Regular Meeting on March 12, 2009

Meeting began at 7:38 pm. Councilmember Patrick Wojahn was present; Councilmembers Bob Catlin and Mary Cook joined later.

The meeting started with a presentation by Ms. Felicia James, P.E., Project Manager, WSSC, on the water main replacement project in the Hollywood neighborhood. The project, which will not start until this Fall, will replace about 4.3 miles of 2” to 8” diameter water mains and 500 Water House Connections (WHCs). Existing water mains, some as much as 60 years old, are near the end of their useful lives. The main replacement will be conducted by open trench; temporary water mains will be installed during construction. There will also be replacements of water service connections. WSSC will coordinate with other utilities during repair period. Under certain conditions, WSSC will seek special permits, such as tree permits and sediment & erosion control permit. Activities will include field reviews and inspections by survey crews, and soil boring and test pits by construction crews using heavy equipment. Short water shutdowns may be required for up to 8 hours at a time; affected residents will receive advanced notice. WSSC will install temporary water mains during construction to maintain reliable service. Construction will happen only on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. While all roads will be accessible at all times during construction, traffic will be controlled to minimize community disruptions, and some delays may occur. WSSC will maintain access to businesses and homes. Construction will not require access into homes, and access onto private property is generally not required. WSSC will replace the water mains and water house connections up to the property line.

Moved by Peter Lakeland and seconded by Christine Nagle, Approve the February 2009 minutes with the following correction: in paragraph 6,”final domain name” should read “NCPCA’s website activities”. Motion passed.

President Larry Bleau reported having taken the following actions: sent letter to and testified before City Council re NCPCA’s budget priorities; sent email to 21st District Delegation stating NCPCA’s support of HB27 (defund ICC); invited Daniel Lynch, of Baywood Hotels, to attend the April meeting to give a presentation on their proposal for property on Route 1 between Cherokee and Delaware Streets; and the Board decided on myncpca.org as a domain name and registered it. Lastly, he gave an update on Al-Huda status: The County and Al-Huda have entered into a consent decree that requires Al-Huda to come into compliance with the terms of their detailed site plan by June 30, 2009, in order to obtain a new use and occupancy permit and continue to operate. The County, with the City’s assistance, found a wide range of violations on the Al-Huda site, and they must be corrected. Al-Huda now has a new attorney, who agreed to come into compliance on behalf of his clients. (Thanks to Councilmember Wojahn for providing the information.)

Treasurer Anna Ubeda reported that in the month of February, there was no deposit towards renewals, there were expenses of $8.19 towards NCPCA domain name registration and $24.78 towards the purchase of flipcharts and an easel. The current balance is $1829.31.

City Planner Dorothy Friedman gave a short description of the City’s plan to obtain a Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) grant to help improve the streetscape along Lackwanna St. between 53rd Ave. and Narragansett Ave. with new gutters, sidewalks, lighting, and street paving. The grant would be for $100,000, which the City must match. These funds are available only for this street, because that is the only street improvement for which there is a ready plan that is within the area that the MHAA is considering. The City plans to use other grants to pay for most of the work, and to tap its paving fund to match the grant money. City Planner Elisa Vitale also answered members’ questions. Moved by Mark Shroder, seconded by Bill Robertson: Have NCPCA approve the MHAA grant application. Motion initially tied at 9-9; President Larry Bleau broke the tie in favor of the motion.

