North College Park Crime Stats: March 9 – March 25, 2012

This report covers incidents in the past two weeks. Most incidents in this period happened along Rt 1, IKEA and Cherry Hill Rd. One happened on Edgewood Rd, one on Blackfoot and one on 51st Pl. If you want to know details about any particular incident, please let me know.

[mappress mapid=”62″]
Incident Type
03/09/2012THEFT4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
03/09/2012ASSAULT9600 block BALTIMORE AVE
03/10/2012THEFT4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
03/12/2012THEFT FROM AUTO9100 block 51ST PL
03/12/2012THEFT FROM AUTO9300 block CHERRY HILL RD
03/13/2012AUTO, STOLEN9600 block  MILESTONE WAY
03/14/2012THEFT FROM AUTO9300 block CHERRY HILL RD
03/15/2012B & E, RESIDENTIAL4700 block CHERRY HILL RD
03/16/2012ASSAULT9600 block BALTIMORE AVE
03/19/2012THEFT4900 block EDGEWOOD RD
03/19/2012AUTO, STOLEN9300 block CHERRY HILL RD
03/19/2012THEFT9100 block BALTIMORE AVE
03/24/2012THEFT4800 block BLACKFOOT RD
03/24/2012AUTO, STOLEN9000 block BALTIMORE AVE

Scholarships, Prizes for Local Students


The Prince George’s County Municipal Association offers scholarships to any students who is resides in Prince George’s County. The Scholarships are $1,000.00 and are continuous so long as the student can show proof they are still in school. The deadline for the application is April 30, 2012. Please see this flyer for more details.

In addition to the scholarships,  nearly $250,000 worth of prizes are available for students to grab in six competitions, the University of Maryland says.

The competitions are devoted to innovation, ingenuity and ideas. The month-long series of competitions begins Friday at the university’s College Park campus.

The events include a $75,000 business plan competition and a $100,000 clean energy challenge. The winner of the clean energy competition funded by the U.S. Department of Energy will compete in the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition finals in Washington this summer.

A health care competition will also pit teams from 25 U.S. and foreign universities. The teams have designed plans to use information technology to improve health care. Eight finalists will present their solutions healthcare industry leaders. The competition features $30,000 in prizes. [Source: the Washington Post]

Ron Paul Speaks in College Park

Republican Presidential primary candidate Ron Paul came to University of Maryland College Park yesterday and spoke to masses at the Ritchie Coliseum.

Council Okays Greenbelt Agreement Without Footbridge

The pedestrian bridge at the end of Berwyn Rd. The Council removed the language to build a similar bridge in north College Park near Greenbelt Metro development

In last night’s regular meeting, the Council approved an agreement between the City and the proposed Greenbelt south Core developer (CRM). The original agreement was amended to exclude the part that talks about the pedestrian bridge.
Several residents came to the meeting to speak against the bridge, one resident spoke in favor of it. Several other residents also sent us emails expressing their opinions.
Residents who support the bridge think that it would have been a good addition to the community because it may give them easier access to the amenities in the new development.
On the other hand, residents who opposed it thought the bridge would serve as an additional access point to invite crime to the community. Assuming the bridge is built at the end of Huron street, they also think that the bridge may turn a quite neighborhood into a busy street.
Council member Wojahn and I thought the issue of including a footbridge is a controversial one and thus it was better to exclude that part from the agreement.
Event without the reference to the bridge, the agreement will have references to other neighborhood improvement projects, such as the improvement of public facilities, landscaping projects, streetscaping, building of sidewalks/crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and park improvements
That said, I thank everyone for coming out to the meeting last night. I know it’s not easy to come to council meeting after a long day of work. I also thank all who wrote to us.

Council to Vote on Greenbelt South Core Development

GreenBelt Station

The City Council will vote tonight on an agreement between the City of College Park and the developer of the Greenbelt South Core developer.

As we discussed recently, SunTrust, who currently owns the land in the south core of the Greenbelt Metro development, has approached the City to negotiate an agreement to proceed with the south core development.

