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The Top 5 Internet Scams and How to Avoid Them

1. Grandparent Scam – The caller pretends to be a grandchild who has been arrested and needs bail money. Hang Up! It’s a scam.
• If you are concerned, call your family member.
2. Publisher’s Clearinghouse Scam – You’ve won millions, but have to pay taxes first. Hang Up! It’s a scam.
• Publisher Clearinghouse will NEVER notify a winner over the phone or tell them to make a payment to receive their prize.
3. Arrest Warrant Scam – If you receive a text or voice mail requesting you to call your local Police Department or Sheriff’s Department because you have a warrant out for your arrest for missing jury duty. Hang Up! It’s a scam.
• The Police and Sheriff will NOT solicit money to resolve an arrest warrant.
• If you are concerned that you may have a warrant for your arrest, call the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office at 301-780-8600.
4. Romance Scam – Scammer makes contact on dating sites, social media or email. They gain a rapport, then eventually have an emergency and need money.
• NEVER send money to someone you’ve only communicated with online or over the phone.
Read blogs at groenerekenkamer.com/ for relationship advice.
5. You Owe Taxes Scam – Caller identifies themselves as an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Agent, tells you that you owe back taxes and to pay immediately!
• The IRS states they do NOT “initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information.”
• The IRS will NOT direct you to mail cash, wire money or purchase gift cards for payment.
If you become a victim of a financial scam, report it to Police at (301) 352-1200
(Source: PGPD Financial crimes unit) 

Bagel Place Closes its Doors after Serving 35 Years

After operating for 35 years, one of College Park’s favorite businesses closed its doors yesterday. It looks like the landlord wants a longer-term lease, but Bagel Place wants a shorter one so that they may retire early.

A sign on Bagel Place says “Thank you for your support over 35 years”

The City tried to help find a solution, and even tried to look for a place but sadly things didn’t work.

In a letter to the community (please see below), the owners of Bagel Place are asking the community members to call the property owner [Curtis Property at Management 301-702-3200] and ask to keep them in business. Bagel Place owners said they have one month before the current lease expires.

The community members have also started an online petition asking Curtis Property to reconsider its decision.

 

Hollywood Shopping Center Gets Some Help with Improved Lighting

Recently, the Hollywood Shopping Center added 22 energy-efficient LED lights and 4 Floodlights encompassing the entire perimeter of the Center.

Located at 9805 Rhode Island Avenue, the shopping center has My Organic Market (MoM’s) as its anchor tenant, Proteus Bike and Brews, Pizza Roma and a few other stores. The shopping center is owned by Carrollton Properties, LLP and Hollywood Shopping Center, LLC

On October 25, 2021, the Hollywood  Shopping Center was awarded a grant in the amount of $9,029.83 for an exterior lighting project. The Shopping Center also received an Energy Saving rebate from Pepco in the amount of $2180.

The City started the Business and Façade Improvements Grants program several years ago. The grant is used by College Park businesses to make exterior improvements for signage and lighting. During the covid-19 pandemic, the city amended the funding guidelines to match the full amount of the improvements to 100%.

Currently, there is robust demand for applications throughout all areas of College Park. Funding for the program is provided by the State of Maryland grants program.

The City is considering additional funding through its COVID-related American Recovery Plan (ARPA) allocation.

UMD Backs Away from Developing Guilford Woods Site – For Now

Today the University of Maryland President Dr. Pines announced to “pause” the proposed development of the Western Gateway graduate housing project.

The proposed Western Gateway development would have happened at the sites of the Guilford Woods and the Guilford Run site, spanning over 9 acres of wooded land. The community in College Park and the surrounding areas have expressed deep concerns about the loss of hundreds of trees and the stormwater issues in the surrounding neighborhoods.

More about the community’s concerns can be found here.

The community has opposed the development of the Guilford Woods site (Photo credit: the Hyattsville Wire)

Instead, Dr. Pines announced to redevelop Old Leonardtown into a new mixed-income residential community prioritizing graduate student housing.

This request, issued by the Terrapin Development Company, would seek interest in developing quality housing at accessible price points, tailored to the UMD graduate student community, the announcement reads.

 

Indoor Mask Mandate Extended Until December 9

This Tuesday, Prince George’s County extended the indoor mask mandate until December 9, 2021, or until the County Executive decides to lift the mandate.