Members discussed ways to improve NCPCA. Treasurer Anna Ubeda and Board member Christine Nagle conducted the idea gathering session. Members suggested the following outreach ideas: (1) Appoint block captains to distribute flyers; (2) Send minutes to all residents; (3) Distribute flyer to every house; (4) Students could deliver flyers for community service; (5) Include flyer with recycling package; (6) Distribute flyer with past accomplishments; (7) Put up signs in the community announcing the date of the meeting; (8) Have a NCPCA table at community events; (9) Take out a newspaper ad; (10) Have targeted delivery of flyers for specific issues; (11) Welcome Wagon; (12) Coordinate with realtors to learn of new residents; (13) Pass minutes along to non-members via e-mail; (14) One-on-one talk to neighbors; and (15) Re-activate / introduce more community services, such as Neighborhood Watch, for residents. Members also suggested the following ideas on ways to improve meetings: (1) More community updates on crimes, activity in community – new businesses, etc.; (2) Highlight pertinent events during month in City and community; (3) Have a more relaxed/ neighborly meeting; (4) Relax use of Roberts Rules; (5) More advanced notice of items; (6) Provide adequate time for presentations; and (7) Be more responsive to Issues raised by members. President Larry Bleau stated that the Board will discuss these ideas at its next Board meeting, prioritize them, and communicate the findings to members at the next NCPCA meeting.

Councilmember Patrick Wojahn announced that the City is looking to fill vacancies in a number of its boards and commissions. The City is looking for a chair of the Veterans Memorial Improvement Commission, and people to fill vacancies on the Airport Authority, Animal Control Board, Cable Television Commission, Education Advisory Committee, Recreation Board, and Rent Stabilization Board. Interested members were requested to contact one of the Councilmembers. Patrick also announced that the Institute for Interactive Instruction (www.iiiinc.org, Tel: 301-776-4294), a mentoring organization that provides mentors for children of incarcerated individuals, is looking for both mentors and mentees. Patrick also announced that there will be a neighborhood clean-up and tree-planting in association with Earth Day in the morning on April 18. It will be sponsored by the Committee for a Better Environment (CBE). Stasia Huchison later added that the day will focus on picking up trash along Rhode Island Avenue and the Paint Branch Parkway. The tentative start time is 9 a.m. in the REI parking lot. Refreshments will follow.

President Larry Bleau observed that the next scheduled meeting, April 9, is both Passover and Holy Thursday and thus many members would not be able to attend the meeting. He proposed to call a special meeting on Thursday, April 16, in place of the regular meeting. Everyone agreed to proceed in this manner. (Note: We later learned that Davis Hall was not available on April 16, so the NCPCA Board chose Thursday, April 23 for the special meeting.)

Moved by Stasia Huchison, seconded by Lisa Ealley: Adjourn the meeting. Motion passed, and the meeting adjourned at 9:36pm.

Respectfully submitted by Fazlul Kabir, Secretary

Regular Meeting on February 12, 2009

Meeting began at 7:38 pm. Councilmembers Patrick Wojahn, Jonathan Molinatto were present. Council members Bob Catlin and Mary Cook joined later.

Meeting started with the discussion on Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan. Dan Janousek and Aldea Douglas of M-NCPPC’s planning division presented two rendered images of the Rhode Island Avenue (between Sunnyside Avenue and Greenbelt Road) and the surrounding area. Some members expressed dissatisfaction on how planners have handled the matter so far, especially around the Autoville and Four Corners area, and that the renditions did not reflect their comments at the Charrette. Moved by Diana Claburn, seconded by Stasia Hutchison: Have NCPCA take no position with respect to the Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan. Motion passed.

In the President’s report, Larry Bleau reported that he sent NCPCA By-Laws and recent minutes to the Website Steering Committee to include on our web site; sent letter to County Council, with a copy to City Council, requesting a change to the Master Plan of Transportation; asked City Council, in person, to take a position in support of our position, which they did; appointed Kennis Termini to fill an empty position on the Variance Committee; and appointed Maureen Malone to the Website Steering Committee. He announced there would be a Post-Charrette meeting the following week; the Prince George’s County Police would hold a Domestic Violence Education and Awareness Seminar; WSSC is planning to replace water mains in northern College Park this year, and he will invite them to speak with us in March; and that the City is planning to install new sidewalks in northern College Park this year (there was a handout).

Treasurer Anna Ubeda reported that in the month of January, there was no deposit towards renewals, there were also no expenses, and the current balance is $1,969.

