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Council Approves Joint City Hall Development Agreement

At this week’s Council meeting, the City Council approved the Joint Development Agreement, Parking Agreement, and the Condominium Documents between the City of College Park and the University of Maryland concerning the City Hall Project. The Joint Development Agreement and Parking Agreement contain the terms necessary for pre-development requirements and construction. The Condominium Documents include the Declaration of Condominium, Condominium Plat, and the By-Laws, and set out how the property will be owned and maintained. Specifically, we will review (a) contributions made by the parties and how the “Initial University Contribution” (“true-up”) and parking payment from the University was determined; (b) the ownership structure once the project is complete; building and plaza costs and each party’s proportional share; and use of the municipal parking garage.

The key joint development agreements include: (a) The UMD will purchase the City property to reduce the City bonding and reflect the use of the redeveloped site. The title of the land will remain with the City. (b) a condominium regime will define the ownership structure with separate components for City / UMD structure and land. (c) The cost of exclusive space plus common area costs is split based on the overall use of the building. (d) The City and the UMD will share 50/50 costs of the plaza, with maintenance provided by the City. (e) All parking will be accommodated in the City garage.

The City cost of this project is approximately $19.6 million. The City will use $12.5 million using the money it borrowed in the fall of 2019 through a bond sale. The City has received approximately $850,000 in State grants, utilized General Fund savings, and will receive funds from the University of Maryland for the land contribution “true-up” ($2.3 million) and use of the municipal parking garage ($0.63 million). Approval of the Joint Development Agreement and Parking Easement provides the legal path for the University of Maryland to pay the City the costs associated with the land “true-up” and for its use of the municipal parking garage, totaling approximately $3M. The City will also use $3.1 million from its reserves.

The $2.33 million credit the City will be getting is due to the fact that the City is contributing more (68% – 32%) lands to the joint development, whereas the UMD will be using more spaces (64% – 36%) in the building (the net ratio is 55%-45% including the shared plaza space). The $0.63 million on parking the UMD will be paying accounts for their staff using 124 parking spaces for $90/space/month over 5 years. This is the payment they are paying to help reduce our initial project cost.

You can read more information about the vote on the agreement here on the Diamondback’s website.

Food Pantries Around the Area

If you or your loved ones are in need of food assistance, food pantries and distribution sites are operating throughout Prince George’s County, including two locations in College Park. To find the location nearest to you, use the interactive map to find a site near you at: https://bit.ly/PGCFoodSites #PGCCOVID19

Hollywood Farmers Market to Open this Saturday

Good news! The Hollywood Farmers Market opens this Saturday. The Governor’s order allows local farmers markets to operate as they’re important in making food sources available to local residents during this pandemic. In the beginning, the market will be operating in drive-thru mode, meaning – you’ll have to pre-order before the market day, and pick your orders up at the market. More information can be found here on the market’s website :

Hello all! It’s been such an interesting winter! I hope all are staying healthy and safe. We’ve missed everyone and have been eager to start the market. Unfortunately, our market is going to be a little different this year. For the start, we will have the market as a Drive-Thru with only essential needs. Our returning vendors for the opening weekend will be Calvert Farm, Waltz Family Farm, Alcoba Coffee, and Victory Chapel Family Farm. Please welcome our new vendor Sharrah Orchard! Schmidt Spirits will be handing out 4oz. containers of hand sanitizer. At some point, we’ll have them as a vendor but for now, we appreciate their generosity!

So, we have a few requests:
1. That you, our customers, are patient and caring. This is all new to us and our vendors.
2. That you pre-order all of your products. Many of our vendors will close their preorders by 10pm on Wednesday.
3. Pick a Sign-Up Genius time.
4. When you arrive to the market at your given time please drive down by the back corner of MOMs and then you will drive thru the market and and exit by the Electric Charging Station (please see the map). We’ll have volunteers directing traffic. Cars will follow a single file line, starting with the Market Table to get any information. Customers will stay in their cars, keeping 6′ distance as much as possible.
5. Open your trunk or back doors so vendors can place items directly inside.
6. Following the traffic line you’ll exit down by back corner of MOM’s and then out of the parki

Our Vendors:


