New Neighborhood Signs in Sunnyside and College Park Woods

Congratulations to our Sunnyside neighbors on having this wonderful new sign at the entrance of their neighborhood. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to ask our Public Works to replace the old sign at the end of Odessa Rd. Based on the consultation with the neighbors and the City Staff, we decided to post this new sign at this new location at the entrance of the neighborhood. Thanks to our Public Works staff for doing a great job!

Additionally, Public Works Staff installed College Park Woods Community Gateway Sign – in the median island on St. Andrews Place. In addition, Electric LED lighting has been installed in the Woods median island for nighttime illumination of the gateway sign.

Today – FREE Food Distribution

Today, Friday, May 29th, Beltsville Seventh-Day Adventist Church will distribute groceries-to-go beginning at 12:30 p.m. The food distribution event will provide non-perishable groceries, one box per car. Each box is estimated to feed a family of four for two days. Seventh-Day Adventist Church is located at 4220 Ammendale Road in Beltsville.

City May Eliminate Parking Permit Fees in Residential Neighborhoods

A parking sign on a College Park street

At this week’s meeting, the City Council introduced an Ordinance to eliminate residential parking permit fees.

Residential permit parking zones have proven to be the most effective means to reduce overcrowded parking in neighborhoods due to non-residents taking parking space from residents and their guests.

Historically, residents have often resisted the establishment of residential permit parking zones due to the annual $10 fee per vehicle. A common opinion is that a resident should not have to pay to park on the street where they live. By eliminating permit fees, some neighborhoods may wish to be included in a residential permit zone to alleviate parking competition on their streets.

Right now, except where otherwise established by Council action, the default number of residential permits issued per address is 5 annual permits, and 2 visitor/guest permits.

The elimination of annual residential permits and visitor permit fees would reduce revenue by approximately $25,000. It is not proposed to eliminate monthly parking permit fees such as in the municipal garage monthly on-street zones.

That said, there are possibilities to make some savings – in other ways, namely through the proposed license plate reader and online registration.

License plate reader used by the University of Maryland Dept of Transportation

License plate reader used by the University of Maryland Dept of Transportation

The FY21 capital improvement budget includes the purchase and installation of License Plate Recognition (LPR) equipment. This will allow migration to residential permit zone vehicle registration by the license plate.

Online registration is also being implemented. These changes will reduce the operational cost of the residential parking permit program by eliminating mailing and physical hangtag permit costs. This will help offset the lost revenue if fees are eliminated. The annual cost of postage and hang tags is approximately $18,000.

In the interim between the adoption of this ordinance and implementation of residential permit zone permitting by online registration, all current annual and bi-annual residential parking permits will be extended without payment of additional permit fees.

[City of College Park]

City to Give $1.45 million Additional COVID-19 Economic Assistance to Residents, Small Businesses

At last night’s Council meeting, the Council approved additional economic assistance programs, totaling up to $1,450,000, to assist families, senior citizens, and other individuals, and small businesses and non-profits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding for all, but the Modified Business Assistance and Façade Improvement Program, is reimbursable through the CARES Act, that the Congress approved recently.

The proposals include:

(1) Small Business Assistance Grants Program – $1,000,000
This fund will assist small businesses (and non-profits if allowed by CARES Act funding requirements) with 25 or fewer full-time equivalents (FTEs), with direct economic support for costs of business interruption caused by required closures, voluntary closures to promote social distancing, or affected by decreased customer demand due to COVID-19. Program sunsets December 1, 2020.

Up to a maximum grant of $15,000 (each business/owner) is available. Upon approval, the grant will be paid in 3 installments, 30 days apart, with the first paid upon approval at 50%, the second at 25%, and the third at $25%. 2nd and 3rd installment payments contingent upon submission of required documentation of continuing operations of the business. The program ends on December 1, 2020.

Commercial business (and non-profits if allowed by CARES Act funding requirements) with no more than 10 outlets are eligible.  The businesses may not be part of a national franchise, and with a physical presence in the City of College Park. They must have 25 or fewer FTEs with operating business as of January 1, 2020. Vape, liquor, and tobacco businesses, or age-restricted businesses ineligible, if applicable per law. City elected officials are also not eligible.

(2) Emergency Financial Aid to Families, Senior Citizens, and Other Individuals – $200,000
This fund will provide financial assistance to families, senior citizens, and other individuals who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial assistance may be provided for eligible expenses, such as rent/mortgage payments to avoid eviction/foreclosure; unforeseen funeral costs; utility payments; and other emergency needs as deemed necessary.

