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Metro’s Commencement Day Closing Causes Concerns in College Park

The WMATA’s College Park station will be closed this weekend for a scheduled maintenance. Unfortunately, this falls on the same weekend, when University of Maryland will be having their annual commencement ceremony. Metro is saying the weekend closing was announced back in February, so there should not be a surprise. On the other hand, Metro should be aware of UMd’s commencement, which draws tens of thousands to College Park. Metro said it will however introduce 15 shuttle buses from the stations to help alleviate the problem. It’s remained to be seen if these additional buses will help or cause more traffic problems on a congested Route 1.

The Council discussed the issue at last Tuesday night’s Council meeting and decided to send a letter to WMATA expressing its own concerns.

College Park City Council Disapproves Cafritz Rezoning

Latest Cafritz site design

College Park City Council last night supported a motion to disapprove the preliminary plan application for rezoning of the Cafritz development. The Council vote went (5-2-1), Council member Catlin and Dennis opposed the motion. I abstained.

A motion by District 3 Council member Stephanie Stullich asked to disapprove the rezoning. Stullich’s motion includes several reasons for disapproval. The developer has not provided critical information in regards to the plan until the last minutes. For the same reason, The Historic Preservation Commission did not go through adequate review. UMd’s letter was also not strong enough to support the plan. Additionally, the financing plan to build the project was not detailed enough.

The Council however asked the planning board to support our planning staff’s recommended conditions, if the plan goes ahead.

Earlier, The University Park Town Council unanimously disapproved the plan last Monday. The Reiverdale Park Town Council, on the other hand voted to support it on a special meeting on Saturday.

The County’s Planning Board will take its position tomorrow on the rezoning application. The board’s staff have already recommended to approve the rezoning application.

NCP Crime Stats: May 6- 12, 2013

[mappress mapid=”115″]
Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
05/08/20132344AUTO, STOLEN5000 Blk PADUCAH RD
05/09/20131639THEFT9300 Blk CHERRY HILL RD
05/11/20131710THEFT10100 Blk BALTIMORE AVE

College Park’s “A Smart Place to Live” Marketing Details

After I wrote about the announcement of College Park’s marketing campaign last week, I was asked if I can get more information on run dates of the advertisements that the City will be doing in the next few weeks and months. Thanks to our economic development coordinator Michael Stiefvater, who came up with this information.

Bike to Work Day, this Friday, May 17

Bike to Work Day has grown into a widespread event with countless bicyclists taking to the streets nationwide in an effort to get commuters to try bicycling to work as a healthy and safe alternative to driving alone. In the Metropolitan Washington region, Bike to Work Day has grown from a small group of a few hundred in 2001 to over 12,000 participants in 2012. This year the annual Bike to Work Day will be held on Friday, May 17th. Rain or shine!

Registration for the metropolitan Washington region’s annual Bike to Work Day 2013 on Friday, May 17 is now open at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org. This year’s Bike to Work Day will be bigger than ever with more than a dozen new pit stops added, for a total of 72 in the region — District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia – offering cyclists refreshments, entertainment and giveaways as part of the celebration. Bike to Work Day, organized by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), prompts thousands of area commuters to bicycle to work to highlight and promote this clean commute option.

“Bike to Work Day is a great way to promote bicycling as an alternative to driving alone to work. Ten percent of BTWD participants reported that they started cycling to work after participating in their first BTWD event,” said Nicholas Ramfos, Director of Commuter Connections. “And it encourages those who already bike, to do it more often. More than 20 percent of BTWD participants say cycling is now a regular part of their commutes.”

Last year there were 12,700 registrants, and coordinators expect registration will again break records as novice and experienced cyclists join together to celebrate bicycling as a fun, healthy and wallet-friendly commute alternative. The first 12,000 registrants will receive free Bike to Work Day t-shirts at the pit stop of their choice and become eligible to win great prizes such as Jamis bicycles. Registration and event details including pit stop locations, sponsor information and how to join a convoy are at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org.

There will be great events with “pit stops” in many places around the D.C. area. There will be one at College Park City Hall. The pit stops have free food, bike repairs, raffles, and other exciting activities.

Hollywood House Goes Solar

Yesterday, I was at a house on 47th Place in Hollywood to watch the  “Flip the Switch” to solar power event. The resident living at the house first heard of the benefit of switching to solar a few months ago at a local Home Depot store and worked with a solar energy provider called “SolarCity”. SolarCity is a very fast growing company in the country and has a busy office in Beltsville. County Council  member Mary Lehman, my Council colleague Patrick Wojahn, County’s DER representative, SolarCity engineers and members of local media were there.  Thanks to a County Council’s initiative, residents can now take advantage of a tax credit program that makes going to solar much more affordable and cost effective.

