LAST WEEK’S WORKSESSION:
We had an interesting discussion with the police last week. In addition to the statistics we received (which I sent out last week), we discussed police efforts to tie into the Nixle program and into crimereports.com. The police continue to work to improve access to these programs, which give residents real-time information about crime in their community. The County police’s use of Nixle has steadily improved over the past couple years – we used to get alerts about things that were happening in Suitland and Landover, but very little about College Park, and that has really started to change. We continue to have some problems with getting prompt information from the police, but they continue to improve, and I believe that Major Liberati is doing a lot to help that happen.
I also asked the Metro police about safety improvements at the Greenbelt Metro, and about the police decision to clear-cut the brush around the creek near the Metro, which many of us feel went too far. Unfortunately, Captain Walters, who is in charge of the Green and Red line security, said that, although WMATA is currently reviewing where it has cameras, it may be a while before they get around to the Green line and to purchasing new cameras for this area. We will continue to follow up and ask them questions about this to ensure that they keep us in mind. Regarding the clear-cutting, Captain Walters told me that he had spoken with the Prince George’s County police and they had jointly decided that the number of hiding places in that area made it unsafe, so they decided to cut all the vegetation out. I pointed out to him that this led to the destruction of habitat, as well as stormwater management problems and the erosion of the banks of the creek. Captain Walters said he would be willing to work with the City’s Committee for a Better Environment and Metro’s landscapers to look into replanting the area in a way that keeps public safety in mind. I will make sure that the City continues to follow up with Metro and make sure that this happens.
Regarding USE OF THE OLD FRIENDS SCHOOL, we heard a presentation from the National Museum of Language, which would like to occupy that space, at least temporarily until PGCPS puts together a proposal for a choice school there. One problem is that a lot of remediation – including a new boiler – would be necessary to make the portion of the school that the NML wants to use habitable. This may cost up to $3.5-4 million, and the NML currently has a budget of about $44,000. We will continue to talk with them about options for locating there and what other options might be available.
TOMORROW NIGHT’S MEETING:
We start out tomorrow’s agenda with a few interesting items. First, the Mayor will read a Proclamation in support of the 20th Annual Conference of the Association for Black Culture Centers, which will be taking place November 4-7, 2010, at the University of Maryland. We’ll then hear comments from and meet the new Miss College Park, Devin Fendlay. Third, Peggy Higgins, our Director of Youth, Family and Senior Services, will recognize Felipe Urquilla for his service to the College Park Seniors Program.
We will then consider the following items:
1. On the consent agenda, we have a RESOLUTION TO EXTEND THE DOWNTOWN COLLEGE PARK COMMERCIAL DISTRICT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY. This will allow the Downtown College Park Management Authority to continue collecting dues from downtown businesses for the purpose of promoting the downtown College Park area. DCPMA helps promote the businesses of downtown College Park, through advertisements and an annual downtown guide. The DCPMA also contributes to area non-profits, such as the Special Olympics and the College Park Volunteer Fire Department.
2. CONTRACT AWARD TO DUNCAN SOLUTIONS, INC., FOR HANDHELD PARKING TICKET WRITERS, SOFTWARE, TRAINING AND IMPLEMENTATION. The Council will consider a contract to purchase handheld parking ticket writers in the amount of $44,200. Although the City’s parking directors says that staff has been satisfied with the vendor we’ve used in the past, the ticket writers we use now are old and need to be replaced. The same vendor offers ticket writers that interact better with the pay stations in the City parking lots and parking garage, to save time and resources for the staff.
3. APPROVAL OF A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SERVICES FOR RESIDENT RIDERSHIP OF THE SHUTTLE-UM FROM SEPTEMBER 1, 2010 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1, 2011. The City has negotiated a deal with the University to allow residents to continue receiving passes and riding the University’s Shuttle-UM for the next year, at a cost of $6,000 to the City. Not a lot of residents currently use this service – we’ve handed out about 340 passes so far – but it still could be a valuable service for residents who wish to use it. Unfortunately, the Shuttle-UM bus lines that serve north College Park do not come very frequently. Because of this, I have asked the staff to start looking into other options for public transportation services for future years – it might, for example, serve residents better if we can distribute passes for the Prince George’s County TheBus system or even WMATA buses. I’d like the staff to at least look into these possibilities for the future.
4. APPROVAL OF A LETTER TO THE MARYLAND NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION WITH FY 2012 BUDGET REQUESTS. The City is asking for M-NCPPC to include a number of things in their FY 2012 budget. Although M-NCPPC is losing a lot of money this year due to the application of the homestead tax credit, we will never get these things if we don’t ask for them! Specifically, we’re asking for:
1. An amendment to the Transit District Development Plan to include development north of the College Park Metro in line with the recommendations that the City received from the Urban Land Institute last year.
2. A new display board at the entrance to the Cherry Hill Neighborhood Park.
3. A new stormwater inlet at the Hollywood Community Park – the existing stormwater inlet has not been effective at relieving flooding problems with water coming down from the Al-Huda property over past years, and this would help resolve the problem.
4. New Entrance Gateway to the Hollywood Communiity Park. A new gateway at the south entrance to the Hollywood Park by the Metro would help make the park more attractive for people coming off the Metro into our community.
5. Study of Potential Community Center in the Hollywood Commercial District. The Amended US 1 sector plan and sectional map amendment recommends a community center in the Hollywood Commercial District, to better serve the residential community in Hollywood and help revitalize the commercial district itself. Although Park and Planning probably does not, at this point, have the resources to build a community center there right away, we are asking that they begin with a study to determine what they might be able to do there.
6. A study of additional lighting along the Paint Branch trail – more lighting on this trail may be appropriate to encourage safe use of the trail by commuters.
7. Closed Circuit Television Cameras and License Plate Readers – the City is requesting cameras along the Paint Branch trail to tie into the City’s CCTV system and help bring cameras further north, and prevent crime along the trail.
8. Support for College Park Dog Park Association request – the College Park Dog Park Association has asked to expand the dog park area into a nearby underutilized space, where there is currently a horse-ring and soccer field. The horse ring is in disrepair and rarely used, and opening it up would allow a larger area to be used for the soccer field and allow for an expansion of the dog park.
5. INTRODUCTION OF AN AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CODE TO ALLOW INDIVIDUALS AGE 18-21 TO RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL. This ordinance, which I discussed last week, is up for introduction tomorrow. After giving this issue a lot of thought, I support this measure as a way to open up our City Council to qualified individuals 18 and up. I’m eager to here, though, what the public has to say about this amendment.
6. APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMITTEES. Thank you to Robert Day (reappointment to the Advisory Planning Commission), Richard Biffl (reappointment to the Rent Stabilization Board), Irene Bellamy (appointment to the Animal Welfare Committee) and Doris Ellis (appointment to the Education Advisory Board) for their service to the City!
As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments on any of the issues up for discussion tomorrow night.