Alcoba Coffee

Jose Castillo
1 lb. bags of Guatemalan Coffee in Light, Medium or Dark Roast both ground and whole bean ($10.00 per bag)
You can purchase by emailing Jose at: jose.castillobeza@yahoo.com


Calvert Farm
Pam Stegall

Calvert Farm is a small family farm that uses Eco-sustainable practices.
Email Pam at farmer@calvertfarm.com for a full list of produce


Sharrah Orchard
Nate Sharrah

Family owned Sharrah Orchard is located in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania near Gettysburg.
Order HERE


Victory Chapel Family Farm
Lorne Williams

At Victory Chapel Family Farms our honey is produced sustainably and locally in the Washington Metro area. The bees forage local multi- floral nectar sources. Raw honey is extracted from the honeycomb without heat or filtration, and packaged immediately, thus capturing all the flavor and aroma of honey. Currently we only have 1 pound containers of honey priced at $10.00 per pound.  Order at Local Honey


Waltz Family Farm
Jay and Laurie Waltz

Waltz Family Farm, selling our meats at farm markets and the Valley Co-op of Hagerstown.
Please make sure you order by Wednesday at 10pm.  Order HERE

Next week we will welcome Rustiq Bakery. 
Rustiq is located in Historic Savage Mill and use wholesome, straightforward ingredients and offer food prepared with integrity.
Check out their website HERE
You can preorder for pick up at one of their many other Farmer’s Markets and get a taste of what is coming our way.  🙂

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City Projects $2 Million Revenue Loss Due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a lot of financial pain to our local businesses,  and many of our residents who have lost their jobs. The pandemic is also expected to cause a good amount of financial pain to state and local governments across the country. Washington D.C projects a loss of $722 million, Montgomery County is expecting a loss of $600M . Prince George’s County officials are also warning a revenue loss due to COVID-19. According to the Washington Post, local governments in D.C. region are revising budgets, halting projects to blunt economic impact of COVID-19. Maryland is expecting a budget loss of $2.8B, and Gov Hogan has ordered a budget freeze to address the COVID-19 impact.

Thanks to our City staff, who have made some initial projections on how the pandemic might impact City’s pocketbook. You can read staff comments here on this week’s Council meeting packet (starts on page 247). The City Council will discuss these numbers at this week’s Council meeting.

According to City staff, College Park may experience $2 million of reduced revenue and additional contingency due to the pandemic. This projection is based on the assumption that businesses will be starting to be back to “normal” by June 30 this year, which marks the end of the FY2020 fiscal year. Most experts think the economic effect of COVID-19 pandemic will continue for at least 3 years.

College Park’s projected losses amount to about 10% City’s total FY 2021 revenues, which is projected at $20.35 million.

The projected loss of $2 million includes losses in revenues from admissions and amusement tax, personal property tax, income tax, highway user tax, hotel/motel tax, occupancy permits, parking meter revenue, garage pay station, and garage parking. It doesn’t, however, account for any impact on City’s property tax revenue. Please read on that later.

Also, please note that the projections are only estimates – the actual figures will depend on how things evolve in the coming days.

Admission & Amusement Tax (Total Revenue $650,000)
City gets this tax on revenues derived from entertainment and amusement activities such as motion pictures, coin-operated amusements, and athletic events. This includes the University of Maryland’s athletic events, which accounts for the majority of this revenue. The revenue is estimated based on 3-year historical trends. With all UMD games closed due to pandemic, staff estimates a loss of 10% each in FY 2020 and FY2021. The FY 2021 estimate may be more if the UMD does not open its games this fall.

 

Hotel & Motel Tax (Total Revenue $1,400,000)
The hotels and motels in College Park and around the country are experiencing a big hit in financial losses as most Americans have canceled non-essential travel plans due to the Stay-at-Home orders imposed by most U.S. states. About a month ago, the Hotel at the University of Maryland laid off 150 people after temporarily closing its doors.  The City projects a loss of 30% of the estimated Hotel & Motel tax in FY20 and FY21 from the hotels in College Park. This tax comes from an allocation of the County-imposed hotel tax (not a separate/additional City tax). The city receives one-half of the 7% tax collected by Prince George’s County. Estimates are based on 2-year trends.

