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College Park Woods Pool Building Community Meeting – This Thursday

Crucial Vote on Beltway Expansion Delayed – Rally Still On

According to the Washington Post, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan yesterday canceled this week’s meeting of the Board of Public Works amid a growing public feud with state Comptroller Peter Franchot, whose vote he needs on the board for his plan to add toll lanes to the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.

Mr. Franchot made the post bellow on his FaceBook after many residents raised some serious concerns last week about the timing of the vote.

The board was expected to vote as early as Wednesday on the latest changes to Hogan’s proposal. The Republican governor needs the board’s approval before the state may begin soliciting private companies to build the lanes and finance their construction as part of one of the largest public-private partnerships in the country.

However, Franchot (D), who supported the plan in June and is considered the board’s swing vote on the toll lane proposal, said last week that he objected to the latest changes.

The earliest the Board can now take up the changes is on January 8, the same date the new General Assembly session begins in Annapolis. The General Assembly is expected to take up legislation addressing public-private partnerships, such as the P3 tollway proposal.

Also, the December 14 article is the first big Washington Post story on the Maryland P3 proposal that also covers in detail some of Virginia’s botched P3 tollway deals.

The article quotes experts from the state of Virginia and elsewhere about the supreme importance of taking the time upfront to negotiate a deal that will protect taxpayers and public interests as well as address traffic issues.

“If done well, you can get a good project built. If done poorly, you can get a P3 Frankenstein,” John Forrer, director of George Washington University’s Institute for Corporate Responsibility told the Washington Post.

Tomorrow’s rally against the Beltway expansion is still on.

Monday, December 16, at 7 pm. Silver Spring Civic Center

ezMVA Bus in the Goddard Visitor Center parking lot

The ezMVA Bus will be in the Goddard Visitor Center parking lot between 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18. If you need MVA services and don’t want to wait at a branch, take advantage of the bus. Those who have used it before remark that it’s fast! Suggestion: Get there around noon for shorter lines.

At the ezMVA Bus you can:

  • Obtain a renewal/duplicate/corrected Maryland driver’s license
  • Obtain a renewal/duplicate/corrected Maryland identification card
  • Obtain a duplicate/corrected commercial driver’s license (address/name changes only. No endorsements can be added. Must bring current DOT physical certification card)
  • Obtain certified copy of driving record
  • Obtain disability placards/plates
  • Return tags/apply for a tag refund
  • Apply for a change of address card (card will be mailed)
  • Renew vehicle registration
  • Obtain substitute plates, substitute stickers, and duplicate registrations
  • Pay administrative flag fees on registrations
  • Register to vote
  • Register as an organ donor

The ezMVA bus cannot process the following:

  • Driver’s license/identification cards that require out-of-country documents and/or temporary VISAs for renewal
  • CDL renewals: must visit MVA branch office
  • Out of state drivers licenses and identification card conversions: must visit MVA branch office
  • Initial out of state title conversions: must visit a full service MVA branch office

Forms of Payment Accepted: Cash, Check, Money Order, VISA, MasterCard, American Express.

Rally on Beltway Plan – Next Monday

This will probably be the last Chance to Send a Message to the Board of Public Works Before It Votes Again!

RALLY TO STOP TOLL LANES ON I-495/I-270!

MONDAY — DECEMBER 16 7:00 PM
Silver Spring Civic Center, Silver Spring, MD 20910

  • Join Councilmember Tom Hucker, Citizens Against Beltway Expansion, Maryland Sierra Club, Audubon Naturalist Society, and neighbors from Maryland and Virginia.
  • Say NO to $30-40 rush-hour tolls (like in Northern Virginia).
  • Demand a better deal for commuter relief with transit, transparency, and taxpayer protection.
  • Tell the Board of Public Works to reject Maryland Dept. of Transportation’s deal-breaking amendments to the $11 billion Toll Lane project.

New College Park Newspaper May Start this Spring

The last issue of the Gazette newspaper

The last issue of the Gazette newspaper

At this week’s meeting, the City Council approved a resolution authorizing our staff to negotiate and enter into an agreement to start a new College Park local newspaper.

If the agreement works out, the new newspaper may hit the doors sometime in March / April time frame.

After the Gazette paper stopped its publication back in 2015, there has been a vacuum in the easy access to local news and information, in particular, in the area of print media.

The University of Maryland based paper The Diamondback was still around, until it too decided to stop publishing its print editions a few weeks ago.

The Gazette was delivered to all single-family residences in the City (and beyond, to the entire northern P.G. County) and copies were also placed at various locations. The proposed College Park paper is expected to be mailed to City’s residential homes.

