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New College Park Newspaper May Start this Spring

The last issue of the Gazette newspaper

The last issue of the Gazette newspaper

At this week’s meeting, the City Council approved a resolution authorizing our staff to negotiate and enter into an agreement to start a new College Park local newspaper.

If the agreement works out, the new newspaper may hit the doors sometime in March / April time frame.

After the Gazette paper stopped its publication back in 2015, there has been a vacuum in the easy access to local news and information, in particular, in the area of print media.

The University of Maryland based paper The Diamondback was still around, until it too decided to stop publishing its print editions a few weeks ago.

The Gazette was delivered to all single-family residences in the City (and beyond, to the entire northern P.G. County) and copies were also placed at various locations. The proposed College Park paper is expected to be mailed to City’s residential homes.

According to the agreement with the City, the Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc. (HCN, publisher of the Hyattsville Life & Times) would publish a new, monthly, full-color newspaper.

The paper will be mailed to residential and business addresses in College Park, as well as distributed free at popular gathering spots in and around College Park.

The newspaper would contain entirely local content – news, events, City Council, development, schools, neighborhoods, major crimes, features, personalities, and more. The City government would not review the newspaper’s editorial coverage.

After the Gazette announced its decision to discontinue publication, I asked to have a worksession to discuss exploring other ways to disseminate information to its residents. One idea was to partner with a local newspaper publisher, such as the HL&T.

The HCN is proposing to provide four pages of space for City content in each issue, created, branded, and paid by the City government. The startup budget for the newspaper anticipates approximately $30,000 is total expenses during the first four months. The primary revenue during this period is proposed to be City of College Park monthly payments of $6,500; $6,000; $5,500; and $5,000 (a total of $23,000 for four months with declining payments as business advertising increases). Business advertising is estimated to total $7,000 for the same period but would likely increase in the coming months.

The new paper should give another way to connect with a large group of our residents, in particular our senior citizens, many of who do not have access to online media.

The City currently shares these contents using its Municipal Scenes publication. City residents can get paper copies of the Municipal Scenes mailed to them by special requests.

According to the publisher, when the paper starts getting advertisement revenues, the City’s portion of the cost may go down from $6,500 to $3,300 per month.

The Hyattsville paper has 14 pages, the City (government) only sponsors 3 pages of its own content and spends a little less than $30,000 per year. Based on this and assuming College Park will be sponsoring 4 pages, the yearly cost may be around 40,000. In the future, cost could be brought down further, by sponsoring 3 pages instead of 4.

HCN mails about 7,600 copies to addresses in the City of Hyattsville and  to advertisers, and distributes another 1800 copies to various locations. The College Park print and mail run would be comparable.

This week’s decision was about to run the paper for 4-5 months in the current fiscal year. The City will be reviewing residents feedback and negotiate / sign another contract with the publisher in the next fiscal year.

A Newspaper on College Park May Start Next Year

At this week’s worksession, the City Council will discuss a proposal for starting a College Park based newspaper.

There had not been a mailed or widely distributed local newspaper serving College Park for more than a decade. The Diamondback predominately serves the UMD community, and it is ending print editions.

In the past few years, the City Council has discussed options to increase the reach and depth of City communications so that all residents are well-informed about local issues and activities. The City explored mailing the Municipal Scene to residents, but the staffing and postage costs were extremely high.

In early 2019, City staff began discussions with representatives from the Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc. (HCN, publisher of the Hyattsville Life & Times) regarding the possibility of establishing a new independent College Park community newspaper. HCN was founded by a group of residents in 2004 and celebrated its 15th year of continuous publication this past summer. The Life & Times is currently staffed by a mix of part-time professionals, local volunteers, and student journalists. It has won at least one award at the National Newspaper Association competition for eight years in a row. In late October, the HCN Board unanimously approved a proposal to publish a College Park edition beginning in 2020.

The purpose of this Worksession discussion is to consider this proposal for a College Park newspaper.

HCN would publish a new, monthly, full-color newspaper that would be mailed to residential and business addresses in the City of College Park, as well as distributed free at popular gathering spots in and around College Park. The newspaper would contain entirely local content — news, events, City Council, development, schools, neighborhoods, major crimes, features, personalities, and more. UMD news and issues would be covered when there is relevance to the wider community. The City government would not review the newspaper’s editorial coverage. The newspaper is primarily an organ to build up and bring together the community.

HCN is proposing to provide four pages of space for City content in each issue, created, branded and paid by the City government, so that the City of College Park can better communicate with its constituents at a cost much less than would be possible otherwise.

