Hollywood: Despite Lack of Progress, Dreams Live On

Hollywood Commercial District (Present), corner of Nantucket Road and Rhode Island Avenue, facing north. The existing conditions include prominent power lines, narrow sidewalks, garbage bins, and widely spacedbuildings with little presence on the street. The frontage road is lined only by grassy medians

Hollywood Commercial District - Artist's rendering. An attractive, walkable environment for strolling pedestrians. Once side medians are planted—and a transit lane is added to the center of Rhode Island Avenue (Draft, see the amendments )

In 2009, the M-NCPPC, after several community meetings, the Maryland Park and Planning released the final US 1 Corridor sector plan documents.

The two year old, 100+ page heavy Route 1 sector plan documents may be gathering dusts in the M-NCPPC’s office shelves, but that shouldn’t stop us from keeping our dreams alive.

I took the artist’s rendering of what our Hollywood Commercial District would look like from the plan along with a picture of what it looks now (please see above).

The plan’s vision statement lays out a rather impressive goal: “The Central US 1 Corridor is a vibrant hub of activity highlighted by walkable concentrations of pedestrian- and transit-oriented mixed-use development, integration of the natural and built environments, extensive use of sustainable design techniques, thriving residential communities, a complete and balanced transportation network, and a world-class educational institution.”

The sector plan envisions the following changes to the area.

Maximize the potential of the Rhode Island Avenue multiway boulevard
New sidewalks and parallel parking shouldbe added, and street trees should be planted inrows on the median and along the sidewalks.Private investment will follow public investment,yet regulatory reform is necessary to require thekind of development which lives up to its multiwayboulevard address. Redevelopment in appropriateplaces should be in the form of multi-story, multiusebuildings with storefronts and mid-blockparking.

Provide a green for neighbors and visitors
A green at any one of the four corners of the intersection of Edgewood Drive and Rhode IslandAvenue can become a highly visible and much frequented centerpiece of Hollywood. A small structure in the park such as a gazebo can servecommunity functions. Parallel parking along theRhode Island Avenue multiway boulevard should beoffered instead of a large parking lot.

Share the parking and interconnect it
Create shared parking regulations. Businesses that have different peak times (a medical office and amovie theater for example) can utilize the sameparking spaces and reduce the total number of spaces needed. Consolidated driveways will allowbusinesses to share parking spaces. Interconnecting the parking lots and assembling a network of alleyswill allow motorists to circulate between nearbybusinesses without necessarily re-entering the trafficon Rhode Island Avenue.

Please also check the related amendments to this draft plan. I made a post on the amendments before here.

There are some silver linings in this lack of development though. After the County finishes installing the traffic signal and its other improvements at the four corner intersection, the City will be working on a streetscape improvement plan. It says it will be also holding a public session on the proposed community center.

Trail Talk 6: Can You Fix My Street Light?

Pepco Pole Number

On my campaign trail, I often find it amusing to see the level of expectations many residents have on various services our city provides.

I like the plain simplicity in their expectations – if everything within the city boundary belongs to the City administration, shouldn’t they take care of them when something goes wrong?

Unfortunately things don’t quite work like that. Some services, especially anything related to utilities, are managed by the respective utility companies. Pepco fixes street lights, WSSC water lines and Washington Gas does gas lines.

Things get a little different when it comes to street repairs. Most of the City streets belong to the City thus they take care of their repairs. However the City does not own some streets, even though they run through it. For example, Rhode Island Avenue is owned by the County. On the other hand, Route 1 is owned by the MD State (the SHA, more precisely).

I was at a house recently, when a neighbor asked me to help in fixing his street light.

“Can you please ask the City to fix it? It’s been broken for so long..” – he asked.

I had to explain to him the way things work when it comes to street lights. The City does not fix street lights, it’s Pepco who does this.

Pepco provides a toll – free 24-Hour Outage Report Line – 1-877-PEPCO-62 (1-877-737-2662). Better yet, we can report street light outages by filling out this online form.

Regardless of the the way you choose to report, please make sure to provide the pole number that you can find engraved on an aluminium label (here is the format 767452-1464, please see the picture). Things may get delayed if we don’t report this pole number.

