City’s 75th Anniversary Celebration may include a Parade in North College Park

1954 Hollywood Parade photo in Images of America: College Park (2005) by Stephanie Stullich and Katharine D. Bryant. Original Photo Credit: College Park Boys and Girls Club

College Park’s 75th anniversary of incorporation is coming up on Saturday, June 6, 2020. The 75th Diamond Anniversary event from 12:00 p.m. to 6 p.m. will embody all that is College Park – the community, businesses, schools, facilities, and artists who have made the City thrive for these 75 years.

Current plans call for a parade from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. down Rhode Island Avenue to Duvall Field. The parade will be followed by a fair at Duvall Field from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. to celebrate 75 years of College Park with entertainment, music, and activities.

There used to be a big parade along Rhode Island Avenue each spring to initiate the Boys & Girls Club season.  Community members, high school bands, military units, fire departments, scouts, local sports teams, etc took part.  There was a reviewing stand at Duval Field and according to some long time residents, awards were given to different groups in the parade.  Opening day baseball/softball games were held after the parade.  It was very much well attended.

The College Park Boys & Girls Club, which was founded in 1952, was responsible for the parades. Several residents recalled how the parade was an important tradition for the community. Debbie Herbert, a resident from Hollywood since 1961 and previous athletic director for the Girls Club also recalled details about the parade. Herbert said the parade involved the sports teams, bands, majorettes, cheerleaders and floats as well as the fire department and police department. Her mother Edna Herbert, in fact, was the reason why she first got involved with planning the Hollywood parades. Herbert approximated that the parades ended in the 1990s, possibly because of the decline of local children who participated in the Boys & Girls Club. “It was just a day to get everything going…. so all the teams would gather up down at REI when it first originally started it was over where the old police barracks was. We used to line up there and we’d take it all the way down Route 1 to Duvall Field. And then after that, after the parade was completely over the team would get out on the field and we’d play ball all afternoon.”

At the 75th anniversary event, the City intends to invite various local community members to participate in the parade including elected officials, public safety organizations (fire, EMS, police), schools, marching bands, color guards, car clubs, and other organizations. The parade will feature a reviewing station with professional judges to keep judging unbiased and an MC to announce groups walking by.

In order to safely and successfully accomplish the parade aspect of the event, side streets on the parade route will need to be closed a few hours prior to the parade, while Rhode Island Avenue will be closed one hour prior to step-off. City will have security and visual markers along the parade route to signify the road closures. Security details and road closures will be discussed in further detail with Prince George’s County.

The parade will lead to a free fair at Duvall Field featuring live entertainment, performers, local vendors and exhibitors, food trucks, inflatables, carnival games, kid-friendly activities, and much more. To tie in the 75th anniversary, City will ask vendors /exhibitors to tie in a birthday theme (menu items, birthday-themed activities, etc.) and possibly host a contest for the most spirited display. Bands and performers will have ties to College Park, as well – past and present. Volunteers are needed for both the parade and fair, so there will be an opportunity for resident involvement.

According to City staff, $20,000 is budgeted in FY20. Due to increased costs for security and increased transportation requests (like ride-sharing and use of the City bus), an additional $10,000 is requested to fully cover costs.

College Park Nursery School Open House: February 7 and 8

FY2021 Budget Calendar Approved

At last night’s Council meeting, the City Council approved the budget guidelines. Please see the budget calendar below. The Council members are asked the send their budget requests by this Friday.
The Council also approved financial policies as presented including maintaining the City’s Homestead Tax Credit Rate at 0% for FY2021, providing the maximum tax relief from this credit.

City to Support PG County State Highway Toll Facilities

At tonight’s Council meeting, the Council will consider supporting HB 258 which requires Prince George’s County Council approval prior to the construction of a State toll road or facility in the County.

This bill would prohibit State agencies from constructing a toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Prince George’s County unless authorized by the County Council.

New toll roads, such as the one being proposed in the Beltway expansion project, can have huge long-term impacts on the quality of life, economy, and environment of the affected jurisdictions.

The county directly affected should have a direct voice in the approval of these types of projects.

Old City Hall Demolition will Start Soon

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will consider approving an amount not to exceed $4,150,530 to authorize the City Hall project site development. The project’s construction firm Davis Construction has provided (see below) a summary of the costs and a description of the work requested to be authorized now. This work has been included in the project cost estimates. The total cost is $4,150,530. Some of the major expenditures are for earthwork, cast-in-place concrete, the deposit on terra cotta, and submittals and drawings for plumbing and electrical.

