Berwyn District Civic Association Thursday, April 21, 2016


  1. Agenda Item 1. Roll Call of Officers. The following BDCA officers were present: President Kevin Young, Second Vice President Harry Pitt, Recording Secretary Liesl Koch, Treasurer and Neighborhood Watch Director Nick Brennan, Director Dan Blasberg, Director Bob Catlin, and Director Christy Dollymore.


  2. Agenda Item 2. Approval of Minutes. A motion was made to accept into the record the minutes from the March 17, 2016, meeting. The motion was seconded, and passed by a show of hands.


  3. Agenda Item 3. Treasurer’s Report. President Young (on behalf of Treasurer Nick Brennan, who had not yet arrived) made the following financial report:


    [see page 2]


    A motion was made, seconded, and passed to accept the treasury report into the record.


  4. Agenda Item 4. Lidl Grocery. President Young reported. He was contacted yesterday by the Lidl attorney. Lidl representatives would like to meet with the community to get comments about its detailed site plan. This might have to be a special meeting – e.g., it may have to be held on a Saturday or some time other than during a regularly scheduled BDCA meeting.


  5. Agenda Item 5. Intersection of Greenbelt Road and Rhode Island Avenue. Someone from the State Highway Administration is expected to present, at a future BDCA meeting, SHA’s final proposals for how to improve safety at crossing of Rhode Island Avenue with Greenbelt Road.


  6. Agenda Item 6. Nominating Committee for BDCA Officers. BDCA bylaws require the President to nominate a nominating committee for BDCA officers. President Young has asked Harry Pitt, Chad Stern, and Karyn Keating‐ Volke to serve on the committee. The committee will present a slate of officers at BDCA’s June meeting. People will be able to nominate from the floor at that meeting as well.


  7. Agenda Item 7. Annual Bonfire and Movies in the Park. BDCA “Director of Fun” Christy Dollymore reported that she has sent an e‐mail to the Maryland‐National Capital Park and Planning Commission to reserve the park for “movie nights” during the summer and for the bonfire in the fall. She hasn’t heard back from them yet and will follow up with them next week. She has a feeling they’re not going to want to allow us to have the bonfire. She’ll wait to buy a movie projector until we get permission from them to have the proposed “movie nights.”


  8. Agenda Item 8. Councilman Brennan’s Report. City Councilman P.J. Brennan reported that he, President Young, and Councilman Monroe Dennis have worked with the SHA to focus on an improved design for the Greenbelt Road crossing near Rhode Island Avenue.

    There will be another litter removal effort in the neighborhood this weekend. Graffiti will also be painted over, and volunteers will distribute the pile of mulch where needed.

    It’s budget season right now. A public hearing about the budget will be held. City taxes are staying flat.

    There have been more talk about the possibility of permit parking. Perhaps requiring them on 48th Avenue and not the rest of the neighborhood is the way to go. We could consider a program where you would require permits only for the day.

    We should know something within two weeks or so about what Lidl has in mind for the property next to the Clarion Inn.

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  9. Agenda Item 9. Mayor Patrick Wojahn. Mayor Patrick Wojahn made the following remarks:

    There is an event at Lake Artemesia this weekend. The City Council will meet next Monday instead of Tuesday because of the election. There is talk about new development, especially “innovative” businesses, in the area formerly called East Campus. The City can give tax credits to these new “innovative” businesses for five years to attract them – the businesses are related to science and tech. There will be a hearing at Northwestern High School at which a plan to open two new middle schools in the county will be discussed. Maryland Day is the 30th. Groundbreaking for the new Brendan Iribe Center will be that morning.


  10. Agenda Item 10. Special Guest Eric Olson. Eric Olson, Executive Director of the College Park City – University Partnership, introduced himself. He has been Executive Director since 2014 when his term on the County Council expired. He spoke to BDCA about a year ago about the partnership.

    There are five areas the partnership is focusing on: revitalization and redevelopment, transportation, public safety, education, and sustainability. UMD President Loh and the College Park City Council approved them.

    The partnership has been trying to get more UMD faculty and staff to live in College Park. This stabilizes neighborhoods, mitigates traffic woes, and creates more investment and involvement in local communities. A home ownership program was launched in the summer; it gives $15K loans (forgivable if the property remains owner‐occupied for a set number of years). The program has resulted in seven buyers, with one more on the way. Current funding is good for only 10 home buyers; they have asked the State to provide additional funding in the next fiscal year.

    Koons Ford is now gone. The buyer is the same developer who’s building the Hotel at Maryland. The hotel at the old Koons Ford property will be a Cambria Hotel. There will be retail and restaurants on the ground floor, as well as a CVS.

    Two new coffeehouses are in the works, one at the old College Park auto parts store across from Plato’s Diner – it was bought by the owner of Plato’s Diner in fact. It will be a coffeeshop by day and will serve craft beers later. The company “Milk Boy” out of Philadelphia and the Clarice Performing Arts Center have teamed up to turn a property in downtown College Park into a performance area.

    A garage bay currently located behind the Hotel at Maryland development will become a “food hall.” That whole area is being called the “Innovation District.” There are plans to buy space for start‐up companies from campus.

    For years we’ve been trying to make Route 1 safer. Last summer we got a total of 88 new LED lights along the road – they’re a lot brighter than the old ones. The Rebuild Baltimore Avenue project has been funded. It’s a good plan – a vast improvement over what’s there now – but we want it to be exceptional. We’ve been pushing for more shade trees, more buffer areas, etc. We’re applying for a Tiger Grant, which would fund all the additional things we want the project to have, such as undergrounding utilities. These grants are hyper competitive, but with the Purple Line coming through, that might help our chances. Mr. Olson asked for the support of the Civic Association for this project. The start date for the project might be 2018; the 1 1/2 mile stretch we have funding for is expected to be done in 5 to 6 years (depending on whether we get funding for undergrounding utilities).

    The University was opposed to the Purple Line going through campus until Dr. Loh became President.

    Construction for that will start later this year; it’s expected to open in 2022. It will cross Route 1 at Rossborough Lane. There will be five stops in College Park. It will connect the Orange Line of the Metro in New Carrollton to the Green Line in College Park, which means College Park residents will have access to the entire East Coast, as Amtrak has a stop in New Carrollton. Also, the MARC train now passes through 3 additional times daily.

    Regarding public safety, we have been awarded $100K for “safety ambassadors.” These are not sworn officers but will patrol on foot or bike in the same area where we have concurrent jurisdiction with the UMD police. They will report suspicious behavior but will also report on lights that are out, etc. It’s a pilot program for the first year. There will be between 10 and 20 employees, all part‐time. They will not be on patrol on Sundays as a rule, but we will want them working nights on game days, etc.

    There’s the Center for Young Children on campus but it’s relatively small. The University is working on finalizing a contract with a child care provider.

    The College Park Academy, a partnership between the City and UMD, is now in its third year. Last year its eighth graders scored second in the county in Algebra I among high schools.

    In the past, the City has talked about community gardens. Is there any interest in Berwyn for this?


  11. Agenda Item 8. Councilman Dennis’s Report. City Councilman Monroe Dennis stated that today is the last day of early voting. Regular voting is next Tuesday. We will vote at Paint Branch Elementary School.

    Bonfires in yards have to be contained in a fire pit or fire bowl – no ground fires are permitted.


  12. Agenda Item 12. Neighborhood Watch. Neighborhood Watch Director Nick Brennan reported. Other than the assault with a knife on the Trolley Trail in Lakeland, things have been quiet.


  13. Agenda Item 13. Other. Metro is shutting down between the Greenbelt and College Park stations this weekend in order to install the pedestrian overpass that was damaged a year ago. The overpass isn’t expected to open for another two to three weeks however.

    The College Park Community Foundation is sponsoring a 5K Mother’s Day run on Saturday, May 7th, from 8am to 9am. The race will take place in Old Town. For more info, and to sign up for the race, see the Foundation’s website.


  14. Agenda Item 14. New Business. A motion was made for BDCA to write a letter of support for the Tiger grant application. The motion was seconded and passed by a show of hands.

Stay tuned for developments of the Lidl grocery store’s plans to open a store at the end of Berwyn Road. President Young stated that he hasn’t received any new information about the Cruz development.

A motion was made to send Officer J.J. Black a card thanking him for his service, and a $50 gift certificate if permissible. The motion was seconded and passed by a show of hands.

Even though seven unrelated people may not live in the same house, a landlord can advertise a rental house having 7 bedrooms.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:40pm.


Meeting attendees (from sign‐up sheet):


Dan Blasberg Sue Blasberg Nick Brennan PJ Brennan

Andrea Carpentieri Bob Catlin

Christy Dollymore Harvey Himmelfarb Marge Himmelfarb Doug Hunter Karyn Keating‐Volke Beth McAllister

Eric Olson Harry Pitt David Staples Chad Stern

M.K. Theis Patrick Wojahn


Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.