City Publishes Draft FY19 Budget

The proposed FY2019 City budget has been posted on City’s website today. Here is the link.

The budget does not propose any hike in our property taxes.

Based on the latest projections, it is anticipated that revenues will exceed expenditures by almost $1.1
million by the end of FY2018. This is primarily a result of conservative budgetary methods and careful
spending. This $1.1 million surplus will increase total fund balance in the General Fund to $11.3 million as of
June 30, 2018.

Please see the breakdowns of sources of revenues and expenditure in this fiscal year. Also, please see the major ongoing and future capital projects.

Do Not Block the Intersection Bill moves to Senate Committee

The “Do Not Block the Intersection bill (HB672) has passed the full Maryland State House.

The bill will now be heard by the Judicial Proceeding Committee next Tuesday, 4/3.

It is not sure if the bill will pass. The bill failed at the Senate Committee last year.

The City Council sent a letter of support to Senate JPR tomorrow. There is no companion Senate bill this year. The JPR will be hearing the same HB672.

Del. Carr, the bill’s advocate, told me that residents can email it to his office by the day before the hearing. He will make the copies and deliver it to the committee. His email is: alfred.carr@house.state.md.us . He also told me that residents can send emails to individual members of the JPR committee. Here are their contacts: http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/05sen/html/com/05judp.html

Security Cameras in College Park: Where Can You Find Them?

To date, the City has installed a total of 54 fixed security cameras, using both City and grant funds. Of the 54 cameras, 20 PTZs ( pan, tilt, and zoom) are installed throughout the neighborhoods of Old Town, Calvert Hills, and Lakeland, and are monitored by UMPD. Additionally, one CCTV and six PTZs have been installed in the neighborhoods of College Park Woods, Hollywood, and Berwyn. The municipal garage infrastructure has the highest quantity of security systems, with 25 CCTVs and two PTZs. North College Park, has only one LPR (license plate reader) and one PTZ.

Budget Town Hall Meeting: April 5, 2018

Council to Select Acela for Code Reporting Issues

At tomorrow’s meeting, the City Council will consider approving a contract with Accela, for CRM and land management software.

The City has been evaluating new software options for reporting and tracking issues and processing permits to greatly enhance ease of use by residents and staff.

Based on staff recommendation, the Council will consider authorizing the City to contract with Accela and zedIT for the new land management and CRM software.

The City has budgeted $55,978 in the FY18 CIP for software related to this project. The City may need to complete a budget adjustment for FY18. The first-year software cost will be approximately $49,000, and the first implementation payment will be about $55,000. The remaining implementation costs will be about $110,000 and will be billed in FY19.

City Considers Relocating Surveillance Camera Equipment from Quality Inn Building

Since the Quality Inn building is scheduled for demolition this summer, the City must relocate its equipment in order to maintain the existing system. Staff have received a proposal from our security camera contractor, Hitachi Vantara, to replace and relocate this equipment and develop a new signal path to the UMPD security operations center (SOC). This proposal is estimated to cost $73,931.83.

In the Old Town, Calvert Hills and Baltimore Avenue there are 20 Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cameras and 7 license plate readers that are monitored by UMPD at an annual cost to the City of approximately $136,000. These specific cameras transmit video data to UMPD through a network of radio signal transmitters and fiber connections which transmit to and relay from equipment mounted on the roof top of the former Quality Inn building at Baltimore Avenue and Calvert Road.

City Receives Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

Congratulations to City’s Department of Finance for winning the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the current budget from Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

In order to qualify for the budget award, the City had to rate highly in several nationally recognized guidelines and criteria. This award was presented to our Finance Director, Gary Fields.

When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual(s) or department designated as being primarily responsible for its having achieved the award.

Brunch with Bunny: Tomorrow, Saturday, March 24

Registration is Now Open for Bike to Work Day!

Get out your bicycles, because on Friday, May 18, the City of College Park invites you to celebrate bicycling as a clean, fun, and healthy way to get to work with Bike to Work Day!

Take a break at the City Hall pit stop on your way to work for food, beverages, fun, and prizes. Register now, it’s free! Be one of the first 20,000 to register region-wide and receive a free T-shirt.

For more information or to register, please visit http://www.biketoworkmetrodc.org/. For the City’s Facebook event page, please click here.

Weather Update: March 21, 2018

The City is still tracking this winter weather that will continue into today and push through tonight. Today’s trash collection is still on schedule.

