Greenbelt Metro to be Closed for 1 Month: April 14 – May 15

Metro announced yesterday that Greenbelt Metro stations will completely shut down for one full month, as part of Surge #14 of SafeTrack.

The surge will take place in two phases, with College Park and Greenbelt stations being closed during the first phase and Greenbelt station will remain closed during the second phase as well, according to Metro.

Metro is saying free shuttle buses will replace trains for the duration of the surge. Connect to regular Green Line service at Prince George’s Plaza (April 15-29) or College Park (April 30-May 14).

More here on WMATA’s website: https://www.wmata.com/about/news/safetrack-surge-14-plan.cfm

North College Park Crime Map – March 18 – 26, 2017


9100 Blk Rhode Island AveBreaking & Entering
9600 Blk Baltimore AveTheft
10200 Bk Baltimore AveTheft
9000 Baltimore AveTheft from auto
9400 blk Rhode Island AveTheft from auto
9300 Blk Cherry Hill RDTheft
9300 Blk Cherry Hill RDTheft
9300 Blk Cherry Hill RdTheft
9300 Blk Cherry Hill RDTheft from auto

A Split Council Approves UMD’s DayCare At City’s Calvert Rd Site

A split Council voted 4-4 last night supporting UMD’s proposal to operate its daycare center at City’s Old Calvert Rd school site. Mayor broke the tie to support the proposal.

According to the plan, the UMD will lease the site from the City for free for 40 years. The Center will have 120 seats, however will allow only 12 seats to City residents, who are not affiliated with the university. UMD will use the Bright Horizons Childcare provider to run the day care center. The cost per child could be $1200 per month.

The property has been vacant for many years, and many residents in the surrounding Calvert Hill neighborhood support the proposal, hoping that the plan will eliminate an eyesore in the neighborhood.

Many other residents however questioned whether the long term lease would benefit the City and its residents. I too thought we should have looked seriously into other options for the property. Though there have been informal attempts to seek other public use in the past, no formal attempt have been pursued by the Council. Unfortunately, my amendment to seek a RFI (Request For Interest) did not succeed.

Many of the residents in my district also questioned the benefits of the proposal to the residents and the City.

I want to thank and congratulate those who came out last night and supported the plan. Though limited, I hope our residents can benefit from the facility after it is renovated and becomes operational.

Redevelopment Options of the Calvert Road Property

I want to thank everyone for your input about the use of the Calvert Road School property as a potential daycare. The property has been mostly vacant for many years now and the residents want to put the property to a good public use, so the City and the neighborhood can benefit from the site. The City Council will make an important decision about this property at tonight’s Council meeting.

At the last week’s Council worksession, we discussed seeking a potential development partner using the RFI (Request for Interest) option for the redevelopment of the Calvert Road property. Public entities often use the RFI option as a standard way to find potential partners to develop properties for public use. Unfortunately, this is an option we have not pursued to redevelop the Calvert Road property yet.

While we should praise UMD’s effort to be a partner with the current proposal, we should also consider that there could be other proposals that may potentially benefit our residents better at this site. This may only take a few more weeks to get additional partners and thus we should seriously consider giving this option a chance. The time will include 45 days to get initial response and some additional time to review potential proposals (if we get any). As a body, the Council should be able to complete the process fairly quickly. With or without getting additional partners, the Council can still consider the current UMD proposal, in the end.

As public servants, the Mayor and Council should consider the best use for the Calvert Rd property for our residents. With that purpose in mind, I’ll ask the City Council to consider a resolution at tonight’s meeting authorizing staff to issue a RFI ​seeking additional partners to redevelop the Calvert Rd School site.

Shooting Kills One at Camden Apartment

According to WUSA9 news, one man is dead an another is injured after a shooting in College Park yesterday.

The shooting happened at the Camden apartment complex in the 9600 block of Milestone Way, near the IKEA store. Police say one man was pronounced dead at the scene and the other was transported to a local hospital.

Around 4 p.m., a fight was reported between two men. Police say the shooting was a result of the fight. Police also told us that a robbery was involved in this case.

I’ll keep you posted as I hear more.

