DRAFT Minutes of November 2021 Meeting

NORTH COLLEGE PARK COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
November 11, 2021 Regular Meeting at the VFW and via Zoom

Attendees included: Officers: Mary Cook, Ellen Caswell, Dylan Burns, Carol Macknis; Councilmembers: Kate Kennedy, Fazlul Kabir, Maria Mackie; Members: Stephanie Butler, Alaina Pitt, Sylvia Dennis.

Meeting Started: 7:05 pm

Treasurer’s Report: Carol Macknis says that we currently have $1,141.14. She says we have gotten $130 from membership dues. She also said that we spent $19 for the elections, and $25 to the State of Maryland to change the resident agent.

New City Manager

Mary Cook introduced our new City Manager Kenny Young. Mary Cook asked Mr. Young about the parking lot at the new City Hall, specifically if it could be overburdened if many people wanted to go to City Hall for a popular issue. Mr. Young says that there will not only be parking at the city hall directly but metered parking as well. He also mentioned that there is general parking in the area. He said that he does not think it is going to be a problem. It is clarified that there will be no gate, and there is also handicap parking. Jerri Jones asked how do you know that those using the parking are those that are supposed to use them. Kenny says that city personnel have tags they can use, and that they are not afraid to tow people. Carol Macknis said that she might not ever visit the building due to disability issues. Mary Cook asked Mr. Young about his plans for North College Park. He said that there a lot of things they want to look at like the Hollywood Shopping Center, planning to improve conditions, neighborhood stabilization, and using the $22 million from the federal government.

County Redistricting

Dylan Burns brought up a lack of transparency in this redistricting process, and how little information is being given to the general public on it. He brought up the fact that this is going to be a strategically difficult battle due to how fast this process is happening, and the little public knowledge on it. Maria Mackie called this whole process unethical, and that it looks like gerrymandering. Mary Cook said that people should sign up to speak against the redistricting at the County Council, even if the list is too long to speak. Alaina Pitt asks how do we get people active against this considering many are not very politically engaged. A motion is proposed to show our opposition to the recent redistricting map that will remove one of College Park’s County Council representatives, ask for a no vote on this, so that the independent commission’s map will be adopted instead. This is seconded by Carol Macknis. This passed unanimously.

Membership

Mary Cook says that in-person the organization used to have 40-50 people attending meetings, and membership has declined. Dylan Burns brought up that we should get people who would not traditionally join the organization to join, like young people. He then states that he has already obtained a list of people who are interested in joining after he has gone out and recruited people independently. Carol Macknis brought up the fact that many people don’t even know the organization exists anymore. He proposed putting up signs through the city to raise awareness about the NCPCA. Alaina Pitt proposed building an online presence, having a welcome wagon, and staffing the farmers market next year. Mary Cook shared an interest in us getting back inside Davis Hall for the welfare of the organization. The holiday party is the next meeting! Dylan Burns, Alaina Pitt, and Fazlul Kabir volunteered to create a Welcome Wagon subcommittee.

DRAFT Minutes of October 2021 Meeting

North College Park Community Association
October 14, 2021 – Regular Meeting At the VFW and via Zoom

Attendees included Councilmembers Kabir, Kennedy, and Mackie; Prince George’s County District 1 Chief of Staff Michelle Garcia.

Meeting Started: 7:03 p.m.

Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Carol Macknis is still working on getting the bank’s (SECU) financial information. The Bylaws Subcommittee continues to review the bylaws.

President’s Report:A motion was approved by the NCPCA to send a letter to the county on the recent zoning issues.

Election For Secretary:Dylan Burns was elected as the Association’s Secretary.

Report on County Redistricting
County Councilmember Tom Dernoga’s Chief of Staff, Michelle Garcia

Michelle Garcia, County Councilmember Tom Dernoga’s Chief of Staff, came on to talk about the county’s redistricting plan and other issues of concern to the NCPCA. Councilmember Dernoga voted no on the new Derrick Davis redistricting plan. There will be a public hearing. Most of College Park will be part of District 1 if the plan passes. The plan will be finalized in November. There is no clear reason as to why this process was done this way; Michelle Garcia said Councilmember Dernoga was expecting to vote on the independent committee’s map. Councilmember Kabir noted, “We would lose a county representative representing College Park under this plan.” All motions to adjust the new map proposal in any way did not pass

Candidates Forum for 2021 Mayor and Council Elections

Lineup:

  1. Kate Kennedy
  2. Maria Mackie
  3. Fazlul Kabir
  4. Denise Mitchell
  5. Patrick Wohjan

Question 1: What are your plans to ensure that all people feel safe and welcome in our community?

Kate: Make sure people feel part of our community. Bring people together. Whether it is through farmers’ markets, neighborhood watches, or just making sure people feel connected. Traffic is a concern. Cameras will be a tool against traffic, which people feel unsafe around.

Maria: I will echo what my associate said. Need a good presence of police. Expand police presence. We need to use our contract police. Work with UMD. I support the Neighborhood Watch program. It encourages people to know who their neighbors are. We need community-building activities (ex: Halloween bash).

Fazlul: Public safety is a big issue for me. I support the police-community meetings, held every second Monday of the month at 7:30. We are supporting a Neighborhood Watch initiative. We are supporting pedestrian safety improvement, like the crosswalks and improvements on Rhode Island Avenue, trying to build bike-safe buffer lanes, working on the camera program to expand them across the city.

Denise: We need to work on enhancing our contract police program. Our residents need to see their presence so they can feel safe. We should support our Neighborhood Watch program to include checks on seniors and the disabled. Create enhancements to combat increased speeding, and improve walkable areas to keep pedestrians safe.

Question 2: How can you, as a city Councilmember, help to ensure that city/county code regulations are enforced? Ex: pitbull ban and six-foot fences.

Kate: Make sure the policy in place reflects our community. Not going to comment on the pitbull issue. We are pretty strict on six-foot fences.

