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Continuing the Conversation: Policing & Race Relations Virtual Forum

The City of College Park is bringing together a cross section of our community to discuss race relations and how we can begin healing. This will be a chance for knowledgeable and invested voices to share space to discuss the importance of real change and how to move forward. The purpose is to have an honest conversation, not a debate.
This continues the City’s series of virtual forums on community and race relations, and this is the second in that series.
This Virtual Forum’s Topic is Policing and Black Lives Matter
Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/94655550522

Panelists:
Representative from the Prince George’s County Police Department
Dr. Oscar Barbarin: Professor and Chair of the African American Studies Department, University of Maryland, College Park.
Dr. Kim Nickerson: UMD College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Assistant Dean for Diversity, Diversity Officer and Equity Administrator

Comment Period on Draft Environmental Study on I495 Tool Lane Proposal Extended to Nov 9

November 9 is the new deadline for sending in comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the $11 billion plan to expand I-270 and I-495 for for-profit toll lanes.
The 30-day extension from the October 8 deadline was just announced by the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
The SHA-MODOT said in a statement “In an effort to keep you informed of the status of I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study (MLS) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) public hearings and your opportunities to comment.”
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved a 30-day extension for the public comment period. The public comment period will run through November 9, 2020 for a total of 120 days. Please click here for more information: https://bit.ly/3hDm9kh
Comments on the DEIS will be accepted until November 9, 2020 by 11:59 p.m.

Democracy in Action – Webinar on Voting in November Election

Let’s share information about voting, the importance of voting, and how to vote in this upcoming election, and this event on Monday supports that initiative by providing important information to our residents. Here is the registration link:

GAT Mosquito Traps

Tired of being bit by mosquitoes in your yard? The City has a limited number of GAT Mosquito traps available to residents for $50.00.
These traps are designed to attract and capture mosquitoes without harming birds and bees. They are used successfully throughout neighboring University Park. They work best if they are deployed two per yard.
Purchase and pick up at the Department of Public Works, 9217 51st Avenue, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
[City of College Park]

Pop-Up COVID-19 Testing Site

The Health Department will host a pop-up testing site on Friday, August 28 in Fort Washington (Southern Regional Technology & Recreation Complex). Please help spread the word.

Important Information about Voting in the General Election

There have been numerous questions about voting in the November General Election. The information below may help answer all your questions.  You can also reach out to the Prince George’s County Board of Elections directly at 301-341-7300 or election@co.pg.md.us.
Important Deadlines and Dates:
Today — Confirm that you are registered to vote.
If you aren’t sure if you are registered, or at what address, check your voter registration status by visiting the voter look up site. If you do not have internet access, call 301-341-7300 and ask a representative to check your registration or text CHECK to 77788.
Today — Request an absentee ballot to vote by mail. Ballots will be mailed starting September 24.

 * Print, complete and return the form below. Read the instructions, enter the required information, print the form, sign it, and return it to your local board of elections. You can return it by mail, fax, or email (scanned as an attachment).

* Pick up the form from the Prince George’s County Board of Elections Office, 1100 Mercantile Lane, Suite 115A, Largo, MD, 20774, fill it out and turn it in.
Note: A vote by mail application will automatically be mailed to your home address during the week of August 24, 2020. However, the Board of Elections recommends you request a ballot now.
Mid-September — Watch your mail for your ballot. Remember, ballots will be mailed ONLY to those who have requested them. As soon as you receive your ballot fill it out and mail it back OR drop it at a secure drop box in Prince George’s County (locations to be announced). You must return your ballot in the envelope provided with your ballot. It has prepaid postage so you do not need to add a stamp.
Tuesday, October 13, at 5:00 pm — Last Day to Register to Vote
Monday, October 20, at 4:30 pm — Last Day to Request an Absentee Ballot to vote by mail (if you want to vote by mail, the Board of Elections recommends NOT waiting until October 20 to ensure you receive your ballot).

Monday, October 26 – Monday, November 2 – In-Person Early Voting at Limited Locations (to be announced) from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm. Voters registered in Prince George’s County may vote at any early voting location in Prince George’s County.
If you have not registered to vote prior to October 13, you can register to vote and then cast your ballot in-person at early voting centers. You will need to provide proof of residence.
Tuesday, November 3 – In-Person Election Day Voting at Limited Locations (to be announced) from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm. Voters registered to vote in Prince George’s County may vote at any Election Day location in Prince George’s County.

