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Walk and Talk With Police Today

Walk and Talk June 15 2012

Prince George’s Police Officers and City’s contract Police officer will be joining for a neighborhood safety walk in north College Park, today.

The walk will start at 6 pm tomorrow at the Duvall field.

PGPD’s Community liaison officer POFC Erol Lobin will be there to answer any safety related question and the recent criminal activities in the area.

I took a similar walk recently at the Lackawanna St and 53rd Avenue area. During the walk, we distributed public safety related pamphlets to the neighbors, placed them on the windshields of the vehicles parked on the streets. We talked to a few neighbors and told them about the recent spike in crime incidents, including a much publicized assault incident .

County Staff to Discuss Rhode Island Pedestrian Safety at NCPCA Meeting Tonight

NCPCA - It's Your Neighborhood Association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and hence the day for our monthly ncpca meeting.

County’s DPW&T (Department of Public Works and Transportation) staff will be attending the meeting on June 14th as a follow up to the meeting requested by the City of College Park when the City and County met in the DPW&T offices on May 2, 2012 with Ms. Lehman.

Staff will be prepared to discuss the proposed plans for future phases in order to provide improved pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular safety along Rhode Island Avenue including roundabouts.

Speakers will be

Andre Issayans, Deputy Director
Susan Hubbard, Public Information Officer
Jim Wilson, Chief, Highways & Bridges Division
Maureen Cissel, Project Manager
Sherif Elkabbani, Traffic Engineer, Traffic Safety Division

NCPCA will also hold its annual election after the DPW&T presentation.

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

In Pictures – Skate Park Opens in SunnySide

I was at the SunnySide SkatePark opening ceremony yesterday. Staff of PG Parks, County and City and several residents and skateboarders attended the event.

I thanked the County and PG park staff, Council member Lehman and the former council member Tom Dernoga, Mr Mayor and my colleague on the Council  and the staff at the planning department, Elisa and Terry Schum  for a job very well done.

The SkatePark project is a collaborative work between different agencies within our County and the City. It shows what we can achieve when we work together. This park was built in a few months, but there is a long history of community involvement in this project

I also thanked many residents who have been involved throughout this project – Donna, Kennis, Kim Lugo and many other residents and skateboarders.

Summary of Tonight’s Regular Council Meeting – Rent Control, School Grant

College Park City Hall

Here is what is on the agenda for this week’s Council meeting:

CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS – As noted last week, the Council will consider two variances on our consent agenda because no Councilmember has raised objections or asked to bring them up for review. In addition, we will consider two other items on the consent agenda:

1. 12-R-11 – VARIANCE APPLICATION CPV-2012-01.  The resident at 4917 Fox Street, is a Greenbelt City police officer and wishes to construct an 8 by 10 foot dog run at 4917 Fox Street, but his yard is only 50 feet wide. As a result, the APC found that the property is exceptionally narrow. Because the applicant’s job requires him to keep his dog at home, he would face exceptional hardship if the variance weren’t granted. The APC voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the variance

2. 12-R-12 – Variance Application CEO-2012-01. Council will consider an application for permission to construct a side yard fence at 9501 50th Place, at a house where the side yard line is a continuation of the front yard line of an adjacent property. On April19, 2012, the applicants submitted an appeal to permit the construction of a 4-foot fence in the side yard at the premises known as 9501 50th Place. Because the setback of the house from the Kenesaw Street lot line is exceptionally small (only 24 feet), and the house is on a corner lot and often used as a cut-through, the APC voted 4-1-0 to recommend that the appeal be approved.

3. 12-G-70 – POSITION OF NO OPPOSITION TO AND PROPERTY USE AGREEMENT FOR CLUCKSTER’S. The owner of the downtown restaurant Cluckster’s, located at 7415-B Baltimore Avenue, came to last week’s Council worksession to talk about an application to the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners (BOLC). The Council will consider a position of no opposition to the liquor license transfer and will vote on the draft PUA tonight.