On December 3, 2019 Council authorized the City Manager to sign change order #1, the removal of the abatement and demolition work from the later construction phase in order to keep on schedule. Demolition will start soon. The entire project is anticipated to take 18 months to construct, with site work starting in early March 2020 and substantial completion in August 2021.

The cost of this work has already been included in project estimates and approval of the change order is cost neutral. The cost will be removed from the final construction phase cost. The City’s cost share will be covered by existing budgeted funds or bond proceeds.

Public Hearing this Tuesday on Important Changes to City’s Bulk Trash Collection Practices

At this week’s City Council meeting, the Council will hold public hearings on two important ordinances on City’s bulk trash collection practices. One major change the ordinances will do is to limit up to four bulky refuse collections per the calendar year with a maximum of 12 or 20 bulky refuse items collected per the calendar year free of charge. The Council will decide whether to limit the number of items to 12 or 20 per year. Residents will need to pay $20 for each additional item once they use up the maximum number of items (12 or 20) in any given year. The ordinances propose a maximum number of 29 bulky items for single-family rental homes.

Generally, the Ordinance 20-O-01 sets the number of times bulk trash will be picked up per year, whereas Ordinance 20-O-02 deals with fees for bulk trash collection.

City secured a contracting firm (SCS) to conduct a study of the City’s current bulk trash collection practices. The SCS came up with a number of recommendations in their report.

At this time, it’s difficult to know the number of residences that will be impacted by the proposed changes. According to the data provided by the SCS report, if the number of the collection is limited to 4 per year, then about 231 homes (about 5% of total homes) will be impacted. However, the report does not have data showing how many items in total the rest of the homes called for collection throughout the study period (of 2017). For example, it’s possible that several homes called for services less than 4 times a year, but they asked to collect more than 20 (or 12) items a year. These homes will also be impacted because of the other provision in the proposed code – limiting the number of items 20 (or 12) per the calendar year.

According to the report the volume of the bulk collection has been going up in recent years. One particular reason is probably because of the abuse of the system by some, who either bring bulk trash from outside of the city or allow others to bring and drop at the curbside of their homes. The increase of bulky trash volume due to this abusive practice probably makes sense, given the fact that the number of single-family homes has not gone up in the city, especially in recent years.

In order to curb these abusive practices, “SCS recommends that the City establish a provision in the City Code that prevents residents or others from placing special trash at the curb of a residence other than where it was generated. The City’s special trash program will only collect materials from the residence where it originates. Such a provision must also provide for enforcement actions if the City determines residents are violating this requirement to abuse the program.

Accordingly, the ordinance 20-O-01 includes this provision in Section 6.

If implemented, College Park will be first in the four cities coalition group adopting code limiting the number of collections per year.

College Park’s Public Works has a history of providing quality services to its residents. Residents appreciate the fact that their hard-earned tax dollars are being used appropriately on the weekly and special trash collection services. Some residents think it’s important to penalize the abusers of the system, however, it’s not fair to fine residents needing additional trash pickups.

Perhaps we should give the following options a try before we move to proposed changes in limiting the number of collections and the number of items per year. Here are some thoughts:
1. Allow some time to collect more relevant data about bulk trash collection in the city. One data is particularly important to collect is the number of items being collected from residences over a year period. Currently, this data is not available.
2. Give some time to see how the proposed changes in Code help reduce the abuse in the system
3. Work with the community groups (CBE and others) and the organizations such as Community forklift in encouraging residents on recycling bulky items.

The ordinances have other provisions about the collection of electronics, white goods (refrigerators, etc), woody materials and the number of green trash toters. You can see the details about these two ordinances here on this week’s Council packet (starts at page 22).

Public hearings on these two ordinances will take place at 7:30pm at this Tuesday’s council meeting. In case you cannot attend the meeting, please send your thoughts at cpmc@collegeparkmd.gov before 5 pm on Tuesday.


UPDATE:  The Council voted 6-2 to spend 6-12 months with a goal to collect more bulk trash related data (item counts etc) and revisit proposed changes afterward. Thank you all for your comments and testimonies. It was a long night.

City to Support Bill Curbing Disposable Plastic Bags in PG County

Skip bag, Save the riverAt next week’s meeting, the City Council will consider supporting PG-401-20 which would reduce landfill waste and litter by
imposing a fee on disposable bags.

PG-401-20 enables Prince George’s County to implement a fee for the use of certain disposable bags in certain commercial establishments.

This type of program has successfully reduced waste in other jurisdictions and will help reduce waste and improve the quality of life in College Park and our County.

Americans use billions of plastic bags each year. Many of these one-use bags end up in our landfills and public areas, detracting from our communities and creating costs for local governments.

