KabirCares.org

SHA Updates Council about Ongoing Projects in College Park

The State Highway Administration came to this week’s City Council meeting and made its annual presentation to the Council about the ongoing projects the SHA and the MDOT (Maryland Department of Transportation) are currently working on.

These projects include:

(a) Improvement of the intersection at MD 430 Greenbelt Rd at Rhode Island Ave:
The City of College Park requested SHA to evaluate the installation of medians at the subject location to further calm traffic and provide refuge areas for those crossing MD 430. This would eliminate the pedestrian and bicyclist crash pattern at the access for the College Park Trolley Trail. The project proposes to install medians along MD 430 from west of Rhode Island Avenue to west of MD 193 (University Boulevard). Additionally, small sidewalk improvements are needed to address the permanent closure of the south leg of Rhode Island Avenue. The project is currently in construction with an anticipated completion date of Spring 2020.

(b) Improvement of the intersection MD 193 at Rhode Island Ave Project :
The proposed improvements will extend the left turn lane of eastbound MD 193 by 200’, provide an additional thru lane on westbound MD 193, and extend the southbound right turn lane on Rhode Island Avenue by 300’. A traffic study was completed, and the current configuration does not have the capacity to support the vehicles traveling through the intersection. Currently, this project is on hold indefinitely.

(c) The crosswalk/pedestrian signal project at Cherry Hill Rd and US 1:
The NTP on the project occurred on 9/15/19. The completion is expected to be late Winter/early Spring 2020.

(d) US 1 signal operations/synchronization:
No operations related complaints for US 1 have been received. All signals on US 1 from the DC line to Hollywood Ave have been upgraded with 3G/4G cellular communication and in SHA’s Centracs ATMS. This gives the SHA continuous monitoring of the signals, alarms for critical failures, split and cycle logs and the ability to make timing changes quickly. So if an intersection goes into flash the SHA gets a pop-up alarm and if someone complains our team can review logs to see exactly what was going on. The signal shop also upgraded the intersections along MD 193 in preparation for the UMD-Penn State game. We have gone from about 250 intersections upgraded statewide last year to over 700 now. For the UMD-Penn State game cell modems were installed at the key intersections along MD 193 in preparation of the game. Standard PM timing plans were used for the noon campus dismissal. Then at 3 PM, we switched to standard AM timing plans to get fans into the game. There were a few small problems and a few adjustments were made on the fly, but we essentially stuck to this plan. We are still assessing the outcome, but it appears that we were successful

(e) The Beltway I-495 & I-270 expansion project with the Public, Private Partnership Program (P3) Program:
Last Wednesday, State’s Board of Public Works (BPW) voted in favor of expanding Beltway at the American Legion Bridge and the part of the beltway up to I 270, and part of I-270 to I-370. This happened after Gov Hogan secured a key vote from Comptroller Franchot, who expressed concerns earlier about the $11 billion project to expand the entire beltway in Maryland.

Council Asks the County to Give Northgate Developers Partial Exemption from School Facilities Surcharge

At the last night’s meeting, the Council supported a partial exemption from the school facilities surcharge that Prince George’s County applies to new residential developments or redevelopments.

This surcharge covers anticipated increases in public educational services required to accommodate the residents that new development brings.

Inside the Capital Beltway-or if the building is located within a basic or conceptual site plan that abuts an existing or planned mass transit rail station operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)-the surcharge is $9,035 per unit. With proposed 296 units development, Northgate is asking for an exemption of $2.67 million of County School Facilities Surcharge.

College Park’s student housing market is strong. In the past several years, our city has seen nationally recognized, record sales on projects like Landmark and University View, as noted by the Washington Business Journal. For this reason, the Council felt strongly that large financial incentives (waivers and credits) for additional, highly lucrative student housing projects should be scrutinized.

In the letter to the County Council, the Council asked supporting a partial waiver for this project and it may defer to the County Council to determine the amount of the partial waiver. Alternatively, the letter asked the County Council that it may consider allowing the developer to pay the school facility surcharge over a period of time, to minimize the immediate impact on the developer’s financing position.

City to Send Letter to Prince George’s County School Board Regarding Bus Transportation

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the Council will consider approving a letter with its concerns about school bus transportation.

