Hollywood Road Sidewalk Construction to Start this Fall

At next week’s Council meeting, the Council will discuss the Hollywood Road Sidewalk Project’s 60% Design Plans.

Hollywood Road is a paved roadway with two-way traffic, parking on both sides of the street and no existing sidewalk. It has been identified as an important connector street in the City’s Complete Streets priority matrix. In 2018, the City completed a feasibility study which determined that the south side of the street was an acceptable location for a 5-foot-wide sidewalk. In June 2021, the City signed a consultant agreement with the engineering firm of Mead and Hunt, Inc. to create 100% design plans and specifications for the future sidewalk, which will extend from Baltimore Avenue to Rhode Island Avenue.

The City and design consultants hosted a stakeholder meeting on January 19, 2022, to solicit resident’s opinions on the 60% design plans. Based on these comments, Mead and Hunt completed additional intersection and traffic/parking studies to address some concerns. Traffic movements at the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and Hollywood Road were analyzed to assess safety issues, and parking near this intersection was monitored to assess the traffic impact. The studies showed that back-ups at the Rhode Island intersection were infrequent and resolved quickly when they occurred, and that vehicles generally adjusted to allow one vehicle at a time to pass when cars were parked on both sides of the street. Mead and Hunt will present their recommendations to address these issues and further facilitate the flow of traffic.

The City was awarded a Transportation Alternatives (Safe Routes to School) grant of $79,200 from the Maryland Department of Transportation for the final design. Additional design and construction funding are provided through the Complete and Green Streets Project # 113004 in the City’s Capital Improvement Program.

The construction is expected to start in the fall of this year. Here is the complete project schedule.

  • 60% Design Complete – February 2022
  • Finalize Design and Permitting – June/July 2022
  • Advertise and Award Construction – Contract August/September 2022
  • Begin Construction – October 2022
  • Project Complete – January 2023

Contractors of big construction projects like this should be working with reliable suppliers and subcontractors like concrete pumping service providers in order to complete the project on time. To complete the project, the sidewalks will have a very welcoming and high quality look with its stamped concrete finish.

In addition, if you’re looking for a reliable supplier of access mats and temporary roadways ground protection system to be used in your worksite, then make sure to get some from a reliable hdpe supplier.

[City of College Park]

Summer Youth Job Opportunities

The Prince George’s County’s Summer Youth Enrichment Program (SYEP) offers County youth and young adults ages 14 to 22 enriching and constructive summer work experiences in community organizations, private sector companies, and government agencies.

The program provides young people with the opportunity to:

  • Learn new job skills while working
  • Experience professional development opportunities
  • Gain exposure to a diverse range of careers
  • Participate in job readiness training
  • Network with industry leaders
  • Build your positive working relationships
  • Earn pay for meaningful and rewarding work experiences

More can be found here on the County website.

Council Discusses Ways to Give More Tax Credits to City’s Homeowners

At last Saturday’s budget worksession, the City Council discussed a proposal that would give more property tax credits to City’s owner-occupied homeowners.

Maryland law allows Counties or municipalities to grant a property tax credit against their real property tax to offset increases in municipal income tax revenue as a result of an increase in the County’s income tax rate in excess of 2.6%. Prince George’s County’s income tax rate is 3.2%.

The tax credit is called Income Tax Offset Credit (ITOC).

The ITOC will be an alternative to the proposed tax reduction by reducing the FY23 property tax rate by the CYTR (constant yield) tax rate amount. For a homeowner of a $300K home, the proposed reduction of the tax rate from the current rate of 31.31 cents to the proposed rate of 30.18 cents would reduce the property owner’s tax bill by $34.

The ITOC would give City’s owner-occupied homeowners a much larger credit, as high as $195 in FY23.  City Staff is working to get a more accurate and realistic credit amount.

To set the qualifying criteria to receive the ITOC credits, Council’s ITOC proposal includes only those owner-occupied homeowners who currently receive the State Homestead Tax Credit.

