Minutes of October 2020 Regular Meeting

North College Park Community Association
October 8, 2020 –  Regular Meeting by Zoom

Attending: President Mary Cook, Vice President Carol Macknis, Treasurer Jordan Schakner, Secretary Ellen Caswell, John Krouse, Lisa Ealley, Judy Blumenthal, Keith Busiere, Dawn and Kelvin Budd, Carissa Janis, Eric Duyck, Arelis Pérez, Phil Aronson, Lourene Miovski and Tom Bannister, Stacia Hutchinson, Mary Ann Hartnett, Ben G, and Stephanie Butler; as well as Michelle García, Chief of Staff to Prince George’s County Councilmember Thomas E. Dernoga; Mayor Patrick Wojahn; Councilmembers Fazlul Kabir, Kate Kennedy, and Maria Mackie; City Manager Scott Somers; Planning Director Terry Schum; and Finance Director Gary Fields.

Meeting called to order at 7:35 pm.

Officers’ Reports: President: The bollards on Cherry Hill road are not yet fixed. There was a meeting between people in the Cherry Hill neighborhood and Tom Dernoga’s staff regarding the recent flooding; additional meetings are planned. Vice President: Mary will handle the survey on the new Website; Jordan will be contacted for Paypal financial information. Comments on the WMATA Covid-19 service cuts are due October 19. The monthly community police meeting is linked on our site in Upcoming Events, http://b.link/CPCommunityPolice. Carol provided information on voting deadlines and County procedures. Treasurer: A lot of dues have come in and we’re now at $1,325.59.

Minutes of the September 10 meeting were accepted as submitted; Arelis Perez moved, Carol Macknis seconded.

Introduction of Board Members: Last year’s board members have agreed to continue and were asked to speak. Judy Blumenthal finds value in the power in numbers; it would be good if we could each bring one more person to the next meeting. It’s a serious time in our community. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year. Lisa Ealley discussed that North College Park is often forgotten, though there are projects in line.

City Budget Changes: Scott Somers and Gary Fields addressed the Covid-19-related budget changes. Scott reports that since March we’ve had to decrease our anticipated revenue by about $2M, mostly from hotel/motel tax and admissions and amusement tax. Gary Fields presented a detailed breakdown of the changes in revenues and expenditure. These are the only anticipated budget cuts for this fiscal year. Existing neighborhood projects are generally expected to proceed as planned. Questions led to a discussion on how the city might help businesses promote their services, including advertising to residents, having a Chamber of Commerce, and (in chat) using yard signs.

Ongoing Projects: Terry Schum gave a brief overview of the Hollywood Streetscape and Duvall Field projects. Duvall has a completed visioning process and a very conceptual design plan. After further design, the project will go out to bid. The construction phase is expected by summer 2022. When permits (a slow process) are acquired, the Hollywood Streetscape project will go out for construction bids for early spring construction. Michelle Garcia suggested Councilmember Dernoga’s office can help follow up on permits. Fazlul Kabir mentioned the “goat path” (high pedestrian traffic through a grassy area from RI Ave and Mom’s parking lot) permits and stormwater management being responsible for the delays in the Hollywood Streetscape. Terry says we’re working to get agreement to get the goat path paved.

Update on the Stone Straw property: At a Town Hall hosted by Councilmember Tom Dernoga, ProFish Seafood made a very preliminary proposal to use the property for a fish processing plant, market, and restaurant. A townhome project has previously been proposed by Finnmark, who owns the property. ProFish has not yet talked with Finnmark. Several have been to the existing ProFish property downtown and found it to be a good experience. You can’t smell the fish. ProFish offered to host Meals on Wheels and a North College Park Community Center. As an alternative, Arelis Pérez suggested that it’s an excellent location for multigenerational houses.

Update on the Beltway Expansion: Lourene Miovski, who lives across from the Polish Club property on Edgewood Rd, described how its proposed use as a construction staging site would cause a great deal of environmental harm – trees cut, federally protected wetlands affected, chemicals, exhaust. Lourene has suggested they consider using the far north parking lot of the Greenbelt Metro Station. Mary presented a draft letter of comment as NCPCA President regarding the impacts of the Beltway Expansion on College Park neighborhoods. Some additions were suggested. A motion to send the letter was passed.

Recreation Survey Update: This was largely a discussion about a North College Park community center. The current community center has limited programs, resources, and facilities; you need to reserve space a year in advance, and there’s very little accommodation for small groups. The survey recommends exploring renting a facility in the commercial district. Seniors have a difficult time navigating the website or driving down Route 1, especially at night. Acceptance of the survey was voted on the following week. There are currently four M-NCPPC Community Centers within four miles of College Park with different types of programs and activities and adequate parking. The County will be doing a feasibility study.

Announcements From Officials: Mayor Wojahn listed drop-off locations and announced a virtual Race and Equity discussion. Councilmember Kennedy described the City Halloween guidelines. Councilmember Kabir announced the October cleanup days and the upcoming community police meeting. Councilmember Mackie announced a Ballot Questions Town Hall for Oct. 14. The state level ballot questions are: (1) to allow the legislature to move money somewhere else if an expenditure is taken out of the budget, rather than just shrinking what is allowed to be spent and (2) whether or not to allow sports betting. Michelle Garcia announced a county budget forum, a grocery grab and go, and a splash pool “boo-through”.

Other Announcements: Arelis Perez announced that Prince George’s County is partnering with local restaurants to feed seniors, https://wjla.com/news/local/prince-georges-county-partners-with-restaurants-to-feed-seniors for the duration of the pandemic, including Mom’s Meals.

Possible Agenda Item: Phil Aronson would like to discuss why the city pays a contractor to mow on a county road. What does the county do in return?

Meeting adjourned at 9:23 pm.