Maria: Need to make sure our city code and county code are working together for the same purpose. Need to give code enforcement the ammunition they need. People are concerned about the number of people who live in a house. This is a tough issue to enforce since people know in advance of the inspection. We need to properly supply code enforcement. On the issue of pitbulls, that is a county regulation. The city works hard to be on top of that. You need a permit for a six-foot fence.

Fazlul: I hear that the system as a whole has become compliant based. If no one complains, nothing happens. Could be a staffing issue. Instead of making it complaint-based, we are trying to make it community-based. If you see something, you should not have to jump through hoops to report issues. Developing a CRM system to streamline reporting. This is something coming very soon.

Denise: CRM system is wonderful. Councilmembers are given reports every month on tall grass but should include 6-foot tall fencing to support our code enforcement officers. Residents are scared that people will know that they were the ones who gave a report, and we need to make them feel comfortable when giving a report. We need to support our code enforcement officers. Pitbull issue is a county issue.

Question 3: Through the American Rescue plan the city will receive $22 million for COVID relief. What are your thoughts on how the city is using these funds, and what changes would you make?

Kate: Early stages of rolling this money out. The first round of money has been put out to support food banks, small businesses, and putting out rental assistance. In the next round of money, we want to be more strategic, including putting money aside to help senior housing and putting money aside to flip student rentals into owner-occupied housing. We want to do more long-term thinking.

Maria: Repeat what Kate said. Make sure that our city’s infrastructure is strong. We have had a stormwater problem in this city. We can use this money to plan for the future. We need to take care of people who are really in need – people who have a fixed income or are disabled. We should support affordable housing. We need to support a senior living space, so they can live here for less.

Fazlul: Compare to our annual money, which is $20 million. This is a lot of money, we have never had this much. By 2024 or 2025 we have to spend it. Repeats housing and stormwater concerns. We have opportunities to invest in restorative justice issues. I am passionate about spending this on Capital Improvement Projects and infrastructure projects.

Denise: I agree with Kennedy on the seniors. We should put money aside for seniors who are aging in place and need to improve their homes. Propose $3-4K. Help residents when it comes to local transportation through buses for important things like doctor’s appointments. I want a town hall with residents to get their input on how this money should be spent.

Question 4: City is having discussions about taking over the permitting process. Name advantages and disadvantages of this move.

Kate: One advantage is speed. It is really going to help small businesses that are going into a business that already exists. The cost should be neutral. Bring in people to take on the permits, and contract out the permits. Benefits outweigh the risks.

Maria: The city will be controlling things that the city has not been able to control so far. Once the city found a mistake that the county made before, but it went forward. The city will have control. More things will get done in a timely fashion. I don’t see many disadvantages, but this is new territory. There will be growing pains. I think that we can work it out though.

Fazlul: The city council has been advocating for this. The residents will save time in getting permits. For small things like building a driveway, you have to run to two places including City Hall. People will save from 21 days to 10 days. This will also save money for residents since they won’t have to pay for two different places.

Denise: (Her internet failed on her)

Question 5: Pitbulls being off-leash in a dog park is an issue with the new dog park. Why is the city allowing this?

Kate: This question is inappropriate but I will answer this. This is my family. Dogs causing problems are not pitbulls. The dogs causing problems are young and have energy. Pitbulls not a problem unless they are trained to be an issue. My dog is a mixed lab, but also a mixed pitbull. She is officially a lab though. This rule is wrong.

Maria: I thought the owners would police the dog park themselves. I did not think it was the city’s responsibility to take care of that issue. I don’t know why these dogs are being aggressive, but it is an owner’s responsibility.

Fazlul: The dog park has been well used. It is very active. Want to bring people to our community based on their interest, and so I am happy about the dog park. We (city council) were asked to weigh in on pitbulls from the county. To me, the law is the law. As lawmakers, we should support the law.

Denise: (Rejoins the call) Maybe there should be a registration for the dog park. We should work with animal control on this issue.

Question 6: What is your response to the county’s zoning map amendment?

Kate: This started before I was even on the council. I appreciate what Kabir said about bringing the Hollywood Commercial District to the next level.

Maria: There are a lot of things in the map amendment I did not appreciate. Afraid that the infrastructure of College Park was never really addressed. I don’t like the idea of too much development until we address the infrastructure of different areas.

Fazlul: This is an upzoning proposal. It will allow more density. We have housing, residential housing. I don’t want to see high-rises in our neighborhood. This is to attract development, but we have a better idea. We want to revitalize the commercial district in North College Park. I oppose this map amendment.

Denise: This is for the south of the county, not for us in College Park. This is for bringing development to the south of the county and is not what we are looking for in College Park. There needs to be more transparency in the process.

Question 7: What are you doing to improve the quality of life of the residents so that they will not move out of the city?

Kate: Create incentives for people to move in and buy a house for people making under $200k. We want the percentage of rentals to drop, and owner-occupied home percentage to increase.

Maria: Make sure our crime rates are low. People want to walk at night. We need safe roads, trails, and bike lanes. We need to preserve green space and not overdevelop. Make better educational opportunities for our young people.

Fazlul: People want to move for many reasons. Sometimes when the family grows and their children graduate from elementary school, they move out. Education is a big issue. We have funded $40k to a tutoring business to provide tutoring in Hollywood Elementary School. Lack of amenities. We are working on the Duvall Field project. We also need a space for people to relax indoors, like a North College Park Community Center.

Denise: Quality of schools is an issue. Make sure that people have available early childhood education programs. We need to provide affordable childcare to parents. We want to create other amenities provided by small businesses like Posh for example. We also need good code enforcement and contract police.

Question 8: There have been clashes between the city and county councils, and even residents, concerning developments in North College Park. Who do you side with?

Kate: *Skipped”

Maria: I try to work with the county council. It’s important to hear from the residents. I respect our councilmembers even if we don’t agree.

Fazlul: I side with the residents. That is my job, to represent the residents. We are fortunate to have a county councilmember that listens to the concerns of North College Park. He fought for us on the recent zoning issues.