Moved by Mark Shroder, seconded by John Krouse: Approve the January 2009 minutes with the following corrections: in paragraph 2, “Stacy Hutchison” should read “Stasia Hutchison”; in paragraph 10, “Stasis Hutchison” and “anonymously” should read “Stasia Hutchison” and “unanimously” respectively. Motion passed.

Omar Madani, Chairperson of the Website Steering Committee, could not be present; in his absence committee member Arif Kabir reported that the committee completed its comparative studies on GoogleSites and WordPress and decided to use WordPress because of its superior design, archiving, calendar, and more extendibility feature. The committee uploaded the minutes and bylaws to the test website per request, disabled all the commenting features and didn’t put in any forums or blogs for now. Arif also presented a list of possible domain names for the new site. Members are requested to submit digital pictures of the neighborhood. Moved by Mark Shroder, seconded by John Krouse: Allow the NCPCA officers to decide on the NCPCA’s website activities. Motion passed.

NCPCA discussed various ideas for the upcoming City budget FY2009, including particular proposals put forward by John Krouse, Bob Catlin and Larry Bleau. Moved by Diana Claburn, seconded by John Krouse: Send the entire list of proposals to the city. The motion failed. Members later voted to pick the top five budget priorities, as determined by a show of hands; they were: (1) Bob Catlin’s proposal for a City Homeowner’s Property tax credit for low income homeowners; (2) Paint crosswalks across streets that have significant pedestrian traffic (Lackawanna St. in particular was cited); (3) Refund City property taxes; (4) Install about eight attractive new trash receptacles on concrete pads with landscaping at bus stops and high foot traffic areas; (5) Widen Edgewood Rd. where it meets US 1 to four lanes, instead of waiting for properties on the southern side of the street to be developed and widening the road at that time. In addition, the following items received significant support and thus members recommended that they should be considered if there are sufficient funds available: (1) Install additional Neighborhood Watch signs; (2) Increase contract police presence and/or patrols; (3) Set aside funds to improve the intersection of Edgewood Rd. and Rhode Island Ave., to be used when the County finishes its plans and allocates money (alternately, consider making the improvements ourselves); (4) Widen Edgewood Rd. between 52nd Pl. and 53rd Ave., where it is only 19′ wide; and (5) Have all city employees take customer service training.

Moved by Mark Shroder and seconded by Betty Rodenhausen: Extend the meeting beyond 9:30pm. Motion passed.

Maureen Malone quickly reported that the Variance Committee vote on variance request CPV-2009-01, to grant a variance for a front yard setback to enlarge a porch, was three do not oppose, two no response, and that the APC subsequently recommended granting the variance. She then resigned from the Variance Committee and the Website Steering Committee. Larry Bleau thanked Maureen for her service.

Members briefly discussed MD House Bill HB-27 to defund the Intercounty Connector (ICC), which has been brought by Del. Barbara Frush. NCPCA voted against the ICC in May 2007. Moved by Patrick Wojahn and Kennis Termini: Have NCPCA support Bill HB-27. Motion passed by a majority vote, with one opposed and one abstention.
During “Other Business” discussion period, members voiced concerns about the prostitution problems in the Route 1 area; in particular, the Comfort Inn, Budget Inn, and Branchville area. Ruth Herbert reported that Maj. Davis of the County Police had been informed about the activities. Members asked if the names of persons involved in such activities can be published on the city’s website.

Members also asked how to determine the status of code enforcement complaints. The City’s web site now lists property violations, and they are working on code enforcement violations on the site. (Note: When entering the property’s address, one must use uppercase letters for the street name.) Members asked staff if they could call the complainant to inform them of progress.

Moved by Mark Shroder, seconded by Jonathan Molinatto: Adjourn the meeting. Motion passed, and the meeting adjourned at 9:55pm.

Respectfully submitted by Fazlul Kabir, Secretary