There have been many reports of buses not picking up students or being chronically late to bring or return students from the school. This critical situation is a public safety issue, prevents students from learning, and is a disruption to all students in the school.

Recently a group of parents sent a petition from over 350 County residents who are concerned about the current situation. Currently, the school board has brought together a task force that is looking at the issue both in the short and long term.

The letter asks (1) to evaluate and ensure proper use of the app called “Here Comes the Bus (2) to ensure all bus drivers understand their rout (3) to coordinate with school, administration to ensure attendance policies do not wrongfully punish students whose day is disrupted by a late bus (4) to ensure that all students whose bus is late still have the option to eat breakfast

Arrest Made in Armed Robbery on Lackawanna St.

Police report that two arrests have been made for the robbery reported on Wednesday, 8 Jan. 2020 on Lackawanna Street. Shortly after midnight, Wed. 8 Jan. 2020,  PGPD Officers responded to the 4900 block of Lackawanna St. for a report of a citizen armed robbery. Police believe this was a targeted incident and that there is no related threat to the community. Police are continuing their investigation.

On another incident, shortly after 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 Jan. 2020, Prince George’s County Police (PGPD) Officers responded to the 9800 block of 51st Avenue for a report of a resident armed robbery. Two male suspects were reported to have been in a late model Honda Pilot. Police Detectives are continuing their investigation. County patrol and City contracted PGPD Officers are alerted to this incident and are focusing patrols for any related activity.

Residents should report all observed 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.

Now the Beltway Expansion Put on Hold, What Can we Do?

Last Wednesday, State’s Board of Public Works (BPW) voted in favor of expanding Beltway at the American Legion Bridge and the part of the beltway up to I 270, and part of I-270 to I-370. This happened after Gov Hogan got a Key vote from Comptroller Franchot, who expressed concerns earlier about the $11 billion project to expand the entire beltway in Maryland.

According to Comptroller Franchot’s Facebook post (please see below) the rest of the beltway could be expanded later by the Board of Public Works.

For College Park and the surrounding community where Beltway was planned to be expanded, this news may bring some relief to the local residents and community members. In College Park, the expansion proposal would have impacted many Homes, causing losses of many trees and parkland, increased Pollution and noise. Additionally, with an extra 4 lanes, the traffic into Route 1 will increase.

At this time We don’t know when BPW will take that up and if the PG County portion of Beltway will be expanded first before the Montgomery part, where the opposition is a lot stronger.

Now the Beltway Expansion Put on Hold, What Can we Do?

House Legislation
The Maryland State House tried to pass several legislative reforms during the last General Assembly session. Unfortunately, all of them either died in the committees or weren’t voted on.
The bills that the House considered include: (1) the MDOT would require a Montgomery county’s consent before starting road widening on any highway. (2) n environmental impact study is completed before soliciting for construction contracts. (3) A bill would prohibit the Department of Public Works from approving a Public-Private_partnership (P3) until an independent rating assessment survey–to be completed.

Transparency of Data:
MDOT has developed a Traffic and Revenue Model that calculates the predicted traffic volumes, toll charges, and profit or loss of each potential toll lane segment in each scenario. MDOT also has assembled origin-destination data for trips in the two highway corridors

Toll Revenue: The revised agreement also says that 10% of the toll revenues will go toward transit improvement in the state before the total cost of the project is paid off. MoCo County Executive Elrich already said that the hope is that Montgomery will be able to use new state aid to do a rapid bus project transit on MD 355. We don’t know what is the Prince George’s County has a similar plan to implement a more transit-oriented solution.

Transportation plan
We should continue to advocate for smarter and more sustainable ways to address the congestion problem in the beltway.
There are local and regional transportation plans out there that can be used for this purpose. The MNCPPC has recently published a report on the North County transportation studies, called “Transportation Guide for Urban Communities” recommending some alternatives in College Park and Prince George’s County. The recommendations include Leverage transit
Complete the bicycle network, Supply, and managed parking. Additionally, Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition also recommends more transit-oriented solutions, such as more frequent MARC train service.Recently, the Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich office has been in talk of potential state-county agreements on alternatives to the current MDOT plan. Similar engagement is necessary from the Prince George’s County’s leadership.