This legislation is consistent with our work to protect and restore the environment, reduce waste, and create a more attractive community.

City to Approve Funds for the New Park in Sunnyside

Residents at the January 13, 2020 community meeting discussing the proposed park

At next week’s Council meeting, Council award a contract to Greenman–Pedersen, Inc for the design and engineering specifications for a park facility at the Odessa outlet, in an amount not to exceed $56,000.00,

Residents in the Sunnyside neighborhood have expressed interest in the concept of a play area for children in their neighborhood that will include the best outdoor playhouses for children, so they won’t have to cross busy Rhode Island Avenue to play at a playground that is close to their home.

Staff sent letters to the neighborhood residents and held a community meeting in January 13, 2020 to obtain community feedback. Residents that attended the community meeting expressed positive
interest for the creation of children’s play area at the Odessa outlot.

Two parcels make up this space, parcel 46, block E and the outlot. These parcels were donated to the City in 1999 with the intent the land be used for recreational purposes.

Beltway expansion will affect the part of the proposed park area

The siting of the play area will be on the north parcel (outlot), which is outside of the identified limit of disturbance of the proposed Maryland Department of Transportation Beltway widening project. The MDOT is proposing a 30 ft buffer into the park area. This has led the city to move the park area to the north of the lot.

30 ft buffer shown into the proposed park area

Bids were received from three engineering firms to develop a concept design for the project and associated engineering plans, to submit to Prince George’s County for approval and construction specifications for the play area amenities.

Bid results included:
Charles P. Johnson & Associates, Inc. $ 79,795.00
Greenman–Pedersen, Inc. $ 54,852.47
RK&K $185,178.18

Greenman–Pedersen, Inc. submitted the most competitively priced bid for the design and engineering of the park facility on the Odessa outlot.

Ruth Herbert: 1927 – 2020

Very sad to learn the passing of life-long College Park resident Ruth Herbert. Ruth was a very active neighbor in College Park, especially at the North College Park Civic Association. I had the opportunity to spend some time at her house talking with her about how College Park changed over the years, even before she moved to assisted living in Beltsville. About 5 months ago, she moved to Arizona to be close to his son.

Ruth’s funeral arrangements Sunday, January 26, 2020. Viewing: 2 pm to 4 pm. And 6 pm to 8 pm, Monday, January 27, 2020 at Gasch’s Funeral Home, P.A. 4739 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, MD 20781. Funeral services at 10 am. More here: https://www.gaschs.com/notices/Ruth-Herbert

Making the Choices that are Right for You as You Age

Hollywood Streetscape Inches to Final Design

The Hollywood project team has recently completed the 60% design of the project. A public meeting was held on November 18, when they presented the plan and solicit feedback from the community. A meeting targeted to the commercial businesses and property owners was held on January 17, 2019. Many comments on the project were received and the consultants have worked to address as many of them as possible.

This project includes improvements along Rhode Island Avenue between Muskogee Street and Ontario Road for pedestrian, bicycle and bus stop access, safer intersections, enhanced landscaping, and street lighting. It also includes the conversion of a portion of the service roads to linear parks (parklets) to provide public gathering space and create a sense of place for the commercial area. A trail is proposed along the north side of Muskogee Street as well as additional pedestrian connections to the Hollywood Shopping Center.

You can see a summary of the project’s elements here on my blog.

The team now intends to complete 100% design plans, apply for permits and prepare construction bid documents.

The estimated budget to complete the project’s elements is about $2.5 million. Currently, the project has $1.45 million in the Capital Projects Fund. Additional funding needs to be identified to complete the project in its entirety. It is also possible to construct certain elements of the project in phases based on priorities and funding availability.

At this tonight’s meeting, the City Council will discuss the 60% design and give future direction to the project’s team.

TODAY: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Today is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. This day marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. All City Offices will be closed today. Refuse and recycling collections will shift forward one day (Monday collections will occur on Tuesday, Tuesday collections on Wednesday, and so forth) and special collections will only occur on Friday next week.

In north College Park, please join your neighbors at the POSH Fitness Studio to make PB&J sandwiches for the homeless. The event will start at 12:30pm. Please bring and donate bread, peanut butter, and/or jelly. I hope to see many of you at this community service event.

City Spent More in 2019 Election, Yet Fewer Residents Went to Poll

In order to increase voter turnouts, the City increased the election budget to $67,171 in the last year’s November election. That was a whopping 139% increase from what the City spent ($28,118) in the 2017 election.

