Minutes of February 2021 Regular Meeting

North College Park Community Association
February 11, 2021 – Regular Meeting by Zoom

Attending: President Mary Cook, Vice President Carol Macknis, Secretary Ellen Caswell, Treasurer Jordan Schakner; Mayor Patrick Wojahn, Councilmembers Fazlul Kabir, Kate Kennedy, Maria Mackie, and Denise Mitchell; Interim City Manager Bill Gardiner; Lisa Ealley, Judy Blumenthal, Arelis Pérez, Phil Aronson, Pastor Fay Lundin, Krissie Taylor, Maurice Wagoner, Matthew Tedesco, Chanda Beaufort, Luther Ghiz, Duane Arbogast, Carol Susan Nezzo, Francisca Koduah, Sgt. Rosa Scholl, Carissa Janis, Mary Ann Vaughan, Brook Biddulph, Christine Nagle, Frances Sutphen.

Meeting called to order at 7:34 pm.

Officers’ Reports:

Treasurer Jordan Schakner: We have $1,277.28 in the bank account; also a few checks and cash to deposit; we’re in pretty good financial shape.

Vice President Carol Macknis: Paying the dues for multiple years has always been possible, though without a discount. She will change the form and it will be doable in Paypal.

Minutes of the January 14, 2021 Meeting: There were two changes. (1) Senator Rosapepe is working on getting the Beltway Expansion into the upcoming senate session, not into the whole legislature. (2) Arelis Pérez was present. Arelis moved to accept as corrected and amended; Lisa Ealley seconded. Passed..

Mowing: Phil Aronson observed while walking that the City’s landscaper, Level Green, cuts the grass on the median of Rhode Island Avenue between 193 and the Beltway overpass. This is a county-owned road. He is concerned that we are paying double taxes for this. Phil spoke to city and to Tom Dernoga’s office. City said – if they didn’t do it, no one would. There is no Memorandum of Understanding involving reimbursement. Interim City Manager Bill Gardiner says have been mowing for 30 years or so because it was mowed far too seldom, which is also true for the Veteran’s Memorial. It’s the best option to keeping a thoroughfare of the city looking attractive. Discussion ensued. (1) There is a negotiation to transfer ownership of Rhode Island Avenue from Prince George’s County to College Park, so this may become moot. (2) This is an exception, not the norm. (3) This is a big problem in transparency. It’s been going on for 30 years and residents were never made aware of it. (4) The key is for the mayor and council to get back to the community and answer questions in a timely manner.

Branchville Fire Department: Fire Sergeant Rosa Scholl, a firefighter and medic for 4-1/2 years at the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad gave a presentation on smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Ten-year smoke alarms are now required, available at Home Depot or Lowe’s or the like. Use them for any living, sleeping, or guest rooms in the house. Avoid bathrooms; steam sets them off. Put smoke alarms up high because smoke rises. Carbon monoxide alarms are for the colorless, odorless gas that comes from car emissions or anything burning. Pretty toxic. They should be mounted low because carbon monoxide is heavier than normal air. Use with gas appliances, near boiler room and near (but not in) the garage. Put carbon monoxide alarms where you have gas stoves/heat; put smoke alarms where people spend time, such as bedrooms, living room, kitchen. The county provides a small supply of alarms that can be given out. They can be disposed of in the trash. Fire extinguishers, of the type ABC Dry Chem (which is irritating but not toxic), are not required but strongly suggested in single family homes, especially kitchen, garage, work shed, or other likely places for fire. Apartment buildings should supply them. They typically last 5-15 years. Call 911 first, so they’re already on the way. Only try to put it out if you feel safe doing it. Use the acronym PASS – Pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep. Trash them normally, if possible releasing pressure first.

Children’s Guild – Monarch Preschool: Duane Arbogast gave a short presentation describing the existing Children’s Guild programs and plans for the high-quality Monarch Preschool College Park, which includes a partnership with the University of Maryland. They hope to open soon. The Children’s Guild is applying for a special exception to allow 120 students rather than the existing cap of 50 students. There was discussion of the level of certification, class and staff sizes, tuition, subsidies, and possible scholarships. There was also discussion of potential traffic and parking problems and possible ways to mitigate them. There will be bilingual staff. They hope to involve the senior population. In response to President Cook asking whether there’s interest in NCPCA taking a position on this project, Arelis Pérez moved “I make a motion in favor of the Children’s Guild on the Monarch Pre-School that will be located at The United Methodist Church – I am in support of the Children’s Guild and its programs, as well as the exception, provided that the surrounding homeowners’/residents’ concerns are addressed and taken into consideration moving forward.” Carol Macknis seconded, and the motion passed.

