Details Emerge on FBI Development at Greenbelt Metro

Garth Beall, the attorney for the proposed FBI development at the Greenbelt Metro came to four cities’ meeting last night and presented his concept plan to Council members of four neighboring cities – College Park, Greenbelt, New Carrollton and Berwyn Heights.

Mr. Beall came to the College Park City Council a few months back when he announced the initial plan but at that time no conceptual plan was in presented. The plan that he presented was the most detail we’ve seen.

Here is a brief summary of the plan.

  • Any buildings that are more than 12 stories, although he wasn’t willing to agree to a provision in the Sector Plan limiting them to 20 buildings, because he said the GSA might have different requirements.
  • The Greenbelt Station Parkway in their plan doesn’t follow the Western alignment but also doesn’t really follow the Eastern alignment – more of a “central” alignment, in that there would be an initial group of mixed-use (retail and office with residential) between the Metro and the Parkway, and the FBI would be on the other side of the Parkway.
  • The Beltway interchange alignment would follow the SHA-preferred alignment. The mixed-use buildings would be 4-8 stories and would be 250 feet from the tracks.

I’ve asked to send an electronic version of the plan. Once I have it, I will share that with you. The plan is in very early stage, so things might change in the next few weeks. The GSA is looking for a submission by early March.

Update: Mr. Beall has shared the initial plan with our Council however he has asked not to disseminate it publicly since it is a fairly early version of the conceptual plan. He is expected to be present at this month’s North College Park Civic Association meeting on February 14 and talk more about the plan.

Residents and Students Share Concerns, Hope on City’s Rental Properties

Quality of Life Public Forum, January 29, 2013

An estimated 100 residents, students and landlords gathered last night at the City Council chamber to talk about College Park’s rental properties and their impacts on the quality of life.

The meeting was organized by City’s “neighborhood stabilization work group”, a group that was formed by the City Council after it decided to put rent stabilization on hold for a year and try out other ways to address rental property related issues that the residents are experiencing.  The group consists of city’s major stakeholders, such as residents, students and landlords.

Most of last night’s speakers include city’s long time residents and students, however a few landlords also spoke at the event.

Here are my notes that I gathered from nearly 3 hour long testimonies.

  • Problems include: public urination, car breaking / vandalism, mirrors ripped off the car, car window was smashed, stuff stolen from porch
  • lack of communication between students and residents (more events like College Park clean up day and Farmer’s market are needed)
  • Code enforcement is needed for all college park properties, not only rentals. North College Park does not really have
  • Student parties are different than the parties that long time residents have
  • Noise due to dogs in the night – cannot sleep.
  • More recycling containers needed on Route 1.
  • Many municipal and County laws related to code violations are not enforced adequately
  • 10-15% of rental houses are problematic, not all. It’s the minority
  • Landlords should be made to pay the fines that the students are asked to pay when they violate code on rental properties.
  • Bring back parties to fraternities. Closing parties at the fraternity houses have brought parties to residential areas.
  • Students parties on Route 1 are too dangerous. Business cannot be opened later than 11pm.
  • Code enforcement should be enforced vigorously
  • Trash and noise – Students need to be more respectful
  • Vandalism , Enforcement of under age drinking, and code enforcement
  • More interaction between residents and students. Exchange emails and numbers. They are all neighbors.
  • To make College Park more inviting, we need to address quality of life issues.
  • Lowering decibel level to have a stronger noise enforcement. Other college towns have stricter decibel level.
  • Resident knew that there will be problems before moving to College Park
  • Community’s outlook to students is not very positive
  • Mazza grand mart student suffer from noisy heating system installed just outside of her room.
  • Pepco does not replace street lights, making streets very dangerous in the night.
  • We do not need to stop parties , but enforce the rules that govern these parties
  • Support extending University’s Student Code of Conduct to the residential areas
  • Students deserve the respect from the community
  • Have a student panel among students
  • Have students parties, so that police can focus on their work
  • Stronger enforcement of fines
  • late hour drinking and parties.
  • Got answering machines response when called 911 after violent crime
  • Students are also victim of crime in College Park
  • More mixed rental Co-Op housing where residents and students can live in the same property
  • More positive contacts need to be made with students causing problems
  • Landlords should pay for the code enforcement
  • Need more community engagements
  • Replace noise fine reduction by community engagement hours
  • The ratio of owner occupied to rental houses has gone down from 70% to 20%
  • Fornication in both back and the front yard
  • Make the University of Maryland responsible for all student related issues. The City and the residents cannot do this alone.
  • Rental houses have become party houses
  • Contract police officers should be allowed to take noise reading
  • Students don’t have affordable houses. They are forced to live in the residential neighborhoods to get low rents.
  • City Council should be given more authorities in enforcing noise and code enforcement
  • UMD and County police must work collaboratively towards the quality of life issues
  • Need to have a mix use of rental and owner occupied properties
  • Need to have a stronger police force, such a s College Park’s own police force.
  • Use nuisceance abatement law to curb violations by non-complaint landlord

