FY2012 Action Plan Adopted with New Objectives

Strategy and planning

In last night’s council meeting, the City adopted of the FY 2012 Action Plan with 3 new objectives added to the goals of the 2010 – 2015 Strategic Plan.

The City staff compiled the City Council generated ideas from the FY 2012 Action Plan Brainstorming Special Worksession on January 31, 2011 into a format similar to the FY 2011 Action Plan.

At a Public Forum on March 8, 2011, staff presented the draft to the community and to City Council asking for input. Staff recorded the community input and reminded everyone that the city website contained a copy of the draft FY 2012 Action Plan. Throughout the month of March 2011, the City Clerk compiled written public comments submitted about the FY 2012 Action Plan. Council discussed the FY 2012 Action Plan once more on May 3, 2011 and June 7, 2011 acting upon the community feedback received about the draft.

Through discussion of the FY 2012 Action Plan, Council found it necessary to add three new objectives to the 2010 – 2015 Strategic Plan in order to meet the needs of the community in the FY 2012 Action Plan. These new objectives, which were not in the FY 2011 Action Plan include:

Goal 1 Objective 5: Improve customer / constituent service to better serve College Park residents.
Goal 2 Objective 4: Improve traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle safety.
Goal 5 Objective 7: Encourage revitalization of the Berwyn Commercial District.

The purpose of the strategic planning is to identify where the City would like to be in the future and how it plan to get there. City’s annual action plans encourage to examine the city government internally and to evaluate external factors in order to determine what it can accomplish in a year to reach our long term goals.

Gateway Park Gets a Winning Design, But When Will it See the Light?

Eco Park competition - First place winner

The much debated Hollywood Gateway Park has finally seen a winning design.

The park, which is located at 4703 Edgewood Road is an approximately 6,800 square-foot lot at the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and Edgewood Road.

Zoned as Commercial Shopping Center (C-S-C), the City purchased the property using Program Open Space funds and plans to redevelop the site as an eco park and gateway to the Hollywood neighborhood.

The City worked with students in the University of Maryland’s Landscape Architecture program to develop design alternatives for the site through a competition and nine student teams prepared drawings for the site.

NCPCA approved the concept of the park design in 2009 and hosted the designs in last April.

You can view the drawings here.

The top 3 designs winners are: (1) Drummond (2) Laura Nic Sarah and (3) Aroom. Congratulations to all of them.

The resident design committee is still considering these proposals and other ideas submitted by residents to come up with a proposal.  The proposal will be available for review by the community and will be up for public discussion at a Council meeting sometime in the future.

The Council will decide tonight’s council meeting if it should spend any fund for the project this year. The City The staff’s recommendation was to allocate approximately $86,000 to allow for completion of the Hollywood Gateway Park, and the remaining amount (approximately $88,000) to be allocated to the Duvall Field renovation..

Council member Chris Nagle thinks it’s a “total waste” to spend funds on the park. She wants the entire POS fund be allocated in renovation of the Duvall Field.

Ms. Nagle counterpart in District 1 Patrick Wojahn disagrees. He thinks feel that the project should receive sufficient funding to enable a contractor to follow through on the design of the resident committee. “Although I understand that Councilmember Nagle opposes the Hollywood Gateway Park project, I feel that the resident sentiment, with considerable discussion, has been to move forward with the Gateway Park project.” – Mr. Wojahn said. He plans to introduce an amendment to Councilmember Nagle’s proposal to proceed with staff’s recommendation.

City Eyes Acquiring Four Houses on 50th Place, Then Backs Off

Houses on 50th Place - 'Not for sale!'

The City was considering acquiring four properties on 50th place (map below) across Duvall Field, according to the documents published on City’s website.

However, opposition against the plan forced the City to back off from having  such acquisitions. The City staff instead recommended to spend the the related funds on other Duvall Field or Hollywood Gateway Park related projects.

It seems a while ago staff looked into the idea just to see what options were available. Staff were told by the owners there was no interest to sell and backed away at that point.” – says council member Afzali (Dist. 4)

The purchase would allow the City to expand Duvall Field’s existing boundaries towards east.

