Minutes of April 2021 Meeting

North College Park Community Association
April 8, 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 Denise Mitchell; Dawn Budd, Kelvin Budd, Judy Blumenthal, John Krouse, Lisa Ealley, Mary King, Jessica Sim, Matt Sim; and from the Maryland Coalition for Responsible Transit: Pat Jackman and Susan McCutchen.

Meeting called to order at 7:32 pm.

Agenda: Vice President Macknis moved that the NCPCA elections be added to the Agenda. Ellen Caswell seconded and the motion was passed.

Officers’ Reports:

President Mary Cook: The coalition of North Prince George’s County community associations is meeting every couple of weeks for now. The group focuses on a few issues at a time, currently trash and parking enforcement. Working with the county is especially challenging.

Treasurer Jordan Schakner, via email: We have $1,377.39 in the bank, and $40 in dues were deposited.

Vice President Carol Macknis: (1) Needs to be reimbursed $13 for a website invoice. (2) Beltway expansion: We’re not initially very impacted; I270 is affected first. Congressman Anthony Brown opposes it and has been talking to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, possibly suggesting we’ve got to slow down the effort. There may be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Secretary Ellen Caswel: The Cherry Hill bollards have been removed. President Cook says the Department of Public Works & Transportation is supposed to meet with residents before they put in the planned median.

Minutes of the March 11, 2021 NCPCA Meeting: VP Macknis had a correction; residents are responsible for shoveling snow and making sure greenery doesn’t impact the sidewalks, not repairing them. This was tabled until later in the meeting.

SCMaglev Presentation:

Pat Jackman and Susan McCutchen from the Maryland Coalition for Responsible Transit (MCRT) www.mcrt-action.org. The MCRT’s mission is to assess transit projects for equity, for environmental impact, and social viability. The number one project right now is the Superconducting Maglev (SCMaglev), a high-speed ground-based passenger transportation system that’s being tested in Japan. The Baltimore-Washington SCMaglev Project is a $16 Billion project that would operate a train that hovers above metal tracks using a levitation system powered by magnets. The train would reach over 300 mph to carry passengers between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail (BWRR) is a private American company developing the project. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) a $27.8 million dollar grant to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement. The presentation included route information and project infrastructure. MCRT is aligned with Citizens Against the SC Maglev, both of which are working on Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is out for commenting. They’re looking at safety concerns, environment, road congestion, and other issues. The overall construction of the project is estimated 7 years, 3-4 years in our area. MCRT has extensive information refuting claims about the SCMaglev, including a 44-page PDF with a searchable table of contents.

There followed discussion that focused on how the SCMaglev would have little benefit for local transportation, and that travel on each end would involve local transportation.

Vice President Macknis moved that NCPCA send a letter to the SCMaglev Project opposing the project, supporting the No Build Option, and that we include in our letter some of the reasons for our objections. Judy Blumenthal seconded and the motion passed with one abstention.

Mayor Wojahn was asked about the city’s stance, and reported that the City Council has taken a position in support of some bills before the General Assembly regarding Maglev. Maglev discussion is on the April 13 agenda.

Vice President Macknis made a second motion: Based on information from County Councilmember Glaros, she moved that NCPCA send a letter to each of our federal representatives stating there should be no federal funding for maglev. There was discussion of a second part of the motion suggesting support for capital rails, but after discussion this was removed. Ellen Caswell seconded, and it was passed with one abstention. President Cook will draft the letter.

Mansionization: Judy Blumenthal reported on recent activity. We need to be more knowledgeable about covenants and agreements, which overlap with the zoning changes; the city’s planning director, Terry Schum, has provided information. The McMansion committee, originally established to prevent another multimillion dollar house, takes on a whole different dimension. The linchpin that holds everything together is the zoning.

Hollywood Streetscape: Councilmember Kabir expressed excitement that after 12 years we had the vote for construction approval. We should see real changes in early May along Rhode Island Avenue. There will be some traffic impact, including lane closures but not road closures, and there will be changes in traffic pattern. A realistic completion date is very early next year.

Dog Park: Councilmember Kennedy discussed the Dog Park, which should be finished in the next month or so, to open in June by Davis Hall. There are separate sections for big and small dogs, running water, a wood mulch surface, and agility play areas. Cost is about $350,000. Matt Sim asked about the infrastructure projects near the dog park, including drainage and new power lines. Mayor Wojahn said the powerlines are Pepco infrastructure. The county surprised the city by requiring drainage.

Stone Straw Property:

Mayor Wojahn held a meeting that many of us attended; people were very concerned about the traffic patterns. There’s nothing written in stone yet. There are zoning restrictions, so if the current owners were to want to change it to something else they would have to get Councilmember Dernoga to do a text amendment.

Judy Blumenthal says north College Park doesn’t want a housing development. She would like to meet with Finmarc (current owners) or Profish (who was interested but is no longer involved) to find out what is happening. There was discussion of why there is heavy digging happening, with varying explanations. Lisa Ealley suggests that if the property stays commercial a metro shuttle would help mitigate traffic.

Dr. Blumenthal moved that we try to initiate a chat with Finmarc and Profish at different times, 30 minutes each, just to see if we can explain to them who we are and they can provide a little bit more information. VP Macknis seconded and the motion passed.

The Parking Enforcement presentation was moved off the table because Parking Enforcement Director Jim Miller was unable to attend.


We discussed whether to hold elections in June, while still in Covid, or possibly in face to face in September. We may be able to have more people able to be involved by then, even if we need to be at a park or equivalent. The bylaws indicate we can have meetings that are not formal without having to hold an election. Dr. Blumenthal would like to continue to meet, as we have momentum and so many issues. John Krouse suggested maybe it’s time to change the bylaws about picking the date. It’s proposed we introduce any changes in May so they can be voted on in June. Whenever the election is held, we will need to have dues-paid members.

Minutes, part 2: Dawn Budd provided the following amendment: “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.” John Krouse moved that we amend the minutes to reflect the text, Ellen Caswell seconded, and the motion passed.


Councilmember Kennedy: (1) She will do a short presentation with Councilmember Maria Mackie, probably next month, about dog poo in the neighborhoods. (2) If anyone hasn’t gotten vaccine, sign up, put Greenbelt Station as top (with state). Mayor Wojahn provided a link: https://onestop.md.gov/preregistration.

Councilmember Kabir: (1) The following Saturday is a big day: community cleanup, bring bulk trash to Davis Hall. Paint can be disposed of Davis Hall at $5/can. A community cleanup by a lot of organizations is coming up the succeeding Saturday. (2) The monthly community police meeting topic for the following Monday (April 10) is loud noise in the community.

Mayor Wojahn: (1) The city is in its budget process; they still need to know how much will come from the American Rescue Plan, which will help support infrastructure. The amount is likely significant, possibly $15M over two years. (2) The Budget Hearing will be May 11 at the regular council meeting. (3) The Mayor is part of an effort looking at the University of Maryland police practices. A community survey of people who interact with the UMD police closes April 17.

John Krouse moved to adjourn. It passed at 9:14 pm.