(3) Additional Funding for Non-Profits – $100,000
This fund will provide additional funding of $20,000 each to Meals on Wheels and the College Park Food Bank.

(4) Modified Business Assistance and Façade Improvement Program – $150,000

Eligible business/owner can receive up to a maximum grant of $15,000. Funding for all, but the Modified Business Assistance and Façade Improvement Program, is reimbursable through the CARES Act.

Additionally, City is considering to roll out an additional fund of $200,000 on Business Promotional Assistance – with economic support or costs of business interruption caused by required closures, voluntary closures to promote social distancing, or affected by decreased customer demand due to COVID-19 by attracting/incentivizing customers to patronize local businesses. Program sunsets December 1, 2020. Staff recommended delaying implementing this program until additional details are developed.

Programs will sunset on December 1, 2020.

THANK YOU – To Those That Served, and are Serving

Today is Memorial Day.

Due to the restrictions placed on community gatherings due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City is unable to hold this year’s Memorial Day event at the City’s Veterans Memorial.

At last week’s City Council meeting, the Mayor and Council decided to make a proclamation to honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms, extend gratitude and appreciation for members of our Armed Forces past and present, and offer this proclamation as a token of our respect from a grateful City.

Though we’ll not be observing the annual event, we must never forget those who have sacrificed their lives to maintain the security of our great nation and the liberties we hold so dear and thank them for defending our freedoms; and we wish also to express our gratitude to their families and thank them for their sacrifices.

We also want to say thank you to all of the front-line essential workers – nurses, health care professionals, police officers, firefighters,  grocery store workers, teachers, school support staff, all of the other public employees working hard on our behalf during this difficult time.

Due to Memorial Day, all City facilities are closed today. All refuse and recycling collections will slide forward one day. For example, today’s regular collections will be collected tomorrow, etc. Special collection appointments will only be made for Friday of this week.

Council to Ask Federal Support To Reopen And Rebuild Local Economies

At tomorrow’s Council meeting the Council will consider approving a resolution in support of the fair, direct, federal emergency support to reopen and rebuild local American economies. The resolution says America’s cities and towns, like College Park face unprecedented threats due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic emergency. Municipalities are essential to America’s economic recovery and without funding support for local governments, municipalities may go from being a critical part of the economic solution to becoming a major obstacle to long-term stabilization and recovery.

America’s cities and towns will experience budgetary shortfalls of up $134 billion in the fiscal year 2020 alone, and the negative effects of the pandemic emergency on local communities will continue long after this year. Three million critical municipal worker jobs are at risk, threatening cuts to basic community services, including 9-1-1 response, sanitation, and maintenance. The City has been part of the emergency response and now calls on Congress to build a united national partnership for a safe, healthy, prosperous life. College Park has projected approximately $2 million in revenue loss due to the pandemic, while expenditures have increased.

College Park calls on Congress to allocate fair and direct federal support to all of America’s communities, regardless of population size. The resolution says the funding must be flexible and address not only the additional expenses incurred by communities to respond to the pandemic emergency, but also the dramatic budgetary shortfalls resulting from pauses in commerce, tourism, and other economic engines. Local governments, like College Park, will ensure federal funds are immediately used to rebuild and reopen the national economy. Funding will keep middle-class workers employed and critical services operating.

City to Support Bill Asking for Federal Support for Local Municipalities

At this week’s City Council meeting, the Council will consider adopting a resolution in support of the bill H.R. 6175, The REHAB Act – for a fair, direct, federal emergency support to reopen and rebuild local emergency support to reopen and rebuild local American economies.

The REhab act would provide federal tax incentives for affordable housing, mixed-use development, and private infrastructure in urban centers and activity centers such as College Park.

The Act would support the following:
 Focus incentives on the rehabilitation of existing assets near public transportation, which will also
support smarter local public investment strategies.
 Include infrastructure upgrades in eligible project costs.
 Encourage investment in affordable housing in walkable communities.
 Encourage greater density and retrofitting of existing housing.


Council Makes Proclamation on this Year’s Memorial Day

Due to the restrictions placed on community gatherings due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City is unable to hold this year’s Memorial Day event at the City’s Veterans Memorial.

At last week’s City Council meeting, the Mayor and Council decided to make a proclamation to honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms, extend gratitude and appreciation for members of our Armed Forces past and present, and offer this proclamation as a token of our respect from a grateful City.

City Cancels this Year’s 4th of July Event

At this week’s Council meeting, the City Council decided to cancel this year’s Fourth of July celebration, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City continues to monitor the situation and will cancel or modify other upcoming events as necessary to protect the health and safety of participants and staff.

