Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting

June 20, 2019


Meeting came to order at 7:38 p.m.  Meeting held in Fealy Hall. BDCA Board Members in attendance: Chad Stern, Jim Nealis, Tim Triplett, Lily Fountain, Karyn Keating-Volke, Nick Brennan, Christy Dollymore, Ron Cameau (added later that evening). Other attendees included PJ Brennan, Richard Winston, Kevin Young, Liesl Koch, Mr. White, Chris Gordon, and Patrick Wojahn. 


Treasurer Chad Stern reported $1,509 in the BDCA account on May 31.  A vote was held and all candidates for office were approved: President – Bob Catlin (who was welcomed back after recuperating from his accident), Vice Presidents: Tim Triplett, Nick Brennan, Directors: Christy Dollymore, Lily Fountain, Treasurer: Chad Stern, Recording Secretary: Jim Nealis, Corresponding Secretary: Karyn Keating-Volke. The Neighborhood Watch position was vacant, but later in the evening Ron Cameau offered to serve and was approved.


Our local COPS Officer Nunez spoke.  From January – May there were four thefts from autos, one stolen vehicle, and sadly, one murder on the Trolley Trail – the suspect is still at large but is not believed to be a threat to the community.  Mr. Nunez said some people leave car doors unlocked so thieves will not break car windows, which are expensive to replace.  He said this is a bad idea, and Karyn Keating-Volke stated glass insurance for cars is not expensive.  Mr. Nunez urged folks to place items in car trunks or take them inside.  He also said Ring and Arlo both make good cameras you can install to watch your property.  Keep a list of serial numbers for items such as cameras, cell phones, laptops, etc.


Mayor Wojahn spoke about the new city hall plans, which have been in discussion for years.  A new building will allow consolidation of some city offices (about 75 city employees will work there), have more meeting space, outdoor plaza/activity area, etc.  The current plan is for a four-story building – the city will occupy floors 1 and 2, the Univ. of Maryland will have office workers on 3, 4.  Some attendees questioned why the university was being included in our city hall – Wojahn said it will bring more workers downtown, help businesses, etc.  But folks questioned the wisdom of this arrangement – with 1,200 acres of land, why can’t the school build offices on UM land?  UM has a bad reputation for going over budget on buildings – the current remodeling of Cole Field House was supposed to cost $155 million, now it’s $225 million and still climbing. Will the city become ensnared in some budget-busting boondoggle? Councilman Brennan indicated the city would not be responsible for cost overruns – we are responsible for a fixed share of costs. Apparently there will be some retail space in the building, but the university will control that and get rental income from it – not the city.  Some attendees felt the city should remain autonomous and not be so influenced or entangled with the university, but our city leadership did not seem to share these concerns.  The original cost to the city was estimated to be $14 million – but now that cost has risen to $21 million.


One attendee questioned the safety situation along the Trolley Trail – poor lighting, some overgrown areas.  Another asked about the Cruz apartment building near Branchville Fire House – is there provision for a proper turning radius for fire trucks? Is the developer still required to meet specific conditions that were mandatory years ago when the development was proposed?  Who is monitoring these things?  Meanwhile, Gilbane Co. is expected to soon file site plans for their new apartments elsewhere in the city.


Councilman Brennan said the speed warning sign recently erected on Berwyn Road near Holy Redeemer was a result of some drivers speeding on that road.  The mobile camera along Rt. 1 at Berwyn Rd. has been moved.  City crime reports will soon be consolidated into just one general report.  Tree canopy has decreased from 2014-2018 in the city due to tree deaths and development.  The city engineer is still working to get the State Highway Admin. to improve the Greenbelt Rd. area where the entrance to Berwyn was closed.  Upgrades to Rt. 1 will still preserve two north and two south travel lanes.


Meeting adjourned at 9:06 p.m.


Notes compiled by Jim Nealis