According to the agreement with the City, the Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc. (HCN, publisher of the Hyattsville Life & Times) would publish a new, monthly, full-color newspaper.

The paper will be mailed to residential and business addresses in College Park, as well as distributed free at popular gathering spots in and around College Park.

The newspaper would contain entirely local content – news, events, City Council, development, schools, neighborhoods, major crimes, features, personalities, and more. The City government would not review the newspaper’s editorial coverage.

After the Gazette announced its decision to discontinue publication, I asked to have a worksession to discuss exploring other ways to disseminate information to its residents. One idea was to partner with a local newspaper publisher, such as the HL&T.

The HCN is proposing to provide four pages of space for City content in each issue, created, branded, and paid by the City government. The startup budget for the newspaper anticipates approximately $30,000 is total expenses during the first four months. The primary revenue during this period is proposed to be City of College Park monthly payments of $6,500; $6,000; $5,500; and $5,000 (a total of $23,000 for four months with declining payments as business advertising increases). Business advertising is estimated to total $7,000 for the same period but would likely increase in the coming months.

The new paper should give another way to connect with a large group of our residents, in particular our senior citizens, many of who do not have access to online media.

The City currently shares these contents using its Municipal Scenes publication. City residents can get paper copies of the Municipal Scenes mailed to them by special requests.

According to the publisher, when the paper starts getting advertisement revenues, the City’s portion of the cost may go down from $6,500 to $3,300 per month.

The Hyattsville paper has 14 pages, the City (government) only sponsors 3 pages of its own content and spends a little less than $30,000 per year. Based on this and assuming College Park will be sponsoring 4 pages, the yearly cost may be around 40,000. In the future, cost could be brought down further, by sponsoring 3 pages instead of 4.

HCN mails about 7,600 copies to addresses in the City of Hyattsville and  to advertisers, and distributes another 1800 copies to various locations. The College Park print and mail run would be comparable.

This week’s decision was about to run the paper for 4-5 months in the current fiscal year. The City will be reviewing residents feedback and negotiate / sign another contract with the publisher in the next fiscal year.

Tomorrow at NCPCA – Beltway Expansion and Holiday Party

NCPCA – It’s Your Neighborhood Association

Tomorrow is the second Thursday of the month and hence the day when the NCPCA is going to have its monthly meeting.

The meeting will start with an update on Beltway Expansion. Ben Ross, Chair, of the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition will be speaking about the latest on the Beltway expansion plan. Members will also discuss the next steps including attendance at Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis, on December 18.

The meeting will end with a Holiday Party. Please bring your favorite dish to the meeting.

Please Help Keep College Park Shoppers Store as a Quality Grocery Retailer

Shoppers College Park

At tonight’s meeting, I plan to ask our City Council to consider approving a letter to United Natural Foods, Inc. (Shoppers parent company) to keep College Park store maintained as a quality grocery store. Please see the text of the letter below. If approved, the letter will be jointly signed by the College Park City Council, and the Maryland 21st State Delegation. This item is not on tonight’s Council meeting agenda, so I’ll appreciate if you could please send an email to the Mayor and Council at cpmc@collegeparkmd.gov asking them to add this to tonight’s meeting agenda and approve it at unanimously. Thank you.


It has come to our attention that a total of 12 Shoppers stores in Maryland and one in Virginia will be sold to other grocery retailers, and four more stores, two in Maryland and two in Virginia, will be closed for good.

While we are relieved the College Park store is not on this announcement list, we know it is only a matter of time before this store will either be closed or sold to another retailer.

The College Park Shoppers has served the grocery needs of our constituents in College Park and surrounding areas for more than two decades. The closing of this store would  mean loss of easy access to quality, affordable food for many of these residents. It would also result in approximately 80 employees losing their jobs.

We understand that UNFI is exploring the sale of the remaining Shoppers stores to other grocery retailers. We are requesting that you work with us to ensure that the College Park location is maintained as a quality store.

We know based on extensive feedback what residents want and need in a grocery store here.

The economic development departments for both Prince George’s County and the City of College Park stand ready to help you identify a suitable retailer for this location.

We look forward to working with you and your timely response. Thank you in advance.


Shoppers College Park Survives Sales and Closures, for Now

Yesterday, Shoppers’ parent company, United Natural Foods Inc., UNFI, announced 13 Shoppers locations are being sold to other companies and four locations are being closed permanently.

Thankfully, the Shoppers in College Park is not in the list of these 17 stores. College Park store plus 21 other stores will remain open as “Shoppers” in the future, until further notice.

