KabirCares.org

County Government Job Fair

January 31, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Prince George’s County Government is hosting a Countywide Job Fair, at Prince George’s Community College which will bring together over 25 County seeking to fill 200+ temporary-seasonal and full-time positions, and internships opportunities for Military Veterans, Returning Citizens, Youth@Work and the general population-at-large.

More here.

Tomorrow: Afternoon Aviators – Weather

January 28, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Join the College Park Aviation Museum to learn about the weather and the different types of clouds! Stay for an educational craft, as there will be create-your-own cloud guides! This program is ideal for learners 8-12 years of age and is FREE with museum admission. Registration is NOT required. For questions, please contact collegeparkaviation@pgparks.com

More here.

CPCUP Appoints New Executive Director

The College Park City-University Partnership (The Partnership) has recently announced the appointment of Susan Hartmann as CPCUP’s new Executive Director, beginning February 2023.

Ms. Hartman will succeed the former Executive Director, Mr. Eric Olson, who has recently started his term as the District 2 County Councilman.

Ms. Hartmann is a cross-sector specialist with 16 years of experience in urban planning, local economic development, multi-agency partnerships, public engagement, and neighborhood revitalization. She has technical experience in strategic and long-range planning, commercial revitalization, public sector consulting, public engagement, facilitation and program management.

Most recently, she was a Senior Program Director with Enterprise Advisors, the mission-driven consulting division of Enterprise Community Partners. With Advisors, she led efforts to strengthen cross-sector collective impact collaboratives to achieve equitable education, housing and neighborhood outcomes for students and families in communities across the country.

She also developed an assessment and strategic planning approach for cities recovering equitably from the COVID-19 pandemic and provided technical assistance to cities and states facing challenges related to economic decline, affordable housing and neighborhood disinvestment.

Ms. Hartmann is the former Economic Development Director at the City of New Carrollton, MD and community planning lead at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in Prince George’s County. Prior to returning to Maryland in 2013, she spent many years living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was a public school teacher and public sector consultant with urban economic, planning and design firms.

Susan received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Smith College and a Masters in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

More can be found on CPCUP’s website here.

Tomorrow’s Four Cities Meeting Agenda

The mayors and Council members of the Four Cities Coalition (College Park, Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights, New Carrolton) will meet tomorrow, Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 7:30 pm

The City of College Park will host the meeting. ‘

It will be a hybrid meeting. The In-Person meeting will be at the College Park City Hall, 2nd Floor Council Chambers.
Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/92592578665

Here is the agenda:

Berwyn Heights:

  • Stormwater Management
  • Background from College Park and Greenbelt on the renter to homeowner programs
  • How are other municipalities responding to the recent crime in the area, including whether there are any new police initiatives

College Park:

  • Legislative priorities that the Four Cities have in common
  • Investor purchases of single-family homes
  • Resilient Maryland Revolving Loan Fund (FEMA)
  • Local impacts from a federal government shutdown

Greenbelt:

  • WMATA: potential fare increases and changes in scheduling
  • Further discussion of the Plastic Bag Ban
  • Compost Collection
  • Firehouse Staffing of Career Firefighters

Greenbelt and College Park Metro to Close During Summer

Metro stations on Green Line in MD & Orange in VA that just saw months-long summer shutdowns in the past few years will be shut down again this summer. No service from Greenbelt to Fort Totten July 22-Sept 4,

Green Line shutdown is for fiber-optic cable installation Metro says it was unable to do when Greenbelt, College Park, West Hyattsville, & what was then Prince George’s Plaza all closed 3+ months in summer 2021 – that was only a year and a half ago now they’ll close again!

Green Line shutdown is for fiber-optic cable installation Metro says it was unable to do when Greenbelt, College Park, West Hyattsville, & what was then Prince George’s Plaza all closed 3+ months in summer 2021 – that was only a year and a half ago now they’ll close again!

City Publishes FY2024 Budget Calendar

City staff has recently published the draft FY24 budget calendar. You can see the calendar below.