CPCUP to Tout Progress, Mainly Around Campus

At this Tuesday’s Council meeting, Eric Olson Executive Director, the Executive Director or the College Park City University Partnership (CPCUP) will make their annual presentation highlighting the progress they have made over the past year.

Together with its partners, CPCUP is administering $400,000 in grant funded projects. A couple of their accomplishments include:

  • A grant CPCUP was awarded supported the new façade at the ArtHouse + Milkboy, which is expected to open in Spring 2017.
  • CPCUP’s Homeownership Program for City and University employees continues to stabilize neighborhoods, with 17 families using the program to date.
  • The College Park Safety Ambassador Program, which now has 15 safety ambassadors on staff, is active and on patrol within the community, in the downtown area.
  • Ground was broken for a new College Park Academy in the Research Park in Riverdale Park, just outside of College Park’s boundary

Pepco to Raise Residential Customer’s Bill by $7.37 a Month

Here is press release that Pepco made about their rate increase.

Pepco Focuses on Reliability and Customer Service with Rate Adjustment Request

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (March 24, 2017) Pepco filed a request for a base rate adjustment of $68.6 million, which is about $7.37 per month for the typical residential customer, to help recover the company’s costs in Maryland to improve reliability and overall customer service in the region, such as by opting for solutions like Conversational AI.

In 2016, Pepco invested $138.3 million in distribution infrastructure enhancements such as projects to increase and maintain the reliability of the distribution system and proactive system upgrades and additions in order to meet the needs of the families and businesses we serve. Both as an economic engine and a provider of reliable electric service, the company plays a critical role in the Maryland community.

“Our focus is to provide the best possible value to our customers and to make the region a better place to live and work,” said Pepco Region President Donna Cooper. “We continue to make improvements on behalf of our customers, and continue to see a steady uptick in the reliability of our system and the responsiveness of our customer service teams.”

The request is subject to approval by the Maryland Public Service Commission. If approved, a bill for the typical residential customer using 872 kilowatt hours per month would increase by 5.52 percent.

Pepco customers with questions regarding billing or the base rate adjustment request can contact our Customer Care Center at 202-833-7500. For additional information about energy efficiency and assistance programs, customers can visit the Efficiency Rebates, Incentives and Programs section of our website.

For more information about Pepco, visit www.pepco.com. Follow Pepco on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PepcoConnect and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PepcoConnect. Download the Pepco mobile app at www.pepco.com/mobileapp.

More on Calvert Road School Property

The Council discussed further some of the questions at last night’s City Council meeting. Please see below the responses we got from staff.

Q1. Will there be code inspections done? If so, who will perform them?

By law, if the University leases the building, it would be exempt from County and City inspections and permits because it is a unit of the State. However, as part of the lease agreement, the City can require periodic inspections based on the fact that it owns the property. This is a standard part of any lease. Also, the City will want to review the renovations/construction on the property and so will be part of that process.

Q2. Under what conditions can UMD, Bright Horizons, Faculty and other users file a law suit against the City?

The ability of anyone to file a lawsuit depends on whether they have a cause of action, in other words, a complaint that can be recognized by the courts. With respect to this property and lease, a cause of action would be either in tort or contract. A breach of contract action could be brought by the University if the City did not comply with the terms of the lease. The City could bring the same type of action against the University. The lease will make provision for notice if one party believes that the other party has breached the lease, and will provide an opportunity to cure the breach. Since the City is not providing the daycare, and is not contracting with anyone for this service, it would not be part of a breach of contract suit by clients of Bright Horizons. The other basis for a lawsuit is in tort. This would apply to anyone who is injured due to the negligent or intentional act of the City, its agents, officials or employees. The University, per the lease, would have the responsibility for the renovations and the ongoing maintenance of the property that is under its control. Tort claims based on the negligence, or the intentional act of an employee or agent, are directed to the entity that has control of the property or the person. Since the City would not have control of Bright Horizons, or the University, or the property, it would be unusual for the City to be found liable for any tort damages. The City will be plowing the parking lot and so could be liable for claims related to that, if it is in some way negligent. In this answer we have responded to the question of who can file a lawsuit, which is of course quite different that who can win one. 2 In any event, the City will require in the lease that UMD and Bright Horizons hold it harmless from any lawsuits based on acts or omissions by UMD, Bright Horizons or their agents, employees and invitees and name the City as an additional insured.

Q3. What happens if Bright Horizons pulls out prior to the initial 10 year period?

The University would have the opportunity to replace Bright Horizons with a similar fully occupied daycare facility. The City has the right to review and approve the qualifications of the new company and the proposed program. If not approved, or if the property becomes vacant, this will be a default in the lease, which will end the lease with the space reverting to the City. The University will have the ability to cure this default if it can. The City’s access to using the space would not change unless the City agreed to change the terms of use. If early termination is caused by a determination by the County or a court that there has been a violation of site “public use” requirements, the lease ends and property reverts to City at no cost.

Q4. Why don’t we request that UMD pay for Public Services’ initial move? Otherwise, we could negotiate to stay in the current building until school, City Hall or other space such as Stone Industrial is completed?

The University is providing space for Public Services at no charge for four years. As part of the negotiations, the City has said it will pay for relocation costs. The negotiating team does not believe the University will agree to pay the city’s relocation expenses. The negotiating team believes the tentatively agreed upon terms are the most favorable we are able to negotiate.

Q5. Who will carry the insurance policies on the land, building, and business for the school?

The City insures all of the property that it owns with the Local Government Insurance Trust. In the lease, UMD and Bright Horizons will be required to also insure the property and all operations and name the City as an additional insured. This will also be true for any construction work done on the property.

Q6. Who and when will a request be done as to whether the daycare is considered a public purpose and whether it will be permitted by the county?

The University will be responsible for obtaining the opinion from the County on this issue.

Q7. Why don’t we renovate the building ourself and then rent it to UMD assuming such a move would be permitted by the county?

If the Council wishes to have the building used for the daycare purpose, the long-term lease with the University paying all construction costs is less expensive and less risky for the City. The renovation and expansion of the building will cost more than $4 million. However, if the Council directs staff to pursue an alternative to the current UMD proposal, it will certainly do so.

[The City has not pursued a RFI (Request for Interest) route from potential partners in order to explore potential uses of the property. It may take 2-3 month to get initial response from interested partners

The City does not know how much revenue it may generate from such a partnership]

Hope you’ll find this helpful. Please let me know if you have further questions. Thank you!

Council to Finalize Revised Fence Ordinance Tomorrow

The City Council has been discussing ways to make City’s existing fence ordinance less restrictive, responding to comments it has received from many residents. City’s Advisory Planning Commission (APC) held a Fence Ordinance Listening Session for the general community on December 3, 2015 which resulted in the APC issuing a letter to Mayor and Council with several recommendations for simplifying and streamlining Section 87-23 Fences in Chapter 87 Building Construction of the City Code.

Subsequently, a work session between City Council and APC was held to discuss the recommendations, and APC was advised to work with the City Attorney on appropriate revisions to the Fence Ordinance. This ordinance was last reviewed on October 18, 2016 City Council worksession. Among the recommended changes, only front yard replacement fences must be reconstructed of similar materials. The structural support, such as the vertical posts and horizontal rails must face the interior of the subject lot.

Also, the reasons to approve a variance to build a fence may now include a specific parcel of land having exceptional narrowness, shallowness, or shape or other topographic conditions. APC also recommended that a permit is not required in certain cases, such as decorative rocks and boulders and garden fences with certain conditions. At this meeting, a request was made to include a provision that prevents replacement of front yard fences with chain link. During the work session on February 21, 2017, the issue was raised as to whether the prohibition on front yard fences remains a City priority.

Per the Council request, staff was provided a side-by-side comparison of the County law and the proposed fence ordinance. That comparison is shown below. One of the recommendations is to consider offering financial incentives to discourage the reconstruction or construction of chain link fences.

This is not an Ordinance issue and the APC is still exploring ways in which this might be accomplished. The council will discuss and finalize the proposed changes to ordinance at this week’s worksession. Once finalized, the proposed changes could be introduced at the following Council meeting.


North College Park Crime Map: March 10-18, 2017

9400 Blk Rhode Island AveTheft from auto
9400 Blk 51ST AveTheft from auto
9000 Blk Baltimore AveTheft from auto
9100 Blk 49TH AveStolen Vehicle
9600 Blk 51ST PLTheft from auto.