The HCN board would nearly double in size to include new members from the City of College Park, and the new paper would take advantage of HCN’s existing Md. incorporation, federal 501(c)3 status, and U.S.

Postal Service non-profit postal permit. The College Park and Hyattsville editions would employ separate editorial staffs and publish content specific to each municipality.

The College Park edition would benefit from the accumulated infrastructure and experience of HCN. College Park also offers some advantages over the City of Hyattsville in that it is larger (thereby allowing economies of scale) and has a much bigger commercial sector (promising a larger pool of advertisers). Those potential cost savings and revenue enhancements also can push costs down for our prospective partners, the City of College Park and local advertisers.

The startup budget for the newspaper anticipates approximately $30,000 is total expenses during the first four months. The primary revenue during this period is proposed to be City of College Park monthly payments of $6,500; $6,000; $5,500; and $5,000 (a total of $23,000 for four months with declining payments as business advertising increases). Business advertising is estimated to total $7,000 for the same period but would likely increase in future months. City commitment to the paper would enable the newspaper to invest in staffing from agencies like EuWorkers agence interim production and other resources required to start up a newspaper. This model is similar to the model that enabled the Hyattsville Life & Times to be created by residents in 2004.

[City of College Park]

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]

Interested in a College Park Community Newspaper?

Would you want a community newspaper mailed to your home every month?

A local community newspaper is interested in creating a new paper focused on College Park news and events.

The City needs input from you!

Please fill out this survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CPnewspaper and tell what you’d want to see in a local newspaper by June 7, 2019.

[City of College Park]

College Park Residents May be Getting their Own City Paper!

The last edition of the local newspaper – the Gazette

At this week’s meeting, the City Council gave general approval of a proposal to create a College Park only newspaper for city residents.

The Hyattsville Life and Times (HL&T) recently approached the City with this proposal. According to the proposal, the City will be buying ad spaces to promote City specific contents in the new paper. The new paper is expected to be mailed to all College Park residents.

The City currently shares these contents using its Municipal Scenes publication. City residents can get paper copies of the Municipal Scenes mailed to them by special requests.

Before the Gazette stopped its publication, the City used to buy space in the paper. The content included summaries of Council actions, City events, program announcements and hearing notices.

After the Gazette paper stopped its publication, there has been a vacuum in the easy access to local news and information, in particular, in the area of print media,

The Gazette was delivered to all single-family residences in the City (and beyond, to the entire northern P.G. County) and copies were also placed at various locations.

The Gazette stopped its publication on June 12, 2015.

After the Gazette announced its decision to discontinue publication, I asked to have a worksession to discuss exploring other ways to disseminate information to its residents. One idea was to partner with a local newspaper publisher, such as the HL&T.

At last week’s meeting, the City Council agreed to allocate $30,000 in this newspaper project, as part of the upcoming FY2020 budget. City staff is currently working out the details about the proposal. The City Council is expected to review the final proposal for at least one last time before it gives the final approval. I’ll keep you posted as this idea moves forward. Please stay tuned!

[Photo credit: Hyattsville News and Life]

City Recognizes Three Long-time Staff

Last week the City recognized three City employees on their retirements: Director of Public Works, Robert “Bob” T. Stumpff (13 years with the City); Code Enforcement Manager, Jeannie Ripley (almost 49 years with the City!); and Engineering Technician, Rizmy Mahmooth (11 years with the City).

During his time at the City as the Director of Public Works, Robert (pictured left) oversaw the entire Department of Public Works including refuse and recycling collection, curbside leaf removal, snow and ice removal and so much more. He also is credited with designing the first automated side-loader trash truck with a tag axle in North America (it allows the large truck a tighter turning radius) during his time with the City. This year, he was also a winner of the 2017-2018 Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jeannie (pictured top right) began working for the City in 1969 and has held numerous titles over the years including Clerk Stenographer, Code Enforcement Supervisor, Acting Director of the Department of Public Services, and finally Code Enforcement Manager. She has commendation letters from other agencies, nominations and awards including from former Mayor, Alvin Kushner for her service as Acting Director from September 1986 to February 1987.

Rizmy (pictured bottom right with City Engineer Steve Halpern) began his career with the City in 2007 as a part-time Engineer Technician after greatly impressing City Engineer Steve Halpern during his interview (even outperforming younger candidates when he had to pound nails into the pavement to secure traffic tubes for a traffic counter). In 2009, Rizmy became full-time and you may have seen him around the City investigating residents’ complaints or performing construction inspections.