Public Forum Tonight: Rental Related Quality of Life

The City of College Park Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Workgroup will host a public forum tonight, regarding rental housing and the challenges that our community faces regarding rental properties in our community.

When: 7:00 P.M.

Members of the greater College Park community are invited to come and testify regarding the challenges of living among rental properties, the need to maintain owner-occupied housing, and the need for our community to provide a diverse range of housing opportunities for students, faculty and staff of the University of Maryland and other employees in and residents of College Park.

Individuals who are unable to attend the public forum may still provide input on these issues. E-mails may be sent to: qualityoflife@collegeparkmd.gov, or letters mailed to “Quality of Life, 4500 Knox Road, College Park, Maryland, 20740, Attn: City Clerk.” The record will remain open until February 5, 2013.

For additional information or questions, please contact the City Clerk, Janeen Miller, at jsmiller@collegeparkmd.gov or 240-487-3501.

Three Arrested in Armed Robberies

The Prince George’s County Police Department arrested three suspects in connection with an armed robbery in College Park.

Yesterday, around 3:00 am, police officers responded to the 7400 block of Baltimore Avenue for an armed robbery in progress. Once on scene, police officers saw three suspects attempting to run away. Police officers caught all three and arrested them.

The preliminary investigation reveals the three suspects had approached the victim, hitting him with metal knuckles. The suspects then searched the victim’s pockets and stole a cell phone and wallet. The victim did suffer injuries to his face and head, and was treated on scene. The victim is a student at the University of Maryland.

Police officers arrested 17 year-old Samuel Israel Chicas and 15 year-old Benjamin Chicas. Both are from the 5000 block of Oglethorpe Street in Riverdale. The third suspect is 20 year-old Edgar Umberto Hernandez of the 5900 block of Nicholson Street in Riverdale. Both juveniles are charged as adults, and all three are charged with armed robbery, first degree assault and related charges. They are currently being held at the Department of Corrections on various bond amounts.

FY 2014 Budget Schedule

The City is gearing up its work on the 2014 fiscal year budget. It has already started with giving out budget worksheets to individual departments last week. Our budget worksessions will be on April 13 and 20 (if needed) with the budget ordinance introduced on April 23. The FY 2014 budget will be adopted on July 1st. Please see below the complete schedule.

  • Operating budget worksheets distributed to departments Thursday, January 24
  • Mayor & Council wish lists due back to Finance Friday, February 15
  • Pricing of Mayor & Council wish list items by departments February 11 – 28
  • Operating budget worksheets due back to Finance Thursday, February 21
  • Capital project pages to be updated January 28 – February 15
  • Review of department operating budget submittals by City Manager and Finance Director March 4 – 8
  • City Manager’s Requested Budget distributed to M&C Friday, March 29
  • Budget worksessions Saturday, April 13 @ 7:30 am
  • Saturday, April 20 @ 7:30 am
  • (if needed)
  • Additional worksessions if needed
  • Budget ordinance introduced Tuesday, April 23
  • Budget public hearing
  • Constant yield tax rate public hearing (if needed) Tuesday, May 14
  • Worksession discussion of possible budget changes after public hearing (if needed) Tuesday, May 21
  • Adopt budget ordinance Tuesday, May 28
  • Effective date of FY2014 adopted budget July 1

Discount Cards Now Available for College Park’s Businesses

Fishnet is one of several College Park businesses that are giving away discount cards

As part of their mission to promote the City’s locally-owned and independent businesses, the College Park Neighborhood Business Alliance recently printed discount cards to use at participating merchants. The goal is to raise awareness for these businesses and reward customers for choosing to shop locally.

Over the past month the City has been working to add businesses to the card and at this point we have 10 participating businesses around the City:

  • Banana’s Hair Design
  • Big Planet Comics
  • Fishnet
  • The Frame Mender
  • Hanami Japanese Restaurant
  • Krazi Kebob, Ledo Restaurant
  • New York Deli
  • Ovo Vegetarian Restaurant, and
  • Stripe 3 .