The key dates include (a) January 27 – Mayor & Council requests/ resident suggestions for the FY24 Proposed Budget due. (b) March 10 – FY2024 Proposed Budget & CIP published and posted on the City’s website. (c) March 25 – Saturday Budget Worksession. (plus March 28 if necessary). (d) May 9 – Public Hearings on the Budget and Constant Yield Rate. ( e ) May 23 – FY2024 Budget adoption.

Staff is not aware of any significant shortfalls in revenue nor any significant over-expenditures of budgeted amounts in the current FY 23 fiscal year. We expect departmental expenditures, in total, to be under budget by the end of the fiscal year. For FY 24, staff anticipates a significant increase in assessed value – this will need to be confirmed by the State by next month.

Salaries in the proposed budget will include a 2.5% cost of living adjustment, as negotiated with the union plus estimates for merit increases where applicable. The City Council has maintained a cap of 0% for the last several years. This provides the maximum property tax relief for homeowners. By taking no action, the cap will remain at 0% for FY2024. Each percentage point of cap reduction represents about $15,000 of property tax revenue to the City.

City is expected to adopt a balanced FY 24 budget.

On the Seniors’ tax credit, staff said further research be done to estimate the costs of a similar City program for eligible seniors. This could be included for consideration in the FY2024 Proposed Budget.

Board Of Election Supervisors Recomendation

City’s Board of Election Supervisors will be attending next week’s City Council meeting to discuss its recommendation on improving voter participation and other issues regarding this year’s November City election. Please see the Board’s recommendations below:

The Board of Election Supervisors has reviewed the results of the Election Survey of College Park residents on their opinion about City Elections. You can review the Board’s analysis on the survey results here.

The following highlights are noted:
• 42% of respondents stated that Vote by Mail would make them most likely to vote.
• Of the polling places listed in the survey, the College Park Community Center was ranked as the first choice among respondents.
• Contested elections increase voter interest.
• An overwhelming majority of the respondents believe the Mayor and Council have some, or a huge, impact on quality of life.
• Only 8.1% of respondents said social media was their most likely information source.

The Board of Election Supervisors has been reviewing options for carrying out a City election that encourages voter turnout and that allows every valid voter the opportunity to vote. We recommend the following:
1. Develop a permanent, sustainable process for Vote by Mail (VBM) to establish a culture and practice of VBM in College Park by adopting the state’s permanent VBM list. For those voters not already on the state’s permanent VBM list, we will foster an easy application process for a mail-in (or drop-box) ballot and encourage College Park voters to sign up for the state’s permanent VBM list.
2. Conduct an Early Voting process that gives maximum flexibility to voters while reducing cost.
3. Mount a sustained voter information campaign before and during the election on where, how, and when to vote in the City election.
4. Examine other administrative changes to facilitate voting.

1. Develop a permanent, sustainable process for VBM

1.a. Adopt the State of Maryland Vote by Mail list.
We propose the groundbreaking step of having College Park be the first municipality in the County to formally (by law) use the State of Maryland’s Permanent Vote by Mail list as the City’s permanent list of City voters who would automatically receive a ballot by mail. As always, the voter can return completed ballots by mail or by drop-box. It is noteworthy that College Park voters have been early adopters of the State VBM list with over 880 registered voters listed already.

Adopting the State VBM list would create a permanent VBM list for the City that would be updated prior to each election. This will create a permanent method of identifying voters who have opted-in to VBM. We believe this would help establish a culture of VBM in the City. The State and County Election Boards would maintain the list, updating voter addresses and registration status as theydo now. The County Board of Elections has stated that they will share the permanent VBM list of City registered voters with us to identify City residents who have opted-in. We will publicize the permanent Vote By Mail list and encourage voters to sign up if they are interested.

1.b. Make applications for ballots available to any valid voter who requests one by the deadline.
We propose to make applications for mail-in ballots readily available online, at all City buildings, and through local listservs. In addition, we will offer to mail applications to any registered voter who requests one. Qualified voters may receive a ballot by mail or in person at City Hall.

