Minutes of March 2021 NCPCA Meeting

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

Attending: President Mary Cook; Vice President Carol Macknis;; Secretary Ellen Caswell;; Mayor Patrick Wojahn; Councilmembers Fazlul Kabir, Kate Kennedy, and Maria Mackie; Sustainability Coordinator Janet McCaslin; Planning Director Terry Schum; Senior Planner Miriam Bader; PG Councilmember Tom Dernoga’s Chief of Staff Michelle Garcia; Lisa Ealley; Judy Blumenthal; Arelis Pérez; John Krouse; Dawn Budd; Kelvin Budd; Mary King; Carissa Janis; Bob Catlin; and Hutchinson.

Meeting called to order at 7:35 pm.

Officers’ Reports:

President Mary Cook: (1) A year ago, we were going to hold a meeting at Davis Hall with Tom Dernoga. Covid hit, we had to cancel the meeting, and about 10 new people showed up. We hope to be back soon in Davis Hall. (2) President Cook has been approached to attend a meeting by a group who works with civic association leaders in the northern part of Prince George’s County, because they are impressed with our group.

Treasurer Jordan Schakner, via email: We have in total 1,317.33.

Vice President Carol Macknis: (1) The sustainability people have a quick survey and would like a lot of replies. (2) It’s been awhile since we reviewed bylaws. We should form a committee to decide if they need tweaking, especially regarding virtual meetings. (3) Regarding the Beltway Expansion, there’s been a protest about the selection of Trans-Urban as contractors; not sure what all the implications are. (4) Maryland State Comptroller Franchot has announced that income tax is due July 15 with no interest or penalties; Federal is still April.

Recycling Basics: Janet McCaslin, College Park’s Sustainability Coordinator, is also our recycling coordinator.

College Park has a 43% recycling rate. The new strategic plan has set some lofty goals to increase our recycling and decrease our trash, which will take a lot of work/help from residents. The top five reasons to motivate people to recycle are: conserves natural resources, reduces the need for landfills, prevents pollution, saves energy, creates jobs. It saves money too!

It takes centuries or more for cans and bottles to degrade. It doesn’t make sense to continue to put them into the trash. Paper is widely recycled. With fewer people working in offices after Covid, we’re likely to see a big change. Aluminum is Infinitely recyclable. Glass is recyclable but contamination, breakage, and the need to separate make it harder. Prince George’s County recycles glass, mostly to use as landfill cover. Mixed plastics are not recyclable.

The basic recyclables are cans, cartons, glass, paper, and plastic. You cannot recycle bagged recyclables, plastic bags, food, clothing, or tanglers. We can work on recycling more food waste; composting is the most effective way to address it. The city has food scrap drop-off locations and provides compostable bags. We diverted 19 tons from the landfill.

Various programs reimburse for planting trees or provide free trees. The Department of Public Works has compost and wood mulch available and sells yard waste carts, compost bins, rain barrels, and GAT mosquito traps.

We discussed restaurant and business recycling.

Development in College Park: Planning Director Terry Schum, along with Senior Planner Miriam Bader, gave a presentation summarizing the status of the current development projects. (Councilmember Kabir has the PowerPoint presentation on his blog at https://www.kabircares.org/college-parks-latest-development-update.)

NOTE: A copy of the presentation as a PDF file is on the NCPCA website: on the Minutes webpage: NCPCA Meeting Minutes with these minutes — the PowerPoint index is not included in the PDF file..

There are 18 projects throughout the city, with the largest cluster in downtown. Five are north of Greenbelt Road/University Boulevard. The projects include one hotel, four commercial or retail, four townhouse or multifamily, five student housing, one unknown (either student or family housing), and three institutional. Many have been in the pipeline for quite a while. Information is available at www.collegeparkmd.gov/159

The Boulevard/Metropolitan project drew the most comment. The frontage piece was stalled for years, but has recently shown signs of movement, adding five units and reducing parking, which was already considered a problem. The city is trying to schedule a meeting with the applicant to better understand their intent. There was discussion whether student housing demand will change as a result of Covid. The BP station hotel has not had further discussion since they presented at the NCPCA.