The specific discounts are available at www.cpnba.org/card (which is printed on the back of each card along with a QR code for easy access). The list should continue to grow over the next few weeks, so check back often for the latest discounts.

If you’d like a card please stop by City’s Economic Development office to pick one up. There’s plenty to go around so feel free to take a few extra for your friends and family. You can also contact Economic Development Coordinator Michael Stiefvater (phone: 240-487-3543 , email: mstiefvater@collegeparkmd.gov) for more information.

Preschool Education Fair, Tomorrow

Preschool education fair, Jan 26, 2013

The City of College Park Education Advisory Committee will be hosting a preschool education fair tomorrow from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

Network with Teachers and Parents from local Pre-School / Nursery Programs. This is an easy way to learn about different programs in the area.

Colege Park Community Center is locatted at 5051 Pierce Avenue. From Beltway go south on Rt. 1. Turn left at light on Lakeland Rd. (firehouse). Turn right on Rhode Island Ave. (second stop sign). Road curves to left and becomes Pierce Ave. Lots of parking at Paint Branch Elementary School.

Snow Update: School Opening, Trash Collection

Snow on 53rd Avenue - January 23, 2013

We had a good amount of snow overnight. I checked with the Public Works this morning. The trucks are out there in the neighborhood. They will clear the main roads first and then inner streets. Please drive carefully when you go out.

Trash will be collected as scheduled today, however trucks will come a little late in the day.

City and the federal government offices are open. But If you’re a federal employee, you have an option for scheduled leave or unscheduled telework. More here: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/current-status/

Prince George’s schools and offices are operating under a two-hour delay. More on the school status here: http://www1.pgcps.org/

Please let me know if you have any questions.

The All New ShopCollegePark.org

The all new "ShopCollegePark.org"

The City has recently announced the completion of the new and improved Shop College Park website.

After launching in July 2008, the Shop College Park website quickly became known as the place to find useful business information and the latest events around town. After nearly 5 years in operation and with over 10,000 visits per month, the City decided it was time to make major changes and provide a more user-friendly experience.

The changes include a fresh look, a mobile site (coming very soon), integrated social media, improved maps, and the ability to filter shops by cuisine, district, happy hour, locally-owned & independent, and other options.

Take a look at the new site and let us know what you think of the redesign by taking our survey. For reference, the old site is still available for a limited time.

Also, the City has created a photo contest for people to enter shots of their favorite businesses or attractions around the city and to provide us with a reason why they love College Park. The top entries will be featured in the rotating slideshow on the front page of the new website.

The deadline for entries and voting is February 22nd. To enter the contest or vote on entries, participants must “Like” Shop College Park on Facebook. If someone does not have a Facebook account, they can also email me and I’ll add the entry for them.

Council to Renew City’s Security Camera Contract

University of Maryland Police checks camera feeds from ampus and old town College Park

In tonight’s meeting, the Council will consider granting a contract to Avrio RMS Group, which provided the CCTV and LPR cameras existing in Old Town, to continue maintaining and providing support for the camera system, at a cost of $182,784 over five years.

The City Council voted 6-2 Feb. 23, 2010 to approve a 19-camera security system in the city’s Old Town neighborhood, near downtown College Park

Installation of the system was funded through a grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP). The network of 15 pan/tilt/zoom closed-circuit TV (CCTV) and 2 license plate reader (LPR) cameras in the Old Town section of the City connects to the existing on-campus camera system, and the cameras feed real-time data and video to the University of Maryland system for monitoring.

Six people constantly monitor 350 cameras on the UMd campus and surrounding areas from inside the security operations center, residing in the $12 million, 300,000 square foot building which was once The Washington Post’s production plant.

The warranty for maintenance of the system expires soon, and Avrio has proposed a five-year contract at a 6% discount from the normal annual cost. The source of funds would be the CCTV Capital Project.

Safety Ambassador Program May Deter Crime in College Park

Safety Ambassadors paroling streets to deter crime in Pennsylvania

Like other college towns, such as Pennsylvania, safety ambassadors may provide a cost effective way to deter crime in College Park.

Prospect of having safety ambassadors in College Park is one of a few ways to improve the public safety for our residents. Other options under considerations include extending concurrent jurisdiction area of the University of Maryland Police and extending student code of conducts for UMD students living in College Park’s residential neighborhoods.

