1 Killed After Stolen Branchville VFD Ambulance Crashes in Greenbelt

A motorist was killed and two other people were injured when a stolen ambulance crashed in Greenbelt, WJLA reports.

The victim was described as a man about 40 years old. County police spokeswoman Cpl. Nicole Hubbard says the alleged carjacker who also committed aggressive driving was in critical condition. A pregnant woman was also injured.

A TBI or traumatic brain injury after a car accident results from a violent blow or jolt to the head that occurred during the crash. A traumatic brain injury disrupts the normal functioning of a person’s brain, resulting in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and loss of consciousness or amnesia. In case this happens yo to you, consider reading the notes from Tingey Injury Law Firm.

The incident began about 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Two emergency workers saw a vehicle that left the roadway on the Capital Beltway and stopped to assist. Hubbard says the driver of the crashed vehicle stole the ambulance and drove off.

A few minutes later, the stolen crashed, striking as many as 11 other vehicles. The ambulance eventually overturned.

Stolen ambulance at the accident scene (PGFD blog)

The Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad, Inc. in College Park owns the ambulance.

Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady says the ambulance crew members were assaulted but were not seriously injured in the carjacking.

According to the PGFD, Branchville is just one of nine all-volunteer stations out of 45 stations that operate within the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. The ambulance appears to be totaled with replacement costing about $250,000. Branchville owns a second ambulance and has access to a County reserve ambulance if needed.

Council Recognizes Eric Olson for His Service to Community

Eric Olson at College Park City Council

Eric Olson at College Park City Council

At last week’s Council meeting, the City Council offered a proclamation recognizing Eric Olson for his service in at the County and the City.

Mr. Olson is a resident of College Park and served on the City Council from December, 1997 until December, 2006, He also served as Council Member representing District 3 on the Prince George’s County Council from 2006 to 2014. Council Member Olson was Vice-Chair of the Prince George’s County Council for two years and served on the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee and the Transportation, Housing and the Environment Committee.

The proclamation recognized his efforts on many projects that directly benefit the City and its residents, including the Route 1 Ride, funding for Bike Share, pedestrian safety improvements on Route 1 and Paint Branch Parkway, legislation related to smart growth and improved infrastructure for walking and biking, and his work on the Purple Line, US 1 Corridor Sector Plan and College Park-Riverdale Park Transit District Development Plan.

Thank you, Eric. We appreciate your service!

College Park Lions Club Blood Drive

The College Park Lions Club will be running a blood drive on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at the College Park United Methodist Church on Rhode Island Ave from 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm. If you are a donor, or would like to become one, please sign up for an appointment at the website on the flyer below. Here are 56 reasons why you should donate blood:


UMD Announces Campus-wide Hiring Freeze

University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Tough time is ahead for the University Maryland. This week, the University president Dr. Loh has announced a campus wide hiring freeze. The University’s operation is funded by the State of Maryland, which is facing a budget shortfall of $300 million this year. This will grow $650 million next year, and possibly $2 billion in 2020. Please see Dr. Loh’s letter below

December 10, 2014

Dear University of Maryland faculty and staff,

In the months ahead, we will likely face budget challenges.

The State of Maryland anticipates shortfalls in revenue this fiscal year of $300M, projected to grow to $650M next fiscal year.

Therefore, the State has asked all its agencies to “immediately begin to limit all discretionary spending” and cautioned that there will “likely be additional budget reductions during this fiscal year.” The Chancellor has requested all USM institutions to reduce expenditures, consider a hiring freeze, and prepare for more budget reductions.

Our campus has already borne its share of state-mandated “preliminary reductions” last year and this year, and more may follow. I am now informing you of a campus-wide freeze on all hires except for certain categories of personnel (e.g., lecturers, graduate assistants, and those funded by external research grants). Also, rare exceptions will be made to meet critical needs, with the approval of the appropriate vice president. In addition, we are suspending any new, state-funded renovations or major equipment purchases, unless necessary for safety reasons.

We will plan for fiscal challenges and opportunities with broad representation from the campus community. Together, we will chart our University’s future in this “new normal” in public higher education.

To this end, I will soon appoint a task force of faculty, students, staff, and administrators to recommend long-term–not stop-gap–actions for implementation on a rolling basis. The actions will (1) promote innovations and efficiencies to reduce institutional costs, but protect as much as possible our core academic missions; (2) incentivize new and entrepreneurial revenue streams; (3) reform our budgeting to be more strategic and less incremental; and (4) update the campus’ 2008 strategic plan in light of today’s new realities and likely trends through 2020.