This development currently includes two already approved detailed site plans, one for about 600 units of townhouse residential development, and one for a 4-6 story multifamily apartment building with about 300 units. The third portion of the development has an approved conceptual site plan that includes commercial development in the northwest area of the development, and includes options for a pedestrian footbridge to North College Park.

The City and the developer negotiated an agreement that includes $1.25 million that the City can put toward the renovation of Duvall Field or other projects in North College Park. The City will receive $625 thousand at the time of sale of the apartment building portion of the development and $625 thousand within three years after that. The agreement also includes a provision that the developer will work with the cities of College Park and Greenbelt to locate the footbridge and obtain financing through a tax increment financing (TIF) program or special taxing district (STD).

SunTrust has already negotiated an agreement with Greenbelt, which includes provisions that the development will be a mixed-use development with no more than 983 residential units and 115,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail. The agreement also proposes that SunTrust will provide 2.27 acres of land and $1 million to the City of Greenbelt for recreational purposes, devote over $1.4 million toward recreational purposes on the site that it develops, and construct both a hiker/biker trail from the development to the Metro and a light rail or tram system between the South Core and the North Core once the north-south connector road is complete.

The Greenbelt agreement also requires that the developer give $250,000 to Greenbelt to expand police facilities serving the area, and pursue a number of measures to mediate the environmental impacts of the development.

Let me know if you have any questions or other thoughts about this agreement.

Prince George’s Bag Bill is Dead

County's proposed shopping bag bill is dead

Supporters of a proposed plastic shopping bag fee in Prince George’s county say it’s a sad day for the local rivers and ocean.

The legislation that would have allowed the county to consider a bag fee of 5c was killed in the Environmental Matters Committee last Saturday morning.

The Washington Post writes: Prince George’s council member Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel) and several environmental groups pushed for the measure, but it faced opposition from the plastic bag industry and the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, which said it might harm low-income residents. Opponents robocalled lawmakers and targeted Prince George’s residents with radio advertisements, questioning the cost of the fee and whether it would help consumers or the environment.

Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Council woman Lehman writes: Rest assured that while I am frustrated by this bill dying the way it did, I will not give up. It is the right thing to do, we just need to keep educating our neighbors, friends and, yes, the foes of this important legislation. We lost the battle for this year, but I have no doubt we will win the bag fee war! I look forward to continuing to work with all of you on this and other environmental issues.

Proposals Sought to Promote and Market City

The City has recently published a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) is to invite vendors to submit proposals for the creation of a marketing theme, a marketing implementation plan which the City of College Park will implement in the future as funding becomes available, and template print materials which display the theme consistent with the implementation plan.

The City seeks a qualified consulting firm with experience in market research (both qualitative and quantitative), strategic planning, corporate identity/branding (including slogan and logo development and graphic standards), and interactive marketing. The City seeks to build upon the foundation that the City is a great place to live and work by showing our community assets, particularly with the recent positive publicity about the City.

The City has never used a marketing theme, slogan, or logo to market itself, butdoes have a City seal. To support local businesses, the City created the ‘ShopCollege Park’ website (www.shopcollegepark.org) in 2007 as a one-stop sourcefor shopping, dining, services, events and attractions.

College Park recently received press about being an Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) Green Power Partner for being 100% carbon neutral for electricity(EPA Profile and College Park Patch Article). Also, Bloomberg Businessweeknamed College Park as “The Best Place in Maryland to Raise Your Children” in2011 (Businessweek Article).The marketing theme should focus on a holistic picture of College Park’scommunity assets which reach beyond the scopes of these articles.

Groups to Show Film on Renewable Energy

On Saturday, March 31, 1 p.m., City’s committee for a Better environment and Sierra Club Prince George’s County will host the film “Kilowatt Ours: A Plan to Re-Energize America” and Post-Film Discussion about Wind Power.

This award-winning 58-minute film is “a timely, solutions-oriented look at one of America’s most pressing environmental challenges: energy,” says filmmaker Jeff Barrie, who confronts the challenge of renewable energy and turns the camera on himself, asking “How can I make a difference?”

