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Group to Mark National Night Out, 2012

National Night Out 2012

The City-wide observance of National Night Out will be on Tuesday, August 7, at 7:00 pm at the College Park Aviation Museumn, 1986 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, just off of Paint Branch Parkway east of the College Park Metro station.

There will be free refreshments, music, police and emergency vehicle displays, free tours of the College Park Aviation Museum, and a Civil Air Patrol Display!! Plus lots of activities and treats for the kids!!

For more information, contact: Robert Boone, Chair Watch Steering Committee 301-523-4652 or Dino Pignataro, Public Safety Officer, City of College Park 240-487-3570

PSC Asked to Fine Pepco $100M, But Should it?

Waiting for the next storm to hit (Baltimore Sun)

College Park Senator Jim Rosapepe and MonCo Senator Brian Frosh have asked Maryland’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to fine both Pepco and BGE $100M each to fund a “Surge Reserve” of trained workers to end long power failures.

And they have launched a web-based petition where consumers can add their names.

“The results of (the power companies’) failure to face reality and modernize are clear to all Marylanders — food rotting in refrigerators, hourly workers laid off, small businesses closed for days, and hundreds of millions of dollars in goods, services and productivity lost by our constituents,” they wrote.

In 2011, the Maryland legislature required the PSC to set reliability standards and increased the fines the PSC can impose to $25,000 per customer per day.

Senators Rosapepe and Frosh are asking Maryland citizens to sign on to their letter at either of the following website here for PEPCO customers.

The fine may also help compensate thousands of residents who lost money due to damaged food during the storm, however it raises the question of yest another rate hike from Pepco.

If Pepco is really fined such a massive amount of fines, at some point they may come to PSC and tell they cannot afford to provide their infrastructure improvement works, including selective burying of power lines work. One suggestion I have from one of my colleagues on the Council is that setting up an investment fund with the fines is probably the way to go.

Is there any other way to tackle this challenge? Please let me know what you think.

Graffiti on Lackawanna – A New Annoyance?

A new nuisance has struck Lackwanna Street near the Greenbelt Metro station. Graffiti has  popped up several places along the street between Narragansett and Witchita Avenue.

It may not be very first time such a nuisance happened, but I haven’t seen this in the past several years. From what we know, it appears that the graffiti was not painted by organized gang members. Let’s hope that is the case.

That said, if you know or seen any one doing this harm, please let me know. Police can help. Per the City code, it’s illegal to do this. Here is what the code says:

It shall be unlawful for any person to place, in any manner, graffiti, as defined in § 132-2 of Chapter 132, Litter and Graffiti, upon any property, whether real or personal, public or private. [Added 10-28-1997 by Ord. No. 97-O-17]

I’ve asked our Public Works to take care of this. However, if you have seen any such graffiti or stickers in any other part of the district, please let me know.

Family Night, Tomorrow, at Duvall Field

Family night

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the City of College Park are inviting you to a Family Night at the Movies tomorrow,

Saturday, July 14th (tomorrow)
9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Duvall Field
9100 Rhode Island Avenue

Bring your picnic baskets, lawn chairs and blankets

Please contact the Berwyn Height Community Center for additional information 301-345-2808

Group Gets to Work on “One Community, One Vision” Project

One Community, One Vision

A few weeks ago, I took a class with a number of my colleagues on our Council and other council members in a few other cities and municipalities across the country. The class was organized by the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA), that mainly focuses its activities to improve relationship between the University and the long time residents in the city.

College Park, being the home of the University of Maryland, is not quite different from any other university town in the country. It has the same kind of challenges, such as noise, public safety, trash / litters and other code enforcement related issues that other college towns are facing.

At the end of the course, we were divided into groups and were assigned to work on real world project that they want to work on. Our group comprised of council members / officials from the City of College Park, Prince George’s County, the University of Maryland and the Prince George’s Property Owners’ Association (PGPOA). After several days of brainstorming and discussion we cam up a project that we named “One Community, One Vision”.

First, we identified the stakeholders in this project. The list is long:

  • Long term residents
  • Community Associations: Berwyn, North, Wood, Lakeland
  • Businesses
  • Non profits: MNCPPC
  • Associations: PGPOA
  • Local, County and State Government
  • Public/Private Schools
  • Faith Based Organizations
  • Local Community Leaders
  • Faculty/Staff
  • Students on and Off Campus

We also planned to to form small focus groups in order to see input from larger communities from these larger groups.

