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A Split Council Approves UMD’s DayCare At City’s Calvert Rd Site

A split Council voted 4-4 last night supporting UMD’s proposal to operate its daycare center at City’s Old Calvert Rd school site. Mayor broke the tie to support the proposal.

According to the plan, the UMD will lease the site from the City for free for 40 years. The Center will have 120 seats. However, it will allow only 12 seats to City residents not affiliated with the university. UMD will use the Bright Horizons Childcare provider to run the daycare center. The cost per child could be $1200 per month.

The property has been vacant for many years. Some residents supported the proposal, hoping the plan would eliminate an eyesore.

However, many other residents questioned whether the long-term lease would benefit the City and its residents. I also thought we should have looked seriously into alternatives for the property. Though there have been informal attempts to seek other public use in the past, no formal attempts have been pursued by the Council. Unfortunately, my amendment to seek an RFI (Request For Interest) failed. Many residents also questioned the proposal’s benefits to the residents and the City.

I hoped a majority Council’s “No vote” would force the UMD to get into a better deal with the Cty to allow more College Park residents to have seats at the center.

The City owns the facility. However, I wasn’t happy with the City’s deal with the University. It was an issue of equity for our City residents.

It was a difficult vote as I was always passionate about providing quality childcare and education for our children. Please do not consider my vote as anything against parents who want to have better daycare in the City.

I want to thank and congratulate those who came out last night and supported the plan. Though limited, I hope our residents can benefit from the facility after it is renovated and operational.

Update: 4/26/2023: I recently came across a discussion about our 2017 Council vote. I have and will be supporting quality daycare projects in any part of the City. I strongly advocated for the Monarch Childcare project, similar to the Bright Horizons childcare project.

Additionally, I have worked to enhance educational opportunities for our children.

  • I worked to bring a free online tutoring program to all College Park students.
  • I advocated adding an afterschool enrichment program at a local school in partnership with our local school board and the University of Maryland’s MILE program.
  • I also supported the annual grant program to our local schools to increase educational opportunities and extracurricular activities.
  • I advocated for creating the College Park Academy, which offered high-quality education to the city students.
  • I hope this helps answer your question. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

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3 Comments

  1. John Rigg

    Dr. Kabir —
    I just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful approach to this issue. Although I disagreed with your proposal to further stall the project while the City pursued an RFI, my disagreement was due to the timing and not because I thought it was a bad idea. I just wish we would have pursued that approach a LONG time ago before we were so far down the track on the now-approved proposal.

    For what it is worth, the proposal should absolutely stand on its own as a worthy one which will make a substantial positive contribution to our City. And that is something I hope we can all get behind.

    Thanks again for your time and leadership on Council. Even when we disagree, I very much appreciate your positive outlook, civility, attention to process, and willingness to consider other perspectives.

  2. Fazlul Kabir

    Likewise. Thanks for coming out last night, staying late and speaking your mind. As a body, the Council could have completed the process fairly quickly. According to our attorney, we needed 45 days to get initial responses from interested partners and additional time to review the proposals. You’ve been involved intimately with the property for many years now and know very well that the UMD’s day care proposal goes back to as early as 2014, or even earlier. Please see here (page 64): https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/document_center/MayorCouncil/Agendas/2014Worksession/080614WS.pdf. It’s hard to believe they’d be walking out if we asked them to wait 2-3 more months.

  3. John Rigg

    As you pointed out, we have strung them along for a VERY long time. This is a worthy project, and is far FAR better than any other we have ever seen in nearly twenty years of working on this issue. Additional delays and a re-opening of the project, especially after the Council voted 7-1 to negotiate with UMD over this project, would have likely been seen as a sign that we were actually negotiating in bad faith. I’m nowhere near as confident as you are that they would not have walked away.

    Its a good project. A VERY good project. And, as a wiser man than myself once said, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

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