Severe Weather, Tornado Watch – Please Take Cautions

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch this afternoon.

Earlier they forecasted scattered severe thunderstorms, with storms expected to hit our County later this afternoon and this evening. Damaging wing gusts, up to 40 mph, are expected to accompany these storms.

Expect heavy rain, about 1-2 inches across the I-95 corridor. Heavy rain may lead to scattered instances of minor flooding this evening. Moderate tidal flooding will be possible during tonight’s tide cycle along the Anne Arundel and Baltimore County coastline. A coastal flood watch is in effect.

Please note that this storm may affect the trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood. Please take caution.


Public Works Closed Today Due to Snow Training

Today is the Department of Public Work’s In-Service Snow Training Day!

Because of the training, Department of Public Works is closed to the public today (no bulk collections, deliveries, or loading of compost/wood mulch will occur). We apologize for any inconvenience.

The purpose of this training is to prepare crews for snow clearing duties which include proper handling of materials, and proper maintenance and operation of equipment. Knowing the route is also essential. The In-Service Snow Training is a classroom session of training and a “Dry Run” of the routes which is a valuable safety practice. Dry run means driving the entire Heavy & Light Plow routes assigned to each driver in non-snow and ice conditions to help awareness of features that may impact snow plowing and spreading materials.

This pre-storm run is for drivers to inspect and observe landmarks and the locations of possible hazards (school locations, guardrails, curbs, tight streets, etc.) which may cause difficulty or be hidden by falling or plowed snow.

[City of College Park]

Weekly Events at Proteus Bicycles

The Proteus Bicycles offer a number of weekly events at their store in north College Park (9827 Rhode Island Ave, College Park, MD 20740). They include commuter ride, pot luck dinner, morning coffee club, Velo Club meeting. Additionally, they will be having a winter riding clinic this Friday. This is a great way to connect with other neighbors and have some good exercise and fun! Please see below this week’s schedule.

Tuesday, October 29, 6:10-9 am – Proteus Bicycles Commuter Ride
Meet at intersection of Paint Branch Trail and the Trolley Trail just south of Lakeland Rd. Get an early start to your morning by joining this morning ride down the Anacostia River Trail (ART) and back to College Park, escorting the DC commuters riding to work. All are welcome! If you already commute into DC by bike, join us! Helmets are mandatory.

Thursday, October 31, 7-9 pm – Proteus Bicycles Pot Luck Dinner, 9826 Rhode Island Ave.
The shop stays open late for a weekly social gathering of bike-minded people. Meet new cycling friends as well as the Proteus staff, maybe even watch a bicycle competition currently airing. Bring a savory dish or dessert to share and your favorite beverage (some beverages are provided).

Friday, November 1, 7:45-9:15 am – Proteus Bicycles Friday Morning Coffee Club
Meet at the Board and Brew, 8150 Baltimore Avenue in the Varsity. Join us every Friday Morning for breakfast/coffee meet up with bike-minded folks at The Board and Brew where they serve up delicious food and coffee. There’s plenty of bike (and car) parking in the Varsity building. Time/weather permitting we may take a ride (helmets are mandatory) after breakfast.

Friday, November 1, 6:30-8 pm – Proteus Velo Club Meeting, Proteus Bicycles, 9826 Rhode Island Ave.
We’re starting a club team! Please join us for our monthly meeting as we form our club and start putting together some events. We start with a pot luck at 6pm (bring a dish to share) and the business meeting starts at 6:30. If you’ve attended past meetings, please make time to come or let John know you can’t make it (jbelltower@yahoo.comjbelltower@yahoo.com). Want to come to the meeting and learn more? email John or just show up!

Sunday, November 3, 6-8 pm – Winter Riding Clinic and Pot Luck, Proteus Bicycles, 9826 Rhode Island Ave.
Everyone is welcome to this Pot Luck supper and discussion about how to keep riding as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. We’ll discuss bike gear, clothing, and other tips for extending your riding to year round. Bring a dish to share, a guest, a story, and your curiosity!
[Media: Proteus Bicycle]

Help Shape College Park by Filling Out Community Survey!

Don’t forget – we need your responses College Park!

Did you recently receive a survey from the City in the mail? If so, please fill it out and mail it back as soon as you can (a return envelope with postage is included)!

Your feedback is important – help shape College Park!
In case you haven’t received one, don’t worry, you’ll get an opportunity to submit one later online. City will announce when the online survey will be available.