Safety ambassadors are not sworn-in officers and they do not carry guns and also cannot arrest criminals. However their presence in our residential neighborhood will greatly act as a deterrent to criminals, experts think.

Such seems to be the case in University of Pennsylvania and its surrounding neighborhoods, where the program first started back in 1996. The safety ambassadors can provide escort service to residents in need. Once a call is made, the caller needs only give his or her first name, current location and final destination and a UCD security ambassador will meet them to escort them to their destination within five or ten minutes.

Another way someone in the University City area can receive an escort is to stop any member of the UCD security team and ask to be escorted. They escort some 500 people a month now, up from 350 when he first started a year ago.

The ambassador program can be very inexpensive, as the hourly compensation for these ambassadors is fairly small. The relatively low cost and their higher viability in our neighborhoods will make the ambassador program a good candidate in improving public safety in College Park.

NCP Crime Stats: Jan 13 – 19, 2013

[mappress mapid=”99″]
Date of
Time of

01/14/20131635THEFT5200 Blk LACKAWANNA ST
01/14/20131849THEFT Adult Arrest4700 Blk  CHERRY HILL RD
01/14/20132153AUTO, STOLEN5000 Blk APACHE ST
01/15/2013813THEFT FROM AUTO5200 Blk PALCO PL
01/17/20131738THEFT Adult Arrest4700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
01/18/20131446AUTO, STOLEN9300 Blk CHERRY HILL RD

City to Award Community Services Grants

Every year, the City gives out grants to non-profit organizations and schools that serve City residents.

The City has $20,000 budgeted in FY 2013 to allocate among the applicants, and may give a maximum of $2,500 to each organization. Grant applications were e-mailed to previous recipient organizations on November 16 and were advertised on the City’s website (with links to the application form and criteria), character generator and in the “Municipal Scene”.

This year, the City received applications from 11 organizations requesting a total of $22,500. Applications were rated based on the grant criteria. A subcommittee including myself, Council members Dennis, Day and Mitchell has submitted a recommendation to the Council to allocate the funds as follows. All grant recipients would receive more than they received in FY12.

The National Museum of Language, Inc. Part-time paid staff member – 2,425 (of requested 2,500)
Lakeland Community Heritage Project Lakeland Heritage events – 2,425 (of requested 2,500)
American Legion Auxiliary, College Scholarships – 2,425 (of requested 2,500)
Park Unit 217 pageant participants – 2,425 (of requested 2,500)
Pregnancy Aid Centers, Inc. Food pantry program – 2,425 (of requested 2,500)
Boy Scout Troop 298 Leadership education for young men 1,500 (of requested 2,500)
Cub Scout Pack 298 Subsidize cub scout program 2,425 (of requested 2,500)
College Park Woods Swim Club Senior summer day camp – 2,425 (of requested 2,500)
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church Safe Haven program 500 (of requested 500)
College Park Church of the Nazarene College Park community library – 1,950 (of requested 2,000)
Embry Center for Family Life Lakeland All-Stars basketball – 2,425 (of requested 2,500)

Greenbelt Plan Moves for County Council

Greenbelt north and south core development areas

The ongoing Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment has been “formally” sent to Prince George’s County District Council. M-NCPPC Chief Planner Chad Wiliams emailed us with this information.

On December 13, 2012, the Planning Board voted 5-0 to adopt the sector plan and endorse the sectional (zoning) map amendment with some changes that rose from comments received during and following the Joint Public Hearing. You can view the resolution of adoption on our project website: www.pgplanning.org/Greenbelt.htm.

The next step is a staff worksession with the County Council sitting as the District Council. This worksession is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5, 2013. The worksession is open to the public and will be broadcast live online, but usually the public does not have an opportunity to comment during the worksession.

College Park City Council will adopt a letter to the District Council with its comments in next Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Road Bridge Issue Adds Uncertainty to Cafritz Development

Cafritz project attorney Chip Reed came to last Tuesday night’s Council meeting to announce that they failed to receive support from the American Center for Physics on a proposed overpass before today’s County Planning Board meeting. The development of the bridge is crucial for the approval of the Cafritz project.

The proposed bridge was to be built on a location that is owned by American Center of Physics. ACP sent a letter to the mayors of College Park, University Park and Riverdale Park stating that it needs more time to study the feasibility of the proposed bridge on its property. Please see a copy of that letter below. See more about the news here on the Washington Post and on the Patch.

American Center for Physics Letter