Earlier this year, UNFI closed Shoppers’ 30 in-store pharmacies and sold their prescription files and pharmacy inventories to CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens. Founded in 1929, Shoppers serves the Baltimore, northern Virginia communities and District of Columbia markets.

Here is the list of the stores that will be sold or closed:

  • Five Shoppers locations being sold to Compare Foods by January 2, 2020. The stores are in Alameda (Baltimore), Anchor Square (Baltimore), Colmar Manor, Capitol Heights, and Landover.
  • Six Shoppers locations being sold to Lidl by January 2, 2020. They are in Annapolis, Brooklyn Park, Oxon Hill, Takoma Park, Wheaton, and Burke (Virginia).
  • Two Shoppers locations being sold to McKay’s on December 18, 2020. They are in Lexington Park, Waldorf
  • Four Shoppers locations closing by end of January 2020. They are in Liberty Road (Baltimore), Severn, Manassas, and Alexandria.

 

College Park Crime Map: November 2019

North College Park (19)

November 24 thru November 30, 2019.
9500 Bk 50TH PL Theft from auto
4700 Blk Cherry Hill RD Shoplifting
9100 Blk 49TH PL Vandalism
5000 Blk Branchville RD Vandalism

November 17 thru November 23, 2019.
4800 Blk Indian LN Theft from auto
9600 Blk Baltimore Ave Commercial Armed Robbery
5100 Blk Lackawanna ST Theft from auto
9300 Blk Baltimore Ave  Theft
4800 Blk Delaware ST Theft from auto
4700  Blk Edgewood RD Theft
November 11 thru November 16, 2019.
9100 Blk Baltimore Ave Armed Person
4700 Blk Cherry Hill RD Theft
4700 Blk Cherry Hill RD Theft
9300 Blk Cherry Hill RD Theft from auto
10200 Blk Baltimore Ave Theft
November 2 thru November 10, 2019.
9000 Blk Baltimore Ave Vandalism
10200 Blk Baltimore Ave Stolen Veh
8900 Blk Rhode Island Ave Shoplifting
9300  Blk Cherry Hill RD Vandalism.
Mid town (Berwyn / Lakeland) (6)
November 17 thru November 23, 2019.
8100 Blk Baltimore Ave Stolen Veh.
November 2 thru November 10, 2019.
8600 Blk Baltimore Ave Theft from auto
8200 Blk Baltimore Ave Theft.
11/26/19-12/2/19
Berwyn Theft from Auto  4700 blk of Berwyn Rd
11/19/19-11/25/19
Assault     4700 blk of Lakeland Rd
11/12/19-11/18/19
Theft from Auto at the 8400 blk of 49th Ave

West College Park (0)

Yarrow (0)

Old town / Calvert hill (13)
11/19/19-11/25/19
Attempt Abduction at the 4700 blk of Harvard Rd
Breaking & Entering    at the 4600 blk of Knox Rd
Assault at the 7300 blk of Baltimore Ave
Assault at the 7300 blk of Baltimore Ave
Stolen Auto at the 5100 blk of College Ave
11/12/19-11/18/19
Vandalism at the 4400 blk of Lehigh Rd
Theft from Auto at the 5000 blk of Lehigh RdRecovered Stolen Auto at the 5100 blk of College AveVandalism at the 3600 blk of Campus Dr11/5/19-11/11/19Home Invasion at the 7400 blk of Dickinson AveCitizen Robbery (Arrest) at the 4500 blk of College Ave10/29/19-11/4/19Residential Armed Robbery  7500 blk of Dickinson AveVandalism to Auto at College Ave & Rhode Island AveUMD Campus (32)
7405 Preinkert Dr Burglary
3900 block of Campus Dr Theft
8500 block of Paint Branch Dr Theft
3400 block of Tulane Dr Theft
4490 Rossborough Ln Vandalism
Lot 1f Vehicle Tampering
7591 Mowatt Ln Theft from Auto
4713 Rossborough Ln Theft
8500 Paint Branch Dr Theft
8125 Paint Branch Dr Theft
7591 Mowatt Ln Theft
7591 Mowatt Ln Theft from Auto
7567 Yale Ave Theft
4145 Valley Dr Vandalism
4213 Valley Dr Burglary
3900 block of Campus Dr Theft
4130 Campus Dr Theft
7699 Mowatt Ln Theft
4600 block of Hotel Dr Burglary
7500 block of Calvert Service Ln Rape
7000 block of Preinkert Dr Theft
4121 Farm Dr Theft
340 block of Ehrensberger Dr Theft from Auto
8125 Paint Branch Dr Theft
7591 Mowatt Ln Theft
7591 Mowatt Ln Theft
3854 Stadium Dr Assault
4094 Campus Dr Burglary
4200 block of Lehigh Rd Assault
4121 Farm Dr Theft
3900 block of Campus Dr Theft
4176 Campus Dr Theft

College Park Crime Stats – November, 2019

 

Community Police Meeting, TOMORROW, Thursday, @MoM’s, @7pm

Have questions about a crime that you or someone you know experienced recently? Want to learn some helpful tips about protecting you and your family from crimes in the future? Bring your questions to the police officers who work hard to protect us every day in the neighborhood. Please join them and meet other neighbors at 7 pm tomorrow, Thursday, at MoM’s Cafe.

