Berwyn District Civic Association Thursday, October 15, 2015

  1. Agenda Item 1. President’s Announcements. BDCA President Kevin Young thanked Christy Dollymore, “Director of Fun,” for providing refreshments. He thanked members of the Lakeland community for coming and Robert Thurston, Dan Stafford, and Tim Triplett for helping put together the District 2 candidate forum.

    President Young said a few words about Jerry Anzulovic, who passed away in September. Jerry had served as President of BDCA many times, and was involved in everything. President Young expressed his condolences to Jerry’s wife, Gail. A moment of silence was observed in Jerry’s honor.

  2. Agenda Item 2. Officers Present. The following BDCA officers were present: President Kevin Young, 1st Vice President Harry Pitt, Recording Secretary Liesl Koch, Treasurer and Neighborhood Watch Director Nick Brennan, Board of Directors Members Dan Blasberg and Bob Catlin, and Welcome Committee Chair Christy Dollymore.

  3. Agenda Item 3. Approval of Minutes. A motion was made to accept into the record the minutes from the September 17, 2015, meeting. The motion was seconded, and passed by a show of hands.

  4. Agenda Item 4. Treasurer’s Report. Treasurer Nick Brennan made the following financial report:


    Expenses include tonight’s refreshments and printing of the newsletter. Income includes some

    advertising. We are in good financial shape.

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

  5. Agenda Item 5. Old Business. There was no old business to discuss.

  6. Agenda Item 6. New Business. There was no new business.

  7. Agenda Item 7. Miscellaneous Announcements. Officer Black and Mayor Fellows were in attendance. Officer Black did not have a report to make.

    There will be a special meeting Saturday, October 17th, 11:15am, at Fealy Hall. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the application for financing for the affordable housing project proposed for Branchville Road across from the Branchville Fire Department.

  8. Agenda Item 6. Candidate Forum for District 2 Seats on the City Council. President Young introduced Sheilah Kast, who lives in Berwyn and is host of the radio program “Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast” on WYPR in Baltimore. Sheilah Kast served as the moderator of the candidate forum.

Berwyners had been asked to submit a question on a card. Sheilah Kast selected which questions to ask.

Ms. Kast went over the rules of the forum and then asked the candidates to introduce themselves.

Dan Blasberg has been a resident of Berwyn for 16 years, a member of the Berwyn Board of Directors for six. He also is responsible for lighting the annual bonfire in October. He’s an 8‐year military veteran. Worked in telecommunications for 12 years. Has had his own small business for the past 8 years. Served as chief of staff for a state delegate. Currently president of an organization having to do with gun rights. Was a volunteer firefighter back in Ohio.

PJ Brennan, a current councilman from District 2, has spent time learning what it means to be a councilman, so he can be a great resource for the community. He hopes he has made a positive impact. The three issues he is most interested in are smart growth, quality of life, and improved communication. As for smart growth, he has negotiated for sustainable and quality development. The new building on Berwyn House Road will be such a building. As for quality of life, he is out there talking to people every day, finding out what’s important to them. As for communication, listening is very important to him. He makes sure to pass on info to us.

Vivian Conway is from New York but her grandparents, parents, and other members of her family are from Lakeland. She came to Maryland in 1994. Worked at Buck Lodge from 1995 to 2002. Worked for the Board of Education. Has advocated for families. Is coordinator for outreach at Temple AME Church, where she works with youths, families, and the homeless. She took her concern about the need for children’s activities in Lakeland to Eric Olson. She believes in values, in family unity, in coming together to work for the good of families.

Monroe Dennis, a current councilman from District 2, is running for his third term. When he first ran for City Council, he had been very involved with the Lakeland Civic Association. He has since been engaged in the Berwyn Civic Association as well. So he has developed a rapport with both Lakeland and Berwyn. He considers himself a community activist. Whatever the issue is, he can dig down into a fuller understanding of it, then discuss it with others to know it from top to bottom, at which point he tried to reach an amenable solution with others.

QUESTION #1: What are your plans for filling the vacant retail outside of downtown College Park?

Vivian Conway would like to see retail that appeals to families, not just students.

Monroe Dennis said reinvigoration of the City’s economic development arm will be a major new focus.