Denise: We should always be listening to our residents. We should work with the county. We not only have two county council representatives, but also two more at large. When we come to the table to talk to them, we need to be clear with what our ask is. Try our best to find a win-win scenario.

Question 9: There have been many changes in College Park in the last two years. What is the accomplishment which you helped with that you are most proud of?

Kate: : I am proud of my work on the dog park. But I am very proud of the work we are doing on the tutoring program at Hollywood Elementary School. Hard to have an influence on education, since it is a county thing. Our tutoring programs help kids at a crucial part of their educational development.

Maria: Very thankful that we did the literacy program. Happy we started the pilot there since Hollywood is where we have the most College Park kids. I want to expand it to all schools we have kids in. I am thankful that I got to work with my colleagues to use the CARES money to help the people in my community.

Fazlul: Proud of the work we did to get a community newspaper in College Park Here & Now. We have also brought down the tax rate. I am also proud of the dog park as well.

Denise: I was able to have forums for critical issues in the community. Bringing closed captions in the city for those who are hearing impaired. We brought faith-based healers into the community on the issue of Black Lives Matter. The Youth Advisory Council is also something that I am proud of.

Patrick Wojahn (Mayor of College Park)

Question 1: How do you make sure that you continue to make decisions based on the views expressed by your constituents, and not your personal views?

I think that this is a conversation, and it is important to listen to the residents. Bring forward policies that will benefit the residents. It is paramount we listen to the residents. We need to bring ourselves to the table as well. We don’t decide issues by just having a poll. I go out and talk to residents all the time. The most vocal residents are not necessarily the majority of residents. That is why I created the email I send to the residents every week. I do my best to reach out to the community.

Question 2: What are your future plans regarding your position as the Mayor?

I have not fully decided that yet. This will be my fourth term since I have no opposition. There is a chance that I may not run for re-election, but there are issues I want to see through. Like the new city council for example. Eventually, I need to turn over the reins and give someone else a chance at the position.

Question 3: How would you describe your relations with UMD officials and Senator Rosapepe? How does this affect how you govern?

I have a good relationship with them. We have a strong working relationship with Tom Dernoga as well. I am particularly proud of how we worked together to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. We needed to balance keeping the community safe and our ability to function as a community. We have one of the lowest infection rates in the Big Ten schools. This does not mean we always agree, since I will go toe to toe with them if necessary. But we have a great working relationship.

Minutes of September 2021 Meeting

North College Park Community Association
September 9, 2021 – Regular Meeting At the VFW and by Zoom

At 7:03 pm there were at 14 members present either in person at the Branchville VFW or via Zoom, and approximately 10 guests and other members attended via Zoom during the course of the meeting. City Councilmembers Kabir, Kennedy, Mitchell and Mackie were present.

President’s Report.  President Mary Cook reported that discussion regarding replacements of median bollards on Cherry Hill Road near US 1 is under way. President Cook reported bank balance of $1,185 in absence of Treasurer Jordan Schakner.

Vice President’s Report.  Vice President Carol Macknis commented about ongoing Maglev train lawsuit as well ongoing opposition to Beltway expansion and need to edit NCPCA website.

Secretary’s Report.  Secretary Ellen Caswell provided minutes of July 8 NCPCA meeting and had no other comments.

NCPCA Elections.  Arelis Pérez and Lisa Ealley served as Nominating Committee and identified the following candidates: Mary Cook* for President; Ellen Caswell* for Vice President; Carol Macknis* and Dylan Burns for Treasurer. A nominee for Secretary was identified but later withdrew and no candidate for Secretary was nominated for election at this time.

Voting will be online using ‘Election Buddy’ from 5 pm to 12:00 midnight today. Arelis and Lisa will serve as judges.The candidates spoke about their experience and why they are running for office. Update: On Sept. 10, President Cook confirmed that candidates noted with asterisk (*) above were elected to NCPCA office.

NCPCA Candidates Forum.  Mark Goodson and Kelsey Ward of the newspaper ‘College Park Here and Now’ spoke about ideas for hosting a City election candidate’s forum in cooperation with NCPCA and streaming via Facebook Live. NCPCA includes City District 1 and parts of 2 and 4. No decision was made about a joint effort of the format of the forum. The NCPCA Board of Directors will discuss and develop plans for the forum.

Prince George’s County Zoning Map Amendment. President Cook presented a PowerPoint provided by Prince George’s County. There was discussion about development intensity, traffic, public safety, building heights and other factors which the zoning map would identify and allow. NCPCA attorney Bridgett Simmons presented information about the legislative history and intent of the new zoning code and map amendment. Greg Smith presented concerns about Maryland HB 940 and ethics related to campaign contributions from developers to County Councilmembers. John Krouse moved the following resolution, seconded by Arelis Pérez:

I move that NCPCA oppose adoption of the zoning map amendment because the proposed zoning types along US 1 and Rhode Island Avenue are inconsistent with nearby single family homes, are too intensive, and will negatively impact the quality of life of the North College Park community.

The motion passed unanimously with no abstentions. President Cook will send the resolution via NCPCA letter to City of College Park, Prince George’s County Council, County Planning Board, and as testimony in the upcoming public hearing for the zoning map amendment. There was additional discussion about NCPCA members attending the hearing or sending comments.

Adjourn.  The meeting concluded at 8:54 pm due to need to vacate the building.

Minutes recorded by John Krouse.

Minutes of July 2021 Meeting

North College Park Community Association
July 8, 2021 – Regular Meeting At the VFW and by Zoom

Attending: At the VFW, President Mary Cook; Jim Miller (College Park Parking Enforcement Director); Lisa Ealley, Carissa Janis, John Krouse, and a College Park Here & Now reporter; Virtual, Vice President Carol Macknis, Secretary Ellen Caswell; Mayor Patrick Wojahn; Councilmembers Maria Mackie, Fazlul Kabir, and Denise Mitchell; Scott Benedict Osborn (Operation Supervisor for Parking); Jerri Jones (Constituent Services Specialist in Tom Dernoga’s office); Judy Blumenthal, Stephanie Butler, Arelis Pérez, Hutchison, and a telephone caller.

