4. Agenda Item 4. Miscellaneous Items. Regarding Halloween celebrations this year, Kevin Carter, head of our Neighborhood Watch, reported that we would do the same thing that we did the past 2 years. We’ll meet at 5:30pm in the Holy Redeemer parking lot, where flashlights and radios will be handed out. There will be an additional police presence in the neighborhood. There will be plenty of vests to wear as well. We’ll be in communication with the patrolling police. BDCA was to become a party of record for the restaurant proposed next to Los Amigos. However, since the proposal doesn’t require a detailed site plan, there’s no need to become a party of record. So the owners of the proposed restaurant will not be required to make a presentation to us as a civic association. It will be a sit-down restaurant serving Salvadorean cuisine, on the site of the former Alvin’s Attic. There are not too many hoops remaining, so we should perhaps see the restaurant opening soon. Someone asked what the status is of the proposed pawn shop at the entrance of the former Washington Post plant. It’s been in limbo for 18 months. The owner was going to do a cash-for-gold shop instead, but ran into some problems.
The annual bonfire will take place where it did last year, on October 24th. Holy Redeemer will hold its annual pancake breakfast this Sunday, October 18th, starting at 8:30am. It’s a very good buy – people should bring their families. The Varsity Grill liquor license request has gone away as an issue – Lasick’s is going to sell its liquor license to someone in Laurel instead.
5. Agenda Item 5. Presentations of City Council and Mayoral Candidates. Andy Fellows, the only candidate for mayor this year, was the first to make a presentation. He has lived in College Park since 1991. His parents met at the University of Maryland. He grew up in Silver Spring, in Montgomery County, but his father worked at the University. Mr. Fellows attended the University as a graduate student, where he was president of the graduate student government. He was also on the committee for the Veterans Memorial. He has served on College Park’s City Council, serving the 6th District. He wants to continue some current trends, including the increase of student housing. Economic development on Route 1 is an important issue for him, as is improving education and improving the City’s relationship with the University and P.G. County.
Bob Catlin is running for City Council. He has been a resident of Berwyn for 20 years now. He moved to the D.C. area in 1979. He was living in Berwyn Heights until 1989, when he moved to Berwyn. He got involved in the Civic Association because of Jerry Anzulovic. In 1997 he ran for City Council and was elected, so for almost 12 years now he has been active on that.
Bob is on the board of the City-University partnership for Paint Branch Elementary
School. Last year it ranked 4th place in the County, and this year ahead of Hollywood
Elementary. Bob is also on the board of the Lakeland Heritage group. He spends lots of
time in Annapolis and Upper Marlboro.
Robert Weber is also running for City Council. He was an air traffic controller, where he
learned to speak without excess verbiage, so he doesn’t like to give speeches. – he would
rather hear our ideas on what we would like him to do to make our City better. He grew up
nearby, attended the University of Maryland, and did graduate work at Salisbury State. He
spent 35 years in the Army, including as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Army Reserves at
Fort Meade, etc.
Robert knows that things in the City are not going to be like they used to be – issues in the future will be considerably more difficult.
Jack Perry was the final candidate running for City Council for our district. He has lived in College Park for 40 years and raised 6 children here. He’s a native Washingtonian. He’s been self-employed for over 20 years. He’s active in the Civic Association, the County Civic Federation, Holy Redeemer, and the Boys and Girls Club. He’d like to see more families in the City, and more development downtown. We need to get the owners of commercial businesses in the City to become more interested in the City, not just in making money. Absentee landlords are a problem. Code Enforcement sends letters out to people all over the country, and even the world, who own property in the City but do not live here and do not care what their tenants do. Jack is the most senior member on the City Council.