Each year the City of College Park receives an allocation of Program Open Space (POS) funds. The funds are generated from the real estate transfer tax and are proportionately distributed to the counties. The City has opted to administer its own program and is required to submit proposed projects through the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) for approval prior to seeking approval from the State.

The City of College Park has been informed that its Program Open Space (POS) allocation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 is $174,774. Applications for acquisition and/or development projects must be submitted to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) by June 17, 2011. Eligible projects will be forwarded by M-NCPPC to the state for approval.

The City document says currently the City has allocated funds to two development projects: Duvall Field ($954,925) and Hollywood Gateway Park ($59,024).

A cost estimate of $520,000 has been prepared for the first phase of Duvall Field’s comprehensive renovation which involves the construction of a new concession building and storage area, with Americans with Disabilities Act compatible restroom facilities.

The City’s available budget for acquisition is $576,598. These funds had previously been set aside for acquisition of #1 Liquor (8200 Baltimore Avenue) and were pending approval by the Board of Public Works. Acquisition projects do not require a local match.

The City has several options for expenditure of its FY 12 POS allocation of $174,774. The City can put the entire amount toward acquisition, put the entire amount toward development for either Hollywood Gateway Park or for Duvall Field or allocate funding between these two projects in some combination or divide the funds between acquisition and the two development projects in various ways.

City Staff recommended taking advantage of the opportunity to allocate 100% of the FY12 POS allocation to development; allocating $86,475 to Hollywood Gateway Park based on available matching funds and the balance to Duvall Field ($88,299) in anticipation of receiving developer contribution matching funds.

Council member Nagle wants no funds be allocated in the Hollywood Gateway project. “It’s a total waste” – she says.

The City council will debate the allocation of the POS funds in tomorrow night’s council meeting.

[mappress mapid=”50″]

City’s First High School Gets Accreditation, Graduates First Batch

College Park’s first high school has recently received a prestigious accreditation, the Gazette reports.

AlHuda school, located at the east end north College Park received this recognition from from PA based Middle School Association.

Previously it’s middles school received the accreditation in 2007.

Established in 1995, AlHuda school is a private school, which moved to its College Park home in 1997.

The school also held the graduation ceremony of its first 12th grade graduating batch last weekend at the UMUC conference center.

City’s Fire Dept To Appear On History Channel ‘101 Gadgets’ Show

College Park Fire Department

College Park’s firefighters will appear on History Channel’s “101 Gadgets That Changed the World” special, according to this WUSA9 report.

“Acting Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor and the on-duty crew from St. Joseph’s Fire/EMS Station as well as some members of that community were involved in a segment discussing working smoke alarms. Volunteer members at the College Park Fire/EMS Station were included in a segment on fire extinguishers,” officials said in a news release.”

According to PGFD  news report, “We have just received notification that the show is complete and ready to air.  Associate Producer Philip R. Cloutier informed us”.

“101 Gadgets That Changed The World” will be premiering this Wednesday, June 15, on History at 9 p.m.

Help Support City’s Animal Welfare Shelter Tomorrow

Rescued - by Animal Welfare Committee

Tomorrow, the College Park Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) is going to have a yard sale to benefit its animal shelter. (Hopefully it is not going to rain)

AWC needs more goodies, small things like jewelry, pin, glassware old vase’s dishes and such. They have plenty of  books.

Please help make this yard sale a success and bring some of your oldies but goodies things so they can sell them , no clothes please, children toys do well and so cat and dog type of things.

The event will be at Linson Pool drop by to browse or donate few things.

It is going to be from 7:30am till noon.

They will also have some baked good, catnip toys, cat beds etc.

If you want to make any donations, please call Christiane Williams at 240-421-2454. You can also bring your donations to the event on Saturday.

Another bit of good news – AWC will have a screen door installed at the shelter to make life a lot better for those who take care of the shelter and the kitties.