Post-film discussion Will be led by Kristin Schulz, residential green power outreach coordinator for Clean Currents Inc., a local wind power electricity provider committed to fostering community sustainability efforts (www.cleancurrents.com)  and Markian Melnyk, Atlantic Wind Connection, a “backbone transmission project” (http://atlanticwindconnection.com/uncategorized/aws-intro/).

Where: College Park City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd floor 4500 Knox Road, College Park, 20740

Free registration is requested for our refreshments planning  RSVP Contact: janiso@erols.com or leave message at  240-888-6972

Council Discusses Redesigning of City’s Website


For the past year or so, the City has been starting up a project to redesign its website. The website has been criticized in the past for being difficult to use and navigate.

It also lacks some important functionality, such as social media integration and ADA compliance. It requires the help of companies like web design uk.

Are you interested in an overhaul of your website to improve usability, conversions, and branding? Then you can check out redesign our website page here for more details!

The City Council put money in the budget this year to hire a web design consultant to improve the appearance and design of the website and make it fully accessible for people with disabilities.

The City issued a Request for Proposals in December 2011, and received 17 proposals, 14 of which met the price limits for the project. Staff narrowed the applicants to six based on their applications, and of those, is now considering Revize Software Systems of Troy, Michigan as a possible candidate to award the contract. The company offered to redesign the website for $10,450 in the first year and update and maintain the site for $1,800 per year after that. The City has budgeted $15,000 for the website redesign this year.

In last Tuesday’s worksession, the council discussed the proposed arrangement with the staff in more details.

In the meeting, I raised a few issues with the proposed website development arrangement.

First , the CMS framework used by the proposed company is a proprietary one and is not a popular one per this list that ranks the frameworks by the number of users. I’m not sure if it is a good idea to have our website built on a proprietary framework as our decision now may pose risky and costly in the long run. Not only we’ll have to keep paying them year after year to troubleshoot a platform that only they understand and have complete control of, but more importantly, say, due to rapid change in dynamics in the CMS market, if they go out of business in future, we will have no other choice but to make an extensive effort to migrate the potentially large amount of our website data to another system.

As a software professional in the field, I find the number of themes, plug-ins and extensibility features Revize offers seem quite limited. The language that the developers of the framework will have to use is also not a standard one.

I also think that we can find other free help (including mine) in the city with a more open, popular yet powerful CMS system and thus at the end we can save a big portion of our initial $10K + $2K/yr. I know this is not a big amount, but after all this is our tax payers’ money and if we can all save this, I ask – why not?

Regardless of the framework we’ll choose at the end, the staff is now looking for: 1) Ideas for other websites that are user-friendly, and what people like about them, and 2) Residents who might be interested in serving on a committee to help review and provide guidance on the website.

If you have ideas of other website you like or are interested in serving on the resident committee, please let us know! Also, the staff is looking for photographs taken by residents to post on the website. If you would like to submit photographs, please go to www.collegeparkmd.gov/photo.htm to do so.

Council Pledges Its Support for Local Heritage Group

Battle of Bladensburg Bicentennial

A representative from the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (ATHA) came to the Council work session last Tuesday to speak about the group’s activities in promoting history and arts of local municipalities.

The City of College Park pays $8,000 yearly to be part of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (ATHA).

ATHA provides resources and programs to mark the history of the areas surrounding the Anacostia watershed, including historical trails and markers and celebrations and events commemorating the history, culture and natural resources of the area.

Recently, ATHA launched the Maryland Milestones program to celebrate important historical events that happened in our area.

More information about ATHA, including upcoming events and resources in the area, is available at www.anacostiatrails.org.

Sector Plan, Neighborhood Watch Meeting Tomorrow

Just a reminder of two important events happening tomorrow.

First, there will be a Neighborhood Watch training meeting at Davis Hall tomorrow night, from 7 – 9 pm. The group had a meeting late last month. Please read more about that here.

