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Redistricting Maps Faces Challenges in Keeping Neighborhoods Together

At last night’s meeting, the Council discussed a report from City’s Redistricting Commission about their work on redistricting proposals following the 2020 census and other data.

Section C2‐2 of the City Charter requires the review of the council districts at least every ten years soon after the available federal census. City Council established the Redistricting Commission in February 2022 and appointed members in April 2022. Reapportionment Criteria are based on (a) population, which includes residents counted in the federal census and (b) actual Voters, which may include residents who voted in either: the immediately preceding statewide election or the immediately preceding City election. The federal requirement is for the population to be within 5% of the ideal number. This is related to the 2020 Census population data, not the combined population and actual voters. For the districts, this number varies from 7.2% low in District 1 to 8.2% high in District 4. Thus redistricting is necessary.

Using that information, the Commission reviewed more than a dozen draft maps that created substantially equal districts. You can see the Commission’s proposed maps here. The draft consultant maps can be viewed here.

The Charter also states that the map should consider other factors such as the commonality of local economic and social interests, geographic compactness, preservation of the core of existing districts, respect for the neighborhood, and Federal and State requirements.

At last night’s meeting, concerns were expressed about keeping the core of the neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods will not stay together in the proposed maps. For example, District 1 comprises most of the north College Park (Hollywood, Daniels Park and Oaks Spring). Unfortunately, in all five proposed maps, the district 1 boundaries have moved the southern boundary a couple of blocks to the north. The Daniels Park and most of the Oaks Spring neighborhood will move out from district 1.

Because no significant roads divide the neighborhoods, most residents think these three neighborhoods are part of one community. Many D1 residents haven’t even heard of the names of the Daniels Park and Oak Spring neighborhoods, and even if they’ve heard them, they do not know where the boundaries are. All three neighborhoods have a common characteristic of single-family homes, with middle/upper-middle-class working and senior families. There has also been an increasing immigrant/Hispanic population in these three neighborhoods.

Similar concerns were expressed about the proposed District 3 maps, which exclude the College Park Estates and Yarrow neighborhoods from District 3.

The Council discussed revisiting the maps to address the concerns. One way to keep the neighborhoods could be by expanding the population and actual voters criteria from the current target of 10% (-5% to +5%) to 14% (-7% to +7%).

The Council also discussed amending the Charter to change or exclude the “actual voters” criteria. For various reasons, since the last redistricting, the District 1 and 3 residents have been more and more engaged during the election period over the past decade compared to the residents of other districts. This number will negatively impact the current District 1 and District 3 residents because these two districts will be significantly changed/divided partly because of their increased engagement during the election period. The Council will most likely bring for further discussion at a future meeting.

Current District 1 map. The boundary lines are shown in red. The proposed maps more or less remove the neighborhood areas in yellow from District 1

 

One of the proposed maps. The neighborhoods in yellow are shown moved out of District 1

 

Share Your Thoughts on the Planning, Parks, and Recreation Budget

The Prince George’s County Planning Board of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) will hold its 2022 Budget Forums virtually this fall, to solicit comments on the Commission’s budget for planning, parks, and recreation in Prince George’s County for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2023.

The virtual public forums will be held:
Tuesday, October 4, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 18, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.

Public participation is encouraged through a phone bridge or GoTo Meeting (online video meeting software). The forums can be viewed live through our streaming service http://mncppc.iqm2.com and a video recording will be available for review after the hearing.

Register to Speak
Everyone who wishes to speak at the Budget Forum MUST REGISTER ONLINE by noon, the Monday before the forum. To register, visit www.pgplanningboard.org and select “Testify at a Hearing.” Under Budget Forums, select a meeting date, complete the form in its entirety, and submit it. Following your registration submission, an email will be sent with the GoTo Meeting information by 3:00 p.m. the Monday before, including the phone number and a web address to connect to the meeting. To submit documentation as a part of the forum, email information to PublicAffairs@ppd.mncppc.org.

Written Comments
Written comments will also be accepted until close of business, Tuesday, November 1, 2022.
Mail: Peter A. Shapiro, Chair
Prince George’s County Planning Board
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
Fax: Chair Shapiro, 301-952-5074
Email: PublicAffairs@ppd.mncppc.org

Special Assistance
M-NCPPC encourages the participation of persons with disabilities in all of its programs
and services. For special assistance (i.e. large print materials, assistive listening devices,
sign language interpretation, etc.) call the Public Affairs Office at 301-952-3038.

City may Acquire Berwyn Property for Community Amenity

The City and the College Park Volunteer Fire Department (CPVFD) have negotiated and agreed on a contract of sale for the purchase of 5100 Roanoke Place for $63,800.

The City will acquire the 13,575 square foot property from the CPVFD using State of Maryland Program Open Space (POS) funding . The deposit for the contract of sale is $2500, which will be held in escrow until settlement.

The City plans to work with the neighborhood to determine future improvements as public open spaces.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will hold a public hearing on a proposal to acquire the property using POS funds. The Council will vote on the item later in the meeting.