Pedestrian and Road Safety:

Councilmember Kabir: Sidewalks are primarily for safety; some residents like them and some don’t. Funding for the Hollywood Road sidewalk project will be awarded soon. Residents are responsible to keep the sidewalk areas free of trash, snow, and other debris to insure they are passable at all times. Any structural issues should be reported to the city for repairs are their responsibility. The Route 1 Walk Safe project educates in response to students being hit, sometimes killed, by cars. It may become a part of the school curriculum as well. Residents can request a crosswalk or stop sign from the city engineer or their councilmembers; speed humps require a petition of 2/3 of the residents in an area. Contract police can help in enforcing many of these laws. The city speed limit is 25 mph. Rhode Island Avenue is 35 mph, but if city takes it over this may be lowered. Planners are considering bike paths for Rhode Island Avenue.

Councilmember Kennedy: She really supports the idea of sidewalks. Speed bumps sometimes lead to speeding up. Noisy cars is a continuing problem.

Mayor Wojahn: More information about the Complete Streets plan (including which additional sidewalks are in the works) is available at https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/318/Complete-and-Green-Streets-Implementatio.

Councilmember Mackie: Don’t be afraid to tell police/council about problems. If you see something, say something; use the non-emergency number or 911. District 4 doesn’t have sidewalks; District 1 is blessed.

Branchville Contribution: In thanks for Sgt. Rosa Scholl’s fire safety talk in February, we could make a contribution to the young people working in the fire station. After some discussion, Lisa Ealley moved that we make a donation to the Branchville Fire Department volunteers in the amount of $250 to cover a dinner or some sort of meal for their enjoyment. Arelis Pérez seconded, and the motion was passed. The Board will decide where to spend the $250 and get it to the fire department.

Minutes of the February 11, 2021 NCPCA Meeting: Arelis Pérez moved that we approve, Lisa Ealley seconded, and the motion passed.

Old Business:

President Cook: (1) Concerning the bollards on Cherry Hill Road, the County Public Works is talking with the state about renovation of whole intersection. They would like a median. (2) Councilmember Mitchell was in conversation with the city engineer, who is helping to facilitate discussions regarding high water bills. If you need help, the help is there.

Announcements:

Mayor Wojahn: The county has made available an emergency rental assistance program (details at https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/3703/Emergency-Rental-Assistance-Program).The Biden relief bill will provide additional relief for College Park. There is counseling available through the program at hiphomes.org for both renters and homeowners who are struggling. (2) The city’s Committee for a Better Environment has a survey to determine priorities in terms of maintaining a green and sustainable city, at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/sustaincp.

Councilmember Kennedy: It’s Girl Scout Cookie Season!

Councilmember Kabir: The County Executive has announced rule changes regarding Covid. The inside and outside restaurant capacity is changed to 50%. (2) There are spots available at the community garden at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and Hollywood Road, $15 per plot. Contact Katie Hart at khart@collegeparkmd.gov or https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/250/Gardens.

Councilmember Mackie: (1) March 20th there will be Budget a Town Hall hosted by the District 1 and 4 councilmembers. Paper copies of the budget should be available from the city clerk. (2) It’s a good idea to register on multiple websites for vaccines. (3) Celebrate Pi day on March 14 and wish Councilmember Kennedy a Happy Birthday!

Vice President Macknis: It’s a good idea to take a picture of both sides of your vaccination card on your smartphone in case the paper copy is not available.

Future Agenda Items:

John Krouse: (1) Discuss putting recycling containers in city parks. (2) Parking permits are discussed in College Park Here & Now – have parking enforcement talk to us about how this works, and how you can identify whether a car is legally parked.

Councilmember Kennedy: Pet waste was brought up on Next Door. She’d like to review resources she’s acquired and bounce ideas with us.

Councilmember Kabir: He would like to invite a West College Park person who built a community directory. We might want to do one also. We can request funding for it. Arelis Pérez says the Seniors Committee would like to do an all-College-Park directory.

Arelis Pérez moved we adjourn at 9:28 pm, Lisa Ealley seconded, and the motion was passed.