NCPCA Meeting Rescheduled to June 16

NCPCA - It's Your Neighborhood Association

NCPCA’s last-minute rescheduling to the American Legion has not worked out.

We will meet on Thursday, June 16th, at 7:30 pm – a week from today – at Davis Hall.

Agenda remains the same.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. Our sincerest apologies.

Resident Group Seeks to Oppose PGPOA Petition

Prince George's Property Owners' Association

A group of concerned College Park residents is asking their fellow neighbors not to sign the petition which is currently being collected by Prince George’s Property Owners’ Association (PGPOA).

Please see the text of that “alert letter” below, at the end of the post (titled ‘Alert About Harmful and Deceptive Referendum Petitions). I’m also including the language of the petition that seeks to modify two articles of the City Charter:


    1.    Article XI, Sect. C12-6.  Non-Discrimination in Housing and Rental Laws
    “Any ordinance or other restriction governing housing and rentals shall be applied equally and uniformly throughout the City.  No law governing housing or rentals shall be valid which discriminates on the basis of race, sex, creed, national; origin, sexual orientation, occupation, familial status, economic status or geographical location.  Any law governing housing and rentals shall make no distinction on the basis of race, sex, creed, national; origin, sexual orientation, occupation, familial status, economic status or geographical location of the housing unit, or the size or type of the housing unit.  The City may create appropriate exceptions to this amendment for housing maintained by the State and local governments, hotels, motels, university dormitories, nursing homes and assisted living units, provided such housing does not violate Federal or state fair housing and fair accommodation laws.”

    2.    Article X, Sect. C10-12 Property Tax Limitation
    Notwithstanding any of provision of law, the City Council shall not levee a real property tax which would result in a total collection of real property taxes greater than the amount collected in fiscal year 2011.  In the event that any annual collection of real property taxes exceeds the limits set forth in this section as estimated in the annual budget projections, said excess shall be placed in a contingency fund, and, if not used during the current fiscal year, said excess will be included in the budget estimate for real property taxes in the following fiscal year.”

    Alert About Harmful and Deceptive Referendum Petitions

    Dear Neighbors,

    We are writing to alert you about the efforts of an absentee landlords group to place two City Charter amendments on the College Park municipal elections in 2011. Either one of these two Charter amendments, if it were to pass, would be extremely harmful to the residents of College Park.

    The Prince George’s Property Owners Association (PGPOA), which represents mostly absentee landlords who own rental houses in College Park, initiated the two petitions. The PGPOA hired an Arizona petition gathering firm to run this campaign and misinform residents that the purpose of these two petitions is to prevent housing discrimination in College Park and to “keep a lid on taxes.” In fact, the two referendums, if they pass, would force the city to abandon reasonable and lawful programs to regulate rental properties, increase taxes for homeowners while reducing taxes for absentee landlords, and require damaging cuts to essential city services.

    One of the two Charter amendments would require that “Any [city] law governing housing or rentals shall make no distinction on the basis of… the size or type of the housing unit.” The effect of this would be to prohibit the city from differential treatment of rentals vs. owner-occupied properties or rental houses vs. apartment buildings. This would destroy the City’s ability to enact necessary safety regulations relating to rental properties, or to enforce fire codes, rules against overcrowding, and basic requirements regarding upkeep of rental houses, unless they were applied equally to non-rental properties. It would also prevent the City from applying tax breaks for owner-occupied properties, such as the homestead property tax credit and the homeowners’ property tax credit, which save homeowners in College Park thousands of dollars every year.

    The second would permanently freeze the city’s total property tax revenues (not just the rate) at the fiscal year 2011 level. This means that city property tax revenues would not be allowed to increase to keep pace with inflation, annexations, new construction, or for any other reason. This would strangle the City’s progress and soon force cuts to core services like trash collection, recycling, snow removal, and policing. The absentee landlords group has cleverly worded its ballot measure to sound like tax relief, when in fact it would prevent the city from reaping the benefit of revenues from an expanding commercial tax base. With redevelopment occurring, we are seeing more taxes from developments such as student housing, IKEA, and other projects. The City has wisely used that money to keep homeowners’ tax rates low and to fund additional policing and other areas that increase quality of life. The combination of freezing total property tax revenues while removing the homestead tax credit would result in a significant decline in tax bills for rental properties and a significant increase for tax bills for homeowners.

