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Category: Council Page 2 of 6

College Park Recognizes Juneteenth National Freedom Day

Recently, I’ve asked the City Council to adopt a resolution in support of the Junetheenth celebration.

At this evening’s City Council meeting, the Mayor and Council made a proclamation expressing support for the celebration of Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Because of the summer schedule, the Mayor and Council didn’t have Council meetings for the past 3 weeks, so the proclamation was made retroactively.

The proclamation reads the following.

WHEREAS, approximately eleven and a half million African-Americans survived the “Middle Passage,” a month-long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean stacked in the bottom of slave ships and were subjected to more than 200 years of slavery upon arrival in the United States; and

WHEREAS, more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order Number 3, on June 19, 1865, declaring that, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, all enslaved people were free with “absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and those enslaved;” and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth, or June 19th, is celebrated each year as the date when the last enslaved people in the United States were freed, and commemorates the spontaneous celebration that erupted among African-Americans upon learning of their freedom; and

WHEREAS, after more than 150 years of its annual celebration, Juneteenth has been officially recognized by the President and the Congress of the United States as Juneteenth Independence Day; and

WHEREAS, Americans of all colors, creeds, cultures, religions, and countries of origin share a common love of and respect for freedom, as well as a determination to protect their right to freedom through democratic institutions, by which the tenets of freedom are guaranteed and protected. Juneteenth Independence Day, coupled with Independence Day on the fourth of July, completes the “cycle of freedom” for America’s Independence Day observances; and

WHEREAS, the Prince George’s County Council has expressed support yearly for the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly of Maryland enacted legislation during the 2014 Legislative Session requiring the Governor annually to proclaim June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth National Freedom Day recalls how former slaves celebrated the abolishment of slavery with excitement and great joy, and serves as a reminder to all Americans of the status and importance of Americans of African descent.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Patrick L. Wojahn, Mayor of the City of College Park, on behalf of the City Council, hereby proclaim, and the City does hereby recognize, Friday, June 19, 2020, as JUNETEENTH to acknowledge the historical significance of the day, and to recommit the City to working toward the dismantling of institutionalized racism. SO PROCLAIMED THIS 7th DAY OF July , 2020.

City to Support Bill Asking for Federal Support for Local Municipalities

At this week’s City Council meeting, the Council will consider adopting a resolution in support of the bill H.R. 6175, The REHAB Act – for a fair, direct, federal emergency support to reopen and rebuild local emergency support to reopen and rebuild local American economies.

The REhab act would provide federal tax incentives for affordable housing, mixed-use development, and private infrastructure in urban centers and activity centers such as College Park.

The Act would support the following:
 Focus incentives on the rehabilitation of existing assets near public transportation, which will also
support smarter local public investment strategies.
 Include infrastructure upgrades in eligible project costs.
 Encourage investment in affordable housing in walkable communities.
 Encourage greater density and retrofitting of existing housing.


District 1 Council Bulletin: Time to Give Your Input about the New City Budget

Dear neighbors,

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, you’ll get an opportunity, to speak before the Council about the new fiscal year’s (FY2021) budget. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic effect, many of you have concerns about City’s financial situation. Please read below more about the proposed budget. Also, please review this past weekend’s budget town hall meeting to take a quick look at the proposed budget here . In case you cannot attend the public hearing, you can email your comments to the City Council at by tomorrow at 5 PM. In addition to the budget hearing, the City Council will vote on whether to support the sectional map amendment request for the new student housing on Hartwick road, Additionally, the Council will vote whether to give a tax credit to the proposed development by the College Park Metro. Please see the full agenda below:

FY 2021 Budget and the Constant Yield Tax Rate Hearing
The Council will host a public hearing on 20-O-07, the Fiscal Year 2021 General Fund, Capital Projects Fund, and Debt Service Fund budgets, and the constant yield tax rate. Per City Charter, the budget will be adopted by May 31. City staff has provided for over $2 million of reduced revenue and additional contingency due to the pandemic to account for the financial loss to the City. The reductions assume that business will start to be back to “normal” by the end of this fiscal year – June 30, 2020. Thankfully, due to City’s healthy economic situation, we do not see any immediate impact. If the revenue loss due to the current economic downfall continues, the City may consider adopting other measures, depending on the scale of the future revenue losses. Also, the City is not proposing a tax increase in the proposed budget. Two important projects in north College Park – Duvall Field renovation and the Hollywood Streetscape are also fully funded. The construction work of both projects is expected to start this summer.
PROCLAMATION: Take the Parks to Kids Day on May 16
This year, COVID-19 has impacted everyone across the nation and the world and has limited our ability to interact with our beloved national, state, and local parks. The Mayor and Council will proclaim May 16, 2020, as Take The Parks To Kids Day, and encourage families to explore our great American parks using the National Park Trust’s Park Passport app, and remind children and families that an active lifestyle can help combat issues of childhood obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia.
PROCLAMATION: Public Service Recognition Week
The Mayor and Council will proclaim to recognize May 3-9 as the Public Service Recognition Week. Residents are encouraged to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of government employees at all levels, in particular, our City staff and crew who have been serving every single day tirelessly especially critical today during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, let us give a shoutout to our neighbors who have been working in other “essential” worker capacity and providing important services during this challenging time.
20-G-89 Approval of a Cooperation Agreement for the Community Development Block Grant  The Council will consider approving participation in the Prince George’s County Urban County Entitlement for CDBG and HOME funding for FY2021 – FY2023. The City has been successful in the past in securing CDBG funding from the Prince George’s County Entitlement program and generally receives an amount equivalent to our per capita contribution
20-G-96 Reappointments to College Park City University Partnership
The Council will consider approving the following reappointments to the Board of Directors of the College Park City-University Partnership (a) Class B Directors Patrick Wojahn, and Stephen Brayman (b) Class C Directors: David Iannucci 6/30/2023
20-G-91 “The Standard” Student Housing on Hartwick Road
The Council will consider approving the Preliminary Plan of Subdivision (PP) of “the Standard” located at 4321 Hartwick Road, 450 feet east of the intersection of Guilford Drive and Hartwick Road. The developer Landmark Properties is proposing a mixed-use building containing 282 dwelling units/951 beds for student housing and 6,671 square feet of retail space. The subject site currently contains approximately 12,119 square feet of office space and surface parking. The Planning Board is scheduled to hear the application on May 14th. Based on the discussion at last week’s work session on May 5th, the following changes have been included (a) further defining the public use dedication/easement for the new road; (b) deleting the requirement for a traffic signal warrant study; (c) adding conditions to address stormwater management and permits that may be required for wetlands and wetland buffers and stream impacts.
20-R-12 Revitalization Tax Credit for the College Park Metro Apartments (The Atworth)
The Council will vote whether to grant a City Revitalization Tax Credit to the Gilbane Development Company for College Park Metro Apartments (The Atworth). Last year, the Preliminary Plan of Subdivision and Detailed Site Plan was supported by the City and approved by the Prince George’s County Planning Board with conditions. The City Council declined to approve the requested City Revitalization Tax Credit because the Applicant declined to execute a Declaration of Covenants with the City that included a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) provision if the property were sold to a tax-exempt entity in the future. The applicant has now agreed to execute a Declaration of Covenants with the City that includes this provision (attached) and has requested approval of their application for a City tax credit. The maximum tax credit is an amount equal to 75% of the increased assessment of City tax imposed in the first year, 60% in the second year, 45% in the third year, 30% in the fourth year, and 15% in the fifth year.
20-G-93 Approval of Certain COVID-19 Related Relief Efforts
Council will consider approving of the following COVID-19-related relief efforts: 1) Waiver of business license renewal fees through the end of FY21; 2) Suspend commercial sign and banner code enforcement, and 3) Encourage landlords to delay or forego rental payments from their tenants if financially feasible. The Council may discuss the following additional assistance items in the future (a) Delay payment of City business personal property taxes (b) Identify existing Federal, State, and County business incentive programs where City assistance could be beneficial by filling a gap. (c) Modify Business Assistance and Façade improvement Program to enable more businesses to access the program and address current business needs.
20-G-94 Award of Contract for Feasibility Study to Establish a City Department of Building Code, Permitting & Enforcement:
The Council will consider approving a contract not to exceed $51,720.00 to IBTS to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of the City assuming the responsibility for building construction permits and inspections. The goals for the study are to 1) improve services to residents, developers, builders, and contractors performing work in the City of College Park (and neighboring jurisdictions, if any, who elect to contract with the City for said services), 2) reduce timeframes associated with these services, 3) increase efficiency and workflow and reduce redundant services, 4) standardize review of applications for permits, and 5) avoid repeated reviews that result in multiple revisions of plans and unnecessary expense. Included in the study is the identification of steps necessary for the City to assume responsibility for these functions from the Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement (DPIE). The selected consultant shall recommend the most efficient and cost-effective method of providing these services within the City (and neighboring jurisdictions, if any, who elect to contract with the City for said services.
20-R-13 Dedication of Amherst Avenue as a Publicly Dedicated Street
The Council will consider accepting the dedication of Amherst Avenue (in Old town College Park) as a publicly dedicated street/right-of-way, based upon the delineations in the “Johnson & Curriden’s Subdivision of College Park”. This is an undeveloped swampy area (also known as ‘frog pond’) that houses a number of animals, aquatic and plant species resulting in a bio-diverse place. There has been an interest in the City in taking jurisdiction of this area to preserve and study it.
Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you’ve any questions.