It has been advised to avoid or even delay travel today, in order to let the plowing teams safely clear/treat your roads. If you must travel, please keep in mind that wet roads can quickly freeze so treat wet surfaces like they are frozen.

Residents should consider taking the following actions:

• Let friends and family know when you are traveling. Tell them your route and expected arrival time. Contact them once you make it to your destination.

• Be cautious shoveling snow or ice to avoid overexertion. Take frequent breaks and keep hydrated.

• Avoid or delay travel during the storm. If you must travel, make sure to have car chargers, kitty litter or sand for traction.

• Never run generators indoors or in closed areas.

• Closely monitor updated weather forecasts and keep electronic communications devices charged.

• Heavy snow and gusty winds can cause power outages. Emergency phone numbers for utility companies can be found here: http://mema.maryland.gov/Pages/PowerOutages.aspx

Council Discusses How to Improve College Park Day

At tonight’s meeting, the City Council will continue discussing how to improve City’s annual showcase event – College Park Day.

During the July 5, 2017 Worksession, the Mayor and Council discussed College Park Day and decided to revisit the discussion after the 2017 event.

CollegePark Day is the City’s showcase event. It began in 2009 to highlight residents, businesses and College Park Day relocated to the College Park Aviation Museum and Airport. The Metro garage and the County-owned parking lot near the Metro have been used for attendee parking. Last year, there were more than 160 exhibitors, including civic associations, government organizations, local schools/PTAs, public safety organizations, UMD groups, community organizations, restaurants, and food/beverage vendors. There are no fees for the exhibitors and vendors to attend or sell. The total expenditures for 2017 were $53,431.38.

Fourteenbusinesses sponsored the event, with sponsorships ranging from $5,000 for the Presenting Sponsor, to in-kind sponsorships. Most sponsorships were in the $500 to $1,000 range, and a total of $19,750 was raised. Many surrounding communities hold similar events, with and without outside sponsorships. The previous contractor will no longer be coordinating the event and the City has begun addressing the vacancy. College Park Day 2018 is set for 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, OCTOBER 6, 2018 at the College Park Aviation Museum. The Council will discuss a few items about the event. (1) What should be the vision for the event? (2)  Who should we target to attend the event? (3) What activities and marketing will best carry out the vision and attract the target audience? (4) Should we reduce the paid benefits for sponsors and the amount of staff time to increase awareness and branding that this is a City event?(5) Should the City provide a shuttle bus for attendees? (6) What should be the policies to prioritize and regulate vendors and exhibitors that attend the event

City Plans to Use Banners to Make College Park More Welcoming to Visitors

At tomorrow’s meeting, the City Council will discuss a plan to decorate City’s main streets in order to make College Park more welcoming to visitors.

The City Council budgeted $11,000 to create and install City banners on light and potentially utility poles in business districts, entrances and City facilities.

These banners would welcome visitors to the City and showcase the City’s many amenities and attractions. Banners may feature Lake Artemesia, the College Park Aviation Museum and Airport, farmers markets, mBike, the JTCC and College Park Tennis Club and much more. (please see some of the concept designs below)

The banners can also shine a light on the City’s history and further illustrate the City’s mark on the region. The banners will aid in the City’s beautification and place-making.

The City has explored where and how the banners should be installed in business districts, shopping areas, City facilities and around City entrances. Please see some potential locations on the map below.

The banners would be installed in phases because of the limitations of current City light poles in our business districts.

Currently, most of the City’s pedestrian light poles are unable to withstand any added weight. In order to install banners in the selected areas, light poles in strategic locations would have to be replaced with those that can hold heavier weight loads. Installation of banners along entrances would be on utility poles and may require permission or an MOU with Pepco.

The Council will discuss the approach and themes of City banners, and  other possible themes or images. The Council may also consider creating a capital improvement program (CIP) fund to replace select pedestrian light poles with those that could hold City banners.

Terps, before you leave for Spring Break, don’t forget to protect your shell (a.k.a residence)

Practical Tips to Prevent Car Break-Ins

There have been several reports of car break-Ins in North College Park. Please follow the following steps to prevent such incidents from happening in future.

Most Theft from Autos usually has one thing in common: there’s something left in the car worth stealing. Most theft from auto is “crimes of opportunity” that could be prevented by taking some preventative steps.

1. Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle: You’d be surprised how often this happens, but individuals leave valuable items in plain sight all the time. If you leave items in your vehicle and they’re visible, the chances your vehicle will get broken into increase greatly.

2. Place items out of sight BEFORE reaching your destination: Someone may be watching when you put your valuables under a seat or in the trunk and the moment you’re gone, a thief could break into your car. So place those items in a safe place before you get to the park, beach, baseball game, etc. Valuable items that thieves target are GPS units, MP3 players, credit cards, money, packages and so forth. If you can’t take the items with you, secure them in a safe place in your vehicle, like a locked glove compartment or your trunk.

3. Avoid leaving packages or shopping bags out in the open: Lock them into your trunk, if you have to leave the vehicle unattended.

4. Lock ALL of your vehicle’s doors: This is true even if you plan on only being gone for “just a second”. Remember, it only takes seconds to steal items from your car. It’s not uncommon, for thieves to walk down a row of parked vehicles, looking for unlocked doors. Also, make sure car windows aren’t left open. If your windshield has some chips or cracks, you may need to get a windshield replacement to make sure your vehicle is safe and secure.

5. Park in busy, well lit areas: Pick a parking spot where there is a lot of activity. Auto thieves prefer breaking into cars in isolated areas. If you have a garage at home, you may want to have the garage door serviced by a garage door repair technician regularly for the security of your car and home.

Speaking of garage doors for additional security for your house especially your tools and cars that are in it, you can check out online sites to avail one as soon as possible, see it here!

6. Don’t leave a trace: Don’t leave any sign that there might be valuables “out of sight” in your vehicle. For example: the suction cup on your dashboard, might tell thieves, that you have a GPS system in your vehicle. Leave nothing in plain view. Very few auto break-ins are “random”. The thieves usually see something out in the open or hints of possible hidden valuables.

7. Alarms or anti-theft devices work: Thieves are usually looking for the “easiest” target. If your car has an alarm, it could act as a deterrent. But don’t make this common mistake: Just because you have an alarm, doesn’t mean thieves won’t break-in, IF you leave valuable items in plain sight.

8. Don’t leave spare keys in your vehicle: An experienced thief knows all the hiding places. Store spare keys elsewhere, possibly your wallet or purse.

9. Always report suspicious activity. Non Emergency (301)352-1200 , Emergency 911.

10. Keep your COPS officer updated on concerns or issues you may have.

North College Park May Get 120-Seat Early Learning Center

Last week, the City Council approved a resolution in support of MD Senate Bill SB0331 for a capital appropriation of $250,000 for the College Park Early Learning Center.

The center will be built and operated by the Children’s Guild, a Maryland nonprofit with 65 years of experience, providing pre-school education for residents of College Park and the surrounding area.

According to Bill’s fact sheet, the learning center will be built in north College Park. The Children’s Guild doing business as College Park Early Learning Academy is negotiating a 15-year lease with the College Park United Methodist Church ( at 9601 Rhode Island Ave.) to occupy 10,000 square feet of an existing facility.

The Church’s leadership is currently assessing if a partnership with the Children’s Guild will be in the best interest of the Church. If the negotiation with the Church succeeds, the Children’s Guild will renovate a part of the Church’s property to provide a high-quality preschool to be run by the Children’s Guild on site.

The City Council discussed the proposed learning center at a worksession and expressed support. Last year, former Council member Nagle and I also met with the team members working on the project.

The College Park Early Learning Center, born out of a collaboration by the City and the University in 2014 to understand better what parents want for their children will be a state-of-the-art, project-based early childhood education center.

The center may potentially provide 120 children aged 3, 4, and 5 with a warm, welcoming place to learn how to make sense of their world. It will create more jobs in College Park. There will be opportunities for the community and university to collaborate with this center to build the community and provide more potential for students as they explore their surroundings.

Average class size is expected to be under 20. Each class will be served by two certified teachers. Students placed from UMD and other community colleges are also expected to join.

The center will be open year-round, 7:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with a 10-month academic year. There will be a summer program.

The tuition for each student will be $1,150/month. The tuition for will be charged $300/week summer program.

The project’s capital cost is expected at $668,000. $250, 000 will come from State’s assistance funds.  The Children Guild is expected to spend the rest ($418,000).

Please note that the project is not a  “done-deal”. There are still some uncertainties about the project happening. That said, we’re committed to helping support the players involved and make this project a reality.