Meeting called to order at 7:04 pm..

Officers’ Reports:

President Mary Cook: Cook has had no reply from DPI regarding the bollards on Cherry Hill Road.

Vice President Carol Macknis: (1) The Branchville Fire Department was *ecstatic* that we donated a catered meal. (2) Beltway expansion – vote taken, beltway expansion, I270, and American Legion Bridge portions were not included in planning for area. Means it won’t get federal funding. Governor Hogan will try for another vote this month. He’s still full speed ahead. Mayor Wojahn, who represents the city on the Transportation Planning Board, said that the Board voted to remove the plan to widen the beltway and I270. Governor Hogan has sent a letter threatening to remove other projects the tolls were supposed to support, including the not-yet-funded northern segment of the Baltimore Avenue reconstruction in College Park as well as the i495 interchange to the Greenbelt Metro Station.

Treasurer Jordan Schakner, reported by President Cook: We have $1,118.37 in total for both bank accounts, and another $30 in dues to be added.

Bylaws Amendment:

Following up on the motion from the May meeting, John Krouse read the proposed text:

Section 2: Nominating Committee. The President may appoint a Nominating Committee consisting of two (2), three (3) or four (4) members to make nominations. Any member may nominate another member up to the time of the election when the nominee is added to the ballot as a write-in candidate.

Section 3: Terms and Procedure. All officers shall be elected for a term of one year. The President shall cause ballots to be prepared for the June meeting with the names of all nominated persons, and shall appoint an election committee to count ballots. Elections shall be by secret ballot for each contested office; if an office has only one candidate, a motion from the floor to elect that candidate by acclamation shall be in order. A majority of the votes cast shall be required to elect each officer. Voting shall be open to all members of record and tallied as soon as possible after the ballots are cast. When the ballots for any office do not provide a majority of votes for a candidate, then the names of the two candidates with the most votes for the office shall be immediately entered into a run-off election. The candidate with the majority of votes cast in the run-off election shall be elected.

Section 4: Continuance in Office. In the event that nominees for an office cannot be identified for election at the June meeting, that officer shall continue in office until an election is held. If the election of officers cannot take place in June, the election shall take place at any regular meeting or special meeting in conformance with Article V of these Bylaws.

Vice President Macknis asked why we are specifying two, three, or four members rather than 1 or more. Krouse proposed changing the wording to “consisting of one or more members.” Macknis made the motion, Krouse seconded it, and it was passed unanimously.

Macknis then said that “any regular meeting” is too open-ended. After discussion, Krouse moved that the wording be changed from “the election shall take place at any regular meeting or special meeting” to “the election shall take place at the next regular meeting or special meeting”. Lisa Ealley seconded. The motion passed with one abstention.

The overall motion was then passed with one abstention.

Minutes of the May 13, 2021 NCPCA Meeting: Approved with a typo correction.

Future of the Stone Straw Property:

President Cook has been in contact with Profish again. The Terrapin Development Corporation is wooing them for South College Park. Krouse read Judy Blumenthal’s motion and quotes from the May meeting: “I move that NCPCA write a letter to Prince George’s County Councilmember Tom Dernoga, stating that NCPCA supports the vision of the Greenbelt Metro Area Approved Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment, 2001 regarding the former Stone Straw property and adjacent industrial properties in Branchville. NCPCA requests that any future development be designed in conformance with Chapter 14 of the Sector Plan, and that single family infill development be the preferred type of housing, consistent with the adjacent residential zoning of the community.”

Quotes from the Sector Plan:

“North College Park should be preserved as a low-density residential community supporting the Greenbelt station transit neighborhood.”

“Incompatible industrial uses in the southern portion of North College Park (Branchville) should be phased out and the land should be redeveloped with appropriate residential uses. Housing development plans submitted should be evaluated and reviewed for compatibility, appropriateness at a given location and the need for the type of housing.”

“Visual buffers and noise barriers should be provided along the eastern edge of the community to effectively screen the railroad tracks.”

“Infill single-family detached housing on vacant property should relate to the neighborhood’s character and existing structures’ style, setback, roof type, height, scale and proportion.”

“Industrial properties redeveloped to residential uses, other than single-family detached, should be compatible and contribute positively to the integrity and character of the North College Park neighborhood.”

Vice President Macknis felt the motion should not limit recipients of the letter to Tom Dernoga. Blumenthal moved it be amended to say “send to appropriate public officials.” Ealley seconded, and the motion was passed with one abstention.

The overall motion was passed unanimously.

5G:

Councilmember Denise Mitchell gave an overview of 5G. The term Smart City comes into play, with faster technology, better infrastructure, access to wireless. It involves deploying small cells that cover smaller areas, with smaller antennas. Benefits include increased use of wireless and faster speed. Downsides include the placement of poles and articulation of right-of-way usage and raise the question of who benefits. In 2018-2019, College Park passed an ordinance, a memorandum of understanding agreement, that vendors must make an application, vetted by the city attorney, then a more detailed application before Mayor and Council. We’ve recently heard that a 5G antenna may be placed on Cherry Hill Road, which is a county road and thus bypasses the city ordinance. Councilmembers Mitchell and Mackie and President Cook met with Verizon, who made it seem like it’s a done deal. Mitchell proposes a letter to Mayor and Council asking for a work session and more discussion. Councilmember Kabir linked to a blog post with a map of possible locations. https://www.kabircares.org/college-park-may-get-5g-wireless-in-2021/. They’re planning 38 antennas across College Park; they will be smaller, about 15 feet tall, some on Pepco poles. Different carriers use different technology and different frequency bands. He supports further discussion. Mitchell says the Maryland Municipal League provided a template that was used to create the right-of-way lease agreement. Macknis requested that this information be consolidated, which Cook agreed to do.