City events that have been canceled include Brunch with Bunny, Spring Egg Hunt, Memorial Day Tribute, 75th Anniversary Parade and Festival, and the new Lake Artemesia Concert Series (a mutual decision between Berwyn Heights and College Park). Plans for the City’s Night at the Movies events are currently on hold. There is an option to do a drive-in style movie if the Recreation Board, Mayor and Council, and City staff feel comfortable moving forward with that option.

$29 Million Route 1 Reconstruction to Start Next Week

According to the MDOT / SHA, the Route 1 construction this month on a three-year, $29 million project to improve safety and operations for motorists, bicyclist and pedestrians along US 1 (Baltimore Avenue) from College Avenue/Regents Drive to MD 193 (University Boulevard) in College Park.

This 1.4-mile project also supports revitalization and traffic relief along this highly traveled stretch of US 1. Construction is scheduled to begin after Memorial Day.

This project will not only produce a safer, more attractive and less congested US 1, but will spur economic development and recovery in one of the region’s most important corridors, according to Gov. Hogan.

Planned improvements include:
• widening lanes to provide two lanes in each direction and auxiliary lanes that transition into turn lanes and adding a raised median,
• adding intersection lighting,
• roadway resurfacing and landscaping,
• adding a five-foot wide bicycle lane on each side of US 1,
• improving sidewalks and crosswalk ramps to Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance,
• upgrading drainage and stormwater management facilities and relocating utilities, and
• adding signage and pavement markings.

According to MDOT, this project incorporates MDOT SHA’s innovative Context Driven design elements, such as continental crosswalks and dedicated bicycle lanes, to help enhance safety for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

This project was first announced in June 2015 as part of the Hogan’s Administration’s $1.97 billion investment in roads and timber bridges. Carrying more than 38,000 vehicles per day, US 1 is a major north-south artery located in the City of College Park in Prince George’s County and the gateway to the University of Maryland.

When completed and tied together with the Purple Line rail system that will come through the University of Maryland campus, College Park will be a model for Maryland’s vision for safe and efficient multi-modal access and mobility – according to the MDOT.

The project will be divided into two phases. Phase One includes work in the southern section – from College Avenue to Lakeland Road. Phase Two will take place in the northern section – from Lakeland Road to MD 193. Each phase is expected to last approximately 18 months.

During construction, temporary single- or double-lane closures may be in effect 24/7 on US 1 and on MD 193. Additional lane closures and work times may be needed to expedite work and keep the project on schedule. Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the project limits.

The project was initially projected to take four years to complete, but MDOT SHA worked with local residents, officials, and other stakeholders and have trimmed that schedule by a year. Construction is now estimated to be complete by the end of 2023.

To view an online presentation with an overview of the project and its construction schedule, click HERE.

In recent months MDOT SHA crews have prepared for the start of construction by completing work to relocate utilities in the area – an example of the important work accomplished during Maryland’s COVID-19 State of Emergency. This work, aided in part by the lower traffic volumes during the state of emergency, has set the stage for construction to begin in earnest on a project that will create job and economic development opportunities as Maryland emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

MDOT SHA is asking drivers need to stay alert, focus on the road, and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes, and highway workers. For a list of all major MDOT SHA projects, go to roads.maryland.gov. For a look at real-time commute conditions, go to md511.maryland.gov

[Source: The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA)]

CBE to Host Virtual Workshop on “Reversing Global Warming”

WHEN: Saturday, May 30, 2020

Join the College Park’s Committee for a Better Environment for a two hour workshop, “Reversing Global Warming: Introduction to Drawdown” on Saturday, May 30, 10 am- noon, on Zoom. The workshop material is provided by the Pachamama Alliance and includes video clips of Paul Hawken. Registration is required and attendance is limited. Please be prompt as the workshop will take the full two hours.

Email toddlarsen_99@yahoo.com with your first and last name and city to register or go to https://projectdrawdowndmv.eventbrite.com

For more info, contact: Todd Larsen, College Park Committee for a Better Environment, toddlarsen_99@yahoo.com

Upper Midtown Land Use and Access Planning Study – Input Requested

The City initiated this project to understand constraints and leverage opportunities for redevelopment of the study area along Baltimore Avenue (US 1) (Route 1) between University Boulevard (MD 193) and Cherokee Street. The effort is part of a larger goal to promote Route 1 as more livable and safer for all travelers, especially pedestrians.

You can find more about the project here.