 

Income Tax (Total Revenue $2,100,000)
With millions of Americans losing their jobs City gets this tax from the part of the income tax City residents pay. The State Comptroller distributes an amount that equals the greater of a) 8.5% of the State income tax liability of College Park residents; b) 17% of Prince George’s County income tax liability of College Park residents; or c) 0.37% of the Maryland taxable income of City residents. Estimates are based on the current year’s projected receipts. Staff estimates a 5% loss of the HUR tax both in FY 2020 and FY2021 due to the COVID-19 impact.

Personal Property Tax: $1,000,000
Staff estimates a total loss of 10% both in FY 20 and FY 21. This tax cut is determined by applying the Proposed tax rate to the assessed value of inventory, furnishings, and fixtures on all businesses located within the City. Assessed values are determined by the State from annual reports filed by each business entity. FY2021 estimate based on $119,331,700 estimated assessed valuation of personal property @ $0.838 per $100 tax rate, same rate as prior year.

Highway User Tax $637,145
The City and the other municipalities get the Highway User Revenue (HUR) from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) on the usage of the State roads and high ways. Estimates are provided by the SHA based on the most recent registration and mileage data on file.

The Maryland Municipal League (MML) has advised municipalities to lower down the revenue figure in the FY21 budget. In its March 21 memo, the MML writes:

“Because so many businesses have shut down and people are hunkering down at home, we can anticipate significant decreases in gasoline sales and vehicle titling. Resulting decreases in gasoline tax revenues and vehicle titling fees that support HURs will depress these revenue receipts and result in lower HUR distributions for both this fiscal year and next. You will want to factor that in plugging HUR projected revenues into your budget revenue projections.”

Staff estimates a 10% loss of the HUR tax both in FY 2020 and FY2021 due to the COVID-19 impact.

Staff’s $2M projection, however, does not include possible losses in property taxes, which may happen if the effect of the current economic downturn continues. The property tax is based on triennial property assessment. The next assessment is expected to happen in early 2022. About 50% ($10 million) of City revenues come from real / property taxes,  thus a reduction of property values/housing market may have a significant negative effect on City’s revenue starting in FY2023. Though most experts are predicting a softening of the housing market, they’re still debating the extent of that effect.

Thanks to the good pre-COVID economy, the City can absorb the $2M loss for now without cutting any services or programs. However, if the revenue loss due to the current economic downfall continues, the City may consider adopting other extreme measures, depending on the scale of the future revenue losses. Those measures may include (a) reducing departmental expenses (b) deferring capital expenditures (c) depleting fund balance/reserve (d) staff reduction (e) tax increase.

Let us hope that situations get back to normal soon so that we do not need to take any of these extreme measures.

Please let me know if you’ve any questions. Thank you.

[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of mine alone and are not necessarily those of City of College Park, or any other organization that I’m officially affiliated]

Council to Support Wawa Development near IKEA

Wawa is requesting the Detailed Site Plan (DSP) review for the construction of a 4,736 square-foot food and beverage store with a 10-pump gas station on an existing parking lot. The 1.47- acre site is located at 10050 Baltimore Avenue, just north of Holiday Inn and northeast of Ikea, approximately 140 feet west of the intersection of Ikea Centre Boulevard and Baltimore Avenue (US Route 1).
You can read more about the proposed development here on my blog.
At tomorrow’s meeting, the City Council will consider approving the Detailed Site Plan with the following conditions: 1. Prior to certification of the Detailed Site Plan, the Applicant shall revise the Site Plan to:
a. Provide a sidewalk connection from Ikea Way to the rear entrance near the Bus Stop and to the front entrance from the north side of the building.
b. Provide a 5-foot sidewalk along the property frontage of the internal driveway.
c. Indicate the number of bicycle parking spaces to be provided and revise the parking space table to clearly show required and provided parking.
d. Determine the final location of the parking for bike/scooter share.
e. Revise the E-Scooter parking detail to be consistent with the striping detail provided by the City.
2. Prior to certification of the Detailed Site Plan, the Applicant shall revise the Architectural Plans to:
a. Consider using hardi-plank or panel instead of EIFS, adding manufactured stone veneer pilasters to the façade to match the entrance feature and using a color on the façade that more closely matches the colors used for the gasoline pumps and canopy