2. Conduct an Early Voting process that gives maximum flexibility to voters while reducing cost.
2. a. Provide in-person early voting at City Hall, during office hours, for the 10 business days prior to the election.
Any voter can fill out an application for a ballot and obtain and cast a ballot at the Clerk’s Office at City Hall 10 business days prior to the election. We propose to establish extended hours for early voting at City Hall on one or more of those days, when we would augment the Clerk’s office staff with Election Supervisors and Election Judges as necessary. Our voter information campaign would highlight the opportunity to vote early at the voter’s convenience at City Hall and promote the days that provide extended hours for voting early at City Hall.

2.b. We propose to follow the State of Maryland practice by changing the term “Absentee” ballots to “mail-in ballots” in the City Code. We will also change the term “late application absentee ballots” to “early voting.”

3. Mount a sustained voter information campaign before and during the election, using postcard mailings and other media, before and during the election on where,
how, and when to vote in the City election.
3. a. Based on feedback from the Election Survey, it is clear that social media is not reaching voters as we had hoped. We propose to increase the budget for direct mailing.
3. b. The City and County are exploring the possibility of having one of our early mailings sent out by the County, with the City providing the digital art file and reimbursing the County for the cost of printing and mailing. With this method, the mail return data would go directly to the County and they would use it for voter list maintenance. If this option does not pan out, then we propose taking a legislative course of action to get the County to use our returned mail data for list maintenance.

4. Examine other administrative changes to facilitate voting.
4.a. We propose changing the voter registration deadline from 28 days, to 15 days, prior to Election Day. This is based on discussions with the County on the amount of time they require to process registrations.
4.b. We propose one polling location, the College Park Community Center, for in-person voting on Election Day.
4.c. Election Day: We propose either Sunday 11/5/23 or Tuesday 11/7/23. Since we are offering Early Voting at City Hall on weekdays for 10 days prior to the election, the Sunday date might provide the most voter choice, although Tuesday is a traditional Election Day.

4.d. We will explore the possibility of additional drop-boxes to accommodate voters farther away from the designated polling places.
4.e. We will continue to explore same-day voter registration with the County to minimize the number of voters who are required to cast provisional ballots.
4.f. Ranked Choice Voting. We are interested in discussing with the Council about Ranked Choice Voting and recommend that we table this discussion until after the upcoming election. We are recommending several innovations, with the permanent VBM list and a new way of thinking about early voting, and we are concerned that our communications about these innovations would be complicated by also trying to educate the voter about Ranked Choice Voting.
4.g. The BOES plans to start pre-processing ballots cast by mail and drop-box one week before Election Day. We propose to hold the Canvass one week after Election Day, which the Council previously indicated would be acceptable.

5. Voter Forums.

We have noted voters’ interest in more information on Candidates and issues through forums and other organized forms of publicity. We as a Board have reviewed the City’s Policy on Candidates’ Debates and recommend that the policy not be changed. We believe that Voter Forums are not an appropriate role for the BOES. If the M&C were to work with the Civic Associations on a calendar of Election Information Events, however, it might be appropriate for those dates to be announced on City mailings or information.

 

 

Election Engagement Survey Analysis

In Fall last year, the City’s Board of Election Supervisors conducted a survey among a select group of College Park residents. Please see below the Board’s analysis of the survey results.

From the mailing of postcards to nearly 12,000 College Park households plus targeted digital marketing to the 20742 Zip code (University housing), we received only 210 responses to the election engagement survey, a return of roughly 2% or less. Of these, 89.05% said they vote in every election for which they are eligible, while 1.9% vote only in presidential elections and 1.9% never vote.

This matched up fairly closely to the number who said they voted in the 2021 City election (80% voted, if one counts the two “other” responses of “I voted,” 5.24% did not vote because they didn’t live in College Park at the time, and 2.86% did not vote because they weren’t registered, then, to vote in College Park).