Fazlul Kabir

[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of mine alone and are not necessarily those of City of College Park, or any other organization that I’m officially affiliated]

Council to Discuss Artificial Turf Option in Duvall Field

An artificial turf field

During the visioning process to determine future Duvall Field improvements, there was a lot of discussion about whether natural grass or synthetic turf should be used as a playing surface.

There were proponents and opponents of both types of surfaces.

The City’s consultant, GreenPlay, LLC recommended synthetic turf as the best type of athletic field to meet the needs of the community.

An opportunity arose to have an Environmental Science class at the University of Maryland explore this topic as a Capstone Project under the supervision of professor Mark J. Carroll. The class has completed a comprehensive analysis of sports field playing surfaces to assist the City in its selection of a playing surface for Duvall Field.

The students will present the results of their research in a PowerPoint presentation at this week’s City Council Worksession to be followed by a written report.

The Municipal Scene Goes Completely Digital

Starting this month, City’s Municipal Scene will go completely digital. This means that the new Municipal Scene is now an HTML based digital magazine.

At a recent worksession, I brought up the idea of converting the Scene from the pdf format to the HTML based web page format, in order to make it significantly more accessible. Because it is now completely web-based, it can now be auto-translated in up to 103 languages and the translation will render within the document itself providing a seamless view.

You can access the June 2019  Municipal Scene in the current format here:

Additionally,  new features include:

  • Unlike a static pdf document (like the old Municipal Scene), this new version is mobile/tablet-ready and will resize based on the screen size.
  • Depending on your browser or computer/mobile settings, text can display larger and it works for text-to-speech readers (for those with vision difficulties).
  • Stories can be better highlighted and made more prominent
  • The publication has an easy to use the table of contents/menu and is searchable, making content easy to find.
  • The Municipal Scene can still be printed

Now that the Municipal Scene is completely digital, video, animations, and other things can also be embedded to jazz up the publication.

Thanks to our staff in City’s Communication department for making this conversion possible.

[City of College Park]

Illegal Dumping May Cost More in College Park

A “No dumping sign” in College Park

At this week’s Council meeting, the City Council will vote on a proposal to increase the fine for the initial and each subsequent violation of illegal dumping to $1,000.

The Council will hold a public hearing on the ordinance 19-O-07 enabling the proposed change, earlier on the meeting night.

Currently, the fines for the initial violation is $50, the subsequent violation in 6 months is $100. State law allows the City to increase its fines to a maximum of $1,000 per violation.

State law allows the City to increase its fines to a maximum of $1,000 per violation. In order to create a greater disincentive to littering, staff recommends that the Council considers increasing the fine for the initial and each subsequent violation to the maximum allowed of $1,000 per occurrence.

Once and if fine amounts are increased, staff anticipates posting signage such as “No Dumping, Maximum Penalty $1,000 Fine” and “Warning, This Property is Under Video Surveillance. No Dumping. Violators Will Be Prosecuted” in areas prone to illegal dumping along with necessary surveillance equipment.

[First published on March 11, 2019. Updated: March 24, 2019]


Council May Change Certain Noise Code

At the Council Worksession on December 4, 2018, the Mayor and Council discussed legislation in other jurisdictions, such as Baltimore County, Maryland, Arlington County Virginia, and Prince George’s County that is used to control noise in their communities.

In response to the Council discussions, Staff is proposing the following changes to our noise code:

(i) Define “DAY” as a period between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday; and, 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Define “NIGHT” as the period between 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on Monday through Friday; and, 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

(ii) Certain construction activities producing noise which exceeds the noise limits shall be permitted only during the “Day”. Continuous noise originating from construction sites should not exceed ninety (90) dBA at the construction site property line.