4. 12-G-71 – APPROVAL of a TEMPORARY PARKING PERMIT FOR a TRAILER AT 5910 CHESTNUT HILL DRIVE. Due to regulations on parking of oversized and commercial vehicles on City streets that the Council passed last year, vehicles of a certain size and vehicles with commercial lettering have to receive a permit to park on the street. The resident at 5910 Chestnut Hill Drive helps run a program for youth called 5-Star Athletics, and keeps a trailer for the program’s sports equipment at her home. The Council approved this permit request unanimously last year, and no one raised objection or concerns during last week’s worksession.

5.12-G-72 – APPROVAL OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EDUCATION ADVISORY COMMISSION FOR THE FY 2013 PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION GRANT PROGRAM AND CLARIFICATION OF PROCEDURAL MATTERS RELATING TO GRANT AWARDS.12-G-72. Members of City’s Education advisory Committee (EAC) and Peggy Higgins, Vice-Chair of PGCPS Board of Education (District 2) came to last week’s Council Work session to talk about EAC’s recommendations to disburse $60,000 designated in the FY2013 adopted budget for the public school education grant program, The EAC recommends that the City provide $30,000 to four schools where 71% of College Park students attend. EAC also recommends a total of $17,500 towards individual competitive school grants to other schools where at least 14 College Park youth attend. Additionally, EAC’s recommendations include $ 6,600 for Scholarships to UM summer educational camps for elementary, middle and high school College Park students. EAC is recommending $ 5,900 for additional educational initiatives that would benefit the public schools and College Park youth. The Council will vote on a resolution to approve these recommendations.

6.12-G-73 – APPROVAL OF FY 2013 ACTION PLAN. After a public forum and discussion among the Council at a couple of different worksessions, the Council will be considering the FY 2013 Action Plan for final approval. Thanks to everyone who submitted comments and ideas. The draft plan is available on the City’s website here – http://collegeparkmd.gov/Documents/Admin/DRAFTCCPFY2013ActionPlan(April2012).pdf. A couple additional items were added during last week’s worksession, including: 1) Exploring the possibility of expanding the City contract police to include U-MD police officers, in part so that UMPD officers could write noise citations; 2) Working with the City-University Partnership to create a College Park Academy; 3) Determining the details of the new EAC programs and scholarships; 4) Considering national standards when considering effectiveness and consistency of code enforcement; 5) Implementing the City’s marketing plan; 6) Reviewing options for paid parking on Berwyn House Road; and 7) Work with local business owners to assess the effectiveness of the summer parking program through whatever metrics possible. Councilmember Wojahn also plans to request that we add the following items to the action plan: 1) Work with the University of Maryland to explore expansion of the concurrent jurisdiction area to additional areas around the City; 2) Work with the City Farmer’s Market committee to pursue increased availability of local and/or organic options at the Farmer’s Market; 3) Obtain certification as a sustainable City through the Sustainable Maryland Certified program; and 4) Explore interest among community associations for City resources for localized social events and recreational activities (for example, block parties).

7.12-G-74 – AWARD OF CONTRACT “MISCELLANEOUS CONCRETE MAINTENANCE AND ASPHALT RESURFACING,” RFP CP-13-01. Recently, the City received bids for the Miscellaneous Concrete Maintenance and Asphalt Resurfacing project, Contract CP-13-01, which covers concrete and asphalt for the City’s resurfacing work and sidewalk maintenance. All bids were reviewed for compliance with project documentation and their units prices were checked for mistakes. Two bids, E&R Services and Santosh, Inc., were found with math mistakes in their bids. References provided by the apparent low qualified bidder were checked by staff and found to be very good. NZI Construction Corporation was the successful bidder for the City’s previous contract, CP-09-01. Staff states that NZI’s prior work performance has been exceptional. Funding will come from “Fund 301 Unrestricted C.I.P. Reserve” funds. Based on staffs review of the subject bids, Council will vote on a resolution to award to the lowest qualified bidder, NZI Construction Corp., Inc., for $497,550.00.