The Council Resolution 122-2021 gave the following COVID-19 data through October 12, 2021

  • positive cases in the County: 98,216,
  • approximately 9728 hospitalizations
  • approximately 1646 deaths.
  • infection rate is 3.1%
  • the average daily case rate is 10.7 per 100,000 residents
  • available hospital capacity is 50.1%, with 8% of hospital beds in use for patients with COVID-19
  • 82.7% of adult county residents ages 18 and over received at least one vaccination, and 73.1% are fully vaccinated

The new indoor mask mandate went into effect as of October 25, 2021, at 5:01 pm.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Vote Using a Mail-in Ballot at November 7 City Election

Step 1: Vote on the “Official Ballot” paper. The instructions on how to vote can be found on the ballot paper.

Step 2: Insert the Official ballot in the “BALLOT / OATH ENVELOPE”

Step 3: Seal the ballot/oath envelope, and sign on the back of the envelope

Step 4: Insert the Oath envelope inside the Postage Paid Return Envelope and seal

Please make sure the barcode on the ballot/oath envelope shows throw the window of the back of the return envelope.

Step 5: Mail the return envelope at the local post office or at one of the City’s official ballot dropbox. There is one drop box at Davis Hall – 9217 – 51st Avenue.

 

School Boundary Changes – Attend a Community Conversation

As you may know, Prince George’s County Public Schools has been engaged in a Comprehensive School Boundary Initiative for the past year. Many PGCPS school boundaries will be changing in the next 2-3 years

Earlier this year, PGCPS released the Draft Boundary Scenarios Report which presents three draft scenarios that offer different approaches to adjusting school boundaries in PGCPS. You can access the report at www.pgcps.org/boundary.

In order to get input on the final recommendations, five Community Conversations have been scheduled, two of them will be conducted in Spanish:

Tuesday, November 2 at 6:30-8:00 PM (English)
Wednesday, November 3 at 6:30-8:30 PM (Spanish)
Tuesday, November 9 at 6:30-8:00 PM (English)
Wednesday, November 10 at 6:30-8:00 PM (Spanish)
Saturday, November 13 at 10:30 AM to Noon (English with Spanish interpretation)

These virtual meetings will share information on the various boundary change scenarios and provide an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback. It is very important for our District 3 communities to be involved in these discussions. important that all communities in Prince George’s County be involved!

Register online bit.ly/PGCPS_RSVP

[Source: Office of Councilmember Glaros]

New Sunnyside Playground May Be Ready by Next Spring

The Odessa Playground will include a combo swing for adults and children to swing together facing each other [Photo credit: Gameplay.com]

Sunnyside residents have asked for a play area with play area markings for children in their neighborhood so that the families don’t have to cross Rhode Island Avenue to reach the closest playground to them. A parcel of land at the east end of Odessa road was donated to the City in 1999 with the intent the space be used for recreational purposes.

A community meeting was convened to obtain input for the project. Greenman–Pedersen, Inc., was awarded a contract to design and engineer the new playground. The City issued an RFP to advertise for the construction of the new playground project. After reviewing the bids, the Staff is recommending awarding the construction contract to E & R Services Inc. of Lanham, Maryland in the amount of $265,142.

Components of the new playground include an access path and playground pieces for people of various ages. They include:
(a) an ADA compliant asphalt access path from the end of Odessa Road to the playground,
(b) a combo swing for adults and children to swing together facing each other,
(c) a modern-themed climbing structure,
(d) three separate height turning bars, and
(e) a nature-inspired rock log, all installed on a long-wearing rubberized surface.

Other amenities include 2 benches, litter receptacles, a stormwater management micro-Bioretention facility and a structure with plantings and a screen planting using native plants. The Council will consider approving the playground construction at tomorrow’s meeting.

Some of the play equipment will be manufactured by PlayWorld’s Unity Connect Collection line of products.

The City Council is expected to award the contract at tomorrow’s Council meeting. Once the project team gets the approval, the plan is to schedule with the contractor an agreeable timeline to start and issue a Notice to Proceed soon after the discussion. Staff estimates the contract time take until spring/ summer time frame to complete, weather permitting.

Some Changes May Be Coming to Cherry Hill Rd Near Route 1

The Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation is proposing some changes to Cherry Hill Rd close to Route 1.

The County held a virtual community meeting on Monday, July 19, 2021, regarding a proposed median option along Cherry Hill Road at the Shopping Center.

Cherry Hill Road near Baltimore Avenue (Google Inc.)