The specific language in the Maryland State Code related to ITOC is as follows:

Maryland Tax – Property Section 9-221
(a) The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore or the governing body of a county or municipal corporation may grant, by law, a property tax credit against the county or municipal corporation property tax imposed on real property in order to offset in whole or in part increases in the county or municipal corporation income tax revenues resulting from a county income tax rate in excess of 2.6%.
(b) The credit granted under this section is available only to the owner-occupied property of a homeowner as defined in § 9-105 of this title.
(c) The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore or the governing body of a county or municipal corporation may provide by law for:
(1) the amount of a property tax credit under this section; and
(2) any other provisions necessary to carry out this section.

Montgomery County has an ITOC, in accordance with State law, with the following highlights:

  • Grants a credit against the county real property tax in order to offset, in whole or in part, increases in the county income tax revenues resulting from a county income tax rate in excess of 2.6%. The County’s current income tax rate is 3.2%, and the resulting Income Tax Offset Credit is currently $692.
  • The Montgomery County ITOC is available only to the owner of an owner-occupied residential property (principal residence).
  • The credit is applied only against the General Co. and Special Serv. Area ad valorem real property taxes.
  • The credit is not applied to any State or municipal taxes and charges County Solid Waste or Water Quality Protection Charges, or WSSC charges, such as Front Foot Benefit Assessments.

At the budget worksession, the Council generally agreed to explore the ITOC option further. City’s Finance department is still researching the logistics of getting a tax credit in place with SDAT. The Council has until May 31, 2022, when the FY 23 budget will be adopted.

My special thanks to Councilman Adams, for bringing the ITOC option for last week’s budget discussion.

Community Cleanup – Saturday 16, 9 – 11 am

Please mark your calendar. Join your neighbors to clean up and beautify North College Park. Volunteers will work together to clean up the Hollywood Community garden and the major neighborhood streets. All are welcome. Supplies will be provided, so all we need is – YOU. All are welcome. Please spread the word! Thank you!

Additional FY23 Budget Requests

The City is about to complete today’s budget worksession. here are a few additional budget request items the Council approved as part of the draft budget. I’ll update this list with more items later.

District 1

  1. LED streetlight replacement on 52nd Avenue between Lackawanna st and Huron Street – $25,000
  2. Solar-powered flashing stop signs  (3 lights) – $6,000
  3. Interactive online College Park history project – $7,000
  4. Funding for North College Park Welcome wagon (NCPCA request) – $2,000
  5. Signage added to Dog Park gates (the PGC rules re. aggressive animals applies) – $500
  6. Two more solar lights at dog parks – $2,000
  7. Bus shelters (a) Route 1, near Dunkin Donuts (b) Rhode Island Ave near Hollywood Rd
  8. Welcome sign for the Oaks Spring neighborhood on Cherokee Street (at the triangle)

City Wide

  1. Online after school tutoring program for College Park students – $30,000
  2. 200 hours of additional contract police service
  3. Spanish translation of City brochures – $50,000
  4. Bee boxes to be installed at appropriate sites (for 5 boxes) – $2,000
  5. $50,000 emergency funds for the individual residents in distress

You can see an overview of the proposed budget here in my previous post

Construction of the Odessa Park project may Start Next Week

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

Great news! Construction of the Odessa Park project will be getting underway soon, as early as next week.

The contractor will begin removing bamboo, trees and vegetation to prepare the site for grading and construction of the park. Construction vehicles will be accessing the Park project via Odessa Road.

More information about the Odessa Park project can be found at https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/310/Odessa-Park

UPDATE: There could be some questions/concerns about the trees being removed from the lot as part of the project. According to staff, the construction plans indicated about 16 trees for removal. A few of them are already dead and about 6 trees are under 6” in diameter; 2 are not going to be removed. The existing stand of bamboo will be removed. The planting schedule includes 20 trees to be planted and 14 shrubs. Thirteen of the trees will be evergreen to provide year-round screening. The new plants will be planted around the northern perimeter of the site to provide screening between the existing homes and the park. Hope this helps.

Son Charged with Killing Mother at Seven Spring Apartment

Yesterday, at approximately 11:00 am, PGPD officers responded to the 9300 block of Cherry Hill Road for a welfare check. When officers arrived, they located a victim inside of her apartment unresponsive suffering from trauma. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Seven Springs apartment complex is located in an unincorporated area of Prince George’s county, just outside of College Park’s municipal boundary. Both share the 20740 zip code.