Yet, the voter turnout in the latest election went down by 21% – from 2,648 in 2017 to 2,092 in 2019.

The decrease of voter turnout will be a topic the College Park City Council is expected to discuss at next week’s City Council meeting. City’s advisory board – the Board of Election Supervisor will join the discussion with the Council.

In addition to increasing the City budget for last year’s election, the City also added one polling station, at the UMD’s Stamp Union. Additionally, the City introduced early voting and enabled no-excuse voting. Finally, the City allowed residents to vote at any of the 4 voting centers. Unfortunately, none of these measures appear to help in increasing voter turnout.

It’s hard to tell the cause of the decrease in voter turn out. One theory could be related to the absence of a student candidate, which may have caused a larger drop (36%) in voter participation in the student heavy District 3.

As an option to increase voter turnout, the Council may discuss the option of Vote-by-Mail in the future College Park elections. In the City of Rockville, the voter turnout has nearly doubled after they adopted voter by mail option in the last year’s election. Rockville spent $86,000 to send voting materials to more than 43,000 registered voters, along with four mailers informing residents of the new system and the available options for voting. Rockville, however, spent a lot more on the outreach effort to the residents about this new voting method. This number is expected level out in future years as residents will get used to the way they are expected to vote. In the last election, College Park spent $67,171 on approximately registered 16,723 voters.

In addition to discussing voter turnout, the Council will review and discuss a few other topics about last year’s election. These topics include: Discussion could include: BOES Post-election Report and Recommendations, Review and evaluate Early Voting, including survey results, Review and evaluate the Voting Center concept, Review and evaluate the three poll locations, Recommendation to change the BOES appointment effective date from the current March 1 in an election year, to July 1 in the year prior to the election.

Additionally, the Council will also discuss ways to make it easier for an 18-year-old resident to run as a candidate. Currently, the Charter requires them to be “registered” as a voter for one year. This could be changed to allow other ways to check a candidate’s residency.

On a related election matter, the County’s Election Board has started cleaning up the voter list by removing voters who have moved out or are deceased. In order to expedite this cleanup effort, the fund for additional mailings by the County to registered voters could be increased, and coordinate that mailing with PSAs reminding people to return any and all outdated voter notification cards (VNC) through the mail back to the County.

Over the years, the total spending (by all candidates) in our city elections has increased. It will be helpful to get some data on how these figures have changed over the years? An increased election budget discourages new candidates to join the race. The question is – what can we do on limiting the election budget by candidates?

The Council may also discuss the results of the Advisory Ballot Question on 2- or 4-year terms and how to move forward?

Council to Consider a New Law Limiting Amount of Bulk Trash

At the last week’s Council meeting, an ordinance was introduced to implement a bulk trash fee schedule for collection of more than 20 items per year.

The Ordinance 20-O-02 will be introduced with respect to implementing a bulk trash fee schedule for collection of more than 29 items a year for single-family rental units that utilize City trash services, and 20 items per year for single-family owner-occupied units, with an effective date of May 1, 2020.

This ordinance includes the following provisions:
• All bulky refuse collections must be scheduled in advance
• Quantity and type of items must be identified for bulky refuse collection when scheduling a collection
• Up to four bulky refuse collections per the calendar year will be free of charge
• A maximum of 20 bulky refuse items collected per the calendar year will be free of charge for single-family owner-occupied units
• A maximum of 29 bulky refuse items collected per the calendar year will be collected free of charge for single-family rental units that utilize City trash services
• Bulky refuse items must be set out neatly and separated by type
• Collection fees for bulky refuse items exceeding identified quantities or incurring a charge must be paid in advance.

The Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. at Davis Hall, 9217 51st Avenue. If the Council approves the ordinance, the new law will become effective May 1


Police Arrests 3 Suspects in North College Park

Recent reports to Police regarding several thefts from vehicles and residences, and reported suspicious behavior, helped Police focus resources in the North College Park area. As a result, PGPD Police working both for the City contract program and County patrols arrested three (3) suspects in the 5000 block of Huron Street shortly after 2:30 a.m. this morning, Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Police Detectives continue their investigation of recent reported incidents. PGPD Officers assigned to County patrols and the City contract program continue to focus additional resources in areas where residents have reported crimes and suspicious activity. The best way for residents to help Police solve these crimes and arrest suspects is to report all observed criminal and suspicious activity immediately to 9-1-1.

Residents are invited to attend the monthly police-community meeting at MOM’s at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month, and the Police-Community Coffee Club at Jason’s Deli most Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m. , to learn about crime prevention and to discuss public safety concerns with Police Officers.
[City of College Park PSA]