The County installed temporary large yellow flex posts to address issues related to (a)  Left turning traffic from eastbound Cherry Hill into the eastern-most College Park Market Place shopping center entrance. (b) Left turning traffic from the eastern-most College Park Market Place shopping center entrance onto eastbound Cherry Hill Road.

However, the flex posts were damaged beyond repair and were removed when SHA resurfaced the Cherry Hill Road leg of the intersection with Baltimore Avenue when the new crosswalk was installed at the intersection.

The County’s new proposal asks to install a grass median with a full-height curb where the flex posts used to stand before. At next Tuesday’s meeting, County Staff will present the median option at the October 26 City Council meeting and is requesting the City’s support.

The new proposal will also address traffic turning into and out of Autoville Drive from Cherry Hill Road.

One important topic of discussion at next Tuesday’s meeting will be about the traffic backed up on westbound Cherry Hill Road leading into the Starbucks in the College Park Market Place Shopping Center. Starbucks has been reached before to address the traffic backup issues. Starbucks is said to be exploring changes to its store that should significantly reduce and hopefully eliminate any traffic congestion in Cherry Hill due to its customers. It looks like these plans have been submitted yet to the County.

 

 

Good Neighbor Day, Saturday, November 13

 

Good Neighbor Day is a collaborative partnership between the University of Maryland, the City of College Park, and The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). The event brings together the College Park community to beautify shared spaces, educate and engage in sustainable practices, and take pride in Greater College Park. You can register for a project or a workshop here.

World of Possibilities Disabilities Expo, Oct 23 @ UMD

World of Possibilities Disabilities Expo
October 23, 2021 | Samuel Riggs Alumni Center/UMD | 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Join Caring Communities on Saturday, October 23 at 11 a.m. at the Samuel Riggs Alumni Center for a Disabilities Expo. Everyone within the disabilities and senior community, children with disabilities and their families, caregivers/service providers, veterans with disabilities and baby-boomers etc. should be there. There will be free parking, free wheelchair repair and much more! For free expo passes, please visit: expo.caringcommunities.org or call 410-549-5707.

Crime Prevention Tips on Wheel Theft

Lately, there has been an uptick in the theft of car tires/wheel rims in the area. The police are advising us to follow these tips to prevent such thefts.

Buy Lug Nut Locks
This solution involves replacing one of the lug nuts on each wheel with a lock, which requires a special tool to remove. For extra protection, you can buy lock kits for all of the lug nuts on your wheels. Just don’t lose the key, which you’ll need to remove the wheel should you have to change a flat tire.

Install an Alarm with a Sensor
Unlike standard car alarms, which alert you when your car has been broken into, alarms with sensors can detect a tilt or angle change if thieves try to jack up your vehicle.

Park in Secure, Well-Lit Areas
Thieves almost always strike at night, staking out areas where they’re less likely to be discovered, like a dark street without lights. Stay in areas where there’s more traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, and where there are security cameras, if possible. If you’re parking somewhere overnight, make sure your car is visible.

Turn Your Wheels
When you park your car, turn the wheels to a 45-degree angle. This will make it difficult for a thief to get the lug nuts off because the inner fender will likely be in the way.

Park Close To the Curb
When parallel parking on the street, park as close as you can to the curb. The closer your vehicle is, the more difficult it will be for a thief to put a jack underneath your car. While the street side of your car will still be exposed, at least the tires on the curbside of your car will be better protected.

Prevent Auto Theft
This should seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to fall into the habit of leaving your car unlocked as you drive or park in a relatively safe area.

Avoid Storing Valuables inside your Vehicle
Never keep valuables in your vehicle. This is an easy way to become a target of crime. In addition to the increased risk of a stolen vehicle, many criminals may break the window and steal your valuables. Your car may be left behind in this scenario, but you’ll still need to deal with a broken window and lost valuables. Usually, storing items in the trunk is safer than leaving them in plain sight.

More Changes Made to County Redistricting Map – Final Vote on Nov 16

At this morning’s session, the County Council introduced last Thursday’s “Davis” map, with some amendments.

For College Park and the surrounding districts, here is a quick summary of the changes from last Thursday’s map:

  • The University of Maryland is put back to District 3. According to CM Turner, this was in response to Dr. Pine’s letter he sent yesterday.
  • Downtown College Park (including City Hall), West College Park and College Park Estates, and Yarrow are also put back to District 3.
  • District 1 still includes some parts of south College Park – Berwyn, Lakeland and Calvert Hill / Old town (in addition to north College Park). According to Turner, this was in response to College Park Council’s desire to have 2 council members representing College Park. He didn’t say why MD 193 wasn’t used as the boundary between District 1 and District 3.
  • The Autoville and Cherry Hill neighborhoods appear to have moved from D1 to D3
  • Most of South Laurel and some of Vansville were put back to D1.

