KabirCares.org

Hyattsville Lowers Voting Age to 16. Should College Park Do the Same?

Recently, Hyattsville voted to lower their voting age to 16, in order to “help young people develop habits of civic engagement that can last a lifetime”.

I recently received a request from one of my residents with a request to lower the voting age in College Park as well. Here are his talking points. Please elt em know what you think?

Teenagers are eager to participate in our society.
• 16-year-olds are more embedded in their communities than are most older voters (since teenagers are more likely to still be living in their home town), and when given the chance, they turn out to vote in larger numbers. In Takoma Park’s first election with a voting age of 16, voters younger than 18 enjoyed voter-turnout 4 times the size of voter turnout among those older than 18. (Source: http://www.governing.com/news/headlines/gov-maryland-city-sees-high-turnout-among-teens-after-election-reform.html )

Sixteen-year-olds are intelligent enough to meet America’s standards for voting.
• The 1965 Voting Rights Act replaced literacy tests throughout the United States with a presumption that an adult is sophisticated enough to cast a meaningful vote if he has passed 6th grade. (Source: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2034&context=dlj )
• If an adult who passed 6th grade has enough intelligence to vote, it stands to reason that a 16-year-old who has passed 10th grade does as well.

Contrary to the common fear that teenaged voters will just parrot their parents’ votes, research shows 16-year-old voters think carefully and make independent judgments.
• A recent study by Dr. Jan Eichhorn of 16- and 17-year-old Scottish voters showed that, on the vote to decide independence, only 56% of voters in this age-group voted the same way as their parents. Just like voters of all ages, 16- and 17-year-olds considered the views of their parents, of their friends, and of others they respected, and then reached their own decisions by Election Day. The conclusion of this study: “[Y]oung people are not simply following the views of mum or dad, and … there is no reason to believe that they are unable or unwilling to make up their own minds about which way to vote.” (Source: “Will 16 and 17 Year Olds Make A Difference In The Referendum?” http://www.scotcen.org.uk/media/205540/131129_will-16-and-17-years-olds-make-a-difference.pdf )
• A 2012 study of Austrian voters aged 16 and 17 found that “the quality of these citizens’ choices is similar to that of older voters, so they do cast votes in ways that enable their interests to be represented equally well. These results are encouraging for supporters of a lower voting age.” (Source: “Voting at 16: Turnout and the Quality Of Vote Choice” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261379412000212 )
Young voters take civic responsibilities seriously.
• A study by Rutgers University found that, “Analyses of national survey data demonstrate that by 16 years of age … American adolescents manifest levels of development in each quality of citizenship that are approximately the same as those apparent in young American adults who are allowed to vote. The lack of relevant differences in capacities for citizenship between 16- and 17-year-olds and those legally enfranchised makes current laws arbitrary, denying those younger than age 18 the right to vote.” (Source: “American Sixteen- and Seventeen-Year-Olds Are Ready to Vote” http://ann.sagepub.com/content/633/1/201.abstract )
• In CA, exit polls showed it was voters aged 30-44 who elected movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor. Voters younger than 30 were the age-group most likely to vote instead for qualified, experienced civic leaders. (Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/replacementballotexitpoll.html )

Adults warm quickly to the lower voting age.
• 72% of voters in Takoma Park now support their city’s voting age of 16. (Source: http://www.fairvote.org/research-and-analysis/blog/fairvote-survey-shows-support-for-takoma-park-voting-reforms/ )

City Seeks Community Input on 2015-2020 Strategic Plan

The City of College Park is in the process of preparing a new Strategic Plan which will be used to guide the actions of the City Council over the next five years. 
A Strategic Plan is a road map to help the City Council achieve its stated mission and vision, and serves as a tool for management to better meet the needs of the public.
The Mayor and Council would appreciate your input by completing a brief (5 – 10 minutes), anonymous survey specifically to provide information for the Strategic Plan.  The survey can be accessed at:
 
If you prefer a paper survey, call the City at 240-487-3501 to request a copy, or pick up a survey at:
 
·       City Hall, 4500 Knox Rd., Mon-Fri, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. &  Sat. 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
·       Davis Hall, 9217 51st Ave., Mon-Fri, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
 
After completing the survey, please provide it to City staff at either location.  The survey will be open until January 27.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Bill Gardiner, Assistant City Manager, at bgardiner@collegeparkmd.gov, or at (240) 487-3501.