This project is not a development proposal and the project team is not working with any developer to redevelop the study area.

This is a planning study to explore development alternatives and identify multi-modal transportation improvements to enhance the access and connectivity of the study area.

This project is supported by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) – Transportation Land Use Connections (TLC) Program.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the state-wide stay-at-home order, the project team was unable to host an in-person public meeting to share and discuss possible futures of the area.

The project team created this online presentation and survey to share information and hear from residents, businesses, property owners, and investors about ideas presented.

Please view the presentation and take the survey, preferably on a computer screen rather than a tablet or a phone. Due to technical limitations, the websites are best viewed on a computer screen.

Council to Get Update on Airport Tree Removal Work and Mitigation Plan

The representatives from the M-NCPPC / the Airport will be back again at this week’s meeting to update the Council about their recent tree removal activities, which could be done with companies like the tree service Red Deer, and their plan to mitigate the tree losses that happened because of it.

Back in early February, the City was told that just around 150 trees would be trimmed as part of the project. But during a presentation on the project on February 25, 2020, the M-NCPPC / Airport officials predicted that more than 400 trees could be trimmed or removed. According to the most recent report, to date, 387 trees have been removed to meet stricter FAA regulations – especially tighter rules governing 200 feet from runway.

The M-NCPPC / Airport is planning to plant a total of 1,510 trees – 900 more trees than is required by regulations. This represents 4:1 ratio of trees replanted to trees removed and includes 70% canopy trees. Trees will be planted in the city and surrounding area. Trees will be planted in four phases- Phase One (Spring 2020) – 120 trees, Phase Two (Fall 2020) – 570 trees, Phase Three (Fall 2021) – 580 trees, and Phase Four (Spring 202) 240 trees

Environmental stabilization measures will include installation of a staked straw bales along the trail near CSX/Metro underpass, and seed with annual rye and soil stabilization, straw mulching and matting along area adjacent to Paint Branch and near CSX/Metro

As part of the revised mitigation plan, the airport will ensure that tree trimming is strictly limited to FAA safety requirements for ongoing, unchanged airport operations. The operations will be In compliance with all federal and state regulations. Furthermore, independent 3rd party will be used to ensure best management practices and environmental regulations are met. Updated approach includes minimal ground disturbance, limited machinery, expanded hand-tools – minimizing impact to ecosystem, canopy and overall environment. Going forward, trimming will take place every 4-5 years instead of every 7-8 years – resulting in less impact to trees.

Revised plan includes modest to heavy trimming with no additional tree removals – limiting ground disturbance, meeting environmental regulations. They will also conduct bi-annual tree monitoring and mitigate for additional loss

The M-NCPPC is also committing two enhanced Amenities, including two 20×20 permanent shade structures in Old Calvert Road Park, and upgraded disc golf course including custom artwork such as tree sculptures

2021 – 2025 Strategic Plan Public Focus Groups

The City is working on our next 5-year Strategic Plan and we want your help! Our goal is to capture our residents’ feedback to ensure we understand where you see College Park in the future. We are holding six virtual public focus groups to hear your thoughts and perspective. Each focus group will have eight participants; to participate, you must register for a spot. Below are the available dates and times:

June 6 at 8:45 am: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/105245889288
June 6 at 10:15 am: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/105438916638
June 6 at 12:00 noon: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/105439660864
June 20 at 8:45 am: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/105439955746
June 20 at 10:15 am: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/105448047950
June 20 at 12:00 noon: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/105448302712

For more information, visit our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan website at www.collegeparkmd.gov/strategicplan.

New City Paper “College Park Here & Now” Debuts

The first edition of College Park newspaper “College Park Here & Now”

It was exciting to see the first edition of College Park’s new newspaper “College Park Here & Now” in my mailbox yesterday.

Like many City residents, I have been looking forward to seeing this day for the past 5 years.

After the Gazette announced its decision to discontinue publication, some residents wanted to see a Citywide newsletter/paper to fill the void. Accordingly, I asked for a Council discussion to explore other ways to disseminate city-related information to its residents.

We discussed several ideas. One idea was to partner with a local newspaper publisher, such as the HL&T.

That discussion took place in July 2015. After many months of work, the Council finally decided to fund the paper late last year.

Thanks to my past and current Council colleagues, our hard-working staff, and in particular the editorial board of the paper in getting the first edition out of the door.

The timing of the newspaper’s debut is significant.  Due to the current pandemic situation, most of our residents are forced to live in isolation. Let’s hope that the College Park Here & Now will give a sense of togetherness among our residents, and bring them closer.