The vote was 6-4. CM Dernoga, Glaros, Ivey and Anderson-Walker were in opposition.

The Public hearing and a vote will be held on Nov 16 on the amended map and the redistricting commission’s map.

Amended map: Red lines showing the boundaries in last Thursday’s “Davis” map.

 

A detailed version of the new District 1 map, showing Hollywood, Berwyn, Lakeland and Calvert Hill neighborhoods.

Council Votes Opposing Prince George’s County Council Bill CB-115 – Redistricting

Yesterday, the City Council unanimously voted in a special emergency session to express strong opposition to the proposed County Council redistricting map (the “Davis map”) put forward by a majority of the County Council on Thursday, October 14.

Later, the City posted a statement that says:

“This map is significantly different from that proposed by the County’s Redistricting Commission and would remove the entire portion of the City of College Park that is currently in District 3 from that district. Removing the City from this District hurts Prince George’s County by limiting cross-municipal collaboration and will limit the ability to create a strong economic and equitable development strategy along the Purple Line corridor.

By introducing and voting in favor of a new redistricting map that ignored much of the public input that went into developing the maps by the Redistricting Commission, the County Council demonstrated a disregard for transparency and public input in redistricting and hurt the overall legitimacy of the elected government in our County.”

In a letter sent to County Council Chair Calvin S. Hawkins, II on October 18, the City requests that he amend the proposed redistricting map to keep the existing boundaries between County Districts 1 and 3 within the City of College Park, as recommended by the Redistricting Commission.

Residents can voice their concerns and/or opinions about redistricting and the Davis map to County Council, including the two at-large members, via email.

Mel Franklin Council Member (At-Large)
MFranklin1@co.pg.md.us
At-LargeMemberFranklin@co.pg.md.us

Calvin S. Hawkins, II Chair, Council Member (At-Large)
CSHawkins@co.pg.md.us
At-LargeMemberHawkins@co.pg.md.us

Thomas E. Dernoga Council Member (District 1)
TEDernoga@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict1@co.pg.md.us

Deni Taveras Vice-Chair, Council Member (District 2)
DLTaveras@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict2@co.pg.md.us

Dannielle M. Glaros Council Member (District 3)
DMGlaros@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict3@co.pg.md.us

Todd M. Turner Council Member (District 4)
TMTurner@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict4@co.pg.md.us

Jolene Ivey Council Member (District 5)
JIvey@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict5@co.pg.md.us

Derrick L. Davis Council Member (District 6)
DLDavis@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict6@co.pg.md.us

Rodney C. Streeter Council Member (District 7)
RCStreeter@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict7@co.pg.md.us

Monique Anderson-Walker Council Member (District 8)
MAWalker1@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict8@co.pg.md.us

Sydney J. Harrison Council Member (District 9)
SJHarrison@co.pg.md.us
Councildistrict9@co.pg.md.us

[City of College Park]

Residents May Continue to Participate Council Meetings Virtually, Once the Council Starts to Meet In-Person

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the Council will continue its discussion whether to meet online and/or in a hybrid format (attending in person and online), and for the public to attend in the same manner.

Major changes from the current practices can be summarized as follows:

(a) For Mayor and Council meetings: Elected officials can participate remotely based on just cause, such as being ill, out of the area due to vacation or work obligations, absence due to a funeral, a family emergency, or a generally declared emergency, as reasons for Councilmembers not to be in-person during voting sessions. The public should be able to attend in person, to the extent possible under any space/distancing restrictions.

The public should also be able to attend remotely, with access to audio, and access to visual, to the extent technologically possible, with the intent of making visual access available to all attendees.

Any Charter amendments required should enable in-person and remote attendance at meetings but otherwise allow flexibility, with the details to be set through amendment of Mayor and Council Rules and Procedures.

(b) For Council-Appointed Advisory Boards: In-person and/or remote attendance at meetings will be allowed as determined to be best by the advisory board, to encourage participation and ease the burden on volunteers.

(c) For Appointed Boards, If attending remotely, the public will have access to audio, and access to visuals to the extent technologically possible, with the goal of making visual access available to all attendees.

If the Council decides to move forward, several changes to the City Charter and Code, the Council rules and procedures will need to be made.