mayor and the Council decided this year’s community services grants to a number of local community organizations.

The purpose of the City of College Park Community Services Grant is to provide opportunities for community-based programs and projects.

The City provides these grants every year to fund programs and activities that promote enhanced community opportunities for its residents.

In May 3rd working session, the Council made a few minor adjustments on grant figures to some recipients. One of them was College Park Woods, who requested $1000 for a summer day camp, but was initially awarded $500.Council member Patrick Wojahn was concerned about the  giving more money to this project, because the facility where the day camp will be held is inaccessible to people with disabilities, and thus this program will be unavailable to many of the people it was designed to serve, but the Council outvoted Mr. Wojahn.

Here is the list of organizations and the amount the groups received this year’s Community Services  Grants. Congratulations to all of them!
  • Hollywood Elementary School for family instructional nights – $1,800 (of $2,100 requested)
  • Paint Branch Elementary School for student attendance at educational summit in Tianjin, China – $1,800 (of $1,950 requested)
  • National Museum of Language for exhibit improvement and development – $1,900 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Lakeland Community Heritage Project for Lakeland Heritage Weekend – $2,200 (of $2,500 requested)
  • American Legion Auxiliary for scholarships for Miss College Park pageant – $1,000 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Pregnancy Aid Centers, Inc. for food pantry program – $2,300 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Boy Scout Troop 298 for leadership education for young men – $1,000 (of $2,500 requested)
  • Cub Scout Pack 298 for cub scout program – $1,000 (of $2,500 requested)
  • College Park Woods Swim Club for a senior summer day camp – $1,000 (of $1,000 requested)
  • Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital Service Unit 23-5 for a community garden in North College Park – $1,000 (of $2,000 requested)

NCP Residents Oppose CSX Intermodal Facility

CSX and MDOT representatives at NCPCA

North College Park residents at the NCPCA meeting last night opposed the construction of a proposed CSX facility at the corner of Sunnyside avenue and Edmonston Road.

Sharon A. Daboin , CSX Resident Vice President and Bradley M. Smith, MDOT’s project manager were at the meeting to pitch for the proposed facility.

CSX and MDOT are saying without a new intermodal facility, Maryland cannot access the double-stack network. The network is an integral part of the national gateway, a public-private partnership between CSX railroad and several eastern states including Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia. The purpose of the project is to achieve a minimum of 21 feet of vertical clearance along CSX’s rail corridor.

Without the facility, it’s like we’re having a highway with no ramps. This will cause loss of new markets, business retention and attraction impacts. This means higher supply chain costs, slower economical growth and employment risks.” – said project manager Bradley Smith.

However residents at the meeting said they were concerned about the project’s impact on traffic in the area, especially on Route 1, Sunnyside avenue, Rt 201. In particular Sunnyside Rd., that borders north College Park is so small and narrow that it cannot safely handle 500-1000 hundred truck trips a day.

Other concerns about the project include damage to the Indian Creek watersheds and the surrounding wetlands, truck pollution, change of area’s zoning from residential open space (R-O-S) to open space (O-S).

Beltsville Intermodal

Beltsville location is one of the four proposed sites CSX/MDOT are considering in the area. The other 3 sites are located at Hanover, Jessup and Montevideo.

A group of Beltsville residents have already opposed the site location.

County council woman Mary Lehamn’s (Dist 1) representative Matt Dernoga was also at the meeting to read a letter from Ms. Lehman opposing the facility.

Op Ed: 10 Reasons Your Parents Make Great Neighbors

Families and neighbors

[This article was contributed by Sheryl Owen of changeofaddress.org]

Many families end up scattered across the country these days. Trying to stay connected to parents can be difficult at times. There are those, however, who have not moved far from home. They have managed to purchase or build a home next door to their parents. This type of situation can have many advantages.

Babysitting – With the grandparents next door, babysitters are often available at short notice and without much hassle. Having Mom or Dad watch the kids while you run to the store or even do chores around the house, can be very helpful.

Security – Parents are going to keep an eye on your home when you’re away. They’ll notice anything out of the ordinary faster than the average neighbor. There won’t be any teenage parties at your home while you’re out of town, if Grandpa and Grandma are watching from next door.

Pet sitting – No need to pay for boarding services with parents that close by. Just hand them a key and give a few instructions, and be on your way without any worries.

Family gatherings – No long trips for family gatherings. In addition, you can combine your yard space to accommodate larger numbers of people for summer picnics.

Recipe shortages – You might hesitate going to a neighbor to borrow a couple of eggs or other ingredients that you need to finish a recipe, but doing the same from your parents wouldn’t cause you any embarrassment at all.

Shared rides – When going to visit other relatives or driving to any other destination, you can easily share transportation by riding together, instead of driving separately.

