AARP Community Meeting – Save the Date

AARP Community Meeting – Save the Date
Monday, March 14, 2022 | Virtual | 7:00 p.m.

The goal of livability work is for people of all ages to…
Feel safe in the community
Participate in community activities
Be treated with respect
Have access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing and transportation
Have access to recreational opportunities and health services
Know what services and activities are available and have access to information by a means they prefer (e.g. online, in print, in person)
Be active, vital contributors to the economic, civic and social life of the community
Receive appropriate support if they can no longer look after themselves.

Meeting information, including Zoom links will be posted on our website closer to the event date. For more information, email: livablecommunity@collegeparkmd.gov or visit: www.collegeparkmd.gov/livablecommunity.

[City of College Park]

City Exploring Commemorative Bench Program

A few months ago, I requested the City Council to discuss a Commemorative Bench Program in College Park. The program would provide residents with an opportunity to honor the lives of their family or friends by purchasing a commemorative bench and plaque that would be installed on City property.

In addition to providing residents with a way to honor a loved one, commemorative benches contribute to the beauty and character of the City’s landscape and enhance the visitor experience.

According to staff, the cost of the Commemorative Bench, plaque and installation would be paid for by the requesting party. The estimated cost of the commemorative bench fitted with a bronze plaque and installation would be approximately $2,500.

According to the staff proposal, the application process will include

  • Requests will be made by application
  • Orders will be placed semi-annually
  • Seasonal installations, weather permitting
  • 4 x 6 solid bronze plaque with 4 lines of text
  • Victor Stanley Bench will have a factory warranty of 10 years

The placement process will include:

  • Allow 10-14 weeks for delivery of the bench
  • The applicant will be notified prior to installation
  • Benches will become the property of the City when installed
  • City reserves the right to move or remove a bench in disrepair

List of North College Park Community Center Locations Released to Residents

For the past several years, the residents and the College Park City Council have been asking the M-NCPPC to build a community center in north College Park.

The North College Park area is primarily residential in nature, having the highest concentration of single-family homes. A community center in north College Park will add a fantastic amenity for residents of all ages. At next week’s City Council meeting, representatives from the M-NCPPC and the County Councilman Tom Dernoga will discuss the proposed north College Park Center and its possible locations. The discussion will also include how the M-NCPPC will engage the community about the site selection. M-NCPPC has listed a couple of possible sites in north College Park.

Earlier, Councilman Dernoga sent a letter to the College Park City Council requesting financial support to help build the community center once a site is selected. The Council will discuss how it may respond to such a request.

The M-NCPPC will soon start a feasibility study for the proposed center. The study will include the following tasks:

Task A
• Conduct a demographics and needs analysis of the current and forecasted user population
• Analyze the types of recreational experiences currently provided in the area to understand how this community center will fill gaps in the market.

Task B
• Meet with internal staff focus groups
• Gather community input through two (2) virtual public meetings and online platforms.
• Propose recreation facility program requirements based on the demographics and needs analysis as well as feedback from internal and external stakeholders

Task C
• Establish the site selection criteria
• Review preliminary site assessments conducted by Department staff
• Determine up to two (2) candidate sites for additional analyses and test fits.
• Translate the facility requirements and programmatic analysis into a space allocation program
• Review sites based on selection criteria and include site diligence to include but not be limited to test fits, conceptual plans, and total development budget for both capital and operating costs.
• Assist the Department in the final selection of a site.

Task D
• Propose conceptual design solutions and accompanying site plans

Task E
• Estimate acquisition, site development, soft costs, and construction costs

Preliminary Analysis of Potential Sites
• 12,000 Sf addition minimum space allocation
• Six sites previously identified by DPR and City of College Park
• 2 sites owned by the Board of Education
• 1 site owned by the Al Huda School
• 3 sites in private ownership

Indoor Mask Mandate to End next Monday, except in Schools, and Buses

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced today that the county’s indoor mask mandate will end Feb. 28 as COVID-19 cases continue to drop “significantly” in the county.