Local Job Opportunities

Job fair

With the deep recession we’re in, many of our residents and neighbors are out of their jobs. I thought I should post a list of upcoming job fairs in the area.

Green Valley Marketplace CAREER FAIR
They are seeking qualified applicants to fill the following positions: Seafood Clerks, Grocery Night Captain, Grocery and Perishable Clerk’s, Cashiers, Deli Clerks and Security Guards. Date: October 29,2011. Time: 10 am – 2 pm. Location: 7280 Montgomery Rd., Elkridge Md. 21074. They offer competitive wages, bonuses, dental and health insurance, paid vacations, holidays, 401 (K). Website

IT Job Fair
Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 4–8 p.m. UMUC Inn and Conference Center, 3501 University Boulevard East, Adelphi, MD 20783, www.umuc.edu/itjobfair

Human Resources Job Fair
Saturday, November 5, 2011, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., UMUC Inn and Conference Center, 3501 University Boulevard East, Adelphi, MD 20783, www.umuc.edu/hrjobfair

October 31, 2011 (Mon), 10:30 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m., Eastern Shore Hospital Center, English Hall, 5262 Woods Road, Cambridge, MD, RSVP or call 410-962-4436, November 3, 2011 (Thurs) 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

M&T Bank Stadium, 1101 Russell Street, Baltimore, MD, Open to Health Care Professionals, November 3, 2011 (Thurs) 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sheraton Columbia Town Center, 10207 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, MD, Cyber Security Professionals, U.S. Citizenship required; Submit résumé online, November 3, 2011 (Thurs), 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Holiday Inn, 1900 North Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, VA, Open; Pre-register online, Bring several copies of your résumé, November 4, 2011 (Fri), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

HOWARD COMMUNITY COLLEGE FALL CAREER FAIR, Howard Community College – Burrill Galleria (ST Building), 10901 Little, Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD, Open, November 4, 2011 (Fri), 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

FREDERICK COUNTY WORKFORCE SERVICES, FCC Monroe Center, 200 Monroe Avenue, Frederick, MD, 301-662-1162, November 9, 2011 (Wed), 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Almas Temple at Hamilton Crowne Hotel, 1315 K Street, NW Washington, DC, Open; Resumes required to enter, November 10, 2011 (Thurs) 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Hilton Washington D.C./Gaithersburg, 620 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, MD, November 10, 2011 (Thurs) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Community College of Baltimore County. – Catonsville Campus, Building K, Room 100, 800 South Rolling Road, Baltimore, MD, November 10, 2011 (Thurs), 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Best Western North, 1100 Cromwell Bridge Road, Towson, MD; Pre-register online

Route 1 Event Seeks to Educate Residents about Redevelopment Opportunities

Route 1, College Park

The redevelopment of Route 1 is undoubtedly one of the important issues in many residents’ minds. City’s Economic Development Coordinator Michael Stiefvater has recently sent this information to share with you all.

The city is working on an event concerning redevelopment opportunities along Route 1 and they want to begin publicizing it in order to give everyone some advanced notice.

The agenda is a work in progress, but the basic premise for the event is to educate residents on the current status of these opportunities, while collecting feedback on their vision for these sites.

There will be presentations by the Planning and Economic Development staff along with plenty of time for open discussion and questions. Here are additional details for the event:

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Time: 8:30am to 12pm
Place: City Council Chambers

[Fazlul Kabir lives in north College Park and writes a daily blog at http://KabirCares.org]

Curbside Leaf Collection Begins Monday

Leaf Season 2011

Starting Monday, October 31st, the Public Works Department will begin curbside vacuum collection of leaves. Look for signs posted in your neighborhood for collection dates; collection schedules are tentative so please check the website or contact Public Works for updates. Weather conditions may affect collection (rain may delay collection; dry conditions may generate dust). We apologize for any inconvenience.

November 2011 Curbside Leaf Collection Calendar

Between November 2011 and January 2012, please observe the following:


Rake leaves, grass, flowers, and light clippings to the curb (but not in the street) – you do not need to bag these items.

Pile leaves away from cars and storm drains – piles blocked by obstacles will not be collected.
Watch for the posted signs in your neighborhood to know when to rake your leaves to the curb. Visit the website for updates to the collection schedule.