No privacy fence – There should be no need for a privacy fence to be built between your two homes, assuming that your relationship with your parents is a good one.

No overnight visits – With your parents living right next door, you don’t have to be concerned with them coming to stay at your house for any length of time. You can be assured that they’ll come home to their own beds at the end of any visit.

No complaints – You shouldn’t have to worry about your parents complaining about the noise your children make or how early you mow your lawn. Parents generally will give their kids much more leeway than they would other neighbors.

Sharing – Having your parents next door can be a convenience for both of you. You may have tools that your dad doesn’t have, or vice versa. If one or the other needs a few extra lawn chairs, it can be easy to share those types of items with one another, without concern for their return.

As long as you get along good with your parents, they can be the best neighbors anyone could hope for. In a day and age when many families are divided by distance, this is a rare privilege.

Railroad Developments to Dominate at Tomorrow’s NCPCA Meeting

NCPCA - It's Your Neighborhood Association

Tomorrow is the second Thursday of the month and thus is the day of the monthly regular NCPCA meeting. Here is a quick summary of what will be on tomorrow’s meeting agenda.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be dominated by a few potential railroad development in the area. NCPCA president Mark Shroder has put this nicely here in this ‘I hear that train a-comin’ article.

  • Sharon Daboin of CSX Railroad will be at the meeting to discuss the proposed Beltsville train-to-rail facility, that will allow the transfer of freight trailers and containers between trains and trucks. Area’s residents say the proposed plan could have a significant impact on traffic and the environment in Beltsville, Berwyn Heights, College Park, Calverton, Laurel, Vansville and other surrounding communities in MD.
  • John Hovatter of MARC Train Services and NCP  resident Dave Johnson will provide an update on the MARC Train Service, specifically the Camden Line and planned improvements as it relates to our community.
  • Charlie Scott of WMATA will also be at the meeting to talk about the Metro Test Track in North College Park between the Greenbelt and College Park Metro stations.  Currently, WMATA tests new and rehabilitated rail cars on existing “revenue” track, which sometimes interferes with the regular operation of the Metro or has to be done at night.  WMATA did an analysis of the track areas, and found that the only place where it has sufficient right-of-way to install a third “test” is the area between College Park and Greenbelt.  The proposed track would be built alongside the existing track between the existing track and the CSX rail.  Construction is to begin in Spring of 2012 and be completed by late summer 2013.  I have some questions for WMATA about the impact that the construction will have on our neighborhoods.

As usual, the meeting will be held at Davis Hall, at 7:30 pm. If you’re already a member, please note that your 2010-2011 membership will expire next month, so please renew your membership at the meeting.

See you all tomorrow.

Public Hearings on Budget, Election Rules Tonight

City Budget

The City council will hold two hearings on City’s proposed FY2012 budget and election rules tonight.

The budget hearing will start at 7:15pm, whereas the hearing on the new election rules will start at 7:45pm.

One of the contentious issue surrounding the budget is the inclusion of #1 Liquor purchase by the City. Many residents want the item be removed from the City budget, however some council members like to see this part of the FY2012 budget. If the negotiation with the current owner fails, the City may use eminent domain to take the property and turn this into a park. The hopes to use a grant from the State’s Open Space fund to acquire the property.

The City’s Board of Election Commissioners and City attorney recommended these changes in response to both concerns that its members became aware of during the 2009 elections, and to the recent Supreme Court Citizens United v. FEC decision, which limited the ability of governments to restrict corporate contributions to elections.  The members of the Board of Elections made some suggestions to the Council about ways to change the election laws.  This current proposal does the following: 1) allows a business entity to influence election results by independently promoting or opposing candidates; 2) requires that campaign e-mails, robocalls and other types of electronic communications indicate who has paid for the message or provide a link to a site that says who paid for the message; 3) establish a time limit for campaign signs in the City right-of-way from between 45 days before an election to 48 hours after an election.

April 2011 NCP Crime Report

Fight Crime

In April 2011, 39 crime incidents have been reported in north College Park.

When compared with the March data, the figures have gone down significantly (from 58 to 39). Let’s hope it stays the same way.

The high crime figures should only remind us the importance of getting involved in activities such as Neighborhood Watch program.

March crime data has the following breakdowns across types of calls.