The announcement reads:
“After consulting with our health officials, we are confident in our decision to lift the indoor mask mandate on February 28,” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said. “I couldn’t be prouder to be a Prince Georgian, as we have the lowest transmission rate in the state because Prince Georgians never hesitated to follow the guidance from our health professionals, and have done so with grace and compassion. At the beginning of the pandemic, we told our community we would follow the data, and the data now tell us it is safe to remove our masks. As we enter this next phase, we know that some of our residents will want to continue to wear masks, so we encourage Prince Georgians to continue to be respectful of each other.”

Masks must still be worn on public transportation such as Metro and the county’s “TheBus,” based on guidance from the CDC.

Faces inside the County’s public schools must also remain covered, CEO Monica Goldson announced Friday.

College Park Paper to Feature Accomplishments by Local Students

The College Park Here & Now newspaper has announced that they will feature the accomplishments of College Park elementary and secondary students.

This addition to the newspaper will support the newspaper’s mission to highlight newsworthy happenings in College Park, in addition to informing residents and community leaders about the great things that students who live in College Park do.

This monthly column will be written by Teyuna Darris who is a College Park resident. Parents who wish to have their children featured should contact Teyuna at teyuna@teyunadarris.com. The College Park Here & Now is a monthly print newspaper with a circulation of 9,600.

The paper is owned by Streetcar Suburbs Publishing, P.O. Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781. The newspaper was founded in 2020, and has a website: streetcarsuburbs.news.

Please Send your Comments on Greenbelt Road (MD 193) Corridor Plan by March 31

Several residents and local elected officials attended the community meeting on February 10 to discuss the Greenbelt Road (MD 193) corridor plan.

According to the City of Greenbelt Staff, the project webpage has now been updated with links to the meeting recording and to a copy of the meeting’s PowerPoint slides. Both can be found under the “Past Events” heading.

If you haven’t done so yet, please remember to check out the project’s interactive comment map and share it with others. This map allows you to look at different information about the corridor and leave your own comments.

If you weren’t able to attend the meeting, a brief overview of the map and instructions for its use can be found in the meeting recording at minutes 1:17:27 through 1:24:00. The project team will be accepting comments on the map until March 31.

Also, please mark your calendars for our next public meeting, on March 23 at 8 pm. This will be a virtual Greenbelt City Council meeting where the project team will present preliminary recommendations. Log in details and registration link will be sent closer to the date, and will also be available on the project webpage.

Volunteer Meetup – This Sunday @ 1 pm

Neighbors Helping Neighbors – College Park is seeking volunteers to help senior citizens with transportation, yard chores, and phone check-ins.

If you are interested in meeting new people, learning new skills, and helping your community, work with us!

Learn more about what we do at our volunteer meetup!

Sunday, February 27 at 1:00 PM

Register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYsc-muqj4iH9XypigIndjs23yKT7hNryhd

Questions? Email us at: coordinator@nhn-cp.org

Please forward this invite for next week’s meetup to your network – all are welcome to join.

Edmonston Road Sidewalk Project Moves Forward

At tomorrow’s meeting, representatives from GPI will present the 95% plans to the Mayor and Council at the February 22 Worksession.

The project is roughly three quarters of a mile in length and extends from Old Calvert Road to the City’s border with the Town of Berwyn Heights.

Most of the sidewalk will be constructed along the eastern side of the roadway.

The sidewalk will be 5-feet in width.

Six stormwater bio-retention stormwater facilities/features will be constructed on SHA property to the east of the sidewalk in conformance with current stormwater regulations.

The sidewalk project will cost $1.3 million.

City may Buy this Old Town Property at $1.7 million

At next week’s Council meeting, the Council will consider approving a contract to purchase the property located at 4704 Calvert Road.

The City was contacted recently by Calvert Road, LLC, the long-time owner of the property.

The property is currently a rental and has an approximately 13,000 square foot parcel, with 5 lots, Lots 1 and 2 are zoned as R-55 and the remainder as R-18. The property is improved with an existing two and ½ stories plus a basement multi-tenant building.