If you have not registered to vote prior to Election Day, you can register to vote and then cast your ballot in-person at Election Day voting centers. You will need to provide proof of residence.
There is no need to wait to request an absentee ballot so that you can vote by mail. Request your ballot TODAY. Ballots will be mailed mid-September ONLY to those who have requested them. Please fill out your ballot and return it immediately.
Registered voters who have not requested a mail-in ballot will receive a sample ballot that will include in person voting instructions, a list of early voting and Election Day vote centers. Note: your normal polling location may not be open this year. These sample ballots and instructions are scheduled to be mailed on September 19.
If someone requests a mail-in ballot but decides they want to vote in person, they will be required to vote a provisional ballot at the polling place.
How Can I Help?
 
If you are at a low risk for COVID-19, I encourage you to sign up be be an election judge during early voting and/or on Election Day. Election Judges must be 16 or older, speak English, and be registered to vote. They are paid to attend the training and $200 a day. Please keep in mind election judges work 14-hour days. Learn more and apply here. The Board of Elections will get back to all applicants within two weeks.

Is ID is required to cast a ballot by mail?
If you are a registered voter and have voted before, no ID is required to receive or submit a ballot by mail. A very small number of newly registered voters may need to provide ID with their voted ballots. If you have to provide ID, there will be instructions with your ballot.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions from the Prince George’s County Board of Elections can be found here.

Please share this important information with your friends and neighbors.

[Source: Office of CM Danielle Glaros]

October Cleanup Saturdays & Shredding Event

October 10 & 24 from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Public Works, 9217 51st Avenue, College Park, MD. 20740

The City of College Park Public Works facility will be open for City residents to drop-off bulky trash, white goods, electronics recycling, brush, and yard trim.

You must be a resident of the City of College Park and bring proof of City residency in order to participate, although anyone can buy compost or wood mulch during this event. We will collect gently used items for donation to GreenDrop and Community Forklift.

Special events include:
Paper Shredding – October 10 from 8:00 a.m. to Noon
Paint Recycling – October 24 from 8:00 a.m. to Noon. Yuck Old Paint will be on hand to collect latex and oil-based paint. Paint needs to be in the original container

[City of College Park]

UMD Launches COVID-19 Dashboard

Last week, the University of Maryland officially launch our public COVID-19 campus dashboard that will provide our community with transparent and timely data about the prevalence of COVID-19 within our campus, based on UMD-administered testing.

The dashboard will provide critical metrics, including UMD tests administered by week and cumulatively; new positive cases by week; positivity rate for UMD-administered tests; campus density measures; and quarantine and isolation bed availability. The metrics will be updated weekly and are an important part of our ongoing efforts to monitor and counteract the spread of the virus. I encourage every member of our community to visit the dashboard to stay informed on COVID-19’s presence on our campus.

As a reminder, all students, faculty and staff are required to take a COVID-19 test within 14 days prior to returning to campus. Students will also be required to be tested after arriving on campus. Before their return to campus, students may be tested locally, or participate in one of the university’s free campus testing events taking place at Maryland Stadium.

The UMD will be testing more than 6,000 Terps this week; and registration is still open for testing the weeks of August 24 (registration deadline: today) and August 31 (registration deadline: August 26). The UMD is urging any members of the university community to return to campus to find information about testing sites in their area or register for free on-campus testing as soon as possible.

Before arrival to campus or the College Park area, students will need to provide the university with confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test result, which can be uploaded at return.umd.edu. If a student tests positive, the student will be required to stay at home, follow CDC guidance, and be cleared by the students’ healthcare provider before coming to campus. Find additional information about COVID-19 testing requirements and answers to frequently asked questions.

To slow the spread of the virus, every student, faculty, and staff member is be expected to adhere to healthy behaviors:

  • Wear a face-covering at all times indoors, and outdoors when other people are nearby; (additional information about wearing a mask or face covering on campus is available, including when a face covering should be worn, acceptable face coverings, how to properly wear and care for them, and the availability of face coverings for the campus community)
  • Wash hands frequently and practice good personal hygiene;
  • Practice physical distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart from others; and
  • Stay home if you feel sick, and report symptoms to the University Health Center and your personal doctor.