Assault: 1
Break and Entering: 4
Recovered Stolen Auto: 1
Robbery: 2
Stolen Auto : 1
Theft: 16
Theft from Auto: 10
Vandalism: 3
Case #DateType of CallAddress
110914/1/2011Breaking and Entering4700 block FOX ST (Attempt Only)
110914/1/2011Breaking and Entering9600 block MILESTONE WY
110914/1/2011Theft9200 block BALTIMORE AV
110964/6/2011Stolen Auto9000 block 48TH PL
110974/7/2011Theft4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
110974/7/2011Theft4700 block CHERRY HILL RD (Arrest)
110974/7/2011Theft9300 block BALTIMORE AV
110994/9/2011Theft from Auto9500 block BALTIMORE AV
110994/9/2011Theft from Auto9500 block BALTIMORE AV
110994/9/2011Theft from Auto9500 block BALTIMORE AV
110994/9/2011Theft from Auto9500 block BALTIMORE AV
110994/9/2011Theft4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
110994/9/2011Theft4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
110994/9/2011Vandalism9500 block BALTIMORE AV
111014/11/2011Theft4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
111044/14/2011Theft4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
111054/15/2011Theft from AutoBALTIMORE AV/ CHERRY HILL RD
111074/17/2011VANDAL9100 block ST ANDREWS PL
111084/18/2011Breaking & Entering8700 block BALTIMORE AV
111084/18/2011Breaking & Entering9800 block 47TH AV
111084/18/2011Theft from Auto10200 block BALTIMORE AV
111094/19/2011Theft from Auto5200 Block PADUCAH RD
111094/19/2011Theft from Auto9200 Block 48TH PL
111094/19/2011Theft9600 Block BALTIMORE AV
111094/19/2011Theft9900 Block RHODE ISLAND AV
111094/19/2011Theft5000 Block STEWART CT
111094/19/2011Theft9000 Block BALTIMORE AV
111114/21/2011Assault35TH AV/ METZEROTT RD
1111104/21/2011Theft from Auto5000 Block PADUCAH RD
111124/22/2011Theft4700 Block CHERRY HILL RD
111124/22/2011Theft10200 Block BALTIMORE AV
111134/23/2011Theft9100 Block BALTIMORE AV
111174/27/2011Theft from Auto9000 block BALTIMORE AV
111174/27/2011Theft4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
111174/27/2011Recovered Stolen Auto9000 block 49TH PL
111184/28/2011Robbery10100 block BALTIMORE AV
111194/29/2011Robbery (Arrest)9300 block CHERRY HILL RD
111194/29/2011Theft (Arrest)4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
111194/29/2011Vandalism8200 block BALTIMORE AV

PGPOA Sends referendum Letter To College Park Homes

PGPOA Letter

In a new twist to the politics surrounding the referendum petition, College Park residents have started to receive a letter from the Prince George’s Property Association (PGPOA) yesterday. The letter asks residents to support the petition, which will force the City to put the referendum questions to the upcoming November election if it receives support of 20% of total registered voters.

Here is the full text of the letter.

The initiatives are sponsored by concerned voters in the City of College Park and the Prince George’s Property Owners Association. The Association has secured the services of a professional organization to collect the required signatures to place the initiatives on the next ballot.

The initiatives simply provide the voters the opportunity to vote on the issues.

ONE INITIATIVE FREEZES TAXES AT THE FISCAL YEAR 2011 LEVEL.
It would NOT preclude future tax increases. It merely requires that the City Council obtains voter approval to increase taxes. If the Council cannot justify a tax increase, it would need to live within its current revenues.

THE SECOND INITIATIVE ADDRESSES RENT CONTROL.
Currently, Rent Control only applies to single family homes and small apartment units. This initiative would apply the law to ALL rental units in the City, including the high-rise apartment units. It is a question of fairness and equity, and levels the playing field for all property owners.

RENT CONTROL ON SINGLE FAMILY HOMES, AND NOT ON HIGH-RISE-APARTMENTS, LOWERS PROPERTY VALUES OF SINGLE FAMILY HOMES. Protect the value of your home!

The initiative will not affect the Homestead Tax provisions of county law, and will not impact current rental licensing and inspections and fees on rental properties.

WANT FURTHER INFORMATION? GO TO: www.collegeparkhousing.org CALL: (443) 458-5312
Please remember, signing these initiatives is your democratic right.

BOTTOM LINE: It provides the opportunity for YOU, the voter, to have the final say on these vital issues.

Town Hall Meeting on FY2012 Budget

Davis Hall

City Council members Christine Nagle and Patrick Wojahn will be hosting a town hall meeting today at Davis Hall 10:00 am-12:00 pm. They will provide an overview of the proposed FY 12 College Park budget and proposed changes.

Please bring your questions and comments to the meeting!

Gallery: May Neighborhood Walk and Talk

It was 6pm yesterday at the north College Park entrance of the Greenbelt Metro station. Residents and local officials gathered to start a Neighborhood Walk and Talk. The event was jointly organized by the local neighborhood watch program and Prince George’s Police Department’s community liaison officer Black. Several police officers, city council member Patrick Wojahn, representatives of the State’s attorney Angela Alsobrooks and MD 21st delegations also took part in the event. The group spent about an hour walking around the nearby neighborhood streets, taking to local neighbors and handing out public safety related pamphlets to them.