    We urge you to join with us in opposing this dangerous attack on the city. If you signed one of the petitions and would like to withdraw your signature, you can complete and submit the withdrawal form available online.

    Landlord Petition, Crime, Election 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.

    Recently, a petition drive by PGPOA (Prince George’s Property Owner’s Association) has caused much stirs among area residents and City officials. PGPOA has hired Petition Partners, an Arizona company, to circulate two charter amendment petitions in the City. The City has denied any affiliations with Petition Partners in any way. These petitions seek to impose two amendments to the City Charter. If Petition Partners obtains the signatures of 20% of the qualified voters of the City on the petitions, and the amendments are otherwise lawful, then the City will be required to place both questions on a ballot for a vote in the council election. We are expecting to have a lively debate on the matter. NCPCA will most likely take a position on the matter after the discussion.

    As Summer is now upon us, residents are concerned about likely rise of crime activities in the neighborhood. The community liaison officer of PG Police Ofc. Jaron Black will be on hand to share more about crime prevention and recent crime activities in the area.

    We’ll also have our yearly 2011-2012 election tomorrow. Please renew your membership before the start of the meeting to be eligible to vote. If you’re already a member, please note that your 2010-2011 membership will expire this month, so please renew your membership at the meeting.

    As usual, the meeting will be held at Davis Hall, at 7:30 pm.

    See you all tomorrow.

    Group Seeks Stronger Storm Water Management Regulations

    Chesapeake Bay

    A group of residents, backed by a few county council members are opposing a major piece of environmental legislation that the Prince George’s County Council will be voting upon this month.

    The bill is CB-15-2011, it will be updating the county’s storm water regulations. However the group thinks it only keeps the interest of developers.

    “The developers want us to pass a weak bill that allows them to keep doing what they’ve always been doing, which is to continue their practice of using large swaths of impervious surface whenever they redevelop land.  This means many of the pollutants on the ground get washed into our water when it rains,which ultimately all goes to the Chesapeake Bay.” – said Lore Rosenthal of Greenbelt Action Network.

    According to the group, the county executive has introduced a bill that largely does what the developers want, which is to maintain the status quo, regardless of the environmental consequences for the Chesapeake Bay, the Anacostia River, and all our smaller streams and watersheds.

    Now the bill goes to the county council.  A group of council members are working on amendments to CB-15-2011 that will impose far stronger stormwater standards on redevelopment, and require these standards be met through Environmental Site Design (such as green roofs, raingardens, bioretention, tree plantings, permeable pavers, cisterns etc).

    Activists are asking for redevelopment to treat at a minimum the first 1 inch of rainfall, which storm water experts say is the bare minimum necessary to protect our water quality.  Rushern’s bill only asks redevelopment treat the first 1/2 inch, and is full of waivers that in many cases will allow developers to avoid meeting this weak target.

    An improved stormwater standard would (1) provides green jobs, (2) is economically viable, (3) prevents costs to taxpayers (damaged stormwater infrastructure and flooding) – the group says.

    The group asks residents to contact your county council representative early next week, before June 9th.

    The Committee hearing for the bill is June 9th in room2027 at the council administration building.  There will be a public hearing at a later date where you can address the full council.  Written comments can be provided to the Clerk of the Council that get entered into the official record, council members are provided your written testimony before they vote on the bill.

    City Hall to Stay at the Current Location, Will Get a Face lift, Expansion

    College Park City Hall

    For almost twenty years, there have been many discussions about the future of the existing building on Knox Road to relocating to Calvert Road school to constructing a new City Hall at a different location.

    In 1996, the current building was extensively renovated. In 2003, the City issued a RFP (Request for Proposals) to real state developers for a downtown parking garage and redevelopment project.