All three employees exhibited exemplary service to the City and have been recognized on numerous occasions. We will miss them, but wish them all a very happy retirement and thank them for their hard work, dedication and service to the City of College Park.

[Source: City of College Park]

Fueling Innovation in College Park

The Metropolitan Council of Government (MCOG) has recently featured College Park in their 2016 State of the Region: Economic Competitiveness Report. You can see the coverage on page 52.

In 2005, the City of College Park implemented an economic development strategy that successfully transformed it from being an auto-dominated community to one with thriving walkable retail nodes. Now ranked among the Top 50 Small College Towns in the United States, College Park has attracted a series of economic development projects that are collectively forecasted to generate over 500 new hotel rooms, approximately 93,000 square feet of new retail space, and over 1,000 new multifamily housing units.

With over 37,000 students and 4,400 faculty, the University of Maryland at College Park is a major economic engine both for Prince George’s County and the region.80 The University contributes more than $3.4 billion into the economy, supporting 23,000 jobs and generating an 8:1 economic return.81 University and community leaders are working to take this impact to the next level with a focus on cultivating innovation while also redeveloping land along the City’s Baltimore Avenue commercial corridor and the proposed Purple Line light rail station into a mixture of apartments, university housing, retail, offices, and laboratory buildings. This initiative has already helped to attract a new wave of technology companies to College Park–including such groundbreaking
startups as Immuta and FlexEl.

Small businesses continue to play a major role in College Park’s economy. The City of College Park has created several grant programs to assist local businesses with sustaining their economic growth. This year the City awarded approximately $50,000 in business expansion grant funds to local small businesses. These funds were matched by approximately $170,000 in private capital investment.

Patch Interview, NCPCA Candidate Forum

Patch Interview

Yesterday the College Park Patch published an interview that I gave early this week. Here I talked about the issues College Park, in particular our area in District 1 are facing and the ways to address them. Please check that out here.

Also, next Thursday (Oct 13), at 7:30pm, the North College Park Civic Association will be hosting a candidate forum. Meeting starts at 7:30pm. Candidates will speak why they are running for office this time, what they see as the biggest challenge for the city in the coming years and what they hope to accomplish during their next term in office. There will will also be a short period at the end for questions and answers from those attending that night. See you all there.

North College Park Man ‘Assaults’ Driver with Live Power Line

Montgomery County Police Probe Possible Road Rage Attack Involving Live Power Lines: MyFoxDC.com

Richard John Bialczak, 32, of 9630 Milestone Way in north College Park (near IKEA), has been accused of ramming his car into a parked car, hitting it with his fists while trying to force entry and eventually throwing a downed, sparking power line on the car, the Gazette reports.

After its Defeat, NCP’s Wojahn Wants to See Gay Marriage Bill ‘a Priority’ in 2012

Set to Change.. Definition of traditional marriage in MD

North College Park (District 1) council member Patrick Wojahn wants to see gay marriage bill a priority of Gov. O’Malley administration in 2012.

Council member Wojahn is the Chairman of Equality Maryland, Maryland’s largest LGBT (lesbian, gay bi-sexual and trans gender) community group.

Mr. Wojahn’s comments came a day before last Friday, when Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says his office will work harder to get a same-sex marriage bill passed. .

Earlier this year, the bill passed the Senate before dying in the House, after at least two House Democrats withdrew their support and party leaders appeared unable to gain the 71 votes needed for passage. Leaders estimated at the time they had about 68 firm supporters. Gay Marriage supporters in College Park lobbied heavily to help pass the bill in Senate.

Mr. O’Malley — who before becoming governor said he favored civil unions and believed marriage was intended for a man and woman — said Friday his views have evolved beyond those initially instilled by his Catholic upbringing.

Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said her organization greeted the governor’s announcement with “great disappointment” and said the group would lobby against such a bill.

“We continue to urge members of the Maryland General Assembly not to allow this issue to be driven by partisan politics, and to give full and fair consideration to the legitimate reasons why our state should maintain its recognition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” she said according to the Washington Times.

A group of 35 Maryland clergy members expressed disappointment with the governor’s decision. They pointed out that Maryland voters would have a chance to petition any bill that passes to referendum in November 2012, as opponents of unrelated legislation to allow in-state tuition for illegal immigrants have done.

“We’re ready for the fight and have no doubt that marriage will remain between one man and one woman,” the group said.

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, the Senate minority leader, said she believes the majority of state residents oppose same-sex marriage.
“I oppose legalizing gay marriage in Maryland and will fight vehemently against Governor O’Malley’s initiative to pass this legislation,” Jacobs, R-Harford, said in a statement.

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