City Manager Announces Retirement

Joe Nagro

At last night’s Council meeting, our City Manager Joe Nagro announced his retirement after 25 years of service in the City. The City will soon start an executive search to find a new City manager.

Mr.Nagro’s last day in office will be June 30, this year. Here is Joe’s bio on our website:

Mr. Nagro is a long term resident of the City of College Park and has been affiliated with the City in various positions prior to his appointment as City Manager in 2005.  Following several years as an appointed member of the Board of Housing Hygiene, Handicap Advisory Committee, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Election Review, he was elected to 4 terms on City Council starting in 1989.  During his tenure as a councilmember, he served as the Council’s project liaison during the year-long renovation of City Hall.

Mr. Nagro resigned from the City Council when he was competitively selected to be the Deputy Director of Public Works in March 1997.  He served in this capacity until June 2002, when the Council selected him to be Acting City Manager due to the resignation of the former City Manager.  In August 2002, he was promoted to Assistant City Manager for Operations, in 2004 he became Interim City Manager, and in May 2005 he was appointed City Manager after a nationally advertised and competitive selection process.

Prior to his full-time service with the City of College Park, Mr. Nagro co-owned and served as vice president of a successful, private construction-contracting firm.

Mr. Nagro holds a bachelors degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland and earned his license as a Certified Compost Facility Operator during his tenure as Deputy Director of Public Works.

Mr. Nagro and wife Pat have a daughter and 2 grandchildren.

Council Poised to Extend Bond Bill for City Hall Construction

At tonight’s Council meeting, the City Council will vote to extend the bond bill for the City Hall construction by at least one year.

Last week, our staff told us that the City cannot meet the deadline to obligate the $400,000 bond money because the City wanted to explore the possibility of a City Hall project that would incorporate the University’s plans and / or property it would acquire on Baltimore Avenue, close to the current City Hall location.  According to our staff, the University’s acquisition of adjoining Baltimore Avenue frontage changed the possibilities for a new City Hall.

I am a little disappointed and surprised that the Council is asked to support an extension now, whereas, back in late November, a similar request for extension did not receive a favorable response. An extension decision in November would have allowed the City to explore other options for City Hall locations in the City, including the Stone Industrial site, which was favored by many north College Park residents.

Three College Park neighborhood Associations and a number of residents also asked the City Council to delay a Council vote on the new City Hall location in order to explore all possible locations fully. Unfortunately, the pending expiration of the bond bill was one of the reasons why staff recommended to make a decision on the new location sooner than later. Some residents and at least one of my colleague also cited the expiration of the bond bill as the first and foremost reason for his disapproval of the Stone Industrial site.

North College Park Crime Map: January 4 – 11, 2015

[mappress mapid=”206″]

Stolen Vehicle

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/10/15]STLVEH18:3519:465000 Blk KENESAW ST

Assault

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/07/15]Assault02:1603:049300 Blk CHERRY HILL RD

Breaking and Entering Residential

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/07/15]BREAKR13:1814:499100 Blk 51ST PL

Theft

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/11/15]THEFT16:4517:249000 Blk BALTIMORE AVE

Theft from Auto

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/05/15]THEFTA12:4713:19SHOPPERS FOOD – COLLEGE PARK
[1/06/15]THEFTA10:5112:259100 Blk 51ST PL,

Commercial Robbery

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/08/15]ROBT/A21:3701:14DUNKIN DONUTS , Adult Arrest Closed

Help Residents with Snow Shoveling

We have had our first major snow of the season last week. We expect a few more in future.

There are quite a few elderly residents and residents with disabilities who need help in shoveling snow. If you’re interested in helping out, please let me know. I will add you to the list of volunteers. Helping them is quite a rewarding experience.

Here is what volunteers did back in 2010: Thanks to everyone who have been helping out for the past years.  https://www.kabircares.org/need-snow-shoveling-help-let-us-…/

City to Host Public Meeting on Hollywood Commercial District Streetscape Plan

The City will host a public meeting to discuss the Hollywood Commercial District Streetscape Plan and present three conceptual design alternatives in order to garner feedback from the community. The meeting will be held at Davis Hall on Wednesday, January 28th at 7:00pm. Please see below for more details,

An overview of the project, estimated schedule, and public documents are available on the City’s website at www.collegeparkmd.gov/hollywoodstreetscape . Staff anticipates adding the Existing Conditions Report to the website by Monday, which will further explain the goals and challenges of the project.