New County Bill to Eliminate Standards for Expedited Transit-oriented Development

The Prince George’s County Council has recently introduced CB-97-2022 to eliminate standards for expedited transit-oriented development in the Local Transit-Oriented (LTO) Zone and tie the requirement for a detailed site plan to certain project characteristics rather than the size of the project.

Specifically, suppose an existing residential or commercial use is redeveloped as a mixed-use project under the Expedited Transit-Oriented Development Review section of the Zoning Ordinance (27-3619) and is within 2,500 feet of an existing metro rail station. In that case, the regulations for development in the LTO Zones shall not apply. Instead, regulations such as density, parking, setbacks, height, etc. are waived and established with the approved Detailed Site Plan.

Under expedited review, all county agencies must make such review the highest priority. The Planning staff has five working days to review and accept or reject the application, and the Planning Board is required to decide on a site plan application within sixty days after an application is accepted. The new Zoning Ordinance requires a Detailed Site Plan review for ten or more residential dwelling units and 25,000 or more square feet of nonresidential development, a change from the previous Zoning Ordinance that had widespread community support. CB-97-2022 requires a Detailed Site Plan for any mixed-use redevelopment project without adequately defining these terms.

The areas in College Park impacted by this bill include Downtown College Park and the east side of Route 1 in the Lakeland neighborhood. This bill would also cover the area recently rezoned to LTO as part of the Adelphi Road-Purple Line Sector Plan.

At next week’s meeting, the City Council will consider sending a letter opposing the bill.

Home Owners’ Tax Credit – Apply by Oct 1st

The State Homeowner’s Property Tax Credit Program allows income-eligible homeowner’s to receive a reduced property tax bill. For more information about this program, click here. Applications are due by October 1st annually. Please apply now. This program can be used in conjunction with the homestead tax credit program.

MARTLEAF® Compost and Wood Mulch are available!

MARTLEAF® Compost and Wood Mulch are available again at the Public Works facility.

  • Compost is $28.00 per cubic yard, and wood mulch is $12.00 per cubic yard.
  • Material may be picked up at Public Works on Mon.-Fri. between 8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m or during Public Work’s clean-up days on October 8 and October 22, 2022 between 7:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
  • You do not need to be a resident to purchase.
  • Delivery is available through October and can be arranged for an additional fee – visit www.collegeparkmd.gov/CompostMulchDelivery to place an order. For further questions, please call 240-487-3593.

Free Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Recycling Disposal Day – This Saturday

COVID-19 Cases on the Rise: New Variant, BA.5

Due to the highly transmissible BA.5 variant, COVID-19 cases have been steadily rising.

Residents six months and older should get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible if they are not already, and those 5 and older should get a booster dose (if you are 50 or older you can get a second booster dose).

Continue to get tested if you feel sick or were exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you test positive, please stay home for at least five days and follow CDC guidelines. COVID-19 treatment is also available at pharmacies across the region as part of the federal government’s Test-To-Treat program.

The Test-To-Treat Program allows people who test positive for COVID-19 to receive proper treatment. You can get a prescription after meeting with a doctor on-site or through telehealth. Locate a Test-To-Treat site here.

COVID-19 Testing Sites
For more information about COVID-19 testing or to use the County testing site locator to find a testing site near you, click here to visit the County Health Department website.
COVID-19 testing locations in the District 1 area include the following:
Wells Ice Rink Parking Lot
5211 Campus Drive, College Park, MD 20740
Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday, 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM

At-home rapid COVID-19 test kits can be purchased at major pharmacies and retailers in-store and online.

Patients are encouraged to report their at-home rapid test results by visiting covidlink.maryland.gov/selfreport to report positive results directly to the Maryland Department of Health.

Please note: Ordering through the free COVID-19 rapid test kits program from the federal government was suspended on September 2, 2022. Visit covid.gov/tests for more information.

UMD Now Ranks a Top 20 Public School

The University of Maryland climbed a spot to No. 19 among the nation’s top public schools, according to new ratings released recently by U.S. News & World Report, according to teh UMD Today.

Among public institutions, UMD is tied with Rutgers University, Florida State University and the University of Washington in the 2022-23 “Best Colleges” report. Maryland also ranked No. 55 among all U.S. universities, rising from No. 59 last year.

Business: UMD ranked 23rd overall, and No. 13 among public institutions, with four top 25 specialties:

Computer Science: UMD rose to No. 16 nationally in this category and No. 8 among publics, with four specialties in the top 25.

Engineering: UMD ranked 22rd overall, and No. 11 among public institutions, with five top 25 specialties.

You can read more about the news here.

EcoGrads Developer Agrees to Have More Parking

The proposed development is to construct a 7-story, mixed-use building, including 123 furnished studio apartments that could accommodate up to 256 beds, and 2,300 square feet of retail.

The Applicant is required to provide 109 parking spaces on site but was requesting a modification of the Development District Standards to provide only 60 spaces on site and an additional 50 spaces off site in a month-to-month agreement with the owners of the Cambria and The Hotel.