NCPCA Mansionization Committee: A subcommittee, consisting of Judy Blumenthal, Mary Cook, John Krouse, Arelis Perez, and pro bono attorney Bridget Simmons was formed to address the problem of residential homes that become mansions. They met to discuss what they can do with city and county to prevent something like this from happening again. Cook has set up meeting with Dernoga, scheduled for the end of February. If there are other areas where this is a problem, let the committee know early. They are reaching out to other communities in College Park.

Bike Lanes Meeting: A meeting was held concerning bike lanes on Rhode Island Avenue (link: https://zoom.us/rec/play/kW5k4cOh9llEP-QHiEc2dkfMxoL9o_-mNVvpHWCgmCLYjNuK5bCMqvw17dUlQ1rXuM9FcfdYaHHVlcmd.KVtJat4k6xsDxNvT?startTime=1612829241000&_x_zm_rtaid=qDLMRWEOStOHd4w8i-Eu7Q.1612878156843.03d41eec2cbd867281c032090de49ae8&_x_zm_rhtaid=980). They plan 5-ft bike lanes on either side, with 10-ft street lanes, which may be hard for large vehicles. Bikers were pleased and gave many suggestions. WMATA buses will now stop directly on Rhode Island Avenue rather than pulling over. WMATA will create raised bus stops. The project is not yet funded.

Potential Wish List Items for Districts 1 and 4 Councilmembers: (1) North College Park Community Center. Discussion included getting funds to rent some space, a call for volunteers, having homeowners or resident put this together ourselves.We may need a staff person, but we could also make this happen with volunteers. Find out cost, materials, who we need: present a business plan that will show the council what we are looking for and what it might cost. (2) Seamless services. As an example, Bill Gardiner will put transport services on ONE piece of paper – help with shopping, transportation, referrals, etc. – for at risk (fragile) people. Other areas could also use seamless services.

Announcements:

Pastor Fay Lundin: If there’s any way the church can help out, let her know.

Councilmember Mackie: Stay engaged. We’re trying really hard to make communication a priority. Lots of work to do, committees that still need people. She’d love to hear from us.

Councilmember Mitchell: For vaccinations at Doctors Hospital – call senior services for transportation.

Vaccination links provided in chat, mostly by Mayor Patrick Wojahn:

https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine; for transportation to vaccine center, call College Park Senior Services program at 301-345-8100; preregistration form: https://covid19vaccination.princegeorgescountymd.gov/;

Luminis/Doctors Community Hospital preregistration: https://askaamc.formstack.com/forms/community_vaccination

University of Maryland Medical System (which includes Prince George’s Hospital in Cheverly) – https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/d1747b1fb8f1433a81b2ea00f93f0e94

Arelis Pérez: The Executive Director of Attick Towers got vaccines from Luminis Health.

Brook Biddulph: The Hollywood PTA is hoping to collaborate with us for neighborhood cleanup day on April 17.

Councilmember Kabir: (1) Dinosaur hunt (dinosaur toys) this weekend, article in CP Here & Now. (2) Two important votes upcoming: award of contract for the Hollywood Streetscape Project and the Hollywood Road Award of Design Contract, will move to construction.

Councilmember Kennedy: (1) A virtual Q&A was planned with Joshua Thomas from the school board. (2) There’s a commission for restorative justice, with space for non-district 2 member, if someone is interested.

Vice President Macknis: Quick beltway expansion update. MDOT has released design. There are broken promises. Maryland Park and Planning is opposed, is working with a mediator; it may go to court.

Future Agenda Items:

Lisa Ealley suggests we could support local artisans during the pandemic, featuring one or two at every meeting.

Carol Macknis would like to discuss the results of a safety police report that came out a couple of years ago.

Arelis Pérez moved we adjourn, Carol Macknis seconded; adjourned at 9:36 pm.