License Plate Recognition (LPR) System:

College Park Parking Enforcement Director Jim Miller described College Park’s new parking permit system. The Council removed the permit fees but vehicles still need to be registered vehicle in areas with permits. No hang tag is needed. A virtual permit is registered in the database; you can register by mail, in person, or online. Visitor passes are still physical and are put on the dashboard. LPR vehicles recognize all license plates and give audible sounds indicating whether the vehicle is registered. There is a YouTube video that demonstrates the use of the equipment.

Operation Supervisor for Parking Scott Benedict Osborn provided a visual of what the new parking enforcement equipment looks like and how it operates. Left- and right-hand cameras are mounted on the LPR car and read the license plates as the car goes by. The system beeps when it recognizes a car or an alert if a vehicle is not recognized as having a permit for that location. When alerted, the parking officer gets out of vehicle to check for a visitor permit or an incorrect reading of the license plate. The system records the vehicle’s geolocation and alerts on a second pass if the vehicle is in a spot longer than allowed. The system is now fully operational.

Residents can’t tell whether vehicles have permits; if you see it on a regular basis and it’s not being ticketed, it has a permit. A permit for a particular zone is only valid in that zone. If you suspect a car is not legally there, let the parking enforcement people know. Miller says this system is much more efficient and effective than ever before.

Nominating Committee:

Arelis Pérez and Lisa Ealley volunteered to serve. If needed, there is online voting software available.>/p?

Future Agenda Items:

Some proposed items are: (1) a visit from UMD President Darryll J. Pines for October or November; (2) Information on what the county is doing regarding police reform; (3) A presentation by code enforcement; (4) and a Hollywood Streetscape update.

Announcements:

The Hollywood Dog Park ribbon cutting is scheduled for the following Friday.

Councilmember Mackie hopes people come to dog park ribbon cutting. There are just two Council meetings in July.

Councilmember Mitchell will provide a flyer for the International Diversity Cookbook of favorite recipes, providing a cultural history.

Mayor Wojahn says (1) they haven’t received relief funds but should in the next couple of weeks and hope to set up relief program. (2) Parking is still free evenings and weekends at the city garage downtown, as is Lot 11. (3) They are still taking nominations for the Jack Perry Award, a deserving resident who goes above and beyond in serving the College Park community, until July 15.

Vice President Macknis says the Community Police meeting is now the Community Public Safety discussion, coordinated by the city and covering all of the city. Time and date are still 7:30 pm on the second Monday of each month on Zoom.

Councilmember Kabir says (1) the main topic at the next Public Safety Meeting is code enforcement. (2) He recognizes Councilmember Mitchell as the next President-Elect of Maryland Municipal League and Mayor Wojahn as a member of the Board of Directors.

 

President Cook thanked the VFW for hosting.

Pérez moved to adjourn, Ealley seconded, and the meeting adjourned at 8:45 pm.

Minutes of May 2021 Meeting

North College Park Community Association
May 13, 2021 – Regular Meeting by Zoom

Attending: President Mary Cook, Vice President Carol Macknis, Secretary Ellen Caswell; Councilmembers Kate Kennedy, Maria Mackie, and Denise Mitchell; Judy Blumenthal, Dawn Budd, Kelvin Budd, Lisa Ealley, Carissa Janis, Mary King, John Krouse, Arelis Pérez, and David Turcios, and from the 21st District Delegation, Senator Jim Rosapepe, Delegates Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Mary Lehman, and new member of the Community Liaison Staff Denise Valladares.

Meeting called to order at 7:32 pm..

Officers’ Reports:

President Mary Cook: (1) NCPCA provided food from Cinder BBQ, and baking from President Cook, for the Branchville Fire Department interns, to much appreciation. (2) Parks and Planning are supposed to plant trees in Cherry Hill Park. As planned, they would hide basketball court and picnic tables. Maria Mackie and President Cook are working with them on this and other issues.

Vice President Carol Macknis: (1) MDOT is not presently looking at the beltway expansion high-occupancy lanes in Prince George’s County. A supplemental DEIS will be issued, probably sometime in the summer. (2) Citizens Against Beltway Expansion has a petition opposing Maglev. VP Macknis will send a link to everyone. (3) Using Paypal for dues is confusing. There are a number of questions to answer to set this up. She encourages people to mail their dues. (4) To make change to bylaws, we need to get the wording to members at least five days before the meeting where they’re voted on.

Treasurer Jordan Schakner, via May 18 email: We have $1,018.26 in the SECU account..

Minutes of the April 8, 2021 NCPCA Meeting: The spelling of Finmarc having been corrected, Arelis Pérez moved to approve, Judy Blumenthal seconded, and the motion passed.

Mansionization Presentation: Judy Blumenthal made the following motion, which Arelis Pérez seconded:

I move that NCPCA write a letter to the Mayor and City Council, to request the City Council to require representatives of Metropolitan to meet with NCPCA before the City takes any position or makes any recommendations regarding future changes to the approved site plan.

Discussion: The developers of the Metropolitan, on Cherokee Street, want to reduce parking spaces and increase the number and change the type of the units, which is against covenant. Blumenthal would like to be proactive this time and have them talk to us before anything’s done. According to Pérez, their attorneys are very successful in zoning and variance. Mary King says we need to provide more parking somewhere. The motion was brought to a vote and passed. Blumenthal will write the letter and provide a copy for the website.

Stone Property Presentation: Judy Blumenthal provided some background of possible development that has been discussed and quoted relevant clauses from the Greenbelt Metro sector plan (sector plan link: http://mncppcapps.org/planning/publications/BookDetail.cfm?item_id=29&Category_id=1).