At the September 6 Worksession, there was concern expressed by the Council that the lack of on-site parking would negatively impact the adjacent neighborhood, and that the proposed agreement was inadequate. Other proffers from the Applicant were considered including a private shuttle and a per-space penalty payment for any spaces not available through the agreement. The

After further discussions with the Applicant and M-NCPPC staff, the Applicant is proposing to return to their original plan and provide all required parking spaces on site. The plan will not include a private shuttle service exclusively for the apartment residents.

Staff has drafted revised conditions to reflect this change. The Planning Board hearing is scheduled for September 29, 2022.

Getting City Information to Non-English Speaking Residents

At next week’s City Council meeting, the Council will discuss the expansion of Community Outreach in Non-English Languages and opportunities to expand our language accessibility further.

Below is a list of current and expanded methods for accessing City information for residents who are non-English speakers.

1. City’s website features a Google translate widget in the bottom right corner that allows for automatic translation in more than 100 languages. As we have reduced the number of pdfs on our site by adding content to the pages themselves, much of our content can be translated automatically to increase accessibility. Most, if not all, browsers (including mobile) now feature native/automatic language translation of websites and HTML pages when the browser detects content in a language that is not the primary language assigned by the user and computer. For instance, if a user is a native Spanish speaker and has their browser/computer/mobile device set to the Spanish language when they visit our website, the browser will automatically ask the user if they would like it translated into Spanish or just automatically translate it. If on a desktop, users can also right-click on the page and click “Translate to…” to change the language or the translation icon in the URL bar. On mobile, users need to tap on the Aa icon and click on “Translate to…” if their mobile device has multiple languages set or the page is in another language.

2. In the summer of 2019, the City switched its Municipal Scene from a pdf (non-translatable document) to a digital magazine HTML5 format that would allow for automatic language translation, scalable text and reader capability. The Municipal Scene is published on the first business day of each month. Due to its timely nature, a digital method of translation was preferred so as not to delay the publication and because of its wider language and accessibility reach. Staff is working on adding a note to the monthly newsletter
informing residents how the content can be translated.

3. The Weekly Bulletin and other e-newsletters will automatically translate in email and browser applications (like websites) or by right-clicking and selecting translate. Staff is working the College Park Here and Now to enable its insert “The College Park Post” to be automatically translated/scaled/e-reader accessible. As part of our upcoming agreement with the newspaper, the City’s insert will be posted to their site (unchanged and un-edited) like their other content in HTML to allow for in-browser translation. Once this feature is ready, the City will add a note to its section informing residents how to translate the insert.

The City’s Resident Guide has historically been translated into Spanish, and a Spanish language version is available on our website to read or to print. Notice of the Spanish version is also in the booklet, and in the newest edition, one of the feature articles informs residents how to translate City publications. Other City publications like Living in College Park have also been translated and printed in Spanish for distribution.

The City hosted a Spanish-focused event, Salsa Night, at the July Friday Night Live event. Event notices for College Park Day have been in Spanish, including a Spanish language flyer that will be distributed to local schools and through the Hispanic Parent Support Group (which is managed by the City’s Department of Youth, Family and Senior Services). When available, the Hispanic Parent Support Group has had a presence at City events. Staff is looking at increasing event notices in Spanish for wider access.

Staff has been using the Language Line service for phone calls; the service provides interpreters to assist callers and City staff in real time. It is also used in the field by Code and Parking Enforcement Officers and Contract Police when immediate interpretation is needed. Since January, this service has been used 32 times, predominately for Spanish. Councilmembers may use the Language Line service for phone calls and request an interpreter for a Community meeting.

Residents may request an interpreter or captioning service for City Council and advisory board meetings through the City Clerk’s Office. Three days’ advance notice is requested to allow for accommodation. When the City provides written material to the residents of Attick Towers, it is provided in English and Korean.

In the last two Municipal Elections, all election-related material provided by the City was translated into Spanish.

Major public communications, such as modified exhaust system signs, are now being provided in English and Spanish.

[City of College Park]

WSSC Emergency Work Tonight

WSSC will be repairing the water main that crosses under Rhode Island Avenue at Muskogee Street overnight on Friday, 9/16. As a result, traffic on Rhode Island Avenue may be temporarily detoured until the work is completed.

Rabies and Microchip Clinic for City Pets

The City’s Animal Control and Animal Welfare Committee are hosting a Rabies and Microchip Clinic for City pets on October 2, 2022 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Appointments are required; register at https://oct2022rabiesclinic.eventbrite.com

Frances Tiafoe Celebration Event – Friday Sept. 16

Join Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and JTCC for a Welcome Home Celebration for tennis star Frances Tiafoe.

Prince George’s County and the State of Maryland are so proud of Frances Tiafoe, a native Prince Georgian who became the first American man to make it to the U.S. Open Semifinals since 2006. During the U.S. Open, he beat the #2 tennis player in the world, Rafael Nadal.

Join us as we congratulate Tiafoe on his impressive performance at the U.S. Open and wish him well in his upcoming tournaments.

Light refreshments will be served.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/welcome-home-celebration-for-frances-tiafoe-tickets-418344408387

Upcoming WSSC Project Work

WSSC will be working at a variety of locations within your districts as indicated in the notification from WSSC. You can download the notice here.