[City of College Park]

Let’s Keep College Park’s Council Term to 2 Years

When you’ll be voting at next week’s City elections, you’ll be asked a referendum ballot question: Do you want to extend the term of your future elected representatives from the current two years to four years?

Early this year, the City established a Charter Review Commission (CRC) to hear from our residents on the benefits and concerns associated with changing the length of the term for elected officials from two to four years, and on the benefits and concerns related to staggering those 4-year terms or having them run concurrently.

The CRC did an incredible job of researching the topic and taking public input, which they put in a report. Please see the report here on the City’s website. While examples can be found across the country with municipalities using both 2- and 4-year terms, I personally believe that keeping the Council term at 2 years is best for our College Park residents. Below, I’ve explained my positions and also tried to address some arguments presented in support of 4-year terms.

Accountability: A 4-year term will make an elected representative less accountable:
A longer Council term means residents getting less opportunity to make their Council representatives accountable for the decisions they make at the Council. It’s not rare to find examples of elected representative(s) failing to deliver, making very wrong decisions, or even not responding to constituents’ concerns, thus making the constituents frustrated and helpless. If someone gets elected for four years at an election and does a terrible job in the first year of the term, the constituents will have no option to remove that representative from the office because the College Park’s Charter does not have a recall provision. The constituents will have to live with that representative for the next 3 years of the term.

Engagement: With a 4-year term, both residents and elected representatives will engage less:
Election time is probably the only time when the incumbent candidates get heavily involved with the residents. Only a few residents call or write to their elected representatives. Not many attend community meetings. If the Council term is extended to four years, a vast majority of our residents will lose the opportunity to get the incumbent candidates engaged. Candidates will also lose the opportunity to get the pulse of the community and listen to their concerns on a more frequent basis.

Campaign Funding & Difficulty: It doesn’t need to be expensive or hard to run a campaign:
One of the arguments of the proponents of a 4-year term is that it is difficult and expensive to run a campaign. This may be true for the campaigns in a very large constituency, but not for a small town like College Park. Thankfully, College Park is not a very large city like Baltimore. Furthermore, because College Park City Council seats are not “at-large,”  Council candidates run among a section of the city residents, not among all city residents. The typical campaign budget of a Council seat is also not that high – only a few hundred dollars on average. On top of that, it’s not that difficult to run a campaign. Most candidates run their own campaigns without any paid staff and a large contingent of volunteers. In fact, it’s a very rewarding experience to campaign among the neighbors, something I’ve described my own experience in this post.

Learning Curve: A Councilmember can learn the role quickly:
Another argument the proponent of 4-year term present is that by the time a freshman Councilmember knows everything about her or his job, it’s time for that Councilmember to run again. However, the City’s election history tells us otherwise. For essentially all elected councilmembers, they have been involved someway in some previous positions – in a board, committee, or civic association capacity –  in the city before they run for a Council seat. Thus they have some good exposure to how the city government actually runs. Their involvement also gives them a very good opportunity for interacting with the elected Councilmembers and senior staff even before they become an elected representative. Once elected, freshman Councilmembers go through an intensive Council orientation session, plus one-on-one sessions with City’s senior staff. Furthermore, from my own experience, Council colleagues are very helpful in mentoring fellow Councilmembers to learn and get up to speed quickly.

Continuity: A 2-year council term does not disrupt a council’s direction:
The other argument I’ve seen in support of extending the council term is that a 4-year term could help the continuity of the Council’s operations. Unlike other jurisdictions, College Park’s City Council is a fairly large body.  A decision is made on the vote of 8 Councilmembers, and in some cases, the Mayor. The election history of College Park tells us that the turnover of the Council membership is very low, which means that the makeup of the Council terms doesn’t change much from election to election. Furthermore, the City Council works as a team and continues to implement the goals set forth in the Five-Year strategic plan decided by the previous Council and based on the community’s input. Thus, there is very little chance for a new Councilmember to radically change the direction of the previous Council’s policy.

Again, these are my personal opinions. I sincerely hope you’ll vote to keep the Council term to the current 2-years length. That said if I get re-elected, and if I’m asked to vote on this matter during my term, I’ll vote based on the outcome of this referendum question. So, please VOTE!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this very important matter. Thank you!

Campaigning is More than Asking for Votes. It’s about Connecting with Neighbors

1742 doors to knock. 4771 neighbors to talk.

