Berwyn District Civic Association Thursday, March 17, 2011

1.     Agenda Item 1. Officers Present. Officers present were President Kevin Young, 1st Vice President Harry Pitt, 2nd Vice President Gene Baur, Recording Secretary Liesl Koch, Treasurer Lori Young, Board of Director Jerry Anzulovic, and Berwyn News Editor Michele Garnes.

2.     Agenda Item 2. Minutes from Last Meeting. A motion to accept the minutes from the February 2011 meeting was made, seconded, and passed.

3.     Agenda Item 3. Treasurer’s Report. Treasurer Lori Young reported that BDCA’s current balance was currently $2,994.60, which includes deposits totalling $185.00 and expenses (Minuteman Press) for the February and March newsletters of $329.88. (The previous reported balance was $3,139.48.)

4. Agenda Item 4. Special Guest. A motion to suspect the regular order of business in order to allow two special guests. President Young introduced Lt. Charles Duelley, Commander of P.G. County’s Investigations unit in District 1. President Young has been meeting with Lt. Duelley and our COPS officer, Officer J.J. Blacks (who was also in attendance), at the Coffee Club. Lt. Duelley discussed a recent string of commercial robberies in north College Park. He was instrumental in getting them solved; the suspect turned out to be a prior violent offender, a felon, who was violating his parole. There was also a serial breaking-and-entering (B&E) artist working out of the north College Park/Hollywood areas. Lt. Duelley’s unit apprehended the suspect, a career criminal, thanks to information a resident gave the police about a teal-colored car; since then, the number of B&Es has gone down. In spite of these arrests, there has still been a number of burglaries in the area and theft from autos. Even if you remove your GPS device from your dashboard, a would-be thief might see a tell-tale suction cup and break into your car to retrieve the GPS device that you might have hidden under the seat. Lt. Duelley mentioned a recent spate of thefts from automobiles as gas stations, where someone steals a purse, for example, while the owner is pumping gas. Dodge Caravans and Chrysler Town and Country vans are especially popular with car thiefs. They know that the police can’t chase them for a stolen car, so they head toward the District if they’re being followed by the police. They know that if they’re stopped in D.C., only the driver of the car can be arrested. Lt. Duelley stressed that you shouldn’t confront a car thief if you see him trying to steal your car. Residents can obtain a free steering wheel club, which deters thefts.

Lt. Duelley addressed the state of gang activity in P.G. County. There are gang issues at every high school in the County. He said that their gang expert is Sgt. George Norris, who could come to a BDCA meeting and give a presentation.

After Lt. Duelley’s presentation, President Young introduced COPS Officer J.J. Blacks.

Officer Blacks said that residents should call or e-mail (his preference) with concerns. Getting to know one another and looking out for one another as a community is important.

President Young introduced College Park City Engineer Steven Halpern.
Among the topics that were discussed with Mr. Halpern were the following: several near-misses involving traffic entering the Village Pump from eastbound Greenbelt Road

(President Young will have the Corresponding Secretary write a letter to the Village Pump owners, making them aware of the problem); the storm drain inlet (on Rhode Island Avenue?) that has become dislodged since the State fixed it, and the trash that those State workers left behind; several streetlights in the neighborhood that are out; the disrepair of the eastern edge of Holy Redeemer’s parking lot; a recycling sign that is alongside the Trolley Trail; potentially missing stop signs at the intersection just south of the exit to Holy Redeemer’s parking lot; the street-sweeper that came two days later than the signs said they would, that was ineffective, and that left oil behind on the roads; and abandoned vehicles and trashy lawns.

Mr. Halpern said it was important to follow up in a timely fashion when something isn’t done that was supposed to be done. He said people should feel free to call him or e-mail him with concerns.

1.     Agenda Item 5. New Business. Among the topics discussed were the following: graffiti clean-up along the Trolley Trail and on the side of the Kidwell building; and the possibility of planting Leland cypruses or ivy alongside the Kidwell building in order to discourage taggers.

2.     Agenda Item 6. Unfinished Business. At last month’s meeting, Mr. Timothy Triplett, Chair of the Bylaws Committee, read the proposed changes to the bylaws. The proposed changes were also posted on the website. A two-thirds vote is required in order to adopt the changes. A motion to accept the changes was made, seconded, and passed by a show of hands.

3. Agenda Item 7. Councilmen’s Report. Councilman Jack Perry said that if anyone observes a code violation, he or she can contact him and ask him to report it if we don’t want to go on record ourselves as having reported it. If a streetlight is out, if you don’t have the pole number, report it by the street location.

The City is currently in the process of reapportionment; a redistricting commission has been appointed. The Committee has been instructed to keep the current numbers of 4 districts, with 2 members from each district.

Councilman Bob Catlin reported that the Ciy is currently requesting bids for redoing the Trolley Trail through Lakeland. A blue-light phone has been erected at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and Lakeland Road. A number of politicians from the larger area have attended the Experience and Enjoy College Park Tour. The next one will take place at the Seven Seas Restaurant, where U.S.  Representative Steny Hoyer will be the guest speaker. The City’s budget proposal is available online; you can also request a copy; copies should be available around April 1st. Audience members asked about the commercial district in Berwyn, the Starview site, and the vinyl fence on Berwyn Road alongside the hotel, the City’s strategic plan, and the lawsuit concerning Alvin Jenkins.

4. Agenda Item 8. Other Business. Mayor Andrew Fellows was in the audience. He thanked people who came to City Hall to hear discussion about the City’s strategic plan. There is more activity at the moment regarding the Knox boxes than the other properties scheduled for development along Route 1. The closing of Berwyn Cafe should make us take another look at the commercial district. Mayor Fellows said he plans to run for reelection.

President Young stated that the BDCA board wrote a resolution on the FY12 action plan and he read it to the City Council. The resolution had to do with the CA zone, which is problematic for Berwyn’s commercial district. We’re concerned about blight, and the effect of Berwyn Cafe’s closing on Smile Herb Shop. We want to go back and look at the 2000 economic plan, which had a number of economic goals for Berwyn. Berwyn isn’t even mentioned in the City’s new strategic plan.

President Young and BDCA Director Jerry Anzulovic walked along the edge of the old Washington Post site. There seems to be a lot of activity there, as they saw a lot of beer cans, etc. They are working on getting the fence repaired and the storm swales cleaned out.

At next month’s BDCA meeting there will be a representative from Looney’s Pub, a new restaurant opening up across the street from the fire station. Davis Hall will be open Saturday mornings in April for yard waste.

A member of the audience expressed concern about Senate Bill 671, currently in the legislature, which would allow municipalities that run speed cameras to no longer require that a police officer issue the tickets but will allow a contractor to do so.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:50pm.

Meeting Attendees (from sign-up sheet):

Jerry Anzulovic

Chris Larsen

Gene Baur

Jack Perry

Robert Catlin

Harry Pitt

Marina Dullnig

Carol Savard

Michele Garnes

Forrest Tyler

Harvey Himmelfarb

Sandy Tyler

Margaret Himmelfarb

Michael Wilson

Doug Hunter

Kevin Young

Liesl Koch

Lori Young

Marie Labonte

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.