The primary reason given for not voting in 2021, after “I did not live in College Park,” was uncontested elections. Of the 22 respondents who did not vote in 2021 and did not attribute that either to living elsewhere, not being registered in College Park at the time, being ill, or being ineligible to vote, nine people – 40.9% of those who, essentially, chose not to vote – attributed their action to uncontested elections.

Of the 210 respondents, an overwhelming majority believe the people who serve as Mayor and on City Council impact the quality of life in College Park (51.43% felt they have a huge impact, 40% felt they have some impact).

The fourth question on the survey asked those who did not vote in the previous City election to choose, from the list, an item that would make them most likely to vote in the next one. Of the 59 respondents who indicated they did not vote in the 2021 election, 42% said voting by mail would be most likely to get them to vote, 22% chose early voting as the key influential factor, and 17% felt more information on the candidates would be most likely to encourage more voting. No one selected free transportation to the polling place. Four of the respondents choosing “other” indicated uncontested elections as the condition requiring change.

When it came to ranking preferred voting sites, the College Park Community Center came in first place, followed fairly closely by Davis Hall and then City Hall, with Stamp Student Union far behind the others.

Our respondents were most likely to get their information on City elections through mail sent to their homes (20.95%) and direct emails from the City (20.95%). However, each of the sources listed in the survey seem to play a significant role as some voters’ most likely source of election information. Notable is that social media was indicated to be the most likely information source for only 8.1% of respondents, placing it behind all listed sources except “other.” Many of the 11 respondents choosing “other” specified they use multiple sources, and the Diamondback was specifically noted in one response.

Half of the respondents (105) offered suggestions for improving City elections in response to Question 7 of the survey. Repeated suggestions included:
• More information on candidates, with many specifically calling for candidate forums (19 people)
• Vote by mail (10 people)
• Drop boxes/increased number of drop boxes (9 people)
• Early voting (6 people)
• Making Election Day the same as for county/state/federal elections (4 people)
• Recruit more/more varied candidates (make it easier to qualify, publicize electable positions, more City and University outreach) (4 people)
• Provide free transportation (3 people)
• Ranked choice voting (2 people)
• “I Voted” sticker design competition (2 people)
• Send mail-in ballots to all registered voters (2 people)

Only one respondent suggested maintaining more than one polling place. For both Stamp Student Union and Ritchie, two respondents each said the location should not be
used as polling places. Specifically regarding UMD students, one respondent suggested candidate presentations on campus and another said to “Give out-of-state students a
reason to change their registration to MD.”

Of the 210 survey respondents, only 18 were full- or part-time students; 92.43% were not students. Most respondents were long-term residents of College Park, 70.96% having lived here more than five years (44.29% of respondents have been residents 20 years or more). Nearly 85% own their homes. English is spoken in over 99% of respondent households, Spanish in 8.1%. Respondents noted eight other languages spoken at their homes, including ASL. Seniors were largely represented; 47.62% of respondents were 55 or older. Only 5.71% were 25 or younger.

Vickey Bennett-Peterson (1959 – 2023)

Vickey Bennett-Peterson, a long-time resident of the 5000 block of Mineola Road, has recently passed away after battling Corticobasal Degenerative Syndrome for many years.

Vickey is survived by her loving husband, Joseph (Joe) Peterson, her son Timothy, and many other family members.

A GoFundMe has been established to assist with the medical, hospital and final expense costs: https://www.gofundme.com/f/remembering-our-love. The family appreciates any donation amount provided to assist with this cost.

RRFB Crosswalk Signal near Duvall Field is Now Fixed

The rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) crosswalk signal on Rhode Island Avenue at Duvall Field has been repaired. Thank you for your patience. Thanks to our City’s engineering staff for making this happen!

Please remember that drivers and bicyclists must yield to pedestrians who have the right of way in crosswalks.

Planning Board Approves RST Project with Conditions

Today, The Prince George’s County Planning Board approved the RST affordable housing project with most of the City’s conditions.