Several weeks ago, I set a goal of knocking these doors and talking to these neighbors. With just about a week left until this year’s election, I think I am close to reaching that goal. Yes, I wasn’t able to see and talk to everyone, but I’m very happy that I tried to knock as many of them as I could – from Odessa Rd on the north to Cherokee St on the south, From Route 1 on the west to 53rd Ave on the east.
The election season is an incredible time for me to connect with my neighbors in College Park. Since I first ran (unsuccessfully) in 2009 for the City Council, I’ve never found another way to intimately connect with my neighbors.


Talking to my neighbors one-on-one is more than campaigning for their votes.

Yes, my neighbors talk a lot about city/neighborhood stuff. These topics range over a wide variety of things – public safety, crime, school, unregistered rentals, loud noise, traffic, parking, speeding, potholes, city-university relations, development – just to name a few.

But, walking on this campaign trail has also given me an opportunity on another level – a very personal, intimate neighborly level. I find many of my neighbors sharing their very personal stories – the news of a newborn or the death of their dearest ones in the family. Others talk about a new pet, a new job, retirement, the graduation of their kid, or move out of a family member to another state. I’m incredibly grateful to sense the trust they have in me in sharing these very personal stories.

I feel kind of embarrassed to knock my neighbors’ doors only during the election season. I wish I could be in touch with all of the neighbors year-round. Yes, I know a lot more of them now than I used to know back in 2009 when I first started knocking their doors. Yet I still need to do a lot of catching up to know them all on a personal level. I still dream of a day when I could name each of my neighbors at each of these houses, without looking at the list in my clipboard. Will that be true one day?

TOMORROW: Early Voting for City Elections

For the first time, early Voting for City elections will happen tomorrow, on Sunday, October 27, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the College Park Community Center located on 5051 Pierce Avenue in College Park.

The City encourages all voters who may find it difficult to vote on Election Day to come to the polls this Sunday, October 27 and cast their vote.

This will be the only opportunity for City residents to EARLY Vote. Voters from any City Council district may participate in Early Voting. The Voting Center at the College Park Community Center is ADA accessible and will be equipped with accessible voting equipment. Located across from Paint Branch Elementary school, ample free parking is available. Identification is not required for voting.

City of College Park Elections will occur on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. For more information about City Elections, please visit www.collegeparkmd.gov/elections .

November 2019 Leaf Collection Calendar

November 2019 Leaf Collection calendar (Please click to see the full view)

Curbside leaf vacuuming begins November 4 and will continue through the beginning of January. Look for the posted signs in your neighborhood to know when curbside leaf collection will occur. Collection schedules are tentative as they depend on weather conditions. Refer to the city website http://www.collegeparkmd.gov/dpw#curbsideleaf for the most up-to-date collection schedule.

NOTE: To stay on schedule, leaf trucks will not be able to return to collect leaves once they have already been through your street. Each area of the City is scheduled to be serviced at least 4 times during this period, so there will be several opportunities to have leaves collected. Additionally, the vacuum hoses are not able to reach around cars or other obstructions, so it is imperative that piles of leaves are accessible from the street.

Curbside Leaf Collection Do’s and Don’ts:

• No bagging is necessary during leaf collection with vacuums. Soft yard waste can be included in your leaf piles (e.g. grass, flowers, weeds – no vines or woody trimmings). 

• Rake leaves to the curb. Do not put them in the street. Pile leaves away from cars and storm drains. The leaf vacuum cannot reach around cars. 

• Remove vines or woody yard waste, tree limbs, rocks, trash, and other debris from leaves to be collected. These items can damage the equipment and cause delays.

• Noise and dust may be noticeable. Dry conditions generate more dust. We apologize for any inconvenience.

• If you put your soft yard waste (grass, leaves and weeds) in bags, containers or the yard waste carts, they will only be collected when the leaf vacuum is scheduled to be in your neighborhood. Weekly yard waste collections on regular trash collection days are suspended during curbside leaf collection period.

• Leaf vacuuming only occurs in the fall/early winter.

(City of College Park)

Downtown Farmers Market Closes – at Least for 2 Years!

The 2011 Downtown Farmer’s Market Banner

Last Sunday was the last day at the Downtown Farmers Market for the 2019 season.

The main reason for closing the market was due to low customer turnout. The market has been struggling to keep the participating vendors at the market.

In addition to the low turnout, the parking lot where the market was happening, will not be available due to the impending new City Hall Development. The construction will continue for at least 2 years.

The Downtown Farmers Market started its operation in 2011. A City committee used to run the market in the beginning. City staff later on took the responsibility of managing the vendors and its operation until now.

We want to thank its many friends for supporting our Market this year and look forward to seeing you at the other College Park Farmers Markets, including the Hollywood Farmers Market in north College Park.