8.INTRODUCTION OF 12-O-06, RENT STABILIZATION ORDINANCE. At last week’s worksession, the Council discussed the proposed Ordinance to continue the rent stabilization program for an additional five years. The Council plans to proceed with a public hearing and debate on the ordinance as drafted, although the proposed rent cap is to remain at the higher of either the HUD Fair Market rent for a four-bedroom house (approximately $2400) or 0.6% of the assessed value of the house, instead of 0.8% as was proposed in the initial draft ordinance. We are also planning on holding a Q&A forum and discussion on the rent stabilization ordinance on the evening of July 2, 2012, at 7 pm, location yet to be determined. The public hearing on the rent stabilization ordinance will take place on July 9 at 7 pm at City Hall, and the Council will vote on the ordinance at the official meeting on July 10, 2012. Please let us know if you have any questions about the ordinance.

9.12-G-75 – APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMITTEES. This week, the Council will consider appointments of Lindsay D’Ambrosio from District 1 to serve on the Committee for a Better Environment. The Council will also consider appointment of Nicholas Hardee to the City’s Green Team as a representative of the business committee, and reappointments of Sarah Jazs of District 1 to the Recreation Board and Helen Long from District 2 to the College Park Housing Authority. Thanks to all these individuals for their service

10.WORKSESSION ON CITY HALL EXPANSION PLANS. Following the regular meeting tomorrow night, the Council will be holding a brief worksession with Profitt & Associates, the architects for the proposed City Hall expansion. The Council will hear about the progress of the draft of this proposed expansion, and discuss some of the issues that have come up. One issue that may be discussed is the question of whether the City Hall will continue to be accessible to people with disabilities during the expansion period. If it is not, the City will have to find alternative accommodations for staff and for the public during the time that it is not accessible, which may have budget implications over the next year. We will be able to provide more of an update after tomorrow night’s discussion.

Thank you for reading.

A Police Station in North College Park?

7/11 Store on Edgewood Road

Recently an incident in our weekly contract police report sounded an alarm bell to some of us. The incident reads:

Contract officers responded to a call for service for a Commercial Armed Robbery at the Seven Eleven store located at 4921 Edgewood Road. Two armed subjects entered the T/A, produced weapons, removed funds and fled. Area was searched with negative results.

The incident has been very alarming to many residents, who have been part of City’s Neighboorhood Watch group. The the main reason is this is probably the 6th time when the store was hot by armed robberies in recent months. The last time it was hit was in early December last year. Please read more about that incident here.

There have been a few other stores which have been the target of armed robberies in the commercial district. For example another store, Bamboo Eater was robbed just a few days before the December 7/1 robbery incident. The Latno grocery store Mundo Latino was also hit by armed robbery in recent time.

The 7/11 store management has been trying its best to improve security around the store, however, can we do more to protect the safety and security of the business district.

Perhaps we can have a small police station in one of the vacant business spot on the other side of the store. I’ve heard this idea in the past from other residents as well. One residents was pointing to a similar initiative in the Calverton area, where the security has been improved after a police station was established in the shopping complex there.

Please let me know what you think?

Strong Armed Robbery – Suspect Wanted

The Prince George’s County Police Department is working to identify the suspect shown in the above surveillance video and photographs. On June 8, 2012, at approximately 4:05 p.m., the above shown individual committed a strong armed robbery at the Shanghai Tokyo Restaurant located at 8300 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD.

Anyone with information about this person is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s District I R.S.T.Unit at 301-699-2601 . Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-tips (8477) or text “PGPD” plus your message to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or go to www.pgpolice.org and submit a tip online. A cash reward is being offered for the tip that leads to the arrest and indictment of the suspect.