The Planning Board did not outright deny the condition about the right-in, but the Board approved a modified condition to allow it as an option without bringing the DSP back before the Board if the reconsideration is heard and approved.

Several residents spoke about the project. You can watch the DSP hearing video here on the M-NCPPC page when it’s available. https://www.mncppc.org/883/Watch-Meetings

City to Move College Park Parade to Spring

The City held the first Fourth July parade on Rhode Island Avenue. Over 500 people participated in the parade through 54 groups, and about 3,000 attended. Overall, it was a very successful event. One challenge staff faced was getting resident volunteers and parade participants.

To ensure that the parade had engaging participants, the City hired several bands, performers, and entertainers to walk in the parade. For 2023, we expect that UMD and the City will again have a 4th of July fireworks event. Unfortunately, the City cannot host two separate events on one day and be led on both due to current staff capacity.

At last night’s meeting Staff proposed that the 2023 parade be held on Saturday, May 6, starting at 10 am. In addition to relieving the immense pressure of hosting two events on one day, one of the major benefits would be that both local schools and the University of Maryland will still be in session, so it may be easier to pull participants (including marching bands) from those organizations.

The Council generally agreed to staff proposal.

Holding the event on May 6 could also increase volunteer participation and resources for staffing and road closure deployments. Furthermore, moving the date to May 6 would also decrease the cost of City staff and contractor overtime and premium costs by not holding the event on a National Holiday.

Council Approves Funds to Complete Hollywood Streetscape Project

The contractor of the Hollywood Streetscape has requested a contract amendment to cover the increased cost of construction due to the extended duration of the project, unusually high inflation, additional resurfacing requested by staff and inclusion of the “goat paths” to the Hollywood Shopping Center.

Although envisioned, the goat paths were not part of the original bid or permitted as the City did not own or control the property. An agreement between the City and Carrollton Enterprises has since been executed, enabling this work to proceed.

The original construction estimate was $2,801,800 based on the unit cost of itemized materials and estimated quantities of Materials two years ago.

The contract completion date was June 2022, but due to permit delays, field changes and supply chain issues were extended.

At last night’s meeting, the Council approved a Contract Amendment for $408,875  to complete the construction of the Hollywood Streetscape Project.

Today is Martin Luther King Day

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He was a Baptist minister and leader of the civil rights movement, championing justice and equality from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. As he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Dr. King was also a strong advocate of change through nonviolent civil actions based on his Christian values. He was a powerful speaker, and his words still resonate with us today.

This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be observed on Monday, January 16, 2023, as the celebrated day will always fall on the third Monday in January.

City will be hosting a panel discussion on Dr. Martin Luther King’s teachings and legacy today on January 16th, 2023 from 7:00-8:00pm for . Registration is free. RSVP here. Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/98187966180.

All City facilities will be closed on today, January 16th in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. All trash and recycling days slide forward one day (Monday collections will occur on Tuesday and so forth), and Friday is the only Special/Bulk collection day.

Council to Vote on Duvall Field Park Design This Week

The Council received the 60% design plans on September 6, 2022. Two features, in particular, were not part of the original scope of services but were conceptually developed by the design consultant KCI based on public, staff and City Council input.

These are the splash pad and enhanced amphitheater/bandshell with storage and audio/visual. The design, bidding and construction management associated with these elements were not included in KCI’s project budget. KCI is requesting additional compensation to add these features to the plans and to recover expenses already incurred to pursue them. The proposals are summarized below.

(a) Additional fees for 60% design – $18,765 for the preliminary design, coordination with vendors, cost estimation and document preparation.
(b) Amphitheatre/Bandshell – $79,372 to engage an architectural sub consultant to design two wood-framed storage room buildings and an audio/visual sub-consultant to design a sound and lighting system to assist KCI with
( c ) Splash Pad – $60,447 to engage a specialty splash pad sub-consultant to assist KCI with the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and design, construction, and permit documents.

At this week’s meeting, the Council will consider approving the contract amendment with KCI Technologies, Inc. for $158,584