Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting

February 18, 2021

 

 

Meeting came to order at 7:30 p.m.  Meeting was held via ZOOM on the internet. BDCA Board Members in attendance: Jim Nealis, Bob Catlin, Chad Stern, Karyn Keating, Kelly Jordan, Lily Fountain, Mary Najmi, Tim Triplett joined later. Other attendees included: Liesl Koch, Sandy Tyler, Llatetra Esters, Kyle and Emily McCormick, Joe Theis, Janet McCaslin, Steve Bradford, Maddie and Jason Koenig, Mary Ann Hartnett from Oak Springs, Maxine Gross from Lakeland, Mayor Patrick Wojahn joined later.

 

Karyn announced she has “I’ve been Vaccinated” buttons if anyone wants one.  Introductions were made.  The Secretary’s report on January’s meeting minutes is on our web site.  Lily motioned to accept it, Bob seconded, motion passed.  Chad gave the Treasurer’s report – we had a balance of $2,764.  Last month we paid $455 for printing costs (Berwyn News), but this covered several months, including back payments for fall when our Paypal issue was being resolved.  Lily motioned to accept, Bob seconded, motion passed.

 

Old Business – still seeking a volunteer to be a correspondence secretary.  BDCA reps had a conversation with Terry Schum about “improvements” for the neighborhood under Program Open Space (POS).  Our ideas included a garden with paths/benches, adult exercise station, dog park or community garden.  Llatetra (city council member) said she and Monroe Dennis have submitted suggestions from us, as well as for Lakeland and Oak Springs – the city staff is looking at prices, feasibility, etc.  Llatetra also suggested texting MD Ready to 898211 for information on the Six Flags park COVID vaccination site.   You can also pre-register for vaccinations at this site: https://covid19vaccination.princegeorgescountymd.gov/

No neighbors were cited for special recognition this month, but maybe we can recognize a local business?  This will be considered.  Mary mentioned Saturday’s virtual upcoming ‘Berwyn Social Hour’ at 8:00 p.m.  Mayor Wojahn joined us to discuss the Purple Line.  The contractors had pulled out of the project due to overruns and a dispute with the state.  In December an agreement was reached, but construction is still on hold, adding more costs and delays.  Hoping to open in late 2024/early 2025.  Most legal disputes are now resolved so construction should resume by this fall.  Lily asked about disruptions we might see this fall.  Wojahn said Campus Drive should reopen, but more work will be seen near Rossborough Dr.   Another question came from Chad, who asked about the new Tempo Apartment building at the old Burger King site – how did Gilbane Co. get a tax credit they were not qualified for?  The mayor said the city staff mistakenly granted Gilbane  a “revitalization” credit – but the city code had banned those for student housing projects after 2015!  Gilbane wants the city to change the code – Wojahn said the city may give them the credit since it was a “city mistake.”  Chad implied this makes the city look bad.  Lily then asked why Gilbane should get a credit since they have a $500 million investment in the city?  Wojahn claimed a credit encourages development which lowers taxes for remaining city residents.  Karyn thought the city should not go back on its word with Gilbane.  Liesl asked about planned Guilford Woods development proposed by UM and Gilbane.  Wojahn said it is high-density residential, located outside city limits, but city supports it to provide affordable graduate student housing.  Liesl said too much woodland is being lost to development, but Wojahn said it had been approved years ago, but developers must mitigate damage by planting more trees than they cut down – but those trees don’t have to be planted in our city.  Lily said much biodiversity will be lost in that area, and saplings don’t replace 150-year-old trees.  Patrick said he hears her concerns.  She then expressed concerns about the Bozzuto complex where Plato’s used to stand.  Wojahn say it will have a gym, public space, good storm water management, but Lily was concerned about future flooding problems there.  Joe asked about the new FBI Building – might it come to our area?  Wojahn is in touch with Congressman Hoyer, who wants it in his district.  Finally, we were told that P.G. Co. should have enough COVID vaccine for all residents in Phase B in next two weeks.  Please register for your shots!

 

Maxine Gross mentioned a new percussion piece by a UM student called ‘Shadows of Lakeland’, which includes some oral histories of the community.  Go to to UM’s Clarice Smith web site for more information.  The mayor said  the city is forming a steering committee to establish a ‘restorative justice committee’ about Lakeland.

 

Chad asked if COPS officer Nunez can speak at a future meeting – if so, Joe asked if the officer can address the murder that took place on the Trolley Trail nearly a year ago.  Lily and Liesl hope city development coordinator Bridget Johnson can speak, and someone else asked if a person from the city/university partnership could speak?  Chad asked the mayor if any new funds were available for local businesses affected by COVID, and Wojahn said a new bill before Congress may give our city $6 million for businesses hit hard by COVID, but they must show proof of harm.  Janet McCaslin said the city can plant trees in the right-of-way in front of your home (row is usually space between the sidewalk and curb).  But many streets here lack sidewalks, so Wojahn said the city’s ‘tree canopy’ program will pay up to $150 for trees you plant in your yard.  Karyn said home values are up in Berwyn.  Liesl asked about a dog park in Cherry/Berwyn Park, but she was told that is MNCPPC land.  Janet noted a new dog park is opening near the city Public Works Dept.  Lily noted that Berwyn neighborhood improvements should be supported by folks throughout the community, not just BDCA meeting attendees.

 

Chad moved to adjourn the meeting; Jim seconded.  Meeting adjourned at 8:57 p.m.

 

 

Notes compiled by Jim Nealis