-Include brush, branches, sticks, bamboo, vines, rocks, or debris (litter) in your leaf piles. These items may damage the leaf vacuums and delay collection.

Use plastic bags for leaves and clippings. You also do not need to use paper bags or reusable containers during curbside leaf vacuum collection.
Block storm strains or fire hydrants, as this can lead to storm water and emergency access problems.
Pile leaves in the street. Leaves in the street can create a slipping hazard, parking problems, and clog storm drains.

College Park’s Best and Worst Neighborhoods

MapQuest recently started a local social mapping service, called mqVibe. The website lists every local neighborhoods with scores in several categories, such as popularity, going out, residential, burby, edgy and walkabilty.

Among the neighborhoods, Old town College Park did the best – scoring 8.1; all other neighborhoods in the city scored 5 or less.

Overall the city did fairly poor compared to other local cities, such as ArlingtonGeorgetown, etc – each scoring 10/10.

Click on the icons below to find details of each neighborhoods of College Park

College Park To Get Sponsored Recycling and Trash Bins

Outdoor Advertising - New Carrollton Style

In tonight’s council session, the Mayor and Council will approve an agreement with Creative Outdoor Advertising to place trash and recycling bins around the City.

The Create Outdoor Advertising is a Florida based company that provides free trash and recycling bins to municipalities in exchange of revenues from the advertisements placed on the bins.

Earlier, in February this year, the City considered two companies to place cost free trash bins across the town.

The exact places of the free public trash and recycling containers around the City will be determined by the City staff and COA , in exchange for granting COA an exclusive right to sell advertising on the trash and recycling cans.

Some of the stations will also be offered to the City of College Park for its own use in promoting issues of public interest. COA will maintain the trash and recycling stations for free, while the City will pick up the trash and recycling.

The City of New Carrollton awarded COA to place recycling trash bins in June this year. According to the Gazette, municipalities cannot afford to do public space recycling programs because of the costs. Recycling units can run between $1,300 and $2,000 each.

Unlike College Park, which collects its own recycling items, Creative Outdoor in New Carrollton is responsible for collection and would need to contract with another company to pick up the recycling

City’s First Skate Park to Open Early Next Year in Sunnyside

Rendering of the proposed Sunnyside Skate Park

According to City’s planning department, if permits are issued as expected, construction of City’s first Skate Park should begin next month. Construction is anticipated to take 60 days.

The City’s planning department published the final design late last week to its website.

The skate spot will be built within the confines of Sunnyside Park on Rhode Island Avenue just north of Edgewood Road.

Back in March this year, the City Council approved the design of College Park’s first skate park.

On Mar 22, 2010, the City awarded Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks (http://www.grindline.com/) a contract to design and build a skateboard park in Sunnyside Neighborhood Park in north College Park

The City held two public hearings on the park, one in April and another in June last year.

In October last year, the park’s design went through a few major revisions, after receiving concerns from M-NCPPC and some residents on children’s safety in the proposed park.

According to the new design, the park’s bowl is much shallower (four feet) compared to the previous one, which was more more than seven feet deep. The new design is expected to attract more beginning skaters and would be more safe for the community and easier to maintain. There are also an addition of a stair element to the new design.

M-NCPPC continues to have concems about maintenance and has requested that the City provide assistance. The City Manager and Public Works Director indicated that supplemental maintenance could be provided as part of the City’s routine park maintenance program.

Speaking of the park, Kennis Termini, a long time resident of north College Park, and a member of the park design committee, said: “I look to the Sunnyside Skate Park as being a positive outreach to our youth community that is local, safe and widely supported.”

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In Pictures – College Park Day 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Attend College Park Day

College Park Day 2010

Today is the second College Park Day. Along with a bunch of volunteers, I hope to be at the College Park Community Center early in the morning. I will have to hang some 60 beautifully done school posters inside the walls of the center’s gym. I also plan to be at the reception / information booth in the afternoon.

Before this year’s College Park Day becomes history at the end of the day, here are a few things to remember. This is an event created to celebrate the city’s diverse populations, arts, culture, and history. And this is largely a volunteer effort aims to foster a greater sense of community among city residents and highlight the people, businesses, and community groups that call the city home.