Blumenthal made the following motion; Pérez seconded:

Regarding the Stone property, I move that NCPCA write a letter to Prince George’s County Councilmember Tom Dernoga, stating that NCPCA supports the vision of the Greenbelt Metro Area Approved Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment of 2001 regarding the former Stone Straw property and adjacent industrial properties in Branchville. NCPCA requests that any future development be designed in conformance with Chapter 14 of the Sector Plan, and that single family infill development be the preferred type of housing, consistent with the adjacent residential zoning of the community.

Discussion: Councilmember Mitchell and VP Macknis suggested the letter also be sent to the chair of the county council, the county executive, and our two at-large county councilmembers. Cook and Lisa Ealley suggest tabling until the next meeting to get more people involved and to have time to digest. There are a lot of implications here. There’s a lot going on here; we could involve the city’s and county’s economic development people and other stakeholders as well. Blumenthal wants us to be proactive – to lead – rather than reactive.

Lisa Ealley moved to table the motion; Pérez seconded. The motion passed.

The 21st District Delegation Update: Senator Rosapepe introduced Denise Valladeres, the new member of the community liaison staff. Delegate Peña-Melnyk focuses on health care and Delegate Lehman on environmental issues. The state, county, and city received a lot of federal aid; Delegate Ben Barnes spearheaded the financial aspect. Locally, College Park Meals on Wheels received $250K for equipment, Attick Towers received $2M for rehab, and Al Huda’s charitable arm received $250K. More money is available for city highway aid and other local projects. Economic aid included funds to support the unemployment system; College Park received $16M; the school system $275M; and the county $3.5B. $1B is toward recapitalizing the unemployment trust fund. The economy is coming back, with jobs transitioning from fields like hospitality to teleworking, IT, delivery/warehousing, and healthcare.

Delegate Peña-Melnyk is busy with health-related committees. Prince George’s County has the highest number of Covid cases, highlighting the health disparities in black and brown communities. Science and public health need to work together. Recent bills include House Bill 836 – testing, contact tracing, the Vaccination Act of 2021; House bill 123, which preserves telehealth access, especially important for rural communities; a bill that requires implicit bias training for all healthcare workers; a bill to create health equity commission framework in all departments in the state of Maryland; a difficult bill regarding medical debt protection. This session focused a lot on mental health. Public health had better funding this session. She thanked us for the opportunity to serve.

Delegate Lehman began on the health care front, with a shout out to Pérez regarding Attick Towers, which is more rundown. The new manager is wonderful. HUD wants out of this business. We’re thrilled to get the good down payment of $2M. Lehman put forward a nursing home visitation bill, where in a health emergency, families can work with nursing homes who have to develop guidelines to allow compassionate care visits. On the environmental front, the House Environment Transportation Committee addresses water quality, animals, fish, and wildlife environment and so on. House Bill 18 guarantees access to legal counsel; low-income people have access to counsel through Maryland Legal Services Corporation, which provides grants nonprofits providing pro bono services. Ethics were hotly debated. The Plastic Bag Reduction Act passed the house but not the senate, at least this year. The Climate Solutions Now Act was too comprehensive, should have been three or four smaller bills. Three separate bills did pass: (1) Maryland will be planting 5 million trees over the next 10 years, half a million in urban areas. (2) After 2025 Maryland can only purchase electric buses. (3) Environmental Justice Commission Bill will look at new laws and impact on low-income communities/communities of color.

Questions and Answers:

(1) Attick Towers is a HUD building, run by the Housing Authority of the City of College Park, with no modernization since it went up in 1967. HUD wants the Housing Authority to sell to a nonprofit. There’s barely enough funding to pay the bills. $2M was great, hope to add more. Enough property to build a second building. Given need for affordable senior housing, why not? The new executive director created a nonprofit, College Park Affordable Housing Coalition. Exciting things are coming forth.

(2) Lisa Ealley would like to work with Peña-Melnyk on a mental health bill.

(3) Maryland will probably be next to legalize marijuana, probably after the election year. Medical cannabis is allowed in Maryland; marijuana was decriminalized several years ago.

(4) Sports betting has passed in Maryland but is not yet implemented; hoped to be by fall.

(5) House Bill 114 is a transit grant funding bill for businesses along the Purple Line in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties that are adversely impacted during construction.

Elections: There was extensive discussion, largely between VP Macknis and John Krouse, of existing bylaws as they pertain to elections and what needs to happen to change the bylaws. Cook proposed we hold the election in September. See New Business.

Dogs Good, Poop Bad: Councilmember Kennedy showed sample posters for feedback on what works best to encourage scooping dog poop, which has disease-causing bacteria that goes into our watersheds. Kennedy and Mackie are both on the Chesapeake Bay Policy Committee. The posters that worked best are simpler, less wordy, with cute dogs and good puns. Other languages should be used, not just English and Spanish. We discussed dog parks, including the new one, and who can use it/who finances it.

At 9:30, P‚rez moved we extend the meeting; Krouse seconded; the motion passed.

New Business: Krouse moves to change portions of the bylaws related to elections; Pérez seconded. The motion will be discussed during the next meeting. We can send separately to the membership.

The proposed text:

Section 2: Nominating Committee. The President may appoint a Nominating Committee consisting of two (2), three (3) or four (4) members to make nominations. Any member may nominate another member up to the time of the election when the nominee is added to the ballot as a write-in candidate.

Section 3: Term and Procedure. All officers shall be elected for a term of one year. The President shall cause ballots to be prepared for the June meeting with the names of all nominated persons, and shall appoint an election committee to count ballots. Elections shall be by secret ballot for each contested office; if an office has only one candidate, a motion from the floor to elect that candidate by acclamation shall be in order. A majority of the votes cast shall be required to elect each officer. Voting shall be open to all members of record and tallied as soon as possible after the ballots are cast. When the ballots for any office do not provide a majority of votes for a candidate, then the names of the two candidates with the most votes for the office shall be immediately entered into a run-off election. The candidate with the majority of votes cast in the run-off election shall be elected.

Section 4: Continuance in Office. In the event that nominees for an office cannot be identified for election at the June meeting, that officer shall continue in office until an election is held. If the election of officers cannot take place in June, the election shall take place at any regular meeting or special meeting in conformance with Article V of these Bylaws.