Heating Safety Advisory

Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January and February!

Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Install and maintain Carbon Monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.

Tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

[City of College Park]

Tonight’s NCPCA Meeting: Beltway Expansion, Census, City Budget and More..

NCPCA – Your neighborhood association

Today is the second Thursday of the month and thus the day we’ll be having our monthly NCPCA meeting.

Today’s meeting will start with an update on Beltway Expansion. The State Board of Public Works has approved a plan to expand the Beltway starting (and including) American Legion bridge up to I-270 , plus the I-270 up to I-370. They may decide to expand the rest of the beltway at a later time. It’s important to stay engaged and advocate for more smart transportation alternatives including rapid bus service and transit options.

The group will get an update on the Hollywood Streetscape and Gateway Park projects.

Councilmember Denise Mitchell will make a presentation on the 2020 Census.

Members will then review the 2020FY budget wish list and what was accomplished. They will also discuss a proposal of items for the 2021FY budget wish list

As always, tonight’s NCPCA meeting will take place at Davis Hall at 7:30 pm. Hope to see you all there.

Report of Armed Robbery, 4900 block Lackawanna Street

Shortly after midnight this morning, Wed. 8 Jan. 2020,  PGPD Officers responded to the 4900 block of Lackawanna St. for a report of a citizen armed robbery. Police believe this was a targeted incident and that there is no related threat to the community. Police are continuing their investigation.

County patrol and City contracted PGPD Officers are alerted to this incident and are focusing patrols for any related activity. Residents should report all observed 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 to learn about crime prevention and to discuss public safety concerns with Police Officers.

[PSA about this morning’s incident from PGPD:]

Time to Finalize the Duvall Field Design

At this tonight’s meeting, meeting, the City Council will discuss and provide direction to staff on final design elements for Duvall Field improvements. About a year ago, City hired a consultant , Greenplay, LLC, who interviewed focus groups, stakeholder, and held community meetings to explore improvements of the fields. A concept plan was prepared and the consultant proposed the following
(1) Reconfigure the athletic/recreational fields to allow Multiple game field configurations and Simultaneous group practices. The consultant proposed a synthetic turf surface
(2) Add an events space containing a stage for performances and movie show, open space, children’s play area, picnic area and informal use.
(3) Add a recreational space for sports like basketball, volleyball, cricket pitch and bounce wall.
Other amenities such as parking, bio-retention, tree preservation and a walking/jogging trail are also included in the plan.
The conceptual plan was generally well-received by the community as evidenced through public comments, although, the consultant’s recommendation to use synthetic turf as the playing field surface has been controversial. In addition to written and public comments received, a petition signed by twelve families opposed to the use of artificial turf and in favor of natural fields was submitted to the Mayor and Council.
Subsequently, the Mayor and Council asked staff to enlist the assistance of the University of Maryland to conduct further research on the pros and cons of synthetic versus natural turf. There was an opportunity to have an Environmental Science and Policy class at the University of Maryland undertake a Capstone Project to conduct this research. The student class reviewed the literature on field surface options and summarized the relative strengths and drawbacks of each field type.
The field types evaluated were native soil/natural grass, modified or engineered soil, and synthetic or artificial turf. The estimated costs for Duvall associated with the installation, maintenance, and replacement for each field type were provided. A decision-making matrix (please see below) was also developed that listed relevant factors associated with player safety, environmental concerns, and practicality for each field type.
 
(Key: 1 – Best Rating, 3 – Worst rating)
The consultant Greenplay provided an itemized cost estimate totaling $5,621,775 to construct the proposed conceptual plan, which includes $1,456,000 for approximately 112,000 square feet of synthetic turf surface for ball fields. The cost to build the field of the same size with natural grass was estimated at $784,000 – $1,148,000. According to the student report, the cost for synthetic, modified and natural grass are $672,000 – $1,148,000, $308,000 – $448,000 and $67,200 – $336,000 respectively.
Both the Greenplay and student reports concluded that upfront costs would be higher with the installation of synthetic turf and that annual maintenance costs would be higher with natural turf. Long term costs were substantially equal. The Duvall Field Project is funded through the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget and has an unencumbered balance of $5,104,570, which includes bond sale proceeds and State bond bill funds. Additional State bond bill funds and Program Open Space (POS) funding may be available if necessary. Staff is recommending the Council to pursue final design based on a hybrid of modified and natural turf fields.