6. Agenda Item 6. Miscellaneous Comments after Candidate Presentations. It was suggested that, for resolutions and ordinances voted on by the City Council, each member of the Council be polled as to how they voted. Let each member say yea, nay, or decline. This is done already from time to time, and in any case the votes are still recorded in the records. A priority for Andy Fellows is to avoid meetings that go after midnight. Someone recommended that the City – now that 2,000 students will be living across Route 1 from the neighborhood – expand its memo of understanding with the University so campus police can have more of a presence here in Berwyn, just like they do in Old Town. The University policy might be happy to include the west side of Route 1 across from Berwyn and Lakeland, especially now that the University has improved their pay and beefed up the force. “Concurrent jurisdiction” is the term for this kind of arrangement. Jack Perry thinks that such an agreement will be harder, given budget cuts. However, he thinks that if the University police could extend their jurisdiction this far, it would benefit us. Robert Weber thinks more work needs to be done in coordination between police departments so that residents now how to get in touch with the College Park police. This is one of his top priorities. Why should Berwyn have to put up with the student housing problem? Other universities provide enough housing for their students. Investors were snapping up properties before anyone else even had a chance. Someone estimated that Berwyn has an average of 50 percent rentals. The college students are not interested in Berwyn and the City. We’ve lost neighbors who have moved to University Park. We have to start revitalizing our neighborhood. What can we do to improve security, home ownership, and education? What can we do to improve living conditions? To attract families, we need to improve local schools. We want to change the market so that it’s not so attrative to investors. All this would improve the quality of life here.
Regarding education, Andy Fellows stated that College Park should be not only one of the best places in the county for education, but in the state as well, because of the location
of Maryland’s flagship campus in our community.
The University now realizes that the East Campus development will benefit both it and the neighborhood. Though there hasn’t been much progress on this development for some time, Bob Catlin thinks that things will start coming together. He thinks that currenty there’s too much emphasis on extravagant student housing versus affordable. If East Campus goes forward, that may prove to be the momentum for positive growth that the City needs.
Robert Weber stated that our location is what makes College Park so attractive to so many people who come to the D.C. area. He is a landlord. He saw foreclosed properties that needed fixing up. He and his brother bought one; students live in it, but he would love to sell it to a family that gets help from one of the City’s programs.
Jack Perry said that he has known people who have moved as soon as their children reach a certain age. Why? Education. Since the age limit to drink alcohol was raised to 21, some students rent houses in neighborhoods for “drinking” houses. There is only so much we can do because of the Fair Housing Act.
Prince George’s County has never appreciated the uniqueness of College Park.
College Park’s youth and family services programs are swamped. We could expand those. The earlier we can reach kids who are struggling in school, the better. We should be creative – see what resources the City can use. These programs might be able to help in conflict resolutions. The City is lucky to have these programs – we are only one of four municipalities in the County that have them. Peggy Higgins has, in the past 3 or 4 years, put on a Family Summit where she talkes about resources and provides ideas about how to solve problems. Peggy has asked the City for additional resources, which the City has tried to provide.
Robert Weber doesn’t believe that the City Council can force people to do certain things by passing legislation. What we need are more volunteers and mentors. If we can identify those who can help, the City should provide the resources.
Someone asked why we should expect students to know how to become better members of the community. Andy Fellows said this goes to increasing the dialogue at the community level. He thinks the City has actually done a good job doing that the past 10 years. It created a student liaison seat to sit (but not vote) on the City Council. When rent stabilization passed, it was the result of lobbying by students.
Bob Catlin observed that when he first moved here, there were fewer students in the neighborhood than there are now. It’s not that the students want to disrupt neighborhoods
– it’s that it was hard to change the zoning so that more student housing could be built. His solution to the student housing problem is to give the students better choices. Students can bring about positive changes to the City.
Robert Weber said he has had great relationships with his student tenants. He tries to listen to their needs and concerns – it’s an educational process. He makes the City’s booklet on landlord–tenant relationships very available to students at the time of lease-signing.
Jack Perry said that when he first moved here, he knew he’d be inconvenienced by Homecoming activities, games, etc., but he accepted that. He knows more families here than he did when he lived in D.C. The neighborhood is “convenient,” being close to 2 Metro stations, 2 MARC train stops, highways, etc.
Someone suggested that the City should have a job agency for kids so that residents could match up with students looking for yard work, etc.
The City Council will have to decide what to do with surveillance cameras. Jack Perry would like to see some information from London, which has a number of cameras placed around the city.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.
Meeting Attendees (from sign-up sheet):
Jim Amgnca Jerry Anzulovic Steve Brayman Kevin Carter Bob Catlin Marina Dullnig Andrew Fellows
Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.
Doug Hunter Liesl Koch Jack Perry Harry Pitt Forrest Tyler Sandy Tyler Robert Weber