Future Agenda Items: Pérez suggests (1) Come back to Stone Straw property. (2) Reinvite Parking Enforcement Officer Jim Miller. (3) New City Manager Natasha F. Hampton. (4) New UMD President Daryl J. Pines. Macknis suggests we reschedule Councilmember Mitchell’s talk on the 5G tower coming to our neighborhood.

Meeting adjourned at 9:36 pm. Pérez moved, Macknis seconded, and the motion passed.

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.

Elections:

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.

Announcements:

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.

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.

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.

Minutes of January 2021 Regular Meeting

North College Park Community Association
January 14, 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; Lisa Ealley, Judy Blumenthal, John Krouse, Arelis Perez, John Bartoli, Patricia, Jamie Lark, Eugene Jones, Abdullah Hijazi, Jeremy Seitz-Brown, and Matt Hobbs.

Meeting called to order at 7:33 pm.

Officers’ Reports:

President Mary Cook: (1) The Hollywood PTA food drive was successful; contributions went to the Community Food Bank. (2) The Hollywood Streetscape and Hollywood Sidewalk Requests for Proposal have gone out.

Vice President Carol Macknis: (1) She has added the Hollywood Elementary School and PTA links, and the Al-Huda School link, to the Useful Links tab on the NCPCA website. (2) A membership renewal has arrived, another is possibly coming. Paypal access is the goal for the next month or so. In chat, Councilmember Kennedy suggested multiyear memberships as an option.

Treasurer Jordan Schakner (via email): We have $1,277.22 in the account. A new member’s dues is not yet deposited, and reimbursement of $38.20 is due to President Cook for toner and printing costs for flyers.

Minutes of December 10, 2020 Meeting: Motion to accept, seconded. Passed.

Proposed Hotel at the BP station: Abdullah Hijazi, representing the developer, presented architectural drawings and a site plan. Attendees discussed the plans and implications of the project for the neighborhood.

The site is the BP station on Route 1 across from the intersection with Cherry Hill Road. The plans are very preliminary. It may become a Clarion Inn.

The architect plans to take advantage of the sloped lot to provide semi-underground parking. The hotel is stepped back to add a buffer between the hotel and the residential area. The main entrance area includes a front desk, lobby, food area, and offices. A conference/multipurpose room is on the floor above. There’s an exercise room, kitchen, and areas for staff. The preliminary room count is 75 rooms and parking count is around 35 spots, which is within code. The developers hope approvals will be under the existing sector plan, which is a known quantity. The hotel backs up to residences on 47th place.

Areas of discussion included: (1) Traffic. Hijazi pointed out the many alternative transportation options available. People who want to be near the University of Maryland to visit children and attend games and events will likely have more cars than typical hotels. The hotel will use the existing entrance and exit, with the flow of traffic right in, right out. Turning south is not allowed, so an additional complication is added to an already complicated intersection, and may include people going through the neighborhood. (2) There is concern about the height, changing sun, light pollution, and privacy. The architect/engineer hope to mitigate this with a driveway aisle, no balconies, and possibly partially with the stepback of the upper stories. (3) The base of the hotel is lower in elevation than the homes behind it, so stormwater will not affect the neighbors. (4) The property line barrier (fence, wall) is not yet decided. (5) Most stormwater management will be underground, in addition to a vertical microbioretention structure. (6) HVAC noise pollution is not yet decided but the units may be housed on roof or in the garage. (7) The proposed design, which doesn’t blend in with the nearby Hampton Inn and Marriott, is still preliminary. (8) There are no plans for long-term leasing to students. (9) Prostitution should not be an issue. This is a lobbied hotel with security cameras/audio, intended to be higher end, and will not rent out rooms by the hour. (10) The developers plan to file for preacceptance review with Park and Planning within the next 2-3 months. Building should take six months to a year and a half. There is concern that staging will be hard on the small site. (11) NCPCA very strongly urged that the clients themselves attend future meetings.

Beltway Expansion update: Vice President Macknis said this is not going away. Many comments on the draft environmental impact statement have not been fully addressed. MDOT has put out an RFQ for someone to oversee the project (https://495-270-p3.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/20201223_RFP-Fact-Sheet.pdf); contract award is expected sometime in February. The Sierra Club is planning lawsuits. MDOT is moving at full speed. Two bills that passed in the State House died in the State Senate. Senator Rosapepe is taking the lead in trying get the bills into the Senate session.

The Mayor and Council FY2021 Budget wish list: District 1 and 4 councilmembers discussed items on the last year’s list. In the February meeting, we can make suggestions for the upcoming budget wish list.

Announcements:

Councilmember Mackie: (1) There will be a food drive at the College Park Methodist Church, one bag of food per car, Saturday, January 16. (2) Because of MLK Day and the inauguration, trash pickup dates are shifted.

Councilmember Kabir: There is an MLK day of service planned at the College Park Food Bank.

Mayor Wojahn: (1) Vaccine distribution is now in Phase 1b, for ages 75 and up, and for teachers and childcare professionals. If you qualify, you should go to https://www.marylandvax.org/. On Monday, January 25, we will move into Phase 1c, which includes people over 65 and a number of essential workers. Information is available at http://health.mypgc.us/COVIDVaccine. (2) PGCPS Boundary initiative: Prince George’s County is doing a review of public school boundaries; a lot of schools have overcrowding. Information is available at https://www.pgcps.org/boundary.

Vice President Macknis: The Maglev DEIS is to be released Jan 22. There are 45 days for public comment, with a petition to change it to 180 days. The Maryland Coalition for Responsible Transit has a website where people can ask for more time. Councilmember Mitchell was on a call with County Council members Dannielle Glaros and Jolene Ivey concerning this. She highly recommends we discuss this next month. Many experts are adamantly against it for environmental reasons.