The task force will be guided in its work by our University’s overriding goals and values:
– Elevate UMD to a top-10 public university, equal to the best flagships in the nation;
– Expand educational opportunity and upward mobility, regardless of financial need;
– Strengthen our capacity to drive our state’s economic development and quality of life;
– Increase innovation, efficiency, and entrepreneurism in all of our work.

We have a flagship mission of excellence, opportunity, and impact. These are not just promises. They are written in our charter, character, and destiny.  Working together, we will emerge stronger.

As we approach the holiday season, I want to express my thanks to each of you for your service and dedication to the University of Maryland.


Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Hollywood Facade Improvement, Mary Lehman and Holiday Party

NCPCA - It's Your Neighborhood Association

NCPCA – It’s Your Neighborhood Association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and the day of December’s NCPCA meeting.

The meeting will start with a presentation of a potential façade improvement project for the Hollywood Commercial District. The designs for façade improvements will presented by planning staff. Please join the presentation, review the designs and let us know what you think.

County Councilmember Mary Lehman will then discuss accomplishments of her first term and goals for the second four years. There will be time to ask questions and bring up concerns.

Also, this meeting will be the last meeting of the year and thus it’s the time for the annual holiday party. Please bring a dish and socialize with your neighbors.

As usual, the meeting will take place at Davis Hall at 7:30pm. See you all there.

Coat Drive to End in 3 Days

City of College Park’s annual Winter Coat Drive will end this week. We thank you if you already have shared your gift of warmth with the less fortunate ones in the community. If you still did not get a chance to donate, please drop your gently used coats to one of the three city offices. In north College Park, you can drop them at either Davis Hall or at the Youth and Family Services building. You can also drop your coats at this Thursday’s ncpca meeting. Thank you.

A One Warm Coat drop box at the City Hall.

City Eyes to Acquire Property Next to Davis Hall in North College Park

Portion Next to Davis Hall

Portion of the Stone property next to Davis Hall

Last week, I asked the Council to have a followup discussion on acquiring the small grassy area of the Stone Industrial site, next to Davis Hall. This is an idea staff suggested first to us last month.

Staff has prepared an exhibit showing four options for subdividing the vacant property on the south side of the Department of Public Works (please see in the left). The broker has indicated that their main focus is finding one buyer for the entire 17 acre site, however they would welcome an aggressive expression of interest (to buy a apportion of the site), which could be discussed with a buyer interested in the entire property.

The deadline for submitting bids on the property has already passed, and seven investors have submitted bids.  All of these entities are currently bidders, none are entities that would use the property themselves, so none have proposed a specific long-term use of the property.

At this point, the broker is not asking for an offer, but only a letter identifying the plat area and the possible use of the property. The Council will discuss whether to send a letter expressing its interest in acquiring the portion of the site, and may consider sending a letter to the broker.

Council to Discuss a New Animal Shelter in Northern Prince George’s County

A rescued cat at the county animal shelter in Upper Marlboro

A rescued cat at the county animal shelter in Upper Marlboro (Source: The Gazette)

At tomorrow’s worksession, the City Council will discuss a draft feasibility study and proposed scope of services for a North County animal services facility and facility staffing.

Over the past few months, an ad-hoc committee including elected offiCials and staff from the Four Cities, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) , and Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (PGDOE), has met to discuss the potential for a North County animal services facility, and the potential for shared governance and staffing of such a facility.

The City has budgeted up to $25,000 to supplement County funding of such a feasibility study. Other Four Cities partners have committed to smaller, or no, funding: Greenbelt and Berwyn Heights have committed to $5,000 each; New Carrollton has not committed any funding.

Staff has raised a number of questions about the shelter.

First, there has been no Council commitment for future, long term, shared funding of the construction, operation, or staffing of a North County facility. It is recommended that no further funding commitment be made until the feasibility study report and recommendations are available. The study should include a cost benefit analysis of all possible sources and uses of funds, and all options for construction and management of a facility.

Second, A North County facility could alleviate the City’s reliance on Animal Welfare Committee. volunteers to assist our Animal Control Officer with shelter and foster care, and shelter housekeeping when the ACO is not available. Opportunities for AWC and community volunteer activity could still continue at a North County facility. The AWC may need to evaluate their role in City and County sponsored adoption and animal care programs. AWC fund raising for a North County shelter may need to be structured differently than the current City-sponsored program.

Third, A North County facility could replace the current City animal holding facility with a more modern facility which is accessible to the public for ease of adoptions. However, if the feasibility study determines that the most cost effective and beneficial facility would serve all North County municipalities and communities , it probably should be constructed and maintained by County, private grants, and fee based funds, rather than Four Cities funding. Any potential tax differential provided by City funding of a North County facility would be negligible. It is estimated that an average City household would only net an additional $1 .82 per year in tax differential if the County granted a 100% animal management tax differential. City property owners currently receive an 80% tax differential due to the City’s eXisting animal control program. (Estimate based on US Census 2013 data with average single family dwelling valued at $304,000).