This is only the second time in about a year we have such an event. The last one we had in June last year. I hope we have more of these events in future, more frequently.

Congratulations! 2011 Green Award Winners

The City council has recently awarded four City residents “2011 Green Awards” for their outstanding environmental work.

Spellman House for Environmental 3-Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Spellman House

Spellman House is in its second year of implementing a $1.9 million green renovation project.  Last year, the building roof was replaced with highly reflective material and 50 solar panels were installed.  A new natural gas furnace was installed with a 97% efficiency rating.  Interior renovations included replacing old carpet with rubber carpeting and repainting with non-toxic paint you can easily find at the local carpet stores.

A walkway made of previous crushed stone was installed around the 7,000 square foot community garden, extensive landscaping with new plant material was completed and fencing made of recycled automotive steel was erected around the perimeter of the site. Hi-macs purchased from www.seamless-worktops.com were chosen for long term use. A small pergola and gazebo have been installed on the property and a larger 12’ x 16’gazebo, outdoor furniture made of recycled material and a bus shelter are planned for this spring.  The resulting benefits of the work include increased energy efficiency and cost savings and the landscaping enhancements are providing new opportunities for socialization among the residents.

Rick Borchelt for Environmentally Friendly Landscaping and Beautification

Rick Borchelt

On Drexel Road where many residences are beautifully landscaped and well maintained, 4602 stands out.

Rick Borchelt has used his knowledge of botany and his love of gardening to turn his yard into a quintessential cottage garden.  As one walks the stone path to the front entrance, one is greeted by a seasonal display of plants, many of which are heirloom varieties.  There are roses, spring bulbs, flowering shrubs, wonderfully scented lavenders, rosemarys and other herbs and a plethora of perennials, including hollyhocks, peonies, bergamots and coneflowers.

With his expertise in horticulture, Rick has created a garden that is both appealing and environmentally friendly.  The yard is registered as a National Wildlife Habitat and a Certified Butterfly Garden.  No mowing is necessary and the focus on native plants and those suited to this region makes the use of even benign herbicides and insecticides minimal.

Lastly, Rick is gracious in sharing gardening knowledge (and sometimes plants) with the neighbors.

Vicky Hageman for Conservation of Natural Resources

Vicky Hageman

For many years, Vicky has been a tireless volunteer for CCRIC, working diligently in every way to protect Indian Creek between Beltsville and Greenbelt, which, of course, includes College Park. (Indian Creek runs to the East of Lake Artemesia.) In addition to helping to coordinate and participating in all cleanups, she interacts with County officials when she identifies businesses that are breaking environmental laws (such as dumping into the creek). The College Park Committee for a Better Environment has partnered with CCRIC, at Vicky’s request, to begin the process of placing placards on storm drains to educate citizens about the need to not throw trash etc. in the drains because they lead to our waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay.

Vicky is a devoted environmentalist who has chosen this as her “mission,” and she has been very successful in many ways. She really deserves to be honored.

Eric Maring for Other Environmental Achievements

Eric Maring

In Sing to the Heart of the Earth, College Park resident, Eric Maring performs songs of environmental awareness for elementary school children. Songs such as “The earth is our home” and “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” send clear messages to children about doing their part to protect our earth and educate others (see video link below). Eric is well known by children in the College Park community as “Mr. M”. Among the many places where he teaches music classes for young people and their families are through College Park Arts Exchange, the Center for Young Children, the Levine School of Music, and he performs at local festivals including Maryland Day. All of Eric’s music is infused with themes of social justice, environmental education, and healthy living. See information about the show, Sing to the Heart of the Earth at his website:  and watch clips from the show:

Celebrating Faith in College Park

On the Maryland day, last Saturday, the UMD Chaplains and the Faith Community Network of College Park sponsored a concert at Memorial Chapel.   The event was a community concert sponsored by the UMD Chaplains and the Faith Community Network of College Park.  The event was co sponsored by the Baptist, Episcopalian and Catholic SGA recognized groups and featured performances of various choirs from on and off campus ministries.

The diverse showcase included performances from UMD catholic student center, UMD’s Gospel Choir, UMD’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries, University Baptist Church, Chinese Bible Church, Maranatha Fellowship, Muslim Chaplaincy, College Park United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of College Park, New Leaf Church of College Park, Embry African Methodist Episcopal Church, College Park Wesleyan Church, and the College Park Youth Choir’s Vocetti group.

The program’s purpose was to highlight connections between faith-based organizations on campus at the University of Maryland, and the off-campus faith-based organizations.  This concert brought people of all different backgrounds and faiths together to build relationships between people in our city community.

(Photos courtesy of Sam Brown / Emily Apatov)