 

Census Employees are Visiting County Homes until Sept. 30

Until September 30, there will be Census enumerators going door-to-door at addresses where the Census has yet to be completed. This graphic lets residents know what to expect from a Census door-knocker and reminds them that they can still self-respond to the Census. Please share!

In Next Five Years, Residents Want Sensible Development, More Amenities

Last week, the Council received a presentation about College Park’s new five-year strategic plan for fiscal years 2021-2025. The City’s current five-year strategic plan (for FY 2015-2020) is ending, and the Mayor and Council wish to develop a new five-year strategic plan. City Council secured a consultant Performance Breakthroughs, Inc. (PBI) to help develop City’s next five year strategic plan.

At last week’s meeting, the PBI presented their analysis and synthesis of a dozen small group meetings with residents and more than 200 survey responses regarding the City’s future. This information will help the Council begin to develop the framework for the 2021 to 2025 strategic plan.

Overall, Community responses can be summarised as follows:

You can see the presentation here:

The recording of the August 19 Strategic Plan presentation is available here.

One of the recurring themes of the survey includes the current pace of development in College Park. Residents have identified “Over-development” as one of the top weaknesses in College Park. Residents also think “Non-mindful development impacting the quality of life” will be a top challenge and threat for the next five years.

The City Council budgeted $33,000 in its FY2020 budget for the consulting services in gathering data from residents and stakeholders as part of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

The community’s view in the presentation can be found on page 18. Major highlights of the findings include

  • The Community cares mostly about (a) Green Spaces, (b) Accessibility, (c) University Relationship, (d) Atmosphere & Community
  • The Community sees as least desirable aspects: (a) Development – too much, too fast, (b) Increase in Traffic, (c) University over Residents feeling, (d) Resource Allocation & Transparency
  • The Community wants (a) Easy Access to Places they Visit (b) Plenty of Entertainment & Shopping (c) Connection & Collaboration
  • The Community would like to continue to improve on: (a) Accessibility & Connectivity (b) Atmosphere and Quality of Life (c) Environment & Sustainability (d) Atmosphere & Community (e) Safety
  • The Community foresees: (a) Non-mindful development impacting QOL (b) College Park becoming unaffordable in housing/taxes. (c) Inability to create a stable base community year-round (d) Financial problems for all as a result of COVID
  • The Community feels College Park has the opportunity to: (a) Create a truly Symbiotic Relationship with UMD (b) Increase the Events and Amenities (c) Flourish in Green Spaces
  • Overall (a) Residents want to know, participate, and interact (b) Showcasing all the different uniqueness of CP to build community (c) Stakeholders feel the relationship is good and growing
  • The Community envisions the future of CP with: (a) A community that cares about all. (b) Mobility across the City (c) Keeping a Small-Town feel with Smart Growth (d) Environmentally sustainable
  • The Community feels that Public Safety and Transportation are most important, And Community Experience & Environmental Sustainability are next
  • City Staff think that College Park is a great place to work because: (a) Contribution of the work (b) People you work with Family-feel that is flexible and stable. College Park could improve upon: (a) Collaboration & Alignment between Departments (b) Continue to grow in services and resources – esp. tech. (c) Continue to identify roles & authority where needed

PBI will work with the Council and City staff over the next several months to develop the plan, and there will be numerous opportunities for additional public input prior to Council adopting a new plan.

City Publishes Latest COVID-19 Requirements

Below is a quick summary of current COVID-19 requirements from the State of Maryland and Prince George’s County. This is not a comprehensive list, but is meant to be used as a guide to help all College Park residents understand the requirements, how to report issues, and the enforcement of those requirements.

SOCIAL DISTANCING – GENERAL RULE
• Follow the most current guidance from CDC and Maryland Department of Health:
• Avoid large gatherings and crowded places.
• Stay at least six (6) feet (both indoors and outdoors) from those who are not in your immediate household.

FACE COVERINGS AND MASKS
• A face covering or mask must fully cover a person’s nose and mouth and be secured to the person’s head. This includes scarves, bandanas, and disposable and cloth coverings.
• Everyone in Maryland over the age of five (5) must wear a face covering when they are on public transportation. Governor’s Order 20-08-03-01, dated August 3, 2020. Link.
• Everyone in the County over the age of two (2) must wear a face covering when on the “The Bus”, the County transit system; indoors at public places (such as religious facilities, stores, restaurants, healthcare facilities, indoor recreation centers, fitness centers and salons); outdoors, when unable to consistently maintain at least six feet of distance from others; engaged in work where food is prepared/packaged; or interaction with others is likely. Prince George’s County Executive’s Order No. 15-2020, dated June 25, 2020. Link.
• There are some exceptions, like when actively eating or drinking or if communicating with someone who has a hearing impairment. Please read the County Executive’s Order and the County Health Officer Directive and Order for Enhanced Consumer and Employee Safety dated August 4, 2020 for the further information. Link.
• The County requires that retail and business establishments take all steps necessary to ensure that customers are compliant. Health Officer’s Directive and Order.