A 978-Bed Student Housing Coming to Berwyn

Gilbane Development Company has applied to redevelop the properties at 8430 and 8510 Baltimore Avenue located on the west side of Baltimore Avenue (US 1) opposite Quebec Street. The site consists of two lots to be combined into one 2.054-acre parcel. The northern lot, located at 8510 Baltimore Avenue, is improved with a Burger King fast food restaurant (to be referred to in this report as the Burger King lot). The southern lot, at 8430 Baltimore Avenue, contains an abandoned restaurant ( referred to as the Northgate lot).

The Applicant is proposing to raze both existing structures and construct a mixed-use development containing 296 multifamily dwelling units (978 beds) and 1,084 square feet of retail space. The property will include a parking structure containing 300 parking spaces. A variation request has been submitted with the PP application to allow for the removal of 5 specimen trees (3 on the property and 2 on adjoining property). In addition, the Applicant is requesting approval to impact regulated environmental features including flood plain and woodlands. Additionally, the applicant is requesting several alternative development district standards from the 2010 Approved Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment (Sector Plan).

At this week’s meeting, the Council will discuss the Preliminary Plan of Subdivision (PP) and Detailed Site Plan (DSP) of the proposed development.

Exemption from the County’s school facilities surcharge
The Council will discuss whether to support a full exemption from the school facilities surcharge that Prince George’s County applies to new residential developments or redevelopments. This surcharge covers anticipated increases in public educational services required to accommodate the residents that new development brings. Inside the Capital Beltway-or if the building is located within a basic or conceptual site plan that abuts an existing or planned mass transit rail station operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)-the surcharge is $9,035 per unit. Last year, the County exempted some or all of the school facilities surcharge for undergraduate student housing built west of US Route 1, north of Knox Road, and south of Metzerott Road . This was to promote the goals of the University District Vision 2020, as that

City Revitalization Tax Credit
The Council consider supporting a Revitalization Tax Credit for the Gilbane Development Company for the Northgate project for a total of $571,020 over five years. Qualifying projects are eligible to receive a five-year tax credit on the increased assessment attributed to the taxable improvements upon project completion. The maximum tax credit is an amount equal to 75% of the increased assessment of City tax imposed in the first year, 60% in the second year, 45% in the third year, 30% in the fourth year, and 15% in the fifth year. Currently the properties are assessed at a value of $2,836,800, while the anticipated completion of the Project at the end of 2022 is estimated to increase the total assessment to $80,925,000. Therefore, the total increased assessment would be $78,088,200, which given the City’s current real property tax rate of $.325 per $100, results in a future annual tax bill of $263,006 upon completion.

Parents Share Concerns about County School Bus System

A group of College Park school parents has started an online petition asking the Prince George’s County Board of Education to address the school transportation issue. According to the petition, School-age children are repeatedly left standing at bus stops until well after school has started. The schools do not fully take into consideration these tardies that are not their responsibility.

It looks like these issues are somewhat caused by a school bus driver shortage issue that the PGCPS is experiencing for some time. PGPCPS still needs to hire about 100-150 drivers to fully staff the 97 of the 1,142 routes that don’t currently have assigned drivers. PGCPS is holding bi-weekly job fairs to fill the positions, however, they are fighting an uphill battle to attract candidates who are taking their expertise to Metro or other local school systems. Unfortunately, other neighboring school systems are also facing a driver shortage issue to some degree.

A few months back, the PGCPS CEO Dr. Goldson issued the following statement about the scheduling issues: “Your child’s bus route does not currently have an assigned driver and we are covering the route through other means, including substitute drivers and splitting routes. Unfortunately, there will likely be delayed arrivals and drop-offs until further notice”.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know how many busses are arriving late in a given period. Last month the Fox5 – D.C. also reported the school system isn’t tracking how many buses are seriously behind schedule.

