Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, May 17, 2007

 

 

1.         Agenda Item 1. Roll Call for Officers.  The meeting was called to order at 8pm by BDCA Vice President Jerry Anzulovic, the President being absent.  Also present were officers and board members Bob Baca, Al Cutino, Chuck Ireton, Liesl Koch, and Harry Pitt.

 

2.         Agenda Item 2.  Minutes from Last Meeting.  Minutes from the April 2007 meeting were accepted into the permanent record.

 

3.         Agenda Item 3.  Presentation by Joseline Peña-Malnyk and Ben Barnes, 21st District State Delegation.  Senator Jim Rosapepe and Delegate Barbara Frush were unable to attend.  A wide variety of measures that our delegates were involved in were discussed.  Peña’s committee assignments include a seat on the Health and Government Operations Committee.  $400 million was approved for school construction; Prince George’s County will received approximately 12–13 percent of this amount.  College tuition has been frozen; the Governor wants to freeze it for at least one more year.  A living wage bill was passed – to be a state contractor, an employer must pay his or her full-time employees a certain amount in rural areas.  Maryland received a failing grade for the Chesapeake Bay.  It used to take the Bay’s oysters one day to clean the entire Bay; it now takes them a year.  Another bill that was passed allows parents to keep their children on their health insurance coverage until the children are 25 years old.  Eight hundred thousand people in Maryland are without health insurance.  The Health Access bill will insure 200,000 of those with a $1 tax on tobacco.  This bill passed the House but not the Senate.  A special session in October will consider various taxes.  Changes in income tax have been proposed to make the tax more progressive.  Peña sponsored two bills, including the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) bill to help prevent cervical cancer.  She also sponsored a bill to help nurses.  This bill mandates that all hospitals study purchasing equipment to help nurses lift patients.  Peña and Barnes got $75,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.  Ben Barnes is on the Judiciary Committee.  Barbara Frush helped get passed a smoking ban in all government offices across the State.  The Maryland Gang Prosecution Act means that if you’re indicted for a crime and it was gang activity, the sentence is increased.  Another bill requires a minimum mandatory sentence for child sex offenders.  Another bill requires insurance companies to pay if it is determined that they acted in bad faith.  Three bills that Barnes has been involved in are the following: (i) a tax exemption for law enforcement personnel if they live in the county they work in; (ii) homebuilders have to install carbon monoxide detectors in new homes; and (iii) farmilies with disabled children will now have someone specifically assigned to them by the State and it will be easier to cut through some of the red tape that hindered them from getting help on a timely basis in the past.
      Peña and Barnes met with Jack Johnson to discuss Route 1.  They insisted that it needs funding.  Johnson lowered it on the County’s priority list from number 6 to number 4.  Several representatives state to Duncan, at the University of Maryland, that if the Purple Line were not to have a stop on east campus they would not support it.  John Pocari told them that it would be necessary to get Mote to change his mind – Mote is currently insisting that the Purple Line run underground, which would be too expensive.
      Funding for Route 1 isn’t going to happen this year because of the projected $1.5 billion deficit for the State.  We used $10 million for engineering and design.  It would cost $110 million to fix Route 1.  It was suggested that it be done in three phases, using whatever monies we can get now to begin the first phase.  The State works up a transportation package only once every 10 years.  The County Executive and the County Council has a list of transportation projects they want worked on – so far, they haven’t reconciled the lists.  This year there will be one letter from the County.  It’s too expensive to put the utility wires underground.  The most important thing right now is to get money for the design and engineering.  The project is important not only for aesthetic reasons but for safety reasons.  Mote’s vision is to have a private road that bypassed the city.  NPR had a report saying that bypass roads hurt the businesses and communities they’re bypassing.
      BARC is an under-appreciated “jewel” in Prince George’s County.
      Each delegate receives $36,000 to distribute in scholarship money.  Only people who live in the 21st district are eligible for Peña’s and Barnes’ money.
      Regarding Prince George’s Hospital, the first check (for $19 million) was delivered last week.  The hospital system includes Laurel, Bowie, Spellman, and two senior citizen buildings.  It serves 180,000 people and is the only trauma hospital in the area.  A big financial problem is the hospital’s pension obligations, which the County didn’t want to take on.  The County owns the building and land.  The problem is that 80 percent of the care is uncompensated so there is no money for capital improvements.  It’s mostly P.G. County residents using it.  The Delegation wants the State to be a partner.  Next year, the County probably will not bail it out.
      Peña and Barnes are both opposed to slot machines.  Eighty percent of the revenues from the lottery comes from Baltimore and P.G. County, so essentially it’s a tax on the poor.  Crime around slot parlors goes up 200 percent.  They’re a drain on local services.  However, the Delegates are “keeping their powder dry” in order to stay in the game – they haven’t taken an uncompromising position so that they’ll still have some leverage.  However, twenty-three Delegates are against slots, so that’s a good chunk of votes.
      No-fault insurance is “not going to happen” in Maryland.
      The Governor has asked all Departments to cut $200 million from the budget.
      The action that Maryland is doing to restore the Chesapeake Bay is not reciprocal with other states at the moment, but the momentum is in that direction.
      There is a $250 million surplus in Prince George’s County.
      Bob Catlin mentioned that the University itself is a student to having student housing built.  The 21st district delegation wrote a letter to Duncan, who denied that the University was being a hindrance.  Jim Rosapepe, however, being on the Board of Regents, knows better.  Duncan says that it’s the legislature that doesn’t give the money.  Peña says that the University has the money – it’s how they choose to spend it.  The University owns seven acres on Azalea Lane that would be “perfect” for student housing.
      The Assembly passed a bill to encourage renewable energy.
      House Bill 875 passed – Peña and Barnes both support it.  It’s about new street lights, and will give Pepco some competition.
      Another bill passed that will give more aid to municipal police forces.
      Mayor Brayman stated that he’s seen first-hand how well our delegates are working for us.