Public Meeting: BEP Relocating to BARC

Today please join the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an important public meeting on the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC):

Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Time: 6pm to 8pm
Location: BARC Building 003, Auditorium

Can’t attend? Here’s an opportunity for you to submit comments. Visit http://bit.ly/BARCComments and submit comments online through 12/15.

The proposed site is located in Beltsville between Powder Mill and Odell Roads. Here is the most current information we have on the project:

Current BEP Facility in Washington, D.C.

BEP’s current District of Columbia facility is located at 301 14th St. SW in Washington, D.C. The DC facility consists of the Main building constructed in 1914 that houses currency production operations, and an Annex constructed in 1938 that houses raw material, storage, and research and development operations.

The DC facility, along with operations at the newer production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, which was constructed in 1990, design and print all U.S. paper money and several other federal security products.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) (view report)  confirmed that the District’s aging facility is not suitable for modern-day currency production and lacks the flexibility for new processes required to support currency redesign efforts and new anti-counterfeit security feature development and manufacture. GAO also confirmed that a replacement production facility is the most economical solution.

Replacement BEP Facility Requirements and Proposal

The Federal Reserve Board requires the replacement facility to have appropriate access to interstate roadways and commercial air carriers. Opportunities also include improved physical security, better parking facilities and a net reduction in BEP’s current operational footprint.

The facility is also required to be located within the National Capital Region (NCR). The NCR encompasses Washington, D.C; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties in Virginia; and the incorporated cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, and Manassas in Virginia.

The United States Department of Agriculture and Congress support the development of the proposed facility on an unused, previously developed approximately 100-acre site at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The 2018 Farm Bill authorized the transfer of this specific land parcel to the Department of Treasury for use by BEP to construct a replacement currency production facility.

BEP’s intent is to design and construct a smaller, more efficient currency production facility. If the proposed replacement facility is constructed, the existing Main building at the DC facility would be modernized as a separate effort and remain BEP’s administrative headquarters, while the existing 796,000 square-foot Annex would be returned to the General Services Administration as surplus property.

In accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, a formal land transfer between the Treasury and USDA is pending completion of required studies, outlined below.

BEP’s proposal includes construction beginning in approximately 2022.

Army Corps Role, Environmental Analyses, and Timeline

The Army Corps Role

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an interagency agreement with BEP in March 2019 to coordinate this replacement effort to include environmental assessments and design and construction oversight for the Main facility (to include non-production equipment, furnishings and IT systems) and supporting structures, parking and stormwater management facilities, roadway access and improvements, utility connections, security systems and access control.

National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and the Department of the Treasury NEPA regulations require BEP to consider the potential environmental impacts of its proposed actions and alternatives and to solicit the views of the public in order to make an informed final decision regarding how to proceed.

Through the NEPA process, the Army Corps is thoroughly analyzing BEP’s proposal to determine potential land use, ecological, cultural, water resources, social, public health and safety, air quality, aesthetics, noise, lighting, traffic and other impacts that could result from the construction and operation of the proposed replacement facility. Cumulative environmental effects will also be analyzed.

The Army Corps will document these analyses in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as well as other reasonable site alternatives to accomplish the purpose and need for this action. Mitigation measures will be presented in the EIS to offset potential adverse impacts to natural and cultural resources on the land, as well as potential impacts to the public, such as increased traffic in the area.

The Army Corps will perform necessary field investigations to collect baseline information on the natural, cultural and human environments within the proposal area, including collecting soil samples, delineating wetlands, performing archaeological and wastewater surveys, a transportation study, and more.

NEPA Timeline and Public Review

The NEPA public scoping process began Nov. 15, 2019, with the Federal Register publication of a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS, initiating a 30-day public comment period. A public open house is scheduled for Dec. 3. The intent of this meeting is to solicit input, concerns and ideas from the public, including Regulatory agencies. Public input will be integrated into the EIS and will help focus the analyses.

The Draft EIS is anticipated for completion and public review in fall 2020, and the Final EIS is anticipated for completion and public review in spring 2021, although these dates are subject to change based on a variety of factors. The public will have at least 45 days to review and comment on the Draft EIS and at least 30 days to review and comment on the Final EIS. BEP and the Army Corps will hold a public meeting during the Draft EIS public review period. Substantive comments provided by the public on the Draft EIS will be addressed in the Final EIS. The final Record of Decision is anticipated to be published in summer 2021.

Old City Hall to be Demolished Soon

The old City Hall

As the City is moving forward with building a new City Hall, it’s time to take down the old one,

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the Council will consider approving a contract change order in the amount of $534,472 with James G. Davis Construction Corporation for the abatement and demolition of the City Hall site.
Following a competitive RFP process, in February 2019 the City awarded construction management services for the City Hall project to James G. Davis Construction Corporation. Davis has been providing pre-construction services to the project team–preparing estimates, working on schedule development and identifying design solutions that work within the budget. This work has been in anticipation of the construction phase that will include a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for the construction of the entire building and plaza.
Initially, the project team envisioned the abatement and demolition of the site to be included in the GMP. However, the GMP will not be ready until after the design is finalized in the spring.
In order to keep on schedule, the team is recommending the removal of this work from the construction phase. If Council approves, the abatement work can begin in December with demolition to follow.
Davis has solicited bids and has selected experienced vendors for the required work. The costs are in line with earlier estimates.

All City Hall departments/services have already moved to the temporary new location at 8400 Baltimore Avenue Suite 375, as of of October 14, 2019. City phone numbers and office hours remained the same. For more information about the City Hall project, including further details about the move, please visit www.collegeparkmd.gov/cityhall.

A Newspaper on College Park May Start Next Year

At this week’s worksession, the City Council will discuss a proposal for starting a College Park based newspaper.

There had not been a mailed or widely distributed local newspaper serving College Park for more than a decade. The Diamondback predominately serves the UMD community, and it is ending print editions.

In the past few years, the City Council has discussed options to increase the reach and depth of City communications so that all residents are well-informed about local issues and activities. The City explored mailing the Municipal Scene to residents, but the staffing and postage costs were extremely high.

In early 2019, City staff began discussions with representatives from the Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc. (HCN, publisher of the Hyattsville Life & Times) regarding the possibility of establishing a new independent College Park community newspaper. HCN was founded by a group of residents in 2004 and celebrated its 15th year of continuous publication this past summer. The Life & Times is currently staffed by a mix of part-time professionals, local volunteers, and student journalists. It has won at least one award at the National Newspaper Association competition for eight years in a row. In late October, the HCN Board unanimously approved a proposal to publish a College Park edition beginning in 2020.

The purpose of this Worksession discussion is to consider this proposal for a College Park newspaper.

HCN would publish a new, monthly, full-color newspaper that would be mailed to residential and business addresses in the City of College Park, as well as distributed free at popular gathering spots in and around College Park. The newspaper would contain entirely local content — news, events, City Council, development, schools, neighborhoods, major crimes, features, personalities, and more. UMD news and issues would be covered when there is relevance to the wider community. The City government would not review the newspaper’s editorial coverage. The newspaper is primarily an organ to build up and bring together the community.

HCN is proposing to provide four pages of space for City content in each issue, created, branded and paid by the City government, so that the City of College Park can better communicate with its constituents at a cost much less than would be possible otherwise.

The HCN board would nearly double in size to include new members from the City of College Park, and the new paper would take advantage of HCN’s existing Md. incorporation, federal 501(c)3 status, and U.S.

Postal Service non-profit postal permit. The College Park and Hyattsville editions would employ separate editorial staffs and publish content specific to each municipality.

The College Park edition would benefit from the accumulated infrastructure and experience of HCN. College Park also offers some advantages over the City of Hyattsville in that it is larger (thereby allowing economies of scale) and has a much bigger commercial sector (promising a larger pool of advertisers). Those potential cost savings and revenue enhancements also can push costs down for our prospective partners, the City of College Park and local advertisers.

The startup budget for the newspaper anticipates approximately $30,000 is total expenses during the first four months. The primary revenue during this period is proposed to be City of College Park monthly payments of $6,500; $6,000; $5,500; and $5,000 (a total of $23,000 for four months with declining payments as business advertising increases). Business advertising is estimated to total $7,000 for the same period but would likely increase in future months. City commitment to the paper would enable the newspaper to invest in staffing and other resources required to start up a newspaper. This model is similar to the model that enabled the Hyattsville Life & Times to be created by residents in 2004.

[City of College Park]