To fix the problem, the school board has formed a transportation task force that has been meeting monthly. Members are working to develop a plan that would combine routes to offset the driver shortage. An interim report is expected sometime this month. However, by March, the task force is expected to make scheduling recommendations for arrival and departure times, bus driver recruitment and retention and any changes that should be made for the next school year. The full report from the task force is expected to be released by spring break. Dr. Goldson is hoping to have a solution in time to implement for the 2020-21 school year.

Our City Council has limited influence over the PGCPS, however, we can share concerns with them in a letter approved by the Mayor and Council.

Community Meeting about a New Park in Sunnyside

College Park Crime Stats: December 2019

North College Park (15)

December  1 thru December  6, 2019.
9600 Blk 52ND Ave     Breaking & Entering
4700 Blk Cherry Hill RD           Theft
4700 Blk Muskogee ST            Theft
9500 Blk Baltimore Ave          Theft

December  7 thru December  14, 2019.
9500 Blk 52ND AVE     Breaking & Entering
9600 Milestone Way   Theft
9500 Blk Baltimore Ave          Stolen Veh
4700 Blk Cherry Hill RD           Theft from auto
4700 Blk Cherry Hill RD           Theft from auto
10000 Blk Baltimore Ave        Theft from auto.
9600 Blk Milestone Way         Theft

December 15 thru December 21, 2019.
9100 Blk Baltimore Ave          Theft from auto
9000 Blk Baltimore Ave          Theft from auto
9600 Blk Baltimore Ave          Theft from auto.

December 22 thru December 27, 2019.
9600 Blk 53RD Ave      Theft from auto

Mid Town : Berwyn & Lakeland (4)

December  1 thru December  6, 2019.
8100 Blk Baltimore Ave          Theft

12/3/19-12/9/19
4800 blk Berwyn House Rd      Vandalism to Auto

12/18/19-12/23/19
4700 blk of Tecumseh St         Stolen Auto

12/24/19-12/31/19

8400 blk of Baltimore Ave      Recovered Stolen Auto

Old Town / Calvert Hill (3)

12/3/19-12/9/19
4100 blk of Guilford Dr           Vandalism
12/10/19-12/17/19
4300 blk of Hartwick Rd          Theft from Auto
12/24/19-12/31/19
7500 blk of Columbia Ave       Breaking & Entering

West College Park (1)
12/18/19-12/23/19
8800 blk of 35th Ave   Breaking & Entering
University of Maryland Police (14)

12/1/2018 21:00         Theft    4300 block Chapel Ln
12/2/2018 16:40         Theft    4028 Stadium Dr
12/5/2018 20:58         Assault 3900 block Campus Dr
12/6/2018 16:50         Theft    4298 Campus Dr
12/10/2018 12:00       Theft    8300 block Boteler Ln
12/8/2018 1:00           Burglary 3900 block Campus Dr
12/7/2018 16:00         Theft    4028 Stadium Dr
12/8/2018 20:00         Theft                4145 Valley Dr
12/17/2018 11:56       Sex Offense     6 Fraternity Row
12/13/2018 21:30       Theft    3400 block Tulane Dr
12/18/2018 9:00 Theft 8000 block Greenmead Dr
12/21/2018 12:49       Vandalism 3834 Campus Dr
12/27/2018 9:15         Vandalism       3291 Metzerott Rd
12/28/2018 22:00       Vandalism       7569 Baltimore Ave

MilkBoy to Close – Clarice to Continue Shows

After spending two and a half years in College Park, MilkBoy has closed. Shows produced by The Clarice are expected to continue at this location, and additional details about future plans are forthcoming.

A new good and beverage partner is being sought to bring quality arts, music and entertainment to this venue.

MilkBoy has said in a statement “we have loved our time in College Park, the community, and especially the people who became a part of our extended family. The city of College Park is a wonderful place and poised for great things ahead. “

Clarice will continue to present performing arts by national and international creative innovators and artists at this location, and we wish MilkBoy the best on its continuing ventures.

“From the beginning, we have aimed to add to the vibrant artistic community of Greater College Park. We feel it has always been our responsibility to be present in the community we value and create opportunities for community engagement with our Visiting Artist program. MilkBoy helped pave the way for us to do that in new and innovative ways, and we are grateful for their years of partnership.” – Clarice said in a statement.