Pets Need a Home – Angel, Bojangles and Godiva

Angel and Mr. Bojangles

The College Park Animal Welfare Committee has some wonderful cats that are available for adoption. They are shown through our local Petco. These cats have been there too long and REALLY need good homes. Mr. Bojangles and Angel were abandoned in a rental house. They are two of the friendliest, sweetest, most gentle cats.

Angel (on the left in the picture) is the smaller cat, spayed female, about a year old. Mr. Bojangles (on the right) is larger, fluffier, and a neutered male, about 2-3 years old. They have bonded, and we want to adopt them out together. They are fine around dogs and children, and would most likely be very playful.

Also, Marci Booth, a Hollywood resident has a beautiful dog that was found near Route 1. “Godiva” is a Chocolate Lab and Bull (not sure which type) mix that is in need of a home. She has been spayed and has all of her shots. This dog is a real sweetie that has had some training, (walking, sitting and retrieving on command)but now needs a loving home. Godiva gets along with cats and other dogs and seems to like children. Please call Marci at 301-345-6779 or Bill (ACO) at 240-375-3165 if you’re interested.

Godiva has been at the shelter for around a month now and we really need to find her a “forever home”.

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Hollywood Farmers Market, MD Legislative Summary, Parks Master Plan

NCPCA - It's Your Neighborhood Association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and hence the day for the May’s NCPCA meeting.

The meeting will start with a discussion on the new Hollywood Farmers Market that is expected to start from June 1st and run until the end of October. The members of the Hollywood Farmers Market will ,make a presentation on what they have done so far to make the market run.

We will also have discussion on 2013 Maryland Legislative Summary. Senator Jim Rosapepe and and Delegates Barbara Frush, Joseline Pena-Melnyk, and Ben Barnes of Maryland’s 21st Legislative District will provide a summary of recent activity in Annapolis. Please plan to attend, and bring your questions!

Finally there will be a presentation from P.G. County Parks Master Plan. Information will be presented about a possible new gymnasium at Hollywood Elementary School, as well as discussion of other projects in the County. Discussion is also expected regarding new ideas for maintenance and possibly different uses for parts of the Hollywood Neighborhood Park / Birch Field. Interested in a soccer field, or maybe something else? Please bring your ideas!

As always, the meeting will start at 7:30pm, at Davis Hall. See you all there.

College Park Starts Marketing Campaign – A Smart Place to Live

Smarter closer Home

The City has finally started its marketing campaign to attract businesses, families and professional to the City.

After finalizing the logo and tagline, City’s Economic development group spent the past few months working with the consultant, idfive LLC, to design advertisements, brochures, and an online landing page, which serves as an information center for potential residents.

The media push is currently taking place and will run through the end of June, while the City can supplement the campaign in a variety of other ways over time.

In regards to the media portion, the City has put together a portfolio of the ad work for everyone to see. The portfolio shows the ads, their run dates, and the publication they appeared in.

Additionally, an ad appeared on last Tuesday’s edition of the Express, which is distributed at Metro stations and other high density spots around the region (please see below).

College Park Ad on Washington Post Express

NCP Crime Stats: April 29-May 6, 2013

Please see below last week’s crime report. It includes a number of thefts and thefts from vehicles. As weather is warming up, let’s be extra careful about our surroundings. Officer Lobin is looking into the B&E incident on 48th avenue

[mappress mapid=”114″]
Date of
Incident
Time of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
04/29/2013125THEFT FROM AUTO9600 Blk MILESTONE WAY
04/29/20131542THEFT9800 Blk RHODE ISLAND AVE
04/30/20131120B & E, RESIDENTIAL9400 Blk 48TH AVE
05/01/2013747THEFT FROM AUTO5200 Blk PALCO PL
05/01/2013958THEFT FROM AUTO5200 Blk PADUCAH RD
05/01/20131044THEFT FROM AUTO5200 Blk PADUCAH RD
05/01/20131415THEFT FROM AUTO5200 Blk PADUCAH RD
05/02/20131326THEFT4700 Blk INDIAN LN
05/02/20131412THEFT9500 Blk BALTIMORE AVE
05/04/2013914THEFT9700 Blk 48TH PL
05/05/20131122THEFT5000 Blk KENESAW ST
05/06/20131151THEFT5000 Blk KENESAW ST

Council to Discuss Final Gateway Park Design Tomorrow

View from Edgewood Road

Gateway Park - View from Edgewood Road

In tomorrow’s worksession, the City Council will discuss the design elements of the Hollywood Gateway project and will decide if it should give staff go ahead to the final design phase of the project.

The City awarded a contract for landscape architecture and engineering design services to Flora Teeter and Whitney Bailey Cox and Magnani, LLC in the fall of 2012 for an eco-gateway park at the intersection of Route 1 and Edgewood Road. After that, they preparted conceptual design alternatives and a preferred design was selected by the Project Advisory Committee and presented to the North College Park Citizens Association. Flora Teeter/WBCM is seeking comments on the design plan from the City
Council prior to entering into the final design phase of the project.