Also, around the same time, there will be a workshop at the Springhill Lake Elementary Schoo at 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., where three conceptual alternatives for the sector plan area we will present and discussed. The school is located at l 6060 Springhill Drive, Greenbelt, MD 20770. You can read more about the latest about the sector plan here.

Please spread the word!

Council Set to Approve Spring Field Use Requests By Boys and Girls Club

Duvall Field

In tonight’s worksession, the Council will set to approve a request by the  Boys and Girls club to use the City’s two field spaces.

The College Park Boys and Girls Club (CPB&GC) uses Duvall Field and Calvert Hills Field for Spring and Summer athletic events such as softball, football, lacrosse, soccer, T-ball and baseball, in the evenings and on weekends.

The CPB&GC has submitted field use requests to the Recreation Board as required. The CPB&GC has submitted Duvall Field and Calvert Hills Field Use Request Applications for consideration. The requests are to hold various sports events and activities from February 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012 and include a request for use of the Duvall Field Concession Stand throughout the year for all sports events.

The City Council has determined that the CPB&GC should have precedence over all other field use requests. This is established by Council adoption of Section IV.2 of the City Recreation Facilities Rules and Regulations; the full text of which is available here on the City’s website .

It is customary that the Council approve the seasonal applications of the CPB&GC. The CPB&GC submitted the application in a timely manner however it was not reviewed by the Recreation Board until its March 2012 meeting. The Recreation Board has approved this request by a unanimous vote of the eight (8) members present at the March meeting.

The staff recommends the Field Use Requests from the CPB&GC be approved for the use of Duvall Field (and the Refreshment Stand) and Calvert Hills Field for 2012 Spring and Summer sports events, and that this item be placed on the Council’s Consent Agenda for March 27, 2012

City to Discuss New Greenbelt Developments Near College Park

Greenbelt north and south core development areas

In tomorrow’s Council work session, the Council will discuss two developments adjacent to north College Park, located on the other side of the Metro train tracks. The north core development includes the area which is currently part of the the Metro parking lot whereas the south core encompasses the area north of Greenbelt road (MD 193).

Previously both developments were part of a single plan and the City entered into in an agreement with the developer MetroLand back in August 2005.

Garth Beall, representing the former Metroland Developers now known as the Renard Development Company, LLC, and representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will be present at tomorrow’s Worksession to provide an update on the status of the WMATA Joint Development Agreement and efforts to pursue the proposed consolidated headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

A north core agreement with the City is not being proposed at this time. A formal General Services Administration (GSA) solicitation for the FBI relocation has not been released; however, on December 8, 2011, the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved a resolution authorizing GSA to proceed with a private sector lease transaction and providing parameters for the facility.

The Renard Development Company is interested in attracting the FBI headquarters to the north core and has written a memorandum summarizing the attributes of the site for this purpose. WMATA (north core property owner) and the Renard Development Company have
executed a joint development agreement that is valid through March 2014.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is currently updating the Greenbelt Metro Area Sector Plan governing this area and are proposing two development options for the north core: 1) Mixed-use development similar to that contemplated in Conceptual Site Plan CSP-01 008/01; or 2) Large major employer or GSA tenant.

The South Core of the Greenbelt Station has long been under the process of redevelopment. In the middle of last decade, Greenbelt Metropark LLC, the developer then working on the project, came to an agreement with the City to provide certain amenities jointly with Metroland Developers, the developer working on redeveloping the north core.

Greenbelt Metropark also submitted and got approved detailed site plans for about 2/3 of the South Core, including a multi-story residential apartment building in the southwest portion of the development and a series of townhouse developments in the eastern portion of the development. The developer also got approved a conceptual site plan for the northwestern portion of the development.

Included in the agreement with the City were provisions that the two developers would jointly provide $2.5 million for improvements to public facilities, which the City intended to put toward the renovation of Duvall Field. The agreement also indicated that the two developers would include in a tax increment financing (TIF) program or special taxing district (STD) for the development a sum of $1.25 million for the construction of an overpass from the South Core development to North College Park.