Public Works to Resume Limited Brush and Bulk Trash Collections Next Week

The Department of Public Works will resume limited brush and bulk trash collections next week, Thursday April 30 and Friday, May 1. Schedule an appointment at 240-487-3590 or email publicworks@collegeparkmd.gov. Please do not put anything out prior to scheduling an appointment.
Electronics Recycling and Metal Hardware and Appliances are still suspended until further notice.
The Department of Public Works has temporarily set up a location (either a packer truck or roll-off for bulk) for City of College Park residents to bring up to three items of bulk trash to Davis Hall during the hours of 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, Monday – Friday. In addition, there is an electronics drop off box near the entrance of the front door to Davis Hall. No more than three items to be disposed of. Must have a valid College Park ID.
For any information related to refuse, recycling, or other Public Works related items, contact the Department at: 240-487-3590 or
The Department is located at 9217 51st Ave. Business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
[City of College Park]

City to Form Youth Advisory Council

At last week’s meeting, the City Council decided to form a youth advisory council in College Park.

In July 2019, the City of College Park received a letter from the Youth Advisory Committee in Greenbelt, MD requesting that the City explore the process in establishing a Youth Advisory Committee and the benefits of having such a committee in a municipality.

The discussion also included topics such as typical costs associated with youth advisory committees, and composition of the committee including common selection mechanisms.

At the meeting, the Council asked the current “Committee on Committee” to work on these details about the new committee and reported back to the Council in the future.

Route 1 Mask Match Needs Volunteers

Emergency Child Care for Essential Workers During COVID-19

All child care centers are now closed in Maryland, except those caring for children of essential personnel. During this State of Emergency, child care programs have been established by the State to serve only designated essential personnel. Please see the flyer below to find more information on who is eligible, what will it cost, how to find a provider and more.

City May Create a Bee City USA Committee

At last night’s meeting, the Council discussed the possibility of establishing a new Bee City Committee and direct staff to advertise and recruit for committee member volunteers.

During October 8, 2019 Worksession, the Council acknowledged the importance of pollinator conservation and subsequently approved a resolution to designate the City of College Park as a Bee City USA affiliate. When the Resolution was approved by the City Council, there was discussion about the possibility of utilizing the Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) or a smaller subcommittee of the CBE as the Bee City Committee.

However, it has become clear that residents outside of the CBE are interested in volunteering as Bee City Committee members. Based on the information received from the Bee City USA Coordinator and interest from residents outside of the CBE. The City Council discussed creating a new stand-alone Bee City USA Committee to bring committed participants together that will advocate for pollinator conservation.

Council to Discuss Joint Development Agreement with the UMD for the City Hall Project

At tonight’s meeting, the City Council will review the approval of the Joint Development Agreement, Parking Agreement, and the Condominium Documents between the City of College Park and the University of Maryland concerning the City Hall Project. The Joint Development

Agreement and Parking Agreement contain the terms necessary for pre-development requirements and construction. The Condominium Documents include the Declaration of Condominium, Condominium Plat, and the By-Laws, and set out how the property will be owned and maintained. Specifically, we will review (a) contributions made by the parties and how the “Initial University Contribution” (“true-up”) and parking payment from the University was determined; (b) the ownership structure once the project is complete; building and plaza costs and each party’s proportional share; and use of the municipal parking garage. The Condominium Declaration is the preliminary version of the agreement because the “as-built” information is required to finalize.

The City cost of this project is approximately $19.6 million. The City will use $12.5 million using the money it borrowed in the fall of 2019 through a bond sale. The City has received approximately $850,000 in State grants, utilized General Fund savings, and will receive funds from the University of Maryland for the land contribution “true-up” ($2.3 million) and use of the municipal parking garage ($0.63 million). Approval of the Joint Development Agreement and Parking Easement provides the legal path for the University of Maryland to pay the City the costs associated with the land “true-up” and for its use of the municipal parking garage, totaling approximately $3M. The City will also use $3.1 million from its Reserves.

TODAY: Virtual Public Hearings on WSSC and M-NCPPC Budget

Today, Prince George’s County Council will host virtual public hearings on the fiscal year 2021 budget of WSSC (4:30 pm) and M-NCPPC (5:00 pm). You can sign up to speak here: https://bit.ly/2VHBzdJ

The recent briefing before the County Council suggested that WSSC line relocation cost in the beltway expansion project may hike water bills of the WSSC taxpayers. You can read more on this in my blog here: http://wp.me/pFRaB-6It

Furthermore, the M-NCPPC hasn’t started the feasibility study on the north College Park Community Center with $250,000 it allocated in Fy2020. Please ask to continue funding this study in M-NCPPC FY2021 budget.