According to the staff report, the property would provide opportunities such as adding open space or residential development. The report is recommending the eventual use of the property will be explored later.

The cost of the property is $1,700,000 if purchased on or before March 17; $1,750,000 if purchased thereafter. The purchase, and any costs related to the acquisition, will be funded from the CIP – Property Acquisition.

The Council will also consider introducing an emergency ordinance to allow the City to go to settlement on or before March 17, 2022. This ordinance also authorizes the City Manager to make any related expenditures necessary to facilitate the acquisition of the property.

Learn History of Lakeland Community in College Park

History of Lakeland Community in College Park
Saturday, February 26, 2022 | Virtual | 2:00 p.m.

To learn more about Lakeland, the historic African American community of College Park, click here.

Formed around 1890 on the doorstep of the Maryland Agricultural College, now the University of Maryland, the story of Lakeland is the tale of a community that was established and flourished in a segregated society, developing its own institutions and traditions, including the area’s only high school for African Americans, built in 1928. The Lakeland Community Heritage Project, was formed to preserve Lakeland’s history and the stories of its people through photographic archives and oral histories.

Lakeland Community Heritage Project members Maxine Gross, Violetta Sharps-Jones, Courtnie Thurston, and Robert Thurston will lead the session. To register, visit: HyattsvilleAgingInPlace.org/events.

City to Give Away Free Books to Celebrate Black History Month

To celebrate Black culture and history, the City of College Park is giving away free copies of two books that embrace Blackness and help address racism.

“Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry is a children’s book that highlights elements of Black culture, which have often been excluded or negatively portrayed in mainstream media. “The Racial Healing Handbook” by Dr. Anneliese A. Singh is a handbook for adults to raise the consciousness of race and racism, challenge internalized negative messages, and heal from stress and trauma related to discrimination. The books are intended to spark mindful conversations, with children and adults.

For each book, the City has included several discussion prompts for individuals and families to aid in discussion and critical thinking. The City hopes these books will help create spaces for productive conversations.

For each book, the City has included several discussion prompts for individuals and families to aid in discussion and critical thinking. The City hopes these books will help create spaces for productive conversations.
Click here to reserve your copy, while supplies last. For more details, visit: https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=339.
[City of College Park]

FREE KN95 Mask Distribution

FREE KN95 masks are available throughout Prince George’s County at select libraries, community centers, and COVID-19 testing sites. Each resident will receive two masks. Please be prepared to provide proof of residencies, such as a driver’s license, utility bill, or lease agreement. View this link to check which locations are providing masks each week, along with dates and times.
Residents will receive two KN95 masks and two at-home rapid test kits at the following County locations in District 1 while supplies last:
Laurel Branch Library
507 7th Street, Laurel, MD 20707
Wednesdays and Thursdays 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center
7120 Contee Road, Laurel, MD 20707
Saturdays 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Free KN95 masks are also available for pick-up at all State-run test sites, including the following:
UM Laurel Medical Center (drive-through)
7300 Van Dusen Rd, Laurel, MD 20707
Daily: Monday – Sunday 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Free N95 masks from the Biden Administration are available at select pharmacies throughout Prince George’s County. Click here to learn more.

Plan being Developed to Build Sidewalks and Bike Lanes on Rhode Island Avenue, North of College Park

The County DPWT has informed that it has initiated the development of a concept for a bike and sidewalk facility along Rhode Island Ave from Paducah Road to Sunnyside Avenue.
This concept will determine the specific needs that have to be addressed to construct the bike and sidewalk improvements including construction costs, stormwater management requirements, right-of-way needs, and utility impacts.
The concept will be completed by the end of the year and be utilized to determine the next steps.
This is just the first step, but it is very important that the process begins.
Last month, the City Council sent a letter to the County asking to build these facilities on Rhode Island Avenue. Several residents also wrote in support of this plan.
Thank you all that have been advocating for this pedestrian safety improvement.
[Source: County Councilmember Tom Dernoga]

Should the County Transfer Recreation Programs from M-NCPP?