Meeting adjourned at 9:13 pm

Minutes of December 2020 Regular Meeting

North College Park Community Association
December 10, 2020 – Regular Meeting by Zoom

Attending: President Mary Cook, Vice President Carol Macknis, Secretary Ellen Caswell, Treasurer Jordan Schakner; Mayor Patrick Wojahn, Councilmembers Llatetra Brown Esters, Fazlul Kabir, Kate Kennedy, Maria Mackie, and Denise Mitchell; Arelis Pérez, Brook Biddulph, Lisa Ealley, Judy Blumenthal, Phil Aronson, Shaymar Higgs, Marnice Williams, and Nikki Pancho.

Meeting called to order at 7:34 pm.

Officers’ Reports:

President Mary Cook: (1) Cherry Hill flooding. Park and Planning ripped out bushes to facilitate water flow. Cook is keeping in contact with them. (2) Bollards on Cherry Hill Road. DPWT are considering putting in a real median. They have agreed to Cook’s request that the neighbors be given an opportunity to provide input. (3) Hollywood Streetscape. Planning Director Terri Schum says the city plans to advertise for construction bids December 2020 to January 2021, award the contract for construction in February 2021, with construction starting in March and completion anticipated November to December 2021.

Vice President Carol Macknis: Beltway Expansion. The Navy has told MDOT they will not give up space from the Bethesda area. The state of Virginia was looking at more P3 Lanes and plans to hold off to see what Maryland does regarding the American Legion Bridge.

Treasurer Jordan Schakner: $1,335.70 is currently in the bank account, there are two dues checks for an additional $20, and he will reimburse Carol Macknis for the website domain fee.

Minutes of November 12, 2020 Meeting: Arelis Pérez moved to approve, Jordan Schakner seconded. Passed.

Hollywood PTA: PTA Co-President Brook Biddulph discussed the current fundraisers. The PTA raised $264 last month and are currently doing a food drive through December 23rd for the College Park Community Food Bank. Posh Cycling and Fitness is a dropoff location, but most other businesses did not agree. Biddulph is developing flyers, along with a list of foods that might be needed. NCPCA is a part of the initiative. There were many suggestions and offers for dropoffs and places to advertise. Marnice Williams, Grant and Project Manager for the Al-Huda School, is involved in food drives as well and offered to join in. A financial contribution may be sent to the Community Food Bank. A neighborhood cleanup is planned for the future.

The SPACE Free Art For All: Starting in his mother’s basement, The SPACE founder Shaymar Higgs has moved through many other spaces to, now, a nonprofit art space at Greenbelt’s Beltway Plaza in front of the AMC theaters. Website: https://www.freeartforall.org/. The space provides creative opportunities to people of all ages, including painting, fiber arts, literacy programs, computer coding from a talented 15-year-old volunteer, meditation, and art therapy. It’s a place to come together, meet new people, and share knowledge and skills. A number of creative people from his art spaces have moved to successful careers in the arts. The entire family can walk in and paint, draw, knit, and so on in an interactive environment.

Introducing Llatetra Brown Esters: Esters, the newly elected District Two councilmember and College Park resident since 1999, has watched the community develop on Route 1. The residents who live here want to feel that they are an integral part in of this community as it continues to grow; the development is beneficial. She focuses on public safety and fiscal responsibility. Pérez welcomed Esters, with whom she worked doing meal distribution for Attick Towers and Spellman House and other initiatives. Cook and Macknis introduced Esters to some history of the NCPCA.

Announcements:

Mayor Wojahn: Route 1 Communities Care (https://go.dojiggy.io/grcrocc) is doing a fundraiser to sell artworks, using the proceeds to purchase meals from local restaurants to support our community. There is also a need for volunteers for food distribution ( https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f4da9ad2daaf94-delivery).

Councilmember Mitchell: (1) Mitchell thanked everyone for their kind responses to the passing of her parents. (2) A woman’s book club will be starting in January; to be added to the list, send her an email.

Councilmember Mackie: (1) District 1 residents can now walk the new path connecting with College Park Woods. (2) Snow may be coming; the College Park website has a lot of good information about what to expect. If possible, to park their cars in the driveway or on the even side of the street to make it easier for the Department of Public Works. Please help those who can’t shovel; it’s also very good exercise.

Councilmember Kennedy: (1) Kennedy is organizing a no-contact holiday cookie exchange as a way to connect with neighbors that doesn’t involve being in person or on a zoom call. She provided a link to a spreadsheet, planned to have cookies delivered December 19-20 to be organized and passed out. (2) The City of College Park is again doing the Deck the City holiday decorating contest.

Councilmember Kabir: (1) The monthly community police meeting for the following Monday is at the usual link (http://b.link/CPCommunityPolice). It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to come in and talk to the police officers who actually do the real job patrolling our streets. (2) There is a program in the community to help those in need with shoveling; he will send the link to the NCPCA list. (3) The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is coming to BARC in Beltsville. The College Park council sent a letter expressing many concerns, especially regarding traffic. The deadline for comments is December 21. (4) There is a real possibility that the FBI might move in during the new administration (https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2020/11/13/officials-look-to-biden-to-renew-fbi-hq-search.html).

President Cook: Amazon is building a warehouse in Beltsville.

Future Agenda Items: (1) Pérez reminds us that Ms Macknis suggested a meeting on public safety with Bob Ryan. (2) Cook and Pérez agree on bringing back the smoke alarm law. (3) Aronson’s mowing question will be discussed after the new year.

Question: Lisa Ealley asked whether residents will be part of the interview panel for the new city manager. Mayor Wojahn says this has not yet been discussed. Councilmember Kennedy believes focus groups are planned.

New Business: Regarding Maglev, Macknis received an email requesting that people support extending the time for comment on the draft environmental impact study (DEIS). They want to petition to extend the period from 45 to 180 days. Should we as NCPCA piggyback into the petition? The DEIS is supposed to be submitted on January 22.

Meeting adjourned at 9:09 pm, followed by a holiday College Park Trivia Contest. Fun was had!