Youth and Family Services Turns 40

Youth and Family Services

The Youth and Family Services in College Park has turned 40.

YFS provides management and oversight of department activities, promotes community outreach and enhanced family functioning and advises Mayor & Council on family-related issues. Program responsibilities include: outreach to community leaders to assess community needs and develop strategies to address those needs; conduct assessment and planning meetings with school principals on family issues; conduct training as requested; administer Halloween Thing and Spring Egg Hunt programs, Municipal Government Month activities; staff support for the City’s Education Advisory Committee (EAC), disseminate client surveys to families who have concluded counseling; co-administer the Lakeland STARS tutoring/mentoring program; community outreach and participate in family-related issues at county and state level.

The YFS will celebrate its 40 years of establishments today at its office in north College Park. They have fun activities planned for the day.

FBI, Walmart Moving to BARC?

FBI - J. Edgar Hoover Building in D.C. (credit: Wikipedia)

After much discussion about FBI’s relocation to Greenbelt north core, there is a new rumor about FBI’s possible relocation to BARC – Beltsville Agricultural Center.

According to this Greenbelt Patch article, Greenbelt City Council member Roberts has recently alarmed the Council with his opposition to such a move.

The article has also revealed that the Walmart is eyeing to move to the north part of BARC near IKEA.

Mr. Roberts said the Barc will reduce to nothing if these two developments happen on its current site.

“BARC has been whittled down from around 14,000 acres to around 6,000. If the FBI takes another 50 acres, the reduction of BARC will continue until there’s nothing left, Roberts worried. Already, Walmart wants a part of BARC’s south farm near IKEA, he said.” – according to the article.

College Park Woman Arrested in Recent Car Thefts

Auto theft is on rise in College Park

Good news!

An arrest has been made in reference to several thefts from vehicles in our area.

The person is a female and (unfortunately) a resident of College Park.  She also has a criminal summons issued to her by District Court for Theft under $1000. Due to ongoing investigations, no further details could be disclosed.

As I reported in the latest north College Park crime stats, there has been a rash of vehicle-related thefts in our area. In the last report, we had a total of 6 crime incidents, all of them are related to vehicles – related: 2 related to auto thefts and 4 related to thefts from auto.

Let’s all thank  District 1 PGPD  for investigating these thefts aggressively and catching the perpetrator.

Council Discusses 60K School Grants

Hollywood Elementary School

In the FY2013 adopted budget, the City Council allocated $60,000 in its FY13 adopted budget for educational initiatives and requested that the Education Advisory Committee (EAC) provide recommendations regarding the disbursement.

In last night’s Council worksession, Mayor and Council discussed how to distribute this money among various schools where College Park students attend.

In 2008, the City Council initiated the award of educational grants to public schools that College Park children attend. For FY13, the Council has increased the amount available for educational initiatives from $25,000 to $60,000.

The EAC recommends the following:

  • $30,000 to four schools where 71% of College Park students attend. The schools receiving awards are Hollywood Elementary, Paint Branch Elementary, Greenbelt Middle and Parkdale High School. Each school will receive $7,500 non-competitive grants .
  • EAC also recommends a total of $17,500 towards individual competitive school grants to other schools where at least 14 College Park youth attends. These schools are Cherokee Lane, Berwyn Heights, University Park, Frances Fuchs, Hyattsville Middle, Buck Lodge and High Point High School. In this category, each school will receive up to $2,500.
  • Additionally, EAC’s recommendations include $ 6,600 for Scholarships to UM summer educational camps for elementary, middle and high school College Park students
  • EAC is recommending $ 5,900 for additional educational initiatives that would benefit the public schools and College Park youth.

Council to Discuss Renewing Rent Control Ordinance

House for Rent

At tonight’s work session, the Council will discuss a draft ordinance prepared by the City Attorney to continue the rent stabilization program for an additional five years.