LIMIT ON GATHERINGS
• Prince George’s County restricts all gatherings to one person/family unit per 200 square feet of indoor square footage, or a maximum of 50 persons (whichever is lower) at all locations and venues–including private residences. This includes indoor and outdoor gatherings, unless exempted in the County Health Officer Directive and Order.
• Please check with your landlord or the listing for your property on the SDAT website for your property’s indoor square footage. The number to use is the square footage for the single-family home you live in, or for your individual unit only in multi-unit apartment buildings, divided by 200. For most single-family homes in College Park, this limits allowable gatherings to only 10 20 people, total, inside and/or outside.
STANDING IN LINE
• When queueing outside for entry to commercial establishments or other businesses, you must maintain six (6) foot social distancing unless with members of your immediate household. If you cannot do so, you must wear a mask.

CITY OF COLLEGE PARK REPORTING
• To report any potential infractions, including large gatherings:
• Please call the City’s Code Enforcement Hotline at 240-487-3588. The City will forward all COVID-19 related complaints to the County’s Department of Health.
• To report directly to the County, click here to report online, call 311 or email covidcompliance@co.pg.md.us.
• The County’s Department of Health oversees all COVID-19 related matters and will either investigate or contact local law enforcement if needed.
• Continue to call 9-1-1 to report any emergencies.
• COVID-19 related questions and concerns can be found here or by calling the County Health Hotline at 301-883-6627.
• The County has also set up a COVID related scam hotline (410-576-6300) and website.
ENFORCEMENT
• The State has declared that each law enforcement officer of the State shall execute and enforce the State’s Order and any local Order. A person who willfully violates the
State’s or any Local Orders is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000. Governor’s Order.
• Prince George’s County directives and orders will be enforced by the County’s Health Department with the assistance of additional County agencies including law enforcement as needed. County Health Officer Directive and Order.
• The County will conduct scheduled and unscheduled inspections through its Ambassador Program of retail and business establishments. Any retail and business establishment that does not comply with the County’s Directive and Order will be subject to a fine of $1,000 and if non-compliant during a subsequent inspection, the
establishment will be subject to closure by the County.
• A person who knowingly and willfully violates the County’s Directive and Order is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $5000 or both.
• Violations and fines based on City Code Chapter 141-1 may be issued by City Code Enforcement whenever the County Executive and Health Officer orders are violated.
• Repeated violations can result in the revocation of the City’s rental occupancy permit.
• University of Maryland students who are in violation will be referred to the University’s Office of Student Conduct for possible sanctions.

City Launches New Online Parking Services

This week, the City launched its new online parking services to help customers and residents conduct their parking-related business online in the convenience of their home or via mobile devices. The new AIMS Parking/EDC Corporation system offers residents and customers the online convenience to pay or appeal parking tickets and apply for residential and visitor parking permits.

Residents can access the new services here on City’s website: https://collegepark.aimsparking.com/.

The new online parking system will provide our residents with an easy way to obtain their parking permits or appeal parking tickets from the safety of their homes.

City staff researched various online parking systems for almost two years prior to selecting this new service through AIMS. Customers will now be able to view all their current and past parking citations, and photographs of the vehicle at the time of the infraction.

As part of the new features, the system enables City parking enforcement officers to run vehicle license plates to validate parking permits and infractions in real-time. This real-time data will aid the City’s parking enforcement officers and will enable them to work in the field more efficiently.

While this new system enables residents and visitors to easily conduct most parking-related businesses online, they can still call, mail, or come to City Hall to pay or appeal parking tickets or obtain parking permits and visitor passes.

During this unprecedented time, the ability for the residents to safely conduct most of their parking-related needs online is a major benefit. The system will improves both our staff productivity and convenience for residents.