UMD Police will Continue to Monitor City Cameras, at Least for another Year

University of Maryland Police checks images from camera feeds in old town College Park

At tonight’s meeting, the Council will consider approving an agreement with the University of Maryland Department of Public Safety to provide live security camera monitoring, data storage, and forensic video evidence retrieval through FY 20 an annual cost for FY 2019 of $144,879 and FY 2020 of $149,226.

At last week’s meeting, the Council reviewed UMPD services and discussed alternatives to live to monitor these cameras and decided continuing this service through FY 20.

The Council has asked staff getting information from the UMD police about the effectiveness of these cameras and explore options to reduce the camera monitoring program by potentially record only the camera system. Replacing these cameras by stationary cameras wouls save camera budget, which would allow adding 6 cameras in the city every year.

Here Comes the Bulk Trash Ordinance – Minus Limit on Item Count Option

After several months of discussion, the City Council will consider introducing an ordinance to change City Code regarding City’s regular, bulk trash and recycling program at tomorrow night’s meeting.

The Council will not consider the controversial proposal of limiting bulk trash items to 20 items / per year, for now, however, it will consider a new Code prohibiting practices against placing special trash for collection at a property that did not generate it. This will help reduce the abusive practices of the system by some individuals by bringing bulk trash from outside of the city and placing them in front of a City residence.

The fee schedule for the collection of several types of bulk trash items is as follows:
• Electronics: Televisions and Monitors $20 per item
• Appliances: $20 per item
• Soft and Woody Yard Waste: Free if placed as required except for oversized material requiring the use of a crane at a cost of $100 per pick up, per hour
• Construction Debris/Home Improvement/ Demo/Building Materials
• Tires $4 per tire
• Oversized, overweight or improperly sorted material requiring the use of a crane $100 per pick up, per hour
• Cart: Additional refuse cart $50 per additional cart fee, Additional recycling cart No fee

Additional provisions that are included in the draft ordinance include:
• Collection fees must be paid in advance.
• The material must be placed in an organized and safe manner separated into like materials. Materials improperly set out will not be collected.
• Residents may continue to drop off bulky refuse items at Public Works during clean-up events.
• Only mattresses wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic mattress bag will be collected.
• Will pick up more than the 25-log maximum if debris is the result of branch or tree falling onto abutting property if abutting property owner places at curb properly bundled

Proposed Water Wall in New City Hall may Cost Additional $685,000

At this Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council will vote on a design proposal to add a water feature to the new City Hall, which may cost as high as $685,000.

The current City Hall’s construction cost is estimated at $18.9 million. The City plans to borrow $12.7 million to support the construction budget.

The design plans for City Hall are nearing completion and the Project Manager has advised that if the City desires to include a water feature as part of the public plaza, a decision needs to be made as soon as possible but not later than October 31.

Options for a water feature have been proposed and order of magnitude cost estimates for equipment and installation prepared by Design Collective.

All options add costs to the budget but may offer opportunities for sponsorships. For example, the College Park Rotary may be in a position to pay for a plaza feature in exchange for name recognition. It is not clear at this time how much the Rotary may be willing to spend. Should they decide to sponsor a feature already included in the project budget such as a bus shelter, benches or landscaping, these funds could be applied to the cost of a water feature instead. Options under consideration are:

1. Water Wall – A wall structure is already included in the plaza design. The estimated cost of adding water is $235,385.
2. Pop Jet/Water Scrim (4 variations) – There are differences in pattern placements, movements, and lighting. The estimated cost range of these options is between $580,000 and $685,000

Workshops on I-270 Congestion Reduction Plans

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are evaluating potential solutions to reduce congestion on I-270 between I-370 and I-70. This evaluation on I-270 between I-370 and I-70 will begin with early planning activities prior to an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Initial Pre-NEPA activities include a review of existing and future traffic, roadway, and environmental conditions to inform the development of alternatives.

Please alert your constituents that MDOT SHA will be inviting the public to learn more at a series of workshops in Frederick and Montgomery Counties.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Clarksburg High School
22500 Wims Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Lincoln Recreation Center, Lincoln Elementary School
200 Madison Street, Frederick, MD 21701

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Urbana Fire Department Banquet Hall
3602 Urbana Pike, Frederick, MD 21704

Thursday, November 21, 2019
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Activity Center at Bohrer Park
506 South Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

These workshops will:
provide an overview of the Pre-NEPA activities and the NEPA process
discuss the transportation needs of the corridor
identify potential solutions and existing environmental considerations

The workshop format will allow attendees to review display boards and meet with MDOT SHA Study Team staff. There will be a brief presentation at 7:00 p.m. at each workshop.