We also identified programs and Activities to showcase this project. The include

  • College Park Day
  • Good Neighbor Day
  • College Park 101 – A course we proposed new UMd students to take in the Spring Semester. This includes a brief history of College Park, Cultural and Recreational Sites, Services for the community
  • Produce a few multimedia (videos) Here and here are two sample YouTube Videos:

We also planned to produce a brochure / pamphlet for the new students, titled “Practical Guide for Living Away from home”. This will include How to find information:

  • Where to find the services:
  • How to behave and be a member of the community:
  • How to serve on the community

We also planned to have an annual survey among the parents, students, and residents.

The group intends to work on this project in the coming weeks and months. I will let you know as we make progress.

NCPCA Special Meeting Tonight

NCPCA - It's Your Neighborhood Association

The North College Park Citizens Association (NCPCA) does not normally meet during summer recess period. However, they have a new officers’ body with the former Council member John Krouse as the new president. Former president Mark Shroder will serve as the Vice Chair, Larry Bleau as the Secretary and Tanweer Ahmed as treasurer.

The feature of this meeting will be a round table discussion called ‘Visioning the Future of NCPCA’. where they will begin to develop a list of future topics.

NCPCA is also hoping to put together some new committees, and it really want to hear your ideas! If you have any ideas what topics & speakers would you like for the next year? what special events you want to hold, and how do you want to get involved, please come and let them know.

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

Council Votes to Extend Rent Control for 1 Year with no Enforcement

House for Rent

In last night’s Council meeting, the rent Control was extended for 1 year period. The original ordinance had the language to extend rent control for 5 years. an amendment was passed to make that duration from 5 to 1 year with 6-2 votes. Council members Stullich and Afzali voted against the amendment. Council member Catlin opposed the amended motion.

The Council also voted to suspend the enforcement of the rent control ordinance for one year. An amendment requiring the Council to revisit the program before 1 year expiration period failed (2-6).

Because the 1 year extension and 1 year suspension will happen concurrently, there will effectively be no rent control in the next 12 months period starting September 1st, 2012.

In the coming year, the City hope to work with all the stake holders (long time residents, students, the UMd, property owners and the Council) to address the core issue that mainly prompted rent control ordinance 7 years ago – improve the quality of life in the residential neighborhood. We hope to form a working group and come up with a set of best practices and goals to work on. We will keep you posted as progress is made.

Cafritz Plan Passes 7-2

The county council voted 7-2 last night in favor of a rezoning request that would allow for the market to be built as part of a mixed-use development, including town houses, office space and retail, in Riverdale Park. Council member Eric Olson and Mary Lehman opposed the rezoning.

Rent Control Public Hearing

Some 55 residents packed up the Council chamber yesterday to talk about the rent stabilization ordinances at last night’s public hearing. I tried to compile their testimonies here. The Council will vote on the ordinance tonight.

Ms. Lea Callahan. Owns a business for downtown town College Park business. Se often gets disturbed by the noise caused by the students. PGPOA and landlords should be responsible to upkeep the property

Lisa Miller. She understand the basic premise of rent control – improve the quality of life. “There is a game changer, which is the University of Maryland”. She is asking to consider one year extension and one year enforcement. She is hopeful that new cooperation. She hasn’t talked to the PGPOA membership within her organization.

Paul Carlson : He thinks landlords have shown cooperation. There is an opportunity to work together. He is asking for more help One year extension and one year enforcement.

Bryan Mack: He is a landlord. He is pretty much tuned in all the concerns residents have. He suggests consequesnces for the students who make noises. “Build a good relationship . Instead of divide and conquer the landlord community, send an unified message.” – he said.

John Havermale: He thanked the Mayor and Council for the ongoing negotiation. He thinks a working relationship exists between the City and the landlords instead of a fighting one. He is also excited to have the UMd part of this. PGPOA represents 140 members, 350 houses serving 2500 residents.

Tim Miller Rent control is contrary to the free market. It’s comparable to socialism – like the system in a communist country. City’s code enforcement is not effective. rent stabilization is not the way to  address the issue.

James Kane: Thinks there hasn’t been much cooperation between the City and the landlords. He charges the City pulled the plug from the feet of the landlords, when they attempted to work with the City collaboratively. Eliminate antagonism and knit-picking.