PJ Brennan agreed with Monroe’s answer. Now that some cornerstone developments have been completed, we’ll see other businesses gravitate naturally to College Park. But the City Council will still have an opportunity to incentivize development.

Dan Blasberg also agrees. But the City needs to become more involved in trying to find tenants for places like the Enclave retail spaces. The City needs to partner with developers in finding suitable retail tenants. Also, zoning needs to be relooked at for areas such as the retail area of Berwyn Road.

QUESTION #2: We have many new businesses and apartment buildings along Route 1 that are impacting street parking in new ways. How can we bring District 2 into the twenty‐first century in terms of parking, sidewalk, walking, and biking lane policies?

Dan Blasberg: Permit parking is a possible solution. Probably it would be better to proceed on a block‐by‐block basis, and not impose it on the entire neighborhood.

Monroe Dennis: Lakeland instituted neighborhood‐wide permit parking and it has worked for them. It would have to be a community decision, not one imposed by the City.

Vivian Conway: Consider building parking lots for non‐residents where buses can transport them from the parking lots to where they want to go.

PJ Brennan: We did a survey of Berwyn residents and came to the conclusion that only blocks that are impacted by people from outside Berwyn parking here should apply for permit parking at this time. Even then, many people don’t want permit parking. He has already asked the Economic Development Director to look into adding sidewalks. The City Council has been fighting for bike lanes for Route 1; some have been added already to Greenbelt Road. Bike symbols will be painted along Berwyn Road.

QUESTION #3: If your constituents ask you to vote a certain way, will you follow the will of your constituents regardless of your personal feeling?

Dan Blasberg: It is a pet peeve of his when elected officials don’t follow the will of their constituents. He may try to educate his constituents about certain issues, but he would vote the way a majority of them wanted him to.

Vivian Conway: When someone is elected, they should vote for what they believe is best for their constituents. Which is not always what the constituents say they want. They sometimes say they want one thing but then act like they want another.

Monroe Dennis: When he was first elected to the City Council, some of those who voted for him did so because they believed he had the capacity to understand the issues and could then persuade them what the best course of action would be. Representing constituents isn’t the same as an absolute vote for what they say they want – there might be some education involved, some back and forth. You are never going to satisfy everyone all of the time.

PJ Brennan: Not often, but sometimes an issue comes before the Council where the majority want something that wouldn’t be the best for the City. He seeks out other people’s feedback regularly. On occasion, he has changed his mind because of these discussions. In any case, it’s hard to know what the “majority” opinion is, since even if all 30 people in a room are pro this or anti that, they don’t necessarily represent the opinion of most of College Park.

QUESTION #4: It feels like whatever problems UMD doesn’t want to deal with get pushed to our neighborhoods – litter of red cups, etc. How can we encourage UMD to help mitigate these problems? What can we do to make UMD a more friendly and more responsible neighbor?

PJ Brennan: We need to continue working on our relationship with UMD – have dialogues with UMD, and with our student neighbors to make them understand they’re part of our community. Make them feel welcome.

Monroe Dennis: There are people on his block in Lakeland who will walk across the street and introduce themselves to their student neighbors. This can improve relationships, but it’s true that every year new students move in and you have to repeat the “orientation.” Some of the undesirable behaviors have started to be addressed. Contact your Council person if you don’t want to reach out to your unruly student neighbors yourselves.

Vivian Conway: She goes and talks with students, whether they’re drunk or sober. Tries to make sure they’re safe. We need to engage them in a relationship so they know the community they live in is one of residents, of family, of unity.

Dan Blasberg: He agrees with others who say we need to engage them and make them feel like part of the community rather than confront them. Let them know about local events taking place.

QUESTION #5: What do you think you bring to the table that makes you better qualified than your opponent?

Vivian Conway: She will get as much info as possible about an issue and will get positive results that bring satisfaction to the whole community.

Dan Blasberg: Better communication. More transparency with respect to what’s going on. For example, minutes of the Council meetings with UMD aren’t made available for a long time. Our COPS officers are excellent. The City now relies 100 percent on volunteer fire departments.

QUESTION #6: What are your thoughts about the 25 mpg speed limit through downtown College Park?