(iii) Allow some noise from certain special Events, as long as Short-term or seasonal activities may not exceed ninety (90) dBA at the event property line

(iv) The following activities or sources of noise shall be exempt from the noise Code, and shall not require a permit: (a) Certain athletic contests and activities (b) Religious facility bells or carillons; (c) Religious or political gatherings and other activities protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; (d) Activities for which the regulation of noise has been preempted by Maryland or federal law; ( e ) Audible signal devices which are employed as warning or alarm signals in case of fire, emergency, collision, theft, or burglary, or imminent danger, etc (f) Noise that is emitted in conjunction with a duly-authorized parade; (g) Electricity-generating systems used to provide emergency backup electric power. (h) Certain athletic contests and other scheduled events if held between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. (i) A sound resulting from the operation of an aircraft. (j) Certain outdoor event on a private property 

Some City Committees May be Disbanded, Merged

At next week’s meeting, the City Council will review recommendations submitted by the Committee on Committees (COC). The City Council created the ad hoc committee, the Committee on Committees (COC) to review each of the City’s boards and committees. The COC is recommending the following changes to some of the committees:

(a) Advisory Planning Commission (APC): COC recommends including more discussions and review concerning development. Consider renaming to Advisory Planning and Variance Committee.

(b) Animal Welfare Committee (AWC): The COC recommends transitioning from a formal committee to light duty volunteer opportunities, such as dog walking, to be administered by City staff. Staff would ensure animals have cared properly and shelter is clean and up to Code.

(c) Cable TV Commission: COC recommends disbandment pending legal review of contractual ability.

(d) Citizens Corp Council: COC recommends disbandment.

(e) Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) and Tree and Landscape (TLB): COC noted some overlap with Tree and Landscape Board. Both include beautification in their mission or list of potential activities. The CBE serves as the City’s designated “Green Team,” a required component of the City’s Sustainable Maryland Certification. The TLB serves as the Tree Board, a requirement of the Tree City USA designation. COC recommends continued utilization of TLB for policy advisory purposes and commercial landscape review.

(f) Veterans Memorial Committee and Dr. MLK Tribute Committee: Consider placing both as subcommittees to the Recreation Board since one of the purposes of the Recreation Board is to create and oversee events.

Council Duscusses Improving Quality of Life Issues with Public Safety Group

The Council reviewed and discussed the Public Safety Operations Group (PSOG) project status report and consider additional initiatives.

The PSOG includes the College Park City University Partnership (CPCUP) Public Safety Sub-Committee, City Multi-Agency Service Team (CMAST), Neighborhood Stabilization
and Quality of Life Work Group (NSQoLWG), Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee (NQoL), One College Park Coalition, and various issue related sub-group meetings.

City staff, per the group’s goals, have implemented the followings (a) Deploy 2 additional CEOs and 1 additional contract police [officer] during times of anticipated high activity such as games; (b) Document all incidents and make student referrals as appropriate; (c) Continue referrals of cases meeting criteria to County Nuisance Board (d) Review Fire code re: large gatherings in single-family homes; ( e) Investigate use of video [recorders] by CEOs from car, body cam, and/or public areas; and (f) Investigate the use of video [recorders] by police of disruptive activity.

Staff plan to work on the followings
in future (a) Review effective legislation in other jurisdictions and use to develop ordinances related to Social Hosts, Gathering and Assembly, and Wailing; (b) Discuss the pros and cons of increasing fines for failure to provide names, from $75.00 to $1,000.00
and first noise offense from $500.00 to $1,000.00; (c) Discuss the value of requiring property owner/manager contact information be posted at or near the front of rental properties; (d) Review rental property insurance requirement for large gatherings, and
consider the requirement of proof of insurance prior to issuance of the City’s Residential Occupancy Permit; ( e)Pursue and obtain injunctions against property owners for continued offenses;

City Plans to Partner with Non-Profit to Bring More Amenities to Seniors

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will receive a presentation from City’s Seniors; Committee, which has been charged to make the seniors feel welcome in the City by providing more services to them. Since it was formed, the committee worked on ideas of how to provide these services.

The committee also collected demographic data about where City’s seniors population in the City. The committee is proposing to have a partnership with the Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN), which is a 501c3 local volunteer group providing services such as taking seniors to doctor’s office and groceries through a service called Village Rides. The committee is recommending that the Council provides $11,500 grant to Neighbors Helping Neighbors so that the group can provide a stipend for a volunteer coordinator whose responsibilities include day-to-day operation of the volunteer network.

The grant would also cover the cost of additional insurance for additional insurance costs and modest operating cost budget for other marketing and special event coordination.

At the meeting, the Council may also discuss future aging-in-place opportunities, such as providing assistance with home improvements and making seniors’ homes more accessible.

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