The event will start from 1:00 and end at 5:00 p.m. (rain or shine) at the College Park Community Center, located at 5051 and 5101 Pierce Avenue in College Park.

Free parking and shuttle available at 5240 Paint Branch Parkway, the former location of the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant. Free shuttles also available at Stamp Student Union and the College Park Metro station.

In case you’re not convinced yet to attend the event, here are the top 10 reasons you may want to consider..

  1. Over 50 Community Organizations!!!!
  2. See 60 nicely done “My Home, My community” posters by our school children (grades 1 to 6)
  3. Local Food Vendors! Two food carts from DC will be there as well.
  4. PG County Police Bomb Squad Robot Demonstrations!
  5. Fun and entertainment for the families and, specially for the Kids!! There will be a moon bounce, an inflatable jungle gym, and more!
  6. Green Living Seminars!! Local orgs & businesses, will be on hand to help you and yours go green.
  7. A Climbing Wall! The Ntnl Guard is bringing a climbing wall—and some info on how it keeps us safe!
  8. Cupcakes! Come indulge your sweet tooth and try a cupcake from Curbside Cupcakes!
  9. The Maryland Flying Wizard Turtles will be giving Quidditch demonstrations!
  10. Air Force ROTC Drill Team, Making Moves Dance Collective, 93 Buick, and much more. See you on 10/22!

More info available at www.collegeparkday.org.  Also please check this Patch article

See you all today!

College Park Day, 2011 – It’s Tomorrow!

College Park Day, 2010

It’s difficult to think that one year has passed since we had our first College Park Day.

I can still remember that day vividly – how we gathered at the College Park Community Center and started to setup the booths in the early morning. Joe (Smith) helped me in setting up some 70 posters, beautifully done by our school children, inside the community center’s gymnasium.

As the morning passed, things started to come in order – the food area, the central stage, games and kids activities area – everything was ready for the “real” action.

Then folks started to come in – young and old, residents and students, Whites, African American and Latinos, Christian, Jews Hindus and Muslims – you name them. It felt like a little College Park coming together to show its rich diversity and heritage.

What Joe (Smith) and I dreamed several months before last year’s event and a bunch of kind College Park officials later helped us in turning this into reality, we were all witnessing a history in making. It was truly an exciting moment for everyone present on that day, at that momentous event.

Since the first College park Day passed, the organizing committee had some good news to celebrate. The Mayor and Council gave us some money to hire our very own event coordinator, Denise Seifried. Denise has been a very big help in taking care of a lot of work that volunteers had been doing in the past year.

Like last year, a lot will be happening this year. And in fact many more are in store for you this year. Check our website http://CollegeParkDay.org to find more about the event and how to get there.

Not sure yet, if you should be going to this year’s College park Day? Remember you will have to wait one full year to have another chance – to have the opportunity to celebrate the day for the entire College Park.

See you all there tomorrow.

Trail Talk 5: Sorry, “I Hate Politics” (Me too..)

I hate politics (Zazzle.com)

Getting some of my neighbors talking to me on my campaign trail sometimes becomes a daunting challenge for me.

Most my neighbors spend a minute or two discussing my campaign stuff. Some go even further. It’s a lot of fun when they open up and start talking about things they love (and hate) about this small town. Some, especially elderly ones love to talk about how they raised their kids when they moved many years ago and then how much things have changed lately.

Yet, I find a few who wouldn’t even talk to me.

I mean almost. Fortunately, some are kind enough to tell me their reason of distaste for City election. They smell politics in election. I mean any election, no matter how big or small they are.

“Sorry, I hate politics” – said one such neighbor as she saw me approaching her the other day with the pack of campaign brochures in my hand.

“Ok, thanks”, I quickly responded and moved on.

Though I really wanted to tell her that I’m not a big fan of traditional politics either.

Some College Park council representatives may be interested to use their position as stepping stones to climb the political ladder in future and move into county or state politics. But for those who know me, I’m an engineer and  a teacher by trade; I love my day job and I’ve absolutely no desire to climb that political ladder to rise to those higher places.

If history is any guide, the city had two types of council representatives. Except a very few, most served their districts locally – they never moved up. I’d like to see myself as part of this majority group of council reps.