The project’s site is very small (6,800 square feet) and is impacted by steep slopes, traffic, and noise and water runoff from Route 1. It also lacks a strong connection to the Hollywood neighborhood. Site assets include a high visibility location, access to public transportation and the potential to connect the site to 4ih Place through acquisition of a vacant lot next door (see Attachment 1, Site Context Map and Attachment 2, Site Analysis Diagram). The recommended design concept includes this site and pursues the theme of “Wind and Weather” (see Attachment 3).

In order to explore ideas for incorporating interactive, educational wind and weather features into the park, a brainstorming session was arranged with scientists and the Public Affairs office of the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. Many ideas were discussed including having a weather station, windmill, cloud machine, cisterns to make it rain, cloud identification, weather vane, sundial and art projects involving wind socks, wind chimes and whirligigs. The opportunities are quite promising and could possibly involve ongoing participation from NOAA and an active relationship with the Hollywood Elementary School.

The property owners to the west of the site, Allen Rackers and the State Highway Administration (SHA), have reviewed the design concept and been supportive. It’s the intention of the City to make improvements on their property with their permission. The City will seek funding from SHA for work (sidewalk and landscaping) within their right-of-way. A preliminary conceptual cost estimate has been prepared but this estimate will need to be updated as the design is finalized. There are also opportunities to seek funding from other sources such as the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Anacostia Trails Heritage Authority and National Endowment for the Arts. Program Open Space funding for acquisition of the vacant lot is currently available.

Flora Teeter also came to North College Park Civic Association meeting last month and presented their conceptual plan.

We’re expecting to have another presentation upon completion of the final design plans, specifications, construction cost estimate and maintenance estimate prior to the bidding phase of the project.

Please let me know if you have any comments about the project.

April New Businesses: Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill and Maryland Smokehouse

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill

Two new businesses have moved to College Park, They are the Maryland Smokehouse at 8150 Baltimore Avenue and Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill at 7316 Baltimore Avenue

The Maryland Smokehouse, which recently opened on the ground floor of The Varsity apartment building, offers upscale casual dining that reaches decidedly south to offer delicious Memphis-style barbecue. Menu items include ribs, beef brisket, southern sides, unique cocktails and desserts. All served with warm hospitality in a vibrant, bluesy atmosphere.

Occupying the former Boston Market space in the College Park Shopping Center, Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill offers patrons the opportunity to build their own entrees. Pitas are made from scratch and baked on site throughout the day. Salads and sauces are made from fresh, whole vegetables and prepared each morning.

[mappress mapid=”113″]

Transit Development Plan Seeks Your Feedback

Join your neighbors and the Prince George’s County Planning Department to discuss an update to the 1997 College Park-Riverdale Transit District Development Plan

This covers the area near the College Park-University of Maryland Metro Station.

Learn about the project boundaries and help staff understand what you like about this area, what you would like to change, and your vision for the future of the Metro station.

What: COLLEGE PARK-RIVERDALE PARK TRANSIT DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT PLAN
When: THURSDAY MAY 9, 2013 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Where: College Park City Hall, 4500 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740

Parking is available for a nominal fee at City Hall and the City of College Park Parking Garage, one block south at the intersection of Knox Road and Yale Avenue.

Downtown Farmers Market Grand Opening, This Sunday

Downtown Farmer's Market Banner

While the Downtown College Park Farmers Market has been open for a few weeks this season, they’re ready to showcase the revamped market to the world.

To celebrate, a Grand Opening will take place this coming Sunday, May 5th featuring the following events to make for an entertaining day:

· 11:00 am: Cooking demo with Ferhat Yalcin, owner of College Park’s own Fishnet
· 12:00 pm: Mocktails with Gina Chersevani, owner of Buffalo & Bergen
· 1:00 pm: Nutrition expert Katherine Tallmadge
· All day: Kids’ corner featuring a face painter, balloon animals, and oversized board games

The market will be open during its normal time from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in the City Hall parking lot. Free parking is available throughout Downtown on Sundays, including the parking garage off Knox Road.

Commercial Tenant Improvement Program Now Accepting Applications!

City is offering help to commercial tenants

The City is offering up to $25,000 in grant funds for leasehold improvements of commercial retail spaces for new or expanding businesses.

The reimbursement grant will cover up to 50% of the total improvement costs for qualifying businesses. The program targets locally-owned and independent operators.

The program is intended to fund improvements that are affixed to the property, and therefore will not cover the cost of purchasing or installing non-fixed equipment or inventory.

Generally acceptable improvements include, but are not necessarily limited to, the repairs/replacement/upgrades of Electrical, HVAC/mechanical, Plumbing, Dry wall, Flooring, Lighting, Windows/doors, Interior demolition, Painting, Bar/cash wrap, Green initiatives (low flow toilets, energy efficient lighting, etc.)

Program guidelines and an application are now available.