Robert Davis: Property values have gone down due to  Council be in the top 3, not even within top 10. He cannot sell house, because the price has gone down. Rent Control is not going to give a better quality of life.

Richard Williamson: He supports the continuation of rent stabilization. We don’t have enough houses to be converted to rental houses. We lose families, every time we convert a property into a rental one.

Read more »

Rent Control: Vote Tomorrow, Public Hearing Tonight

College Park City Hall

After much discussion and debate on the rent control ordinance, the Council will finally take up the subject for a vote at tomorrow’s regular Council meeting.

The Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which caps rents in single-family homes around the City. The Rent Stabilization law was passed in 2005 and extended in 2009 for a number of purposes, including reducing the incentive for landlords to purchase previously owner-occupied homes as investments and turn them into rental properties.

The ordinance was the subject of litigation for a number of years before it was upheld by the Maryland Court of Appeals, and the City only began enforcement of the ordinance last year. There has been a great deal of discussion of the rent stabilization ordinance over the past couple of months, and different groups and individual Councilmembers have been meeting with the Prince George’s Property Owners Association to discuss alternatives to rent stabilization.

The Council will be considering, in addition to a ordinance extending rent stabilization for another five years, a resolution to suspend enforcement of the ordinance for one year. The idea in passing a moratorium on enforcement is that this would give the City, the Property Owners’ Association, and other stakeholders, such as the University, students and residents, the opportunity to discuss some of the proposals that have been brought up and try some of them out over the next year. At the end of the year, if a majority of the Council feels that these have been successful or feels otherwise that rent stabilization should be discontinued, the Council can vote to do so or could vote to extend the moratorium on enforcement.

There will be a PUBLIC HEARING tonight, at 7:00 pm at City Hall to hear public input on two things: 1) the Rent Stabilization Ordinance itself, and 2) the resolution for a year-long moratorium on enforcement. Thanks to those of you who came out to the public forum last week on rent stabilization, it was a good discussion and we appreciate those of you who took the time to come out and discuss the ordinance with us. Please let us know if you have any questions.

OpEd: The Case for a North College Park Farmer’s Market

Kimberly A. Schumann and The Hawker

[Kimberly Schumann lives in Hollywood neighborhood of north College Park and is the editor of the online blogsite The Hawker, where she helps others about the ideas of the crafts and farmer’s market circuit in the MD/DC/VA area. After she came across my last week’s post on farmer’s market in north College Park, she wrote this piece on her blog]

This is Kimberly Schumann of Niagara Rd. My neighbor forwarded me yesterday’s newsletter concerning the addition of a farmer’s market here in North College Park. I used to work the farmer’s/crafts market circuit, and now run The Hawker, a company devoted to helping connect the vendors and customers, and to further the development of such markets. I’ve worked at and have visited, many, many markets in various states. I’d very much like to have involvement in the development of a North College Park Market, and wanted to share my ideas about a market here.

I outlined the pros and cons of the two mentioned locations (MOM/REI vs. Duvall Field). In conclusion, I feel that the MOM/REI location would be a boon for local businesses, be most convenient for the customers and the vendors based on the parking/traffic situation, and that most people have to go to those businesses for their normal shopping routine.

MOM/REI
-7-11 has at ATM machine
-Already good foot traffic, so instant visibility for the market
-Sufficient parking
-Sufficient vendor space
-Roads here, especially with the new stop and walk lights, can better accomodate the increased car traffic
-Can cross sponsor events with the existing businesses
-The tree covered area over by the REI could be really nice for vendors
-There is restroom availability at MOM and REI
-Power and water availability via the state building and the local businesses
-Access to all the local businesses, such as the laundromat, the grocer, beauty parlors, restuarants…
-Nearby playground and basketball courts

Duvall Field
-Poor parking situation for vendors and customers.
-Farmers will have to park on the west side of the field, and therefore have to walk their equipment and goods around the fence, or throw their stuff over the fence. Farmers need to be able to park their truck right next to their stall area.
-It will destroy the grass
-NO ONE will attend if it’s raining due to the mud situation
-Markets will have to be coordinated with leagues concerning games, etc.
-Restroom, and hose water access through the vending building
-Playground

A market here in North College Park would help alleviate the added traffic heading downtown for the markets. I’ve only visited the Downtown markets a small handful of times because traffic down that way is a nightmare, and I haven’t been impressed with the selection of the vendors. Much of it obviously isn’t locally grown. I attend the Greenbelt Farmer’s market (Sunday Morning in Old Greenbelt), and sometimes the Riverdale Park Farmer’s Market (Thursday Afternoons) if I’m in the area. Like you’ve mentioned, for those of us who do not attend the markets at all due to traffic, etc, this would be great. It would also pull customers from Beltsville. There’s the George Washington Carver Market on Wednesdays, but that one basically serves the center’s lunch crowd. They do not get much outside foot traffic.