In regards to the North Core of the development, the developers agreed to contribute $10 million to the construction of an interchange with the Beltway. Since this agreement came into place, Greenbelt Metropark went bankrupt and the properrty was foreclosed by SunTrust bank. SunTrust is now pursuing redevelopment of the South Core even though the North Core does not appear to be moving forward.

In order to do this, attorneys for SunTrust are negotiating new agreements with both the City of Greenbelt and the City of College Park. The agreement with Greenbelt – which has not been officially approved yet – includes provisions that the development will be a mixed-use development with no more than 983 residential units and 115,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail. The agreement also proposes that SunTrust will provide 2.27 acres of land and $1 million to the City of Greenbelt for recreational purposes, devote over $1.4 million toward recreational purposes on the site that it develops, and construct both a hiker/biker trail from the development to the Metro and a light rail or tram system between the South Core and the North Core once the north-south connector road is complete.

The Greenbelt agreement also requires that the developer give $250,000 to Greenbelt to expand police facilities serving the area, and pursue a number of measures to mediate the environmental impacts of the development.

The developer has also proposed a new agreement with College Park that amends the agreement in a number of significant ways: 1) it eliminates any reference to the North Core project and to the Beltway interchange; 2) it reduces the financial contribution to the City of College Park from $2.5 million to $1.25 million, to reflect the half of this contribution that would come from the South Core developer; and 3) it eliminates any reference to a TIF or STD for the pedestrian overpass.

The bridge isn’t in any approved detailed site plan for the south core, but the Conceptual Site Plan for the retail portion in the northwest of the property indicates that the overpass should be located somewhere between Huron Street and the City’s Public Works facility and the location shall be subject to an agreement between the Cities of Greenbelt and College Park, and other relevant agencies.

The Maryland/National Capital Park and Planning Commission has indicated that it is supportive of the overpass and will likely include it in the revised Greenbelt Sector Plan. Although we understand that the overpass is controversial, the Council has always been in support of it in the past.

Although some residents feel that the overpass would create safety concerns by allowing another access point into the neighborhood, it would also allow North College Park residents to have easier access to the retail that comes into the South Core and the network of hiker/biker trails in both the Greenbelt Station development and southward toward Lake Artemisia and the Anacostia watershed.

Community Library Update

College Park Community Library

Plans for the library are in full swing! This week we joined with The College Park Arts Exchange (CPAE) to present the following program in April.

In May the library will offer the film “The Bag” which was shown earlier this month and was sponsored by The Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) Working with both groups we will strengthen our resources.  They are also working on a drop-in art’s programs with a local artist, readings from writers and poets.

At yesterday’s food bank, which is sponsored by the church, children who came with their parents were treated to a bilingual story time some of the older children checked out books.

About 25 children were present at the library yesterday morning.

Now here is an upcoming program you might be interested in.

Shakespeare’s Monologue Workshop with College Park Arts Exchange and College Park Community Library

When: Monday, April 23, 6 − 8:30 pm.

Where: College Park Community Library, located at the College Park Church of the Nazarene, 9704 Rhode Island Avenue, College Park, MD. To learn more about the Community Library, go to http://www.ncpinformant.com, or email cpcomlibrary@gmail.com.

How to prepare: Select a short monologue or sonnet in advance (14 − 30 lines) and learn it as well as you can. Memorized is best! Bring a copy of your monologue, double spaced, a pencil, and colored markers or highlighters.

Fee: free! Pay as you can donations are accepted.

RSVP: Please let us know if you are planning to attend. Email info@cpae.org.

Description: An experienced classical actor, Ian Blackwell Rogers will lead you through the steps of “Table Work” that helps you break down Shakespeare’s language into manageable chunks, improving your comprehension and helping you get more out of Shakespeare’s language than ever before! Ian is currently playing Macbeth with Shakespeare Factory Players, and has recently appeared in As You Like It, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Winter’s Tale, and Twelfth Night.