WSSC Line Relocation Cost in Beltway Expansion Project may Hike Water Bills

Beltway Near College Park

On March 12th, WSSC briefed the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee of the Prince George’s County Council and the Transportation & Environment Committee of the Montgomery County Council regarding the potential infrastructure cost to WSSC from the beltway widening project.

Based on MDOT’s SHA Alternative 10 (the option SHA has identified with the greatest limit of disturbance), WSSC estimates infrastructure costs ranging from $1.3 billion (100 percent open-cut construction) to $2.0 billion (100 percent drilling and tunneling) not including overhead costs.

It is unclear how these costs will be shared between WSSC, SHA, and a third-party under a P3 program.

At the March 12 joint briefing, WSSC stated that ratepayers will be liable for these costs.

A 1958 memorandum of understanding between WSSC and the then-Maryland State Roads Commission states that WSSC is responsible for the cost of any water infrastructure relocation required by modifying or widening a state road. This MOU remains in effect.

When Governor Hogan announced the proposed I-495 and I -270 Managed Lanes Program nearly three years ago, he promised that the P3 project could be constructed at no cost to taxpayers, and he has repeated that promise numerous times. The private concessionaire, he said, would bear the costs and risks of constructing the new lanes, paying down those costs over time through toll collections.

The P3 proposal does not detail the costs of relocating affected utility infrastructure.

MDOT has conducted rudimentary cost estimates of utility relocations that greatly underestimate WSSC’s projections.

It remains unclear whether WSSC relocation costs will be borne by ratepayers or the P3 concessionaire.

The prospect that WSSC ratepayers could face significant increases in our water bills to cover these P3-associated costs is unacceptable. We should not be responsible for the cost of these private toll lanes in any way.

If MDOT proceeds with the project and WSSC remains responsible for any associated relocation costs of its water infrastructure, the Prince George’s County council should refuse to fund any WSSC Capital Improvements Program that includes such costs and associated rate increases.

 

City Council Approves Construction Budget of the New College Park Woods Club House

At last week’s meeting, the Council approved an amendment to the contract with Broughton Construction Company for the scope and design of the College Park Woods Clubhouse, for an increase in cost of $445,106, bringing the total cost of the updated Design Build Contract for the College Park Woods Clubhouse to $999,776.

On August 19, 2019 the City awarded a design-build contract valued at $554,670.36 to the Broughton Construction Company. The contractor’s initial bid was based on an anticipated simple design with off-the-shelf materials. Consequently, the RFP referenced that “the new design shall be compatible with the residential nature of the surrounding neighborhood, with more windows and a less utilitarian presentation.”

Several factors have contributed to these expanded costs such as the design expanded from 2,200 sq/ft to 2,400 sq/ft. Storefront window aspects were added to the front and rear of the new building. Gender-neutral restroom stalls were added along with a pitched flat roof, with a high open ceiling versus a gable roof. A retractable wall separator was added.

Shoppers College Park to Offer Special Hours for Senior and At-Risk Residents

Good news! Starting next week, Shoppers College Park has agreed to start special hours for seniors and at-risk residents at its store. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, these exclusive hours will run every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 am to 9 am.

The notices at the Shoppers College Park store read:

“Help Us Help Our Neighbors. Each Tuesday and Thursday. 7 am – 9 am. We ask for your help to try to avoid shopping during these short windows of time and reserve them for our senior citizens and other at-risk members of our community. We appreciate your patience and support as you help us with this temporary request.”

Recently, the College Park City Council sent a letter to UNFI, the parent company of Shoppers College Park store, asking them to start special shopping hours at the Shoppers College Park store.

In addition to Shoppers, there are a number of grocers in the area that already have special hours for seniors. The list includes Giant, Safeway, Whole Foods, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Walmart. Please see the flyer below for details.

Thank you UNFI, and the management and staff at the Shoppers College Park store for offering these special hours. A special hour will help our senior and at-risk residents to conveniently and safely shop during this pandemic period.