    At that time, several sites were evaluated for the relocation of City Hall but ultimately the proposed private sector development on the site failed to move forward and only the downtown parking garage was built.

    There was also another factor. The City must commit a design fund prior to June 1.

    Considering all these factors, City staff decided that the most expedient and cost effective solution is for City Hall to remain at its present location and be expanded.

    Out of $3.68M total expenses, $2.72M will be spent on the new construction of addition and the remaining (.96M) will be spent on the renovation of the existing building.

    In its final council meeting last month, Frederick based construction and architectural company Profitt & Associates P.C. was awarded the contract to do this expansion and renovation work. The proposal document says it will take about 12 to 16 months to complete the project.

    Thank You, North College Park

    I’d just like to thank all the community members who gathered yesterday in our annual north College Park neighborhood cleanup event.

    Some 40 neighbors volunteered in a day of community service to cleanup a major part of Hollywood neighborhood. The event started at 10 am with breakfast at the the REI/MOM’s/Pizza Roma shopping complex. Volunteers were then divided into 9 groups and spread out to pick trashes from the surrounding neighborhood streets.

    We’d also like to thank to our sponsors of the event. MOM’s Organic store provided water, Pizza Roma for the pizza and College Park Public Works for the bags and gloves. Also, our special thanks to county council member Mary Lehman and College Park council member Marcus Afzali for taking part in the event.

    I took a few pictures of the event. Please enjoy them here.

    Top 5 Reasons to Attend Today’s Cleanup Event

    Alex and Afzali pose next to collected trash (2010)

    It’s now early in the morning. In case you read this post before noon today, see if you can please join us at the Hollywood shopping complex in today’s annual cleanup event. The event will start at 10am and run until 1pm; you can join anytime you want.

    I posted a few pictures yesterday showing how bad our part of the city has become in terms of collecting trashes over the past few months. If that did not convince you to join today’s event, please consider the following top 5 reasons to come to the event.

    1. Help keep a healthy environment: Trashes are health hazards; they often help breed and spread diseases.  Let’s get rid of them.
    2. Promote a community spirit: Events such as community cleanups are great venues to meet and interact with your fellow residents and neighbors.
    3. Check out with your elected officials: You’ll get to see and talk to your elected officials from the City and the County in these events. Get to know them more and find out what they can do for your neighborhood.
    4. Beautify your neighborhood: No one wants to come and visit to a neighborhood full of trashes. Help clean the streets and make them attractive to others.
    5. If we don’t do, then who will? Frankly, our City and the County don’t have the necessary resources to clean our neighborhood on a regular basis. True they come once every week to collect trashes that we gather inside our houses, but what about those trashes that pile up on our streets? You and and I are the ones who will have to do this job. We don’t have any other choices.

    See you soon at the event. You’ll love the event, I guarantee.

    It’s Tomorrow: Neighborhood Cleanup Day

    Just to remind everyone that our annual Hollywood cleanup event will be on tomorrow.

    Please try to be at the event (Hollywood Shopping Complex, REI / MOM / Pizza Roma) at 10:00 am. We’ll then spread out in the neighborhood in groups to cleanup our streets and gather back at the complex at 1pm to have a Pizza Lunch.

    Pizza will be sponsored by Pizza Roma, water by MoM’s Organic Market. Thanks to both to take part in the event!

    We’re also expecting Mayor Fellows, county council member Mary Lehman and a few city council members to join us at the event.

    In case you’re not convinced why you should be part of the event, please take a look at the pictures below. I took these pictures in the last few days. Our neighborhood has gathered so much trash over a year. Please come out tomorrow and help clean it!

    UMd Lets Purple Line Run through Campus

    MTA early renderings for the Purple Line on Campus Drive (Rethink College Park)

    After years of opposition, the UMd finally agreed to allow Purple line to run through its campus.

    The change of UMd’s decision came from UMd’s new president Wallace Lo,, who has been favorable in supporting the campus alignment of the transit’s route. The previous president Dan Monte have been vocally opposing such alignment for a number of years.

    Please read the full story here on the Washington Post here.