Please let me know if you have any questions.
Streetscape_Jan15_Flyer

Police Releases Reward Poster in Camden Homicide Case

Our police has recently released a reward poster in the Camden’s homicide case. CamdenReward

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Strategic Plan and FY2016 Budget

NCPCA - Your neighborhood association

NCPCA – Your neighborhood association

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

It’s a New Year and the members think a good time to think about the future. NCPCA’s meeting this month will focus on ideas to enhance how the City and NCPCA can better serve our community.

The City has engaged a consultant to help develop a Five-year Strategic Plan for the City, the members will brainstorm ideas for inclusion. Preparation of the City’s budget for next fiscal year budget has started they will discuss priorities for North College Park.

After the break, members will talk about what NCPCA is doing well and ways we can better serve North College Park residents. The NCPCA look forward to hearing updates from neighborhoods in our area.

As usual, the meeting will start at 7.30pm at Davis Hall. See you all there.

Council Discusses College Park Flag

College Park Flag

College Park Flag

After last year’s Maryland Municipal League summer conference, Councilmember Dennis, who was the City’s flag-bearer, suggested it might be time to get new flags.

At Last night’s Council meeting, the Council discussed purchasing a lighter-weight, nylon version of the existing flag (black and gold logo) however deferred the consideration of a new flag design at a later time.

The history book “The First Twenty-Five Years of the City of College Park, Maryland 1945 – 1970” by Charles R. Davis, Sr. provides the background on how the current flag was first introduced. In October of 1959, It was suggested that it would be appropriate for College Park, home of a great university and of the historic airport, to have not only a City Seal, but a Flag.

In order to stimulate wide interest and participation in the design and selection of a Seal and a Flag, the Mayor and Council decided to put this project on a competitive basis. Entries were judged by a committee of eight selected from prominent, long-time residents. Five entries were received as seal designs. The judges selected the one submitted by Mr. Mel Havenner and recommended it to the Mayor and Council.

The Havenner design was adopted as the official Seal of the City of College Park on April 10, 1962. The Seal is a circle divided into quarters. Each section represents an important aspect of the City of College Park: 1. The chapel represents religion; 2. The books, education 3. The airplane and landing field, this historic airport; and 4. The wheels, industry. The City Flag was designed by a flag manufacturer using the City Seal as the central part of the design. The Yarrow Civic Association was instrumental in obtaining the original City Flag which was presented to the Mayor and Council on October 24, 1964

2014 in Review and What to Expect in 2015

As another year passes and we embark upon a new one, I thought I would drop a note to share some important events in our neighborhood and my activities as your Councilmember that occurred in 2014. I also want to take this opportunity to ask you how I can be of service to you in 2015.

On the Council, I supported the fiscal year 2015 budget that does not ask for an increase in any kind of tax, fees or fines from residents. Instead, we maintained existing services and programs through efficient use of tax dollars and maintained public services programs including contract police and noise enforcement programs. Furthermore, we added more services for our residents: we added $25,000 for an additional crosswalk RRFB signal on Rhode Island Ave. at Hollywood Rd, $80,000 for the new middle and high school (College Park Academy) and $25,000 to run a feasibility study for a north county animal shelter.

The construction work for the Hollywood Gateway Park at the south east corner of Route 1 and Edgewood Rd. is expected to start early this year. We have approved the final design and acquired the necessary funds for the construction.

Late last year, we worked with the owner to demolish the abandoned old property at the northeast corner of Route 1 and Edgewood Rd. The property stood there at the entrance of our neighborhood and became an eyesore for many years. We hope that the new site will help attract a quality development or a business there that will benefit city residents. We will get you all involved in getting feedback once these designs come before us.
Back in June, we approved the first phase of the Duvall Field Concessions Building replacement project. The new building will have multi-stall men’s and women’s restrooms, concession room with covered entry outside, storage room, mechanical room and drinking fountain.

Back in October, we awarded a landscape architect company to make a conceptual design plan for streetscape improvements in the Hollywood Commercial District. These improvements could include street furniture and a pedestrian area, pedestrian lights, better sidewalks and bicycle facilities, and roadside plantings. The project will also evaluate pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular access and use of the Rhode Island service road. We expect to get the initial designs early this year.