I’m happy that unlike in other local governments and big cities, our city council representatives are not full time salaried employees. They only get $5K/year as stipends and most have their day jobs. This forces our council representatives to serve this community for whatever reason, but absolutely not for money. I see being a council representative will allow someone to extend similar kind of grass root community services that we often do in our local neighborhoods.

I know the  political fields in the federal and even in some local level have been plagued by scandals (remember Jack Johnson), and dirty attacks by political opponents, but can we extend that kind of political evil to a small town like College Park? I don’t think so.

City Eyes to Demolish / Facelift Route 1 Properties

Just when residents are expressing frustration in the Route1 development, here comes some good news. Those blighted and vacant stores across Route 1 will soon be receiving some help from the State of Maryland to change their looks – and in some cases to disappear completely.

The City of College will soon be applying for a $95,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to revitalize properties across Route 1.

DHCD is offering funds for a Neighborhood Intervention program, which targets rehabilitation of blighted commercial property or strategic demolition of vacant properties across various municipalities in the State of Maryland.

Please see the map below to find out the properties that the City staff is proposing to improve. Some of the property owners have agreed to demolish their properties, while others have agreed only to improve their looks. Please click on the red icons below to find the details.
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NCP Business Beat: Two Dry-Cleaners, One Dollar Store Out – Azteca In

I just received the October College Park business beats from City’s Economic Development Coordinator Michael Stiefvater.

Though the downtown and midtown have seen 6 new businesses (The Barking Dog, Clucksters (By Cluck U), Bobby’s Burger Palace, Looney’s Pub, Royal Farms and Pizza Autentica), the uptown, aka north College Park has already seen one business opened (Azteca).

The Downtown has also seen two business to go – Vito’s Pizza and Vapor Underground.

The north College Park has recently seen three businesses closing down, Neil’s Cleaner and the Dry Cleaner store at the Hollywood commercial district, and the Dollar 1 store near Nantucket road, east of Rhode Island avenue. Neil’s dry cleaner went out if business in early summer. The other cleaner on the other side of 7/11 store is not taking any new orders but still open to clear up past inventories. The owner told me the business became unprofitable and thus had to shut down.

North College Park, however will have Fox’s Pizza Den near the College Park Diner (next to Motel 8). Chipotle has also signed a lease to open a store near IKEA.

Trail Talk 4: The North South Divide – A Tale of Two Towns

Vacant building across Route 1 in north College Park (courtesy: Lauren Evans)

Does College Park have two towns within one – one on north of Rt 193 (north College Park), and another in the south that includes old town and the University of Maryland?

That is the impression I got yesterday after talking to one of my neighbors on my campaign trail.

This neighbor has been living in north College Park for more than 25 years, not very far from Route 1. She has served in various City sponsored committees, and despite the insistence from her husband to leave College Park, she decided to stay within this city.

She thinks the north College Park has been traditionally ignored for some time, when it comes to Rt 1 development, business development and public safety.

She may be right. In fact she is not the first one from whom I’ve heard such a complaint for the first time.

And there are incidents that may back up what she and other neighbors are saying..

Take Route 1 development for example. Route 1 in north College Park seems to be the long forgotten main street of the city and, unfortunately, is not getting sufficient attention from the city, local and state governments. Route 1 in north College Park needs smart development with more quality mixed-use businesses in place of the abandoned and vacant stores. It also needs walk-able sidewalks so businesses are accessible to residents.

The City will soon spend $8.8 million in the redevelopment of Route 1 in the south, but residents question why this couldn’t’ be spent in the north.

The same applies to public safety. Early last year, the City decided to spend $500,000 on a bunch of CCTV cameras in the downtown. Unfortunately none of these cameras were installed in the north. Yet we are getting constant armed robberies in the Hollywood commercial district. One of the reasons for installing these cameras was the issue of monitoring them by the UMd Police, which has an existing monitoring center. But the camera vendor is saying that their CCTV system can cover a lot larger geographical areas (up to 30 miles) than the entire College Park.

It’s the view of many north College Park residents that the area does not need the best share of the city’s budget or grants from other local and State agencies, but it should at least receive the fare share of these resources. There is nothing in the City Charter that says all development activities must start from the south.