 

 

 

4.         Agenda Item 4.  Treasurer Update.  Treasurer Al Cutino reported that the May newsletter cost $151 to print and the Post Office box cost $210.  Bob Catlin has about $200 from dues and ads to add to the treasury.  The current balance is $919.41.


5.         Agenda Item 5.  Committee Updates.

There were no Committee updates.


6.         Agenda Item 6.  Civic Association Updates.

 

There were no Civic Association Updates.

 

 

7.         Agenda Item 7.  College Park Reports from Our Council Representatives. 

 

§         Bob Catlin announced that the City’s budget was about to be passed.  A number of “wish list” items will be funded, but not big ones.  There are development issues coming up on the horizon.  The hotel project for the property adjacent to Exxon has been held up – no one’s quite sure why at the moment.

§         Jack Perry reminded us that this year is election year for the City of College Park.  Our neighborhood’s “block captains” will distribute an “Are You Recyclying” pamphlet.  Leaves and brush in plastic bags will not be picked up.

§         The City is purchasing a new trash truck(s?) to the tune of $190,000 each – that’s a big capital expense.  It will probably stick with diesel trucks rather than investigate “greener” options.

§         There have been a lot of executive sessions of late.

§         Tomorrow is “bike to work” day.

§         The Mayor added that the budget session on Tuesday should be interesting.  The City Manager, who studies the “wish lists,” is doing a good job.  The City may give some grants to some local schools.  It’s costing us one-half million dollars for the policy contract program.  So far, that program has had some small successes – for example, one officer has been involved in 2–3 arrests.

§         The parking garage will be paid for with revenue from parking meters, not taxpayers.

§         Jack is trying to work with Public Services to get speed control on Greenbelt Road – we need speed limit signs between Route 1 and the Washington Post.

 

8.         Agenda Item 6.  New Business.

 

§         There will be a Route 1 corridor study presentation at City Hall on Wednesday, May 30, from 7 to 10pm.  The County Council got involved with the study.  The study is broader now because it’s a transportation study on top of everything else.

§         President Tim Triplett wrote a letter to Mr. Ridgeway thanking him for improving his property.

§         Judge Jackson is the judge adjudicating the disputed property north of the railroad tracks.

§         There has been a resurgence of graffiti.  The graffiti on the side of the Kidwell Building was painted over – it had been 9 months since they last had to paint it.  There was some graffiti on the retaining walls on the bicycle path by Gina’s and Harry’s houses – the City removed that.  We will want to go back under the bridge over Greenbelt Road and paint over that graffiti.

§         Jerry passed around an artist’s rendition of the proposed Hilton Hotel, which Mr. Vogel will be developing.  It will be where Merchant Tire, Jerry’s, and the old Alario’s building currently are.  He had to shorten the building in order to meet FAA restrictions.  The driveway would line up with Berwyn House Road – they’re negotiating that access now.

 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.

 

 

 

Meeting Attendees:

 


Marcus Afzalli

Jerry Anzulovic

Bob Baca

Steve Brayman, Mayor

Bob Catlin

Chuck Ireton

Jack Perry

Harry Pitt

Sandy Tyler

Forrest Tyler

Kevin Young


 

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA