Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting

September 19,  2019


Meeting came to order at 7:35 p.m.  Meeting held in Fealy Hall. BDCA Board Members in attendance: Bob Catlin, Chad Stern, Jim Nealis, Tim Triplett, Lily Fountain, Christy Dollymore. Other attendees included PJ Brennan, Bonnie O’Donoghue, Coleman O’Donoghue, Harvey and Margaret Himmilfarb, Samuel Moseley, Marina Dullnig, Robinette family, Oscar Gregory, Liesl Koch, Patrick Wojahn . 


The BDCA honored Russell Robinette for his service in keeping our neighborhood clean.  The group approved a $50 gift card for him.  Bob Catlin estimated Russell has removed over 250,000 pieces of trash over the past fifteen years or so.


The June meeting minutes were approved/adopted.  Chad Stern reported $2,074 in the BDCA bank account at the end of August.  Marina Dullnig wondered why the newsletter costs were paid in lump sums instead of monthly – Chad said they bill us that way.


The Gilbane developers planning yet another student apartment in our city (at the current Burger King site on Rt. 1) met with Bob Catlin and Karyn Keating-Volke recently.  It will be an 8-story building (three parking/five apartment levels), with 900 beds in about 300 units.  But only 300 parking spaces – some residents fear that overflow parking will spill into Berwyn.  There will be no traffic light for building access.  Behind the building will be a trail running south to the footbridge across Paint Branch to campus.  Another project has been announced for the downtown area just south of campus where the UPS store and other stores are currently.  Branchville Crossing near the fire house – still no final plans – maybe by year’s end?  The Alloy Apts. on Berwyn House Rd. at Rt. 1 is about 95% student rentals though it is not restricted to students.   Here in Berwyn, the Ridgeway property near Fealey Hall is being worked on, and the small adjacent building may become a 5-person student rental, though it has no parking?  Some expressed concerns about this, saying our streets are too narrow for parking along both sides.  One person said a police car recently had to park in the middle of 48th due to lack of curb parking.  Christy Dollymore said the parking permits along her street had fixed the issue there.


Mayor Wojahn announced we can vote absentee ballots for city elections and not have to give a reason.  Early city election voting will be Oct. 27, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.  In Nov. there will be 3 polling places – Davis Hall, UM Stamp Student Union, and UM Ritchie Coliseum (replacing City Hall, currently under reconstruction).  College Park Day is Sat., Oct. 5th – noon-6 p.m. at the airport Aviation Museum.  PJ Brennan said the new Lidl is popular, but there are issues with shoppers driving south on Rt. 1 and making a left turn into the parking lot – no turn is allowed there. State Highway will work on fixing that.  SHA will also fix the Greenbelt Rd./Rhode Island Ave. intersection – next year.  The city is considering a ‘nuisance ordinance’, trying to deal with ‘Animal House’ type parties, mainly in Old Town/Calvert Hills.  We learned that UM no longer recycles glass – Bob Catlin said the recycling market is struggling.  The city may look into a “Pay-as-you-throw” trash option, but this was not fully explained.  Wojahn endorsed food composting bins – may have street collection some day.


State Senator Rosapepe spoke – welcomed Bob Catlin back after his injuries, thanked Russell Robinette with a General Assembly proclamation.  He discussed upcoming Rt. 1 road improvements (3-4 year project) – adding bike lanes, median, trees, etc.  Campus Drive will be closed next summer while road is lowered to make way for Purple Line rails (may be running by 2023?).  The city will get $616,000 from Annapolis for street repairs this year.  Also working on health care concerns, and one attendee asked if ‘workmen’s compensation’ goes away if the state takes over health care – nobody was sure. Also want Maryland to have 50% of energy from renewable resources by 2030.  One attendee asked him about the security of our votes in the 2020 election, and Rosapepe said Maryland law forbids foreign companies from owning companies involved in administering our elections.  The Bureau of Printing and Engraving wants to move perhaps 700 jobs to the Beltsville Agriculture Research Center property.  A meeting about that will be on Oct. 1 at the Vansville Community Center. There are discussions about a super-fast ‘mag-lev’ train running along one or the other side of the B-W Parkway.  Others are looking at a tunnel between the two cities built by Elon Musk.  A second apartment house may go up next to Attic Tower – the original tower needs refurbishing.


The Berwyn Bonfire is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 27th – around 4:30 p.m.  Please DO NOT bring wood to Berwyn Park – the BDCA will provide wood, refreshments, etc.  Please bring pot luck items.


Liesl Koch mentioned how few bikes are now at Perry Plaza, PJ Brennan said the new system (Veo?) has bikes around the city, including electric bikes and electric scooters – those vehicles are NOT allowed on trails, but the rule is seldom followed.


Meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.


Notes compiled by Jim Nealis