Monroe Dennis: Strongly in favor of it. But it isn’t the only thing we need to do to decrease injuries and fatalities.

Vivian Conway: Strongly in favor of it.

Dan Blasberg: As a whole it’s a good thing, especially with all the side streets and the new businesses going in. Would be nice if pedestrian enforcement were extended further north.

PJ Brennan: It’s a great solution for right now. The City is undergoing great change right now, and we saw the unintended impact last year, in pedestrian vehicular deaths last year. Eric Olson put together a pedestrian safety committee, which also looked at better lighting. Those elements need to be extended to our area because of the student housing up our way.

QUESTION #7: If elected or re‐elected, what would you do about the theft from autos we’re experiencing in the neighborhood in the early morning hours?

Vivian Conway: She has spoken with somebody about this. We have Neighborhood Watch but it would be good if we formed groups that came out at night and went around keeping an eye on things. She’s seen that in several areas she’s lived in in the past.

Dan Blasberg: Most of these are crimes of opportunity. It’s essential to lock your car doors. Too many people are not calling the police to report such a theft. The police will increase their patrol if they know this is happening frequently.

PJ Brennan: The Council has put money in the budget to expand cameras along the Trolley Trail. They’re forensic cameras, not live monitors. They can help police identify the people doing this.

QUESTION #8: Will you oppose the Cruz Branchville Crossing Project? If not, why not?

PJ Brennan: It’s a complicated issue. It has the potential to negatively impact the fire department. On the other hand, it has the possibility of impacting our community positively, because it will give a number of people who work at UMD an affordable place to live. It would be premature for him to say right now whether he approves of the project or not – he needs to talk to the community more. The City doesn’t have the final say about this project in any case.

Monroe Dennis: He would oppose the project based on what he knows about it today. Although the City doesn’t have final say on whether the project is approved or not, it has the opportunity to try to negotiate covenants the developer would have to adhere to.

Vivian Conway: She would not oppose the project. Everybody needs an affordable place to live. We’re trying to make this “one” College Park – we need to give everyone a chance.

Dan Blasberg: He’s inclined to oppose it based on what he knows so far.

QUESTION #9: What is your position on lowering the voting age in City elections to sixteen, and why?

Monroe Dennis: During his first term, the City Council lowered the voting age from 25 to 18. His rationale at the time was that since 18‐year‐olds can drive, go off to war, etc., they should have an opportunity to vote. Not 16‐year‐olds, though. They’re not necessarily mature enough yet.

Vivian Conway: She believes young people are more enlightened than people her age were back then. She was on the fence about lowering the age earlier. Young people understand better now, though, what’s needed for a better future.

Dan Blasberg: He’s opposed. Most 16‐year‐olds are not mature enough.

PJ Brennan: The grassroots organization that supports this and brought the initiative before the Council argues that the democratic process is hurting because there’s not a lot of participation in it. They’re learning about government for the first time in school, so what better time to get involved. The Council took the issue off the table because there was not enough feedback or energy from the community about it. He is in favor of it.

QUESTION #10: Do you have any thoughts or ideas about employing youth ages 17 to 25 who are not UMD students?

Vivian Conway: We should collaborate and network with outside organizations as well as County programs. We need to help our young people understand the responsibility of leadership as well as the responsibility of taking care of their needs. Internship programs are a possibility.

Dan Blasberg: Agrees with Vivian Conway about internship programs. Another idea is to work with local business owners in the City and Greenbelt area who rely mostly on UMD students and get them to set aside some of those jobs for non‐UMD students, who would be a more reliable workforce throughout the year.

Monroe Dennis: The City needs to do a better job trying to place our 17‐ to 25‐year‐olds. There have been some activities in the Lakeland community over the past 5 or 6 years that provide not

only some job placement assistance but job placement training skills, such as how to write a resume, how to dress, etc.

PJ Brennan: Echoes what everyone else has said. Work experience is a good opportunity to create a good work ethic. Volunteering is also a good way to do that.

QUESTION #11: There are four major construction projects on or near the University of Maryland. The vast majority of workers are Central American. How would you encourage developers to hire local workers?

Monroe Dennis: Two of the projects are the Hotel at the University of Maryland and the project on the old Koons property. There’s been discussion with Mr. Hillman about the individuals being employed there. He (Councilman Dennis) will look into it and see if there are opportunities for local residents to get involved.