County Councilmember Tom Dernoga has sent this message to the community about a proposed change to transfer Recreation Programs from M-NCPP to a new Recreation Authority under the control of the County Executive. Please see that message below.
Recently, the County’s State House delegation had a hearing (starting at 3:00) on a new bill (PG-406) that proposes a Work Group to provide for a transfer of the recreation programs (Youth sports, art, senior services, etc.) from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) to a new Recreation Authority under the control of the County Executive.
The Work Group is to make recommendations on: (1) the powers and duties of the recreation authority; (2) which existing functions could be assumed by the recreation authority; (3) funding for the county recreation authority; (4) any necessary changes to state or county law necessitated; and (5) issues arising from the transfer of any personnel to the recreation authority. The Work Group is to provide its report by December 31, 2022.
The legislation is supported by the County Executive and many Prince George’s County Delegates. The hearing commenced with a 4-minute video (starting at 4:20) describing the arguments in favor of creating a Recreation Authority. The video was produced by “Team Takeover” which also has a website with information.
First, every other County has a recreation department under County government. County recreation programs were transferred to M-NCPPC in the 1970s at a time of changes in racial demographics. Second, the current structure has resulted in the lack of quality programming. Third, only children whose parents can afford to play organized sports.
I have had my disagreements with M-NCPPC and I am no M-NCPPC apologist. I am keeping an open mind, but questions abound:
  • Clearly this late filed bill was planned in advance since it had a video, website and witnesses. Why were M-NCPPC, the County Council and many delegates not briefed in advance? Why was the broader public not notified?
  • Why is the Work Group comprised almost entirely of elected officials – people that lack qualifications to conduct the necessary financial, legal and programmatic analysis?
  • PG-406 has no provisions regarding public meetings or hearings. How often will it meet? Who will provide staffing? How will the public be engaged? Clearly, some residents are dissatisfied with MNCPPC. How will the interests of people satisfied with M-NCPPC be incorporated?
  • Have the proponents identified specific failures by M-NCPPC? Is a Recreation Authority the solution to the failure?
  • One of the biggest complaints is the lack of an M-NCPPC Youth Sports program. If the Recreation Authority creates such a program, will it require property tax increases or reduction of existing programs? Which programs? The proponents must address this question with financial details, not broad claims.
  • The stated or implied expectation is that all or much of the current $0.078 property tax rate will be transferred to the new Recreation Authority. These funds are currently used to run the community centers and recreation programs. Will property tax increases be necessary to fund the expansion of Youth Sports?
  • Will all of M-NCPPC’s community centers be transferred to the Recreation Authority?
  • Sports fields are generally part of the Park Program and funded by the separate Park tax. Will Park Program facilities and funds also have to transferred to the Recreation Authority?
  • How will duplicate administration be avoided?
Ultimately, I am left wondering. It is said that our residents pay all of the Recreation taxes, yet we lack local control. M-NCCPC/PG has a Board of Prince Georgians, appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council, which hires a Director to oversee a bureaucracy. Due to the lack of quality programming, we should replace this structure with an Authority of Prince Georgians, appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council, which hires a Director to oversee a bureaucracy? I am definitely interested in hearing more.
[Office of the CM Dernoga]

City’s Bulk Trash Collection is Going Down Reduction

According to City staff, since the implementation of Bulk Trash Ordinance 20-O-02 in 2020, the Department of Public Works has observed a measurable decrease in collections of bulk trash tonnage.
In 2019 (pre-ordinance), the City collected 756.3 tons, while in 2021, the City collected only 534.58 tons – a reduction of 221.72 tons!
As part of the City‘s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, one of the objectives is to reduce the amount of trash that is sent to landfills.
According to staff, we still need to do more work in increasing recycling, as the recycling rate hasn’t however increased over the recent years. Staff encourages City residents to recycle more. Helpful tips on how to recycle more can be found here.