Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting

March 21, 2019


Meeting came to order at 7:40 p.m.  Meeting held at Holy Redeemer Mezzanine Room.  Board members in attendance: Chad Stern, Jim Nealis, Bob Catlin arrived later.  Other attendees included PJ Brennan, Margaret and Harvey Himmelfarb, Janet McCaslin, the McAllisters, Chris Gordon.


The minutes from the February meeting were not immediately available, so were not approved.  Chad gave a brief Treasurer’s report.


Janet McCaslin from the city Public Works Dept. gave a presentation about changes proposed for the collection of ‘bulk trash’.  One attendee was concerned that ‘tattling’ on someone improperly dumping bulk items might cause neighborhood problems, but Councilman Brennan explained they were urging folks to report illegal dumping.  There are problems with some non-College Park residents leaving their trash along our streets for our city to clean up.  Cameras may be placed in some areas to watch for this activity.  Janet said in 2014 they picked up 546 tons of bulk trash, but by 2018 this had jumped to 762 tons.  The new proposal will allow 4 pick-ups per year, 20 items maximum – i.e., 5 items per pick-up, or two pick-ups of 10 items, etc.  But only about 3% of residents actually use this service per year.  One attendee said it wasn’t fair that a homeowner might not have one pick-up in ten years, but if they have five pick-ups in the 11th year, they would be fined?  Janet said some folks abuse the service, and that one house in the city had 20 pick-ups last year alone! PJ Brennan says the city wants to encourage more efficient collection, and urge folks to donate – not toss – items that are still usable.  He said the city is not planning to reduce staff or equipment.  Collection of brush, etc., will not be included in the 4 pick-ups, but collection of larger branches or logs will be.  Items must be under 75 pounds, not longer than 5’ in length.


One attendee claimed the report the city used to develop this plan has many flaws, and that it seems the city is both raising fees and reducing service.  Someone suggested the city might hold an annual citywide ‘Yard Sale’, or maybe have recycling/collection at Davis Hall more often than just the current April/October events.  We currently use four trucks for pick-ups – bulk items, ‘white’ metal-appliances, electronic goods, brush – all require separate trucks.  The city makes small amount of income selling waste copper and metal items, and from University Park, Riverdale Park, etc., from their leaves and brush we can make into mulch.


Some attendees complained the University has too much power and sway over the city, and wondered about the big tax credits large developers are receiving.  PJ Brennan said the market for more student housing was still strong, but he also mentioned that some city housing is currently used by Bowie State students.  He also said the city gets benefits from the campus – some students helped translate some city brochures into Spanish and worked on ‘greening’ the city vehicle fleet.  Brennan also said there may be more sidewalks coming near the park, and possibly a school bus shelter?  Someone suggested that could be a Scout Project.  Some people also commented that the current Berwyn student population seems ‘better behaved’ than in previous years.


We learned that Gilbane development company bought the Rt. 1 lots where Burger King and the abandoned place next to BK stand – planning yet more student housing.  One attendee said they should have to provide adequate parking for all their residents and visitors – no more parking in our neighborhood.  The subsidized apartment project near Branchville Fire House is back on the drawing board.  One person asked if a campus police officer can work rush hours at Rt. 1/Campus Dr. intersection, since traffic flow is bad there.  Maybe the traffic light at Lakeland Rd. can be removed?  Also considering opening a ‘back road’ through the industrial area linking Berwyn with Lakeland – Brennan said the city is looking into that, but the property owners did not seem interested.


Meeting concluded at 9:20 p.m.


Notes compiled by Jim Nealis