Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, June 15, 2006

 

The meeting was called to order by BDCA president Heather Iliff at 8:02 PM.  Also present were officers and board members Jerry Anzulovic, Bob Baca, Andrea Carpentieri, Chuck Ireton, Kris Moss, Harry Pitt, Mark Seaton, and Tim Triplett.  All meeting attendees are listed at the end of the minutes.

 

Presentation by Flo Hendershot, Candidate for County Council, District 3

Mrs. Hendershot began with a brief introduction.  She is a resident of New Carrollton and a teacher at Northwestern High School.  She is retiring from teaching and seeks a new challenge.  Currently, no educators are serving on the County Council; and, since the Council funds the school system, she feels it is important to ensure that the money is used wisely.  Mrs. Hendershot is the wife of the incumbent, Tom Hendershot, who is not eligible to run for re-election due to term limits.  They have a son who is a police officer in Prince George’s County, so she is aware of, and concerned about, public safety issues.  Mrs. Hendershot is also concerned about the rampant development in the county, and wants to make sure that development projects are responsible and pay for themselves, including the Route 1 redevelopment project.  Mrs. Hendershot then took questions from the group as summarized below. 

o        How might College Park obtain more authority for zoning within the city?

College Park may have more power than we recognize.  There are only three municipalities within the county which have authority for zoning, including Laurel, whose independent zoning was grandfathered in when the laws changed.  When cities have their own zoning, the county loses standardization of developments and facilities.  Having local zoning may increase bureaucracy in the city.  She is not necessarily in favor of local zoning control, but she is willing to research and discuss this issue.

o        Families leave the city based on what happens in the elementary schools.  Classes start out large, then break into smaller sizes, which is disruptive to the children.  What can be done about this?

Classroom size has always been reassessed in mid-September.  This was not as much of an issue when school started after Labor Day; but with school beginning in August, it is much more of a problem, and the “count time” may have to change.  This may also be a staffing issue.  Hiring teachers is difficult nationally; there are more opportunities, and more lucrative opportunities available to people who used to become teachers. 

o        With traffic becoming ever more challenging, we need more alternative transportation, including more safe ways to bicycle.  Do you have any ideas?

The Route 1 redevelopment plans to include bike paths along part of the roadway.  The biggest problem is funding; there has to be a commitment to funding, but we also need to realize that we can’t have everything.

o        What new ideas do you have for the Council?

Mrs. Hendershot is not embarking on a political career.  She wants to start the job with a clean slate, and focus on collegial, cooperative, consensus building conversations. She is especially interested in leading conversations on financial issues, making sure that money is appropriately spent.  She is also concerned that there are too few women in elective politics, and feels this impacts leadership. 

o        How do you counter the argument that voting for you is a “shadow vote” for Mr. Hendershot?

While Mrs. Hendershot agrees that she would discuss her position with her husband, she also commented that there is not a married couple in which spouses do not discuss their work with each other. She is adamant that she is a separate person from Mr. Hendershot, and has been independent since the day they married. 

o        The media often report on how Prince George’s residents want more high-end retail, but there appears to be not enough money to fund schools.  What is the solution?

Prince George’s county is not a poor county, but we are not as wealthy as neighboring counties.  Taxpayers pay for schools through property tax rates.  The county may need to find other ways to fund education, perhaps through the state.  This county also has a high number of students who need a lot of services.  We need to find a way to help these students, who are often from poor or immigrant families. 

o        A citizen commented that the City and Civic Association have reached out to Mr. Hendershot’s office regarding a pedestrian-controlled traffic light at Paint Branch Parkway and the Rhode Island Avenue bike path crossing.  The community is very interested in getting a traffic light placed at this crossing before a fatal accident occurs.  While traffic studies have been done regarding this location, the Civic Association could not obtain the data.  Political might is needed behind this effort; the Civic Association will contact whoever is elected regarding this concern.

 

Presentation by Claire Sale, Economic Development Coordinator for College Park

Ms. Sale presented information about 28 projects which are scheduled to be built in or near College Park.  Copies of her slide show were handed out; the show will also be available on our website, www.myberwyn.org.  Some comments on her presentation include:

o        Many of the drawings of proposed projects show a height of four stories.  Although there are no particular height restrictions, four stories is about the maximum for buildings without a concrete and steel construction. 

o        Alternate transportation systems are important to the city.  The city is requesting developer contributions to Route 1 improvements, and for access to the University of Maryland’s shuttle service.  Approved projects have met traffic requirements, although some requirements may have been relaxed slightly to allow the project to pass.

o        A special tax district may be created along the Route 1 corridor.

o        The Berwyn commercial district has unusual zoning regulations, which allow for “commercial ancillary” uses.  This zoning structure is intended to keep big retail establishments from imposing on neighborhoods.  So-called “normal” retail is not permitted.  Berwyn’s zoning may be changed in the future to allow for new development. 

o        Ms. Sale asked the attendees what kind of stores we would like to see in the neighborhood.  Answers included:

§         A bakery / coffee shop, maybe with a drive-through

§         More restaurants which serve healthier foods, such as whole-wheat crust pizza

§         Gourmet butcher or other “destination” specialty shops

§         Services: florist, dry cleaner

§         Medical offices, or offices for alternative practitioners (such as acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractor)

o        A meeting attendee commented that landlords may be the most difficult stumbling block to renting out the stores.  Apparently, the current landlords are not interested in working with tenants. 

 

Neighborhood Watch and Burglary Updates

A series of burglaries and attempted burglaries has been taking place in Berwyn.  Daytime robberies are the “norm”, as perpetrators know that many residents are not home during the day.  Nighttime robberies are committed by much more dangerous people, who are willing to take the risk that residents might be home.  Offenders will repeat their robberies until they are caught.  The police have to get lucky by catching perpetrators in the act, or catch them when they bring something to a pawnshop.  The police want residents to call 911 if we see anything suspicious; a 911 call about a robbery in progress is given a very high priority.  Do not confront suspicious people yourself. 

 

Civic Association Officer Elections

 

Special thanks to Harry Pitt and Amy Noggle for their work on the Nominating Committee.  The candidates for 2006 – 2007 officers are:

 

President: Tim Triplett

Vice Presidents: Chuck Ireton, Kris Moss

Corresponding Secretary: Mark Shute

Recording Secretaries: Liesl Cook, (1 open)

Treasurer: Al Cutino

Board of Directors: Jerry Anzulovic, Nicole Lindsay, Debbie Mims, Harry Pitt

Neighborhood Watch: Janeen Miller, Gina Tomko

Newsletter Editor: Bob Baca

Welcoming Committee: Chair: Jerry Anzulovic; Rebecca Aldridge, Sandy Tyler, Larry Wenzel

 

Motions were accepted to close the nominations, and to accept the candidates; the motions passed.

 

Updates from committees and city council representatives

 

o        The new “Welcome to Berwyn” brochure has been designed.  The committee is looking for new members, to help pass out information to new residents.  The committee hopes to refer the names of new residents to block captains, so that block captains themselves can then call on new residents. 

o        The Mayor and Council will meet twice a month during the summer.  There will be a special meeting in July to discuss the Northgate project.

o        Berwyn Road improvements are almost completed.  Pepco has to wire the streetlight poles; then the globes and bulbs can be installed. 

o        College Park has received several more contract police officers.  The officers are described as “traffic oriented.”  They occasionally patrol on bicycle.

o        Improvements to the Berwyn Neighborhood Playground are progressing.  Diseased trees have been cut down.

o        The towns of Berwyn Heights, College Park, Greenbelt, and New Carrollton have received a grant from the county to purchase a new street sweeper.  Please be sure to park off-street when sweeping is scheduled.

 

Meeting attendees:

 

Jerry Anzulovic

Bob Baca

Steve Brayman

Steve Cole

Flo Hendershot

Harvey Himmelfarb

Maria Hutter

Heather Iliff

Chuck Ireton

Kris Moss

Amy Noggle

Jack Perry

Harry Pitt

Mark Shute

Gina Tomko

Tim Triplett

Forrest Tyler

Sandy Tyler

Brenton Walker

 

Thanks to everyone for allowing me to serve you as Recording Secretary for the last two years.  Special thanks are due to my co-recording secretaries, Amy Noggle and Sue Hester, for sharing the joy!

 

Andrea Carpentieri

Recording Secretary, BDCA