I love the concept of “resident farmers,” as I know a handful of them who would love to be able to sell their produce, but don’t have easy access to our other local markets.

I mentioned the idea of cross sponsoring events between the businesses. For example:
-MOM and the Market: A cooking/educational series. MOM already performs cooking demonstrations, has tire inflating events, etc.
-Mighty Healthy Pet has adoption events that are restricted in the store. This would allow them to have larger adoption events and provide them with much needed visibility.

Personally, I would like to see crafters and prepared food vendors at the market. This would also be an excellent gateway for special holiday markets (ie. gift centric holidays). There are many local crafters who are trying to break into the market circuit, and it’s very difficult. More markets help support our community and local economy. The Fenton Street Market in Silver Spring is an excellent example of markets directly injecting money into local businesses and providing crafters with a venue to sell their handmade wares. These markets help support people’s livelihood and dreams.

A excerpt from an article about the Fenton Street Market:
Market supporters say it benefits the local economy, drawing about 72,500 people annually and generating $1.9 million in annual revenue for neighboring businesses, according to a study commissioned by the market.

College Park is a growing and thriving community, and the addition of a Farmer’s Market here in North College Park would help both residents, vendors, and local businesses. I’d like to participate in any way that I can.

NCP Crime Stats: June 24 – July 4, 2012

Please see below the crime map for June 24 to July 4. I’ve asked COPS officer to find more information about one robbery and two breaking and entering that happened during this period.

[mappress mapid=”74″]
Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
06/26/2012841AUTO, STOLEN9100 Blk 49TH AVE
06/28/20121019THEFT4700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
06/28/20122007AUTO, STOLEN10100 BLK BALTIMORE AVE
06/30/20121316AUTO, STOLEN10200 BLk BALTIMORE AVE
07/02/2012505AUTO, STOLEN9100 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
07/02/20121709THEFT9100 BLK BALTIMORE AVE
07/02/20121752ROBBERY, OTHER9100 BLK BALTIMORE AVE
07/03/20121847THEFT9800 BLK RHODE ISLAND AVE
07/03/20122336B & E, RESIDENTIAL5000 BLK HURON ST
07/04/20122313B & E, RESIDENTIAL9500 BLK BALTIMORE AVE

PGPD Responds to Police Involved Shooting in College Park

Asst. Chief Kevin Davis of Prince George’s Police spoke at a new conference about Thursday night’s shooting incident. Please watch the conference here. Later yesterday, Prince George’s County Police said the man suspected in Thursday night’s shooting in College Park has been charged with six crimes. Andre McKoy, 21, of the 4700 block of Lakeland Road, was charged with:

  • Attempted second degree murder of a police officer
  • First degree assault
  • Second degree assault
  • Use of a firearm in commission of a felony
  • Malicious destruction of property over $500
  • Theft over $10,000

911 Call Recording of Last Night’s Shooting

Here is the 911 call recording of last night’s shooting incident. The mother of the shooter made the call.

Shooting Near Campus, Suspect in Custory

I received an email from our City manager right after midnight with this message:

“I received a call at midnight from Major Brewer informing me that one of our contract officers was first on the scene and involved in the Lakeland shooting about an hour ago. Officer is has injured hand being treated at hospital. Suspect was shot and is at hospital. I do not know the severity of gunshot wounds to suspect. Will follow up with any additional information as I receive.”

According to WTOP news, the incident happened on the 4700 block of Lakeland Road. Prince George’s County police Tweeted that one suspect was shot and transported to a local hospital but that no one else was involved. The Tweet included a photo showing a police cruiser crashed into a brick barrier near a McDonald’s.However, Twitter was flooded with reports that multiple people were involved and that one man was dead as well as a police vehicle stolen.

Campus police tell WTOP that a suspect is in custody.
More details here on the Washington Post and ABC News