We have also worked with a local non-profit organization on some ideas to facelift the Hollywood Commercial District. Accordingly, our planning staff has recently presented some proposals for facade improvements on the commercial buildings throughout Hollywood. We’re now meeting with business owners to discuss how we can make this happen, including possibly using grants and assistance from the City and County.

Back in September, we learned that the sidewalk retrofit program in north College Park (from MD 193 to I-495) will begin this year and it will take about 6 months to complete. This means the sidewalk can potentially be built by the end of 2015. In another good news, the SHA has identified a funding source to build the retaining wall between Erie St. and Fox St. This means that we will have continuous ADA complaint sidewalk on both sides of Route 1 in north College Park.

Last year, we also created an Aging-in-Place task force to explore ways that the City can help senior residents to remain in their own homes in our community as they age. Being a member of this task force, I hope to recognize the needs of our aging population, identify existing City and County resources, and discover gaps between those current resources and the recognized needs.

Just like the past several years, I organized neighborhood cleanups in summer. I also organized a computer class for adult residents. I also helped organize the Good Neighbor Day in north College Park and the very first city-wide winter clothing drive.

I hope to stay engaged in the neighborhood matters this year as I did in the past year. Let’s keep in touch and please let me know if I can be of any help!

North College Park Crime Map, December 28, 2014 – January 4, 2015

[mappress mapid=”205″]Assault

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/03/15]FIGHT20:2020:54IKEA, 10100 Baltimore Avenue

 

Theft

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/03/15]THEFT17:4218:4710200 Blk BALTIMORE AVE

Theft from Auto

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/03/15]THEFTA12:4413:339300 Blk LIMESTONE PL

 

Homicide

Event

Type

From

To

Location

[1/01/15]HOMICIDE02:2020:029600 Blk MILESTONE WAY

 

Council to Discuss Progress Made in City Farmers’ Markets in 2014 Season

The Council will hear presentations on the status of city’s two Farmers Markets for the 2014 market season. City’s Economic Development Coordinator Michael Stiefvater and the Hollywood Farmers Market president Christiane Williams will present the status of the Downtown Farmers Market and the Hollywood Farmers Market respectively.

In the past year, both markets have expanded with vendors adding both quality and variety to the market, as they introduced new products including bread, cheese, jewelry, meat, pickles, tea, vegetarian prepared food etc.

In 2014, the Council decided to change in management of the Downtown Market giving staff the responsibility of coordinating the market (e. g. marketing, vendor selection, special events) and hiring an independent contractor to act as market master onsite each week during the season. This has helped doubling the number of vendors in the downtown market from 8 to 16 in the last year. The Hollywood Farmers Market also had 28 vendors during its peak season.

In this Tuesday’s worksession, the Council will also discuss how to support market master for both markets.  Staff is recommending to maintain the current organizational structure and approving the 2015 option for Ms. Beavers to continue as the onsite market master at the rate of $138.00 per market day and an hourly rate of$23.00 for additional work.

City to Award Additional Grants to 3 More Local Schools

In November 2014, the City Council approved grant awards to six boundary schools whose Education Grant applications had been recommended by the City’s Education Advisory Committee for approval.

An extension for submission was approved for University Park Elementary and Buck Lodge Middle School and Greenbelt Middle was asked to submit additional information. Greenbelt Middle is eligible for a maximum award of $7,500 because of the high numbers of College Park students that attend Greenbelt Middle. University Park Elementary and Buck Lodge Middle are eligible for a maximum award of $2,500.

Education Advisory Committee recommends an award of $7,500 for Greenbelt Middle’s College Awareness Project.  The EAC also recommends University Park Elementary be awarded $2,500 for their Enrichment Clubs/Extended Learning Opportunity program and that Buck Lodge Middle be awarded $2,500 for their Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports program.

The City Council will discuss these recommendations and is expected to approve them next week’s worksession.

Neighborhood Watch to Meet Next Monday

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

Our Neighborhood Watch committee will be hosting a meeting next Monday at 7pm, at Davis Hall. Please see below for details.

The meeting is open to all College Park citizens who have an interests in participating in their neighborhood watch program.

The Neighborhood Watch committee wants to gather for a discussion about unique ‘watch’ responses from different communities within our city and how they might be to City’s advantage to increase participation.

There will be a presentation on the county CERT training program as well. Mr. Morrow will present a brief outline of the program.