Finally, Joint staffing may be potentially problematic. Staffing and governance of a North County facility by a consortium of County and local governments could be challenging. Based on recent ACO data, we would expect to transport approximately 90 animals per year to the new shelter. There would be some amount of efficiency gained in the City Animal Control program by not having to transport certain animals to the Upper Marlboro facility, and not having to maintain a City holding facility. However, the additional time available may be best used by increasing City ACO patrols and community animal care education, rather than assigning staff time to ass’ist at a North County shelter. The City ACO would be expected to continue close coordination with County AMG. And, the County AMG would continue to be the backup when the City ACO is off duty.

The Council will discuss editing the draft feasibility study in order to direct that all potential funding, construction, operations and staffing options be identified and compared for cost effectiveness and maximization of public and animal benefits for the County and municipalities.

City Considers to Hire a Lobbyist to Maryland State Assembly


City plans to spend up to $20K next year to hire a lobbyist

The City Council budgeted $20,000 in FY15 to cover the costs of a professional lobbyist to track legislation and promote the City’s interests before the Maryland General Assembly.

At the November 5th Worksession, Council requested the Assistant City Manager to develop a scope of services and solicit proposals from firms.

Previously, the Assistant City Manager previously had contacted staff from the cities of Bowie, Rockville, and Takoma Park to discuss the legislative services firms that they have used, and the costs and range of services the firms provided.

Based on that information and further discussion with staff, a scope of services was developed and three firms were requested to provide proposals. Joel Rozner of Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, LLC was appreciative of the solicitation, but felt that his current clients would have conflicting interests with the City of College Park. The City received proposals from Michele Douglas, Principal with Public Policy Partners, LLC and Len Lucchi, Principal with O’Mally, Miles, Nylan & Gilmore, P A. A summary of the firms and their proposals are below.

PPP is a full-scale advocacy and government relations firm, offering lobbying, public policy development, grassroots advocacy, business development, and training services. The partners are not attorneys, but have long experience working in state government and/or lobbying for clients. PPP’s clients tend to be non-profits and associations. It proposes to provide approximately 134 hours of service at $150 per hour, for a total cost of$20,000 (mid-December through April 30, 2015). PPP would work with the City to develop a legislative agenda and strategy prior to the start of the session, and during the session it would provide weekly updates on legislation it would track for the City. It would also track pertinent budget items and present a report to Council with the outcomes of bills that were of interest to the City.

O’Mally, Miles, Nylan & Gilmore, P.A. (OMNG) is a full-service law firm with 20 employees who work in litigation, real estate, banking, and government relations. Its client list includes non-profits, associations, and private corporations. It proposes to provide approximately 60 hours of service for a total cost of $20,000 for the period of mid-December through April 30, 2015. OMNG would review legislation, develop City legislative strategies and positions, communicate the City’s positions to officials, facilitate meetings, provide weekly reports, coach staff and Council members prior to testimony, and represent the City’s interests in the state budget.

The lobbyists from PPP and OMNG received positive references. The hourly rate for OMNG is about twice the rate for PPP. However, the actual hours worked for both firms is an estimate, and with legislative services an hourly rate is not necessarily the best metric for value. Staff feel that Len Lucchi’s experience working with the County delegation and the City of Bowie will be of benefit to College Park. Mr. Lucchi will attend a worksession in January to meet with Council and discuss legislative priorities and issues. After the General Assembly concludes the session in April, the City can evaluate the costs and benefits of using a lobbyist and the strengths and weaknesses of the firm that provides services to the City.

Neighborhood Sign on Beltway Overpass – What Do You Think?



Yesterday, a resident asked if anyone has ever thought about painting the neighborhood signs on either side of the 495 underpass similar to Ellicott City?

I think I like the idea. The SHA is currently doing a preliminary design work on a full interchange along I-95/I-495 at the Greenbelt Metro Station. The bridge falls withing the scope of the work. Here is the map showing the limit of the work. They are expected to publish the design some time early next year. At that time they will come back to the community to present it and get more feedback. We should definitely discuss this idea with them at that time.

From the City side, we could also do this. For that, we’ll need to coordinate with the SHA and the County (the Rhode Island is owned by the County). In a few months, we will get the community engaged with the preliminary design ideas.

Let me know what you think.