The Homicide Unit charged a suspect in connection with a homicide on Wednesday inside of a College Park apartment. The suspect is 30-year-old Junior Bernard, Jr. of College Park. He’s charged with the murder of his mother, 61-year-old Marlene Sloley. They lived together in the apartment where the crime occurred.

The preliminary investigation revealed the suspect fatally assaulted his mother during a dispute. After the murder, he fled the scene. Officers took him into custody a short time later at a relative’s home in Landover.

Bernard Jr. is charged with first and second-degree murder and related charges. He’s in the custody of the Department of Corrections. A commissioner ordered him held on a no-bond status.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 301-516-2512.

[Source: PGPD News]

Save the Date! Maryland Gubernatorial Transportation Forum – Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Maryland Gubernatorial Transportation Forum
Wed, April 20, 2022

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

Sponsored by Bikemore in Action in partnership with Transit Choices, the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and The Real News Network.
Participating Candidates: Rushern Baker, Peter Franchot, Tom Perez.
Eligible but not participating: Wes Moore.

Details coming soon on how to participate and watch. We will also provide an opportunity to crowdsource questions for the candidates.

· Transportation is the #1 source of climate pollution in Maryland and in the U.S.
· Transportation is the leading factor in multi-generational poverty.
· Transportation is the 3rd largest category of State of Maryland spending after education and Medicare, but a category over which the Governor has tremendous discretion.

Hear from leading gubernatorial candidates about their visions for Maryland’s transportation future.

Bikemore in Action set a 10 percent polling threshold, plus completion of a written questionnaire, for participation.

Governor Hogan signed an Emergency Order on the Gas Tax for 30 days

Recently, Governor Hogan signed an Emergency Order last week for relief on the Gas Tax for 30 days. Below is a FAQ regarding this emergency order.

How much is the state gas tax? The state motor fuel tax is 36.1 cents per gallon for gasoline and 36.85 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.
2. When will the gas tax holiday begin, and when will it end? The gas tax holiday, also called a motor fuel tax suspension, was signed into law on March 18, 2022, and will remain in effect through April 16, 2022.
3. Will I notice savings when I fill up at the pump? Gas prices constantly fluctuate, even in a single day, and depend on the volatile global economy. However, the price you pay at the pump will not include the state gas tax.
4. Is there a maximum price threshold for motor fuel in Maryland? There is no total price that can be charged for motor fuel in Maryland, but there is a minimum charge required by law to protect small businesses from unfair competition.
5. May I request a refund of the gas tax as a consumer? No. Only qualified holders who paid the motor fuel tax may request a refund.
6. What steps should be taken if I think a retail gas provider is price gouging or not reflecting the tax holiday in their pricing?

Please contact the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, at 410-528-8662.

7. Will the 30-day gas tax holiday be extended? Currently, the gas tax holiday will end on April 16.

Spring is Here. Let’s Make Our Neighborhood More Beautiful. And City May Help

Spring is finally here with its gorgeous weather (today is the first official day of Spring). As you and your family are getting ready to make your yards, gardens and the neighborhood beautiful, the City can help. Please see below a couple of resources to help you achieve your spring goal

With the start of the Spring, you’ve probably started to work on a beautiful garden, City can help. For compost and wood mulch, don’t look any further. They are available again at Public Works. Please call them at 240-487-3590 to schedule a delivery. They’re available year-round for pick up, Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Bring a shovel and containers and be prepared to dig.

City is also gearing up to get community gardens ready so that you can start enjoying gardening with your fellow neighbors. Please stay tuned for more announcements.

Also, Spring is the time to do away with old stuff that you do not need anymore. City’s Clean-Up Saturdays & Shredding Event is back on April 2, 9, 30, and May 21, 2022, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at the Public Works. You can drop off bulky trash, white goods, electronics recycling, brush, and yard trim for free. You may also bring Styrofoam, small quantities of light bulbs and tubes, and batteries for recycling.  Additionally, a shredding event will take place on Saturday, April 2, 2022, from 8:00 – 12:00 p.m. For more details, please visit: https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=337.