Vivian Conway: If someone gives her the names and contact information of the developers, she’ll contact them and express the need for our young people to have jobs.

Dan Blasberg: Agrees with Councilman Dennis. Most developers have agreed to hire a certain number of local people. Or to sub out jobs to local businesses. It does not seem to be enforced.

PJ Brennan: Doesn’t know the composition of each development so getting those numbers would be helpful. Note that there are College Park residents who are Central American. To the extent that the City has a role in getting local people hired, we should look into that.

QUESTION #12: Restaurants, bookstores, yoga stores, and other “hip” businesses stay away because commercial rent is so expensive, so we end up with thirteen pizza joints and a dozen hotels up and down Route 1. How do we encourage development that’s not aimed at just college students and their visiting parents?

Dan Blasberg: We need to partner with business owners and developers to create a plan, through our economic development office. The plan needs to cater not just to College Park residents but surrounding neighborhoods as well. People are going to Greenbelt, Beltsville, etc., to do their shopping; a new shopping center is opening in Riverdale – we need to bring some of that here. The coffee shop opening downtown is a start. We should send them suggestions of what we, as a community, would like to see.

PJ Brennan: As anchor establishments take root in our city, we’ll start to see some diversification of businesses – i.e., more businesses that cater to the non‐student population. This change should come naturally as the market progresses.

Vivian Conway: The leaders of College Park have to have a voice, have to ask businesses to open doors for our residents and the youth in the community. We can work together to strategize how to get things done.

Monroe Dennis: We’re seeing some of that development as we speak. The Hotel at University of Maryland going up is not aiming at students. The hotel going on the old Koons property will be overflow for the Hotel at University of Maryland. We need to engage with developers in the future and try to implore them that what we need is not more pizza parlors.


Vivian Conway: Is honored to be here. Will do her best – which is very good – to represent us well if elected.

Monroe Dennis: “Go slow to go fast.” Tends to be temperate in his dealings on the Council. Has learned a lot during the two terms he’s served so far. There was a steep learning curve when he was first elected but now he feels he’s got momentum going. Will serve us well if we vote for him.

Dan Blasberg: He knows what he doesn’t know. Not afraid to admit he doesn’t know everything, but is willing to dive into an issue and find the answers. Not afraid to take on tough jobs. He was tasked with getting the donation boxes by the liquor store removed. Due to his efforts the City has made some headway in resolving the disagreement with Alvin Jenkins about the unpaved portion of the right‐of‐way.

PJ Brennan: It has been a privilege to serve as our councilman the past two years. He has gotten to know the community and learn things he didn’t know about City operations. Agrees with Councilman Dennis that there’s a learning curve. He sees his job as moving the City forward, removing obstacles, improving communication, etc. He follows through on things.

Moderator Sheilah Kast thanked Dan Stafford for monitoring the time limit on the candidates’ answers. President Young reminded the audience that the annual bonfire was scheduled for Saturday, the 24th, and reminded them of the special meeting to be held this Saturday at 11:15am at Fealy Hall.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 pm.

Meeting attendees (from sign‐up sheet):

?? Adams Althair Adams Gail Anzulovic Stephanie Bear Dan Blasberg Nick Brennan PJ Brennan Bob Catlin

Andrea Carpentieri Vivian Conway Monroe Dennis Christy Dollymore Diane Douglas Ian Douglas

?? Douglas Marina Dullnig Andrew Fellows Breianna Fields Lily Fountain

Elaine Grant Andrea Havermade Harvey Himmelfarb Margaret Himmelfarb Maggie Johnson Michael Kendrick Bob Kuligowski Emily M. Larkin Todd Larsen Thelma Lomax

Beth McAllister Janet McCaslin Marc McCaslin Bee Melton Denise Mitchell Chris Nagle Jim Nealis Tom Pasta Kevin Phelan

Harry Pitt Mary Sellers Audrey Smith Isabel Smith Leonard Smith Scott Somers Chad Stern

Acquenetta Thurston Robert Thurston Forrest Tyler

Sandy Tyler Richard Valentich Patrick Wojahn Anita Wolley Kevin Young Lori Young

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.