[City of College Park]

How to Watch 2021-2025 Strategic Plan Presentation Tonight

The 2021-2025 Strategic Plan Presentation will be held virtually tonight, Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 6:30 pm.
Performance Breakthroughs, Inc. (PBI) will present their analysis and synthesis of a dozen small group meetings with residents and more than 200 survey responses regarding the City’s future. This information will help Council begin to develop the framework for the 2021 to 2025 strategic plan. PBI will work with the Council and City staff over the next several months to develop the plan, and there will be numerous opportunities for additional public input prior to Council adopting a new plan.
To watch or participate in the meeting at 6:30 p.m., please CLICK HERE.
Please note: participants will be muted during the meeting, except during public comment.
Event number: 923 9857 4069
Event password: CPjoinMCM
Dial-in information
Phone number:  301-715-8592
Enter Meeting ID:  923 9857 4069  then press #
There is no Participant ID. Just press #
Enter Meeting Password:  419048 then press #
For detailed instructions CLICK HERE.

Do you Know of Small Businesses and Non-Profits in Need of COVID-19 Assistance?

Four Public Hearings Start Tomorrow about Adding Toll lanes to I-495 Beltway

Today, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration said in a statement that the first public-comment hearing on the 18,000+ page I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation will begin with a virtual hearing from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 18,.

You’ll need to register in advance online. You can watch the hearings online, or listen in by calling 1-855-432-1483.

There will also be virtual hearings on Aug. 20, Aug. 25 and Sept. 3.

Three sessions are available for each hearing:
Morning (9 AM – 12 PM)
Afternoon (1 – 4 PM)
Evening (5 – 8 PM)
Email instructions will be sent for approved session time.

One of the 6 alternatives the MDOT / SHA are looking as part of the I-495 expansion plan. In this plan (alternative # 8) the proposal adds two Express Toll Lanes (ETL) in each direction on I 495, and 1 HOV managed lane on I-270.

The DEIS analyzes six plans to build high-occupancy toll lanes and/or express toll lanes, as well as a plan that involves no new construction.

The expansion project is estimated to cost as much as $11 billion — relying on private firms to construct the project and recoup their investment through toll revenues on new toll lanes.

In College Park, according to the DEIS, 22 acres of properties will need to be acquired due to road widening, bridge replacement, noise barrier construction, and new storm water management facilities.

Impact on properties in College Park due to expansion plan in different alternatives.

Also, the noise impact of the widening in College Park can be found here (page 274, Map 16), and also in the map below. The noise sensitive areas (NSA) are shown in purple-blue on both sides of the beltway. The red – dotted line shows the 66dB noise contour line.

The I-495 corridor in Maryland was previously separated into four (4) phases, based on the status of the noise barrier in each NSA. These phases were retained for this Study in order to maintain consistency. Phase 1 includes NSAs that do not have an existing noise barrier. Phases 2 and 3 contain existing noise barriers, and Phase 4 includes non-residential noise-sensitive land uses.

Please also read here how the Beltway expansion in In College Park, can cause loss of properties & green Space, reduce playground area, and increase noise & traffic.

Map showing limit of disturbance (LOD) line of the Beltway expansion project in College Park

According to the KPMG report, Automotive’s New Reality: Fewer Trips, Fewer Miles, Fewer Cars, the distance US drivers travel in a year could drop as much as 270 billion miles per year. Together with other COVID-19 impacts on teleworking and on-line shopping that could translate into 7 million to 10 million fewer vehicles on the road. Analysts think driving patterns and congestions on our roadways and highways may not be the same even after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

The expansion plan will also have other consequences on the residents pocketbooks.  For example, the WSSC line relocation cost ($1.3 – $2 billion) in the Beltway expansion project may hike Water bills 

After the DEIS was made public, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staff delivered a lengthy critical response to a draft environmental impact statement released last week on the proposed widening of I-495 and I-270. The staff’s concerns included underestimating the area affected by construction work, inadequately protecting park acreage and giving short shrift to mass transit options.

Comments can be be submitted here on this form . You can also Email at mailto:MLS-NEPA-P3@mdot.maryland.gov

Additionally, you can send a written letter about DEISto :
Lisa B. Choplin, DBIA
Director, I-495 & I-270 P3 Office
Maryland Department of Transportation
State Highway Administration
707 North Calvert Street
Mail Stop P-601, Baltimore, MD 21202

The deadline for submitting written comments on the DEIS is 11:59 pm on October 8.