Unless renewed, the program will expire on September 1.

In addition to the extension of time, the new draft ordinance makes a number of changes to the current program based on comments from the Rent Stabilization Board:

  • It updates the Ordinance to require that rental rates that existed before the rent stabilization program began in 2005 may only be applied if the property has been a rental continuously since then, requires registration of the property within 60 days of it becoming a rental,
  • increases the rent cap from 0.6% of the assessed value of a property to 0.8% of the assessed value for single-family dwelling units,
  • makes some minor procedural changes to the procedure for requesting an upward adjustment of the rent cap, and
  • eliminates certain enumerated factors listed in determining whether to allow an upward adjustment of the rent cap, allowing the Rent Stabilization Board to consider any relevant factors..

There will still be a public hearing on the rent stabilization program on a date yet to be determined, and the Council will vote on the ordinance at the official meeting on July 10, 2012.

Sunnyside Skate Park to Open June 12

The Sunnyside Skate Park in north College Park will open on June 12.

There will be a dedication ceremony at 6pm. Officials from Prince George’s Park and Planning, County Council persons and City officials will be there.

Skaters, please bring your skateboard (and please wear helmets) . Non-skaters, please also come and enjoy.

NCP Crime Stats: May 27 – June 2, 2012

[mappress mapid=”70″]
Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
05/27/20121246THEFT FROM AUTO9600 Block MILESTONE WAY
05/29/20121016AUTO, STOLEN9900 Block RHODE ISLAND AVE
05/29/20121816THEFT FROM AUTO5000 Block APACHE ST
05/30/20122042AUTO, STOLEN9500 Block 48TH PL
05/31/20121016THEFT FROM AUTO9600 Block BALTIMORE AVE
06/01/20121002THEFT FROM AUTOFOX ST/48TH AVE

Life-Size Chess Boards to Attract More Customers to Downtown Businesses

Recently, the City has started making use of over-sized sidewalk chess grids with matching chess pieces in downtown College Park. The idea is to attract more customers for the businesses there.

ABC7 has an interesting coverage about this initiative. Also check the Patch story here.

Route 1 Market Study Ranks College Park First for Retail Potential

Mundo Latino Market in North College Park

The Route 1 Retail Market Study has been completed recently and is now available on the City’s economic development website here. The City supported with other neighboring cities.

The study examines the existing and potential future demand for retail development along the Route 1 corridor. The study includes information on the entire corridor, as well as specific analysis regarding College Park which can be found in pages 49 to 56.

Here are the major findings of the study, in relation to College Park.

  • The College Park submarket area ranks at the top of the consolidated Route One corridor for retail potential, not only because of its positive demographic and income characteristics.
  • The location has the widest economic base that is all important to food service, encompassing major employment centers and the immense presence of the University of Maryland.
  • College Park benefits from proximity to the 1-495 Beltway, plus existing and planned metrorail service.
  • A variety of lodging options bear witness to these attributes, though themselves due for some degree of updating.
  • The development traction gained over the last decade, much admittedly in terms of playing catch up with UMD driven demand for student housing, has helped transform the Route
  • One corridor in College Park from a seemingly dormant environment into a leading, self generating focal point for both Prince George’s County and beyond. The retail development challenges going forward now have as much to do with managing the scale and direction of new retail additions in concert with existing retailing strengths as they do with reaching to serve unmet demand.
  • College Park needs to help focus additional retail demand in the established downtown and midtown locations, allowing the highway commercial area of Route One between Route 193 and Cheery Hill Road to infill with less dense retail components that are a part of new development serving other land uses, and continuing to support pockets of more limited neighborhood demand in areas such as Hollywood and M Square.
  • Longer term, the planned opening of multiple metro Purple Line stations will command attention to the fine grained planning for possible new development, including selected components of modest new neighborhood serving retail.

The consultant, Bolan Smart Associates, is expected to present their findings at an upcoming worksession.