As usual, we’re also working on holding a community cleanup event sometime next month. Please stay tuned for more announcements/

Want to see more butterflies and more blooms in this spring season? The City is encouraging us to reduce or refrain from mowing their lawns in support of local pollinators during the month of April. This will help our native pollinators grow and thrive during this critical period in their life cycle. For more details, please visit: https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=332. Once you register, you can pick up a yard sign to proudly display in your front yard. They are available at the Department of Public Works and City Hall.

County Releases FY23 Draft Budget

Last week, County Executive Alsobrooks released her $5 billion FY 2023 Proposed Budget, which reflects caution and fiscal discipline as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and enter a time of rising opportunity in Prince George’s County. Residents can read the FY 2023 Proposed Budget in Brief here.

Compost and Wood Mulch are Now Available at Public Works

Compost and wood mulch: click here to schedule a delivery. Material is available year-round for pick up, Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Bring a shovel and containers and be prepared to dig.

FBI Headquarters Search Back on the Table

This Tuesday, three MD senators and congressmen secured the inclusion of language to advance the process for a new, consolidated Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters in the Omnibus FY2022 funding package that the President signed into law.

Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer and Anthony Brown (all D-Md.) made the announcement.

Structural and security concerns of the FBI’s HQ at the J. Edgar Hoover Building have surged for two decades. A tour of the Hoover Building in 2015 revealed dated technology, an inefficient structure with cracked concrete, and makeshift workstations in storage.

Congress first addressed concerns related to the Hoover Building in 2011, approving a resolution authorizing the General Services Administration to begin site selection of a new HQ. The GSA announced eligible sites in 2014 and procured a shortlist of three locations in 2015, following Congress’ approval and funding. In preparation for the move, the FBI began consolidating various leased buildings into the Hoover Building. Greenbelt Metro was one of the three locations.

Last October, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-MD), chairman of the Senate Appropriations, released proposed legislation for the remaining nine Senate appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The bill-making appropriations for the Departments related to Commerce, Justice, and Science allocates $632 million for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) new headquarters (HQ).

Pepco Appliance Recycling Offer for March

Pepco is offering customers $75 for a limited time for recycling their old working refrigerators and freezers. Customers must schedule their pick-up by March 31 and have their appliance picked up by April 14 to qualify. Customers can also recycle a dehumidifier or room A/C at the same time to receive an additional $25. Pepco’s Appliance Recycling program typically offers customers $50 for recycling their old appliances.
The Appliance Recycling program aims to save customers energy and money by offering a convenient, environmentally friendly option for getting rid of old appliances. Customers can also select the pick-up option most comfortable for them. Pepco offers in-home no-contact pick-ups, in which contractors pick up the appliance while maintaining a safe distance of six feet from the homeowners, or outside no-contact pick-ups, in which contractors pick up an appliance from a designated garage or outbuilding.
To schedule a pick-up or find out more, visit: www.pepco.com/ApplianceRecycling or call 877-743-3117.

Amazon Announces Funds for Affordable Housing Development near College Park Metro Station

Atworth development near College Park Metro

Today, Amazon.com Inc. announced that they are awarding developers nearly $82 million in lowrate loans to support the construction of two affordable apartment buildings on Metro-owned land in Prince George’s County

In College Park, Amazon is providing $56.3 million in low-rate financing to Gilbane Development Company to begin construction of the Atworth College Park, a residential building with ground-level retail and 451-affordable homes, reserved for tenants with incomes at or below 80 percent of AMI, near the University of Maryland’s College Park campus and adjacent to the Discovery District. College Park offers convenient access to Metrorail, Metrobus, TheBuS, MARC, and a future MDOT Purple Line station. The project will be located within walking distance of the University of Maryland and its Discovery District.

Amazon will provide Bethesda developer Urban Atlantic $25.4 million in low-rate loans to build The Margaux, a multifamily building adjacent to the New Carrollton Metro. The project, part of a  2.3 million-square-foot mixed-use development that includes Metro’s new Maryland headquarters, will include 291 new apartments, including one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three bedroom units.