North College Park crime Map – Nov 28 – Dec 4, 2014

Please see below last week’s crime map and let me know if you have any questions.
[mappress mapid=”201″]Recovered Stolen Vehicle






[11/29/14]FOUND14:1015:359400 Blk BALTIMORE AVE,







[11/30/14]Assault00:1401:02COMFORT INN, 9020 Baltimore A







[12/04/14]SHOPL15:4016:284700 Blk CHERRY HILL RD,

Theft from Auto







[11/29/14]VANDAL10:4511:32MY ORGANIC MARKET,
[12/03/14]THEFTA08:1709:38HOLIDAY INN, 10000 Baltimore A

Breaking and Entering Residence






[12/01/14]BREAK17:4719:199600 Blk MILESTONE WAY
[12/01/14]BREAK20:0321:479600 Blk MILESTONE WAY
[12/01/14]BREAK20:0921:479600 Blk MILESTONE WAY


We Can Do Better: College Park Resident Satisfaction Survey

Thanks everyone who took their time in submitting the 2014 College Park Resident Satisfaction Survey. If you have not submitted yet, please take a few moments to complete it until midnight December 19, 2014. So far Hollywood and Daniels Park are in the second and third places in the list of neighborhoods submitting the survey (please see below). But we can definitely do better.

Here are the survey links: English  and Spanish


Community Foundation Winter Gala 2014

The College Park Community Foundation’s 2014 Winter Gala is less than two weeks away. The CPCF will celebrate its 2014 grantees, and most importantly, it will provide a chance to celebrate a year of amazing growth and community outreach for the College Park Community Foundation!

At the Gala, the CPCF will host a silent auction, featuring fabulous gift certificates and items from area cultural organizations and the best of College Park’s restaurants, retailers, and service providers, as well as some of the talented artists here in College Park! College Park resident and glass artisan Chuck Ireton has donated this beautiful glass plate, designed exclusively for the Winter Gala! Please see below for more details.

Today is Giving Tuesday – A Day to Give Back to Community

Give Back to Community

Give Back to Community

Today is Giving Tuesday! Council member Wojahn and I have compiled this list pf non-profit organizations in the City. Please participate by giving to a local College Park non-profit!

College Park Lions 
College Park Rotary Club:
College Park Animal Welfare Fundraiser :
Attick Towers and Spellman House (Senior Housing) 
College Park Community Foundation 
College Park Meals on Wheels 
College Park Food Bank 
Pregnancy Aid Center 
College Park Community Library 
American Legion Post 217
VFW Phillips-Kleiner Post
College Park Arts Exchange
Lakeland Community Heritage Project
College Park Needle Arts Society
Also, please don’t forget to donate your old winter coats in our winter coat drive! Boxes are now available at Davis Hall, City Hall, and the Youth and Family Services building, until December 14!

Proposed UMD Hotel ‘Too Tall’ Near College Park Airport – Council Says

At last Tuesday’s Council meeting, the City Council discussed again the issues surrounding the height of the proposed $115 million, 276-room UMD Hotel at the corner of Route 1 and Paint Branch Avenue.

The developer of the hotel is seeking a modification to the height limits in this area, which are currently set at 2-6 stories, per Route 1 Sector plan.

[mappress mapid=”200″]

The developer’s architect has now filed information with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for FAA Part 77 review. The filing shows that the hotel is to be 161 feet in height. That height will exceed the Part 77 criteria by 35 feet, a large number close to any airport.

The FAA regulation states that no part of a structure may exceed the Part 77 Horizontal Surface. That surface is defined as being 150 feet above the airport reference point, in this case 198 feet above mean sea level. The sketch below illustrates the issue. The shaded area penetrates the surface.


The Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA) has also strongly asked the city council to make approval of a hotel proposed for construction on land near the city airport conditional on the hotel’s height being reduced by 35 feet to avoid a potential aircraft collision hazard.

The Council members think the proposed hotel is too tall and may pose hazard to the operation of the College Park Airport.

The College Park Airport Authority has also weighed in on the height, recommending that the maximum height of the property be decreased 35 feet to ensure safe access to the airport.

City staff has recommended allowing an increased height above the Sector Plan standards due to the need for increased room space to support the conference center use, but recommends that the applicant obtain a “no hazard” determination from the Federal Aviation Administration and Maryland Aviation Administration.

College Park Airport

AOPA pilots complained at last Tuesday’s Council meeting that small planes have trouble gaining altitude when westerly winds are low. AOPA thinks the proposed hotel “significantly penetrates” FAA obstruction surfaces around the College Park Airport, AOPA wrote in a letter to College Park Mayor Andrew M. Fellows.

The association has asked that the hotel only be approved if the structure is capped at 198 feet above mean sea level—not 233 feet msl as now planned—and that the developer, David Hillman, first obtain a “no hazard/no obstacle” determination from the FAA based on an agency study of whether the proposed structure would be a hazard to aviation under Part 77 regulations.

The Council plans to discuss the issue again at its December 9 meeting.