Community Garden in North College Park Inches Forward

This week, the City Council will discuss a license agreement for a community garden proposed for the Shaban property, located at 9900 Rhode Island Avenue, College Park, at the north west corner of the Rhode Island Avenue and Edgewood Rd. intersection.

Earlier this year, We ran a survey among the residents about the proposed community garden at various locations in north College Park. Among three locations, the location at the 9900 Rhode Island ave was favored by most respondents. You can find more about the garden here on the Diamondback.

The proposed community garden would have some fiscal impact for the installation of the garden, to build the planting beds, buy planting mulch and install the temporary fencing/netting, in the amount of $2,500. There is an attorney fee cost of up to $1,200 to reimburse the owners for legal review of the License Agreement, and an ongoing water/utility fee. These costs are not currently budgeted. There is no cost for the use of the property.

City attorney has developed a liense agreement for review by the owner, who has agreed to the terms. If adopted soon, the Hollywood community garden can be in cultivation this spring. The owner will make a water source available, and the City will pay for the utility bill attributable to usage by the gardeners.

We plan to organize a community project to prepare beds for the garden early next month. I’ll let you know once we have more information.

Greenbelt Station Closure This Weekend

Buses replace trains at Greenbelt Station only | 7:00AM Saturday through Sunday close

On Saturday and Sunday, buses will replace trains between College Park & Greenbelt to allow for rail tie renewal. Greenbelt station will be closed. Free shuttle buses will run between College Park and Greenbelt. Green Line service will operate at regular weekend intervals between College Park and Branch Ave stations.

For more information about additional track work during the weekend, visit wmata.com. SafeTrack Surge #13 will also be in effect – more information can be found at wmata.com/safetrack.

The 2017 City of College Park Community Survey is now Online!

Want to help shape the future of College Park? Have your voice heard by taking the online version of our 2017 Community Survey. This online version will allow residents who didn’t receive the mailed version to provide comment on City services and other City issues and will be tabulated separately from the mailed survey.

The online survey will only be open for two weeks (now until March 31, 2017) and is completely anonymous.

To access the survey in both English and Spanish, please visit: www.bit.ly/collegepark2017.

For questions about the survey, please contact the City’s Communications Coordinator, Ryna Quinones at 240-487-3508 or rquinones@collegeparkmd.gov.

Council Approves Rezoning of Shabaan Property

Last night, the City Council supported a request from the property owner to rezone a portion of the Shaban property at the north west corner of Edgewood Rd and Rhode Island avenue. The property include the dry cleaner and a green space behind it. They are both currently zoned as O-S (Open-Space). The adjacent shopping complex is zoned C-S-C.

Several years ago, the property was rezoned OS- Open Space during the Rte 1 Sector process to promote a public benefit of recreational use (community center) back to CSC- Commercial Shopping Center. Other parcels /businesses in the Hollywood Commercial District are zoned C-S-C.

The property owners submitted two requests, to either rezone their entire property as MUI- mixed use infill or to rezone the portion that is currently zoned OS back to C-S-C.

Council approved the request with the following conditions as part of its support for rezoning Parcel A back to CS:
1) label the gross floor area of existing buildings
2) extend potential building envelope closer to the road to be more consistent with urban design recommendatiosn,
3) eliminate access points currently shown on the CSP, show a landscape buffer on portion of property that abuts single family houses.

Winter Storm: Trash Collection, School Closure, and More

Due to the winter storm, there will be no refuse/recycling collection today, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. today’s collection will be made on Wednesday and Wednesday’s collection on Thursday.

Department of Public Works crews will be busy today clearing the roads to make sure that they are open for travel.

Local schools and the University Of Maryland classes are closed today
Transportation officials in the area are urging people to stay off the roads if they don’t have to go anywhere right away. They’d like people to stay home and not hit the road until at least 10 a.m.

City offices will be maintain their regular hours. Tonight’s City Council meeting is still on schedule.

For federal employees, the Office of Personnel Management, which determines if federal agencies will close, announced a three-hour delay Tuesday with an option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.