What to Do if You See a VeoRide Bike Being Left on Street

If you see a VeoRide Bike on City street, here is what you can help so that it can be collected.

According to our City staff, residents are encouraged to contact Veoride at hello@veoride.com.

Additionally, they can report to City’s Community Development Planner Katie Hart at
240.487.3541 email: khart@collegeparkmd.gov

They can also report the issue directly in the Veoride app if they have that on their phone. In the app, click “Help and Info”, then “Report Issue”, “Inappropriate Parking.” The app will ask for the bike number and location on the map. The bike/scooter number is useful to include so Veoride can send a message to the previous user explaining where they are allowed to park.

VeoRide staff drive around to rebalance bikes regularly. If riders are consistently leaving bikes/scooters in a particular area, then please let Ms. Hart know so she can pass that on and request changes to the frequency that Veoride staff are moving vehicles in the neighborhoods.

According to VeoRide, bikes need to be parked at a bike rack & scooters in designated zones. There is a grace period right now but people will start to be fined for improper parking. City is also working on a plan for enhancing parking areas & adding more parking. Thanks for your patience!

A High-Quality Preschool is Coming to North College Park in February Next Year

Exciting news! A high-quality pre-K preschool will open in north College Park, on February 2020 and serve 120 children ages 3 to 5.

The preschool, called the Monarch Preschool, will be located in an 11,400-square-foot renovated space in College Park United Methodist Church on the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and Hollywood Road in College Park.

Monarch Preschool College Park will be founded by The Children’s Guild, and will be open year-round with a full-day program to include before- and after-school care.

The Children’s Guild is a nonprofit organization founded in 1953 and dedicated to pioneering educational services for children and families.

Early last year, the College Park 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. A year earlier, former Council member Nagle and I also met with the team members working on the project and discussed the opportunity to bring high-quality early childhood education to north College Park.

Early this year, a survey was conducted and a focus group meeting was held among potential College Park Preschool Parents.

Monarch Preschool is the result of the University District Vision, making College Park a sustainable top-20 college town by 2020 and a collaboration with The Children’s Guild.

The Monarch Preschool College Park is part of a larger effort to make College Park a top university community and is being open in response to a community need for additional high-quality pre-K learning opportunities,” said Donna Wiseman, chair of the College Park University Partnership Education Committee and former dean of the College of Education at the University of Maryland. “The preschool will be a hub for the community, and its leadership and advisory board includes members of the city and university communities.” – she said.

University of Maryland-alumna Kristin “Krissie” B. Taylor has been named director of Monarch Preschool College Park. Taylor has an extensive background and certifications in early education and, most recently, was the director of Heritage Learning Center in Hyattsville. She also is an advisor to the Maryland State Department of Education’s Ready at Five programs, and from 2006 to 2011, Taylor was an elementary special education teacher for Prince George’s County Public Schools. Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree in family studies from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from McDaniel College.

Kristin “Krissie” B. Taylor (Director, Monarch Preschool)

I am very excited to have the opportunity to lead Monarch Preschool College Park and foster a lifelong love of learning in our students as we focus on the whole child. Our spaces, curriculum, and teachers will all be active, engaged and helping children apply their learning to real-world issues based on high-quality, project-based learning, getting them ready for school and life beyond,” Taylor said.

Monarch Preschool’s advisory board is chaired by Fran Favretto, retired director of the University of Maryland Center for Young Children. Other advisory board members are Carolyn Bernache, chair of the College Park Education Advisory Committee, board member of College Park Academy and member of the College Park City-University Partnership Education Committee; Cat Peretti, a parent in College Park and executive director of My School DC; Denise Mitchell, College Park District 4 council member and founding board member of College Park Academy; and Valerie Woodall, senior program associate of College Park City-University Partnership.

“We look forward to collaborating and engaging with local assets in the College Park community, including working with the University of Maryland College of Education. We will be implementing a project-based curriculum that actively engages children in investigating the world around them as well as developing pathways for early childhood education teacher training, internships, research, and partnerships,” said Duane Arbogast, chief of strategy and innovation for The Children’s Guild Alliance and former chief academic officer for Prince George’s County Public Schools. “We are also excited to have Krissie, with her impressive background in early childhood learning and her connections in the community, as part of our team.

Registration is now open. For more information on Monarch Preschool College Park, visit http://monarchpreschool.com or email engage@monarchpreschool.com.

[media credit: Monarch Preschool College Park]