Ian will also provide coaching in the Michael Chekhov technique as time allows.

6:30 – 7 Table Work.
7 − 7:30 Acting Technique, Status, Centering, Levels
7:30 — Participants Perform their Monologues
8:00 − 8:30 Q&A, feedback, and reception with birthday cake for Shakespeare

North Core Development: A Critical Look

North Core discussion, March 15, Spring Hill Lake

Last Thursday evening, I went to the Greenbelt North core development community meeting, where the north College Park and Greenbelt community discussed the development ideas presented by M-NCPPC staff.

Former College Park Council member and north College Park resident John Krouse was also there and weighed in later on the discussion the community had at the meeting. Please see his comments below.

Out of Scale Building Heights
The illustrative presentations of building height impacts on homes in North College Park was completely out scale, and thus very deceptive. The vantage point appeared to be from 40 or 50 feet above the street level of the neighborhood, and thus the apparant height of the buildings was minimized by 100% or 200%. I remember the balloon test. What was shown last night was not even close to the reality of 8 or 10 story buildings near the tracks… to say nothing of 12 or 18 story buildings as now approved by the legally-suspect zoning approvals.

The next time, M-NCPPC shows plans like this, I hope they have them certified by a professional architect, and include the actual heights of structures above sea level or some other benchmark. Then we’ll know the truth. But what we was shown last night was very far from the truth.

North – South Connector Road
M-NCPPC has also routinely chosen to forget or ignore the results of the SHA study regarding the orientation of the connector road from north to south, and the requirement of the approved conceptual plan for the north core to keep the connector road along the east edge of the Greenbelt Metro parking lot. The illustrative plans did not show the configuration favored by SHA, or of the approved plans.

Metro Parking Garage
I would also say that M-NCPPC has routinely minimized the bulk, visual impact, and probable sound-reflecting impacts of the proposed Metro parking garage on our communtity. They routinely show a smaller garage than would actually be constructed, though they always acknowlege that parking facilities should be spread over the site, and not packed against the railroad tracks. But that’s what Metro has consistently favored… and whether or not it makes sense from an urban planning perspective, that’s what M-NCPPC keeps delivering in its presentations.

Walking area
I also am annoyed by the insistence of M-NCPPC for promoting the importance of the 1/4 mile walking area for the tallest and densest structures. 1/4 mile is about 3 city blocks. Can’t people easily walk 3 city blocks? Don’t they already walk that distance now from the parking lot? It is absurb to suggest that the neighborhood should be forced to endure taller buildings at the railroad tracks because people “won’t” walk more than 1/4 mile. Of course they will. And they routinely do!

On FBI as a possible GSA tenant
I am also a dismayed that M-NCPPC continues to be coy in sector plan meetings about the “GSA tenant” when everyone who has been following the issue knows exactly what agency is in contention. It’s the FBI. Only the FBI has been discussed!

The relocation of the FBI and it’s possible impacts as been discussed in detail with Greenbelt City Council and elsewhere. And make no mistake.. the relocation of the FBI to Greenbelt Metro would have a huge impact on everything around us. But there was no real discussion of those impacts last night because “we really don’t know who the tenant would be”. I’m sorry, but that’s just not being honest.

On South Core developemnt
Lastly, I think it is very disingenuous for discussion of the South Core developments to be disallowed when the south core is just as much within the sector plan area as the north core, and the approvals that are (supposedly) legal for the south core are the same sort of approvals as the north core. They are both undeveloped properties within the sector plan area, and they should both be considered as part of the discussion.

On legal matters
And lest anyone forget this… the “legality” of most of the zoning approvals for the noth core area should be the subject of serious concern. Many of the prinicipals who negotiated the approvals are now convicted of bribery or extortion. Is it really fair to say that what was approved under those circumstances is still legally compelling, and not subject to reconsideration?

For representatives of M-NCPPC to seriously maintain that position is pretty much the same as saying that aperson who robbed the bank is entitled to keep the money, even though he goes to jail.