Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, September 20, 2007

 

 

1.         Agenda Item 1. Roll Call for Officers.  The meeting was called to order at 8pm by BDCA President Jerry Anzulovic.  Also present were officers and board members Tim Triplett, Liesl Koch, Lori Young, Jack Perry, and Patrick Hyousse.

 

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

 

3.         Agenda Item 3.  Welcome Back, Introductions.  Jerry Anzulovic, President of BDCA, welcomed everyone back after the summer and attendees introduced themselves.

 

4.         Agenda Item 4.  Treasurer’s Report.  Treasurer Lori Young stated that Berwyn Day this year made a profit of $375, which factors in the $500 donation from the Washington Post and a $400 grant from the City of College Park, as well as outstanding bills.  Since she began as Treasurer, she has received 10 membership fees and a donation of $150 from Strickland Fire Protection.  The current balance for BDCA is $1,100.

 

5.         Agenda Item 5.  Special Community Garden Presentation.  Christian Melendez and Kerry Fitzpatrick distributed an information sheet on community gardens and encouraged BDCA to consider creating one for Berwyn.  Melendez helped create the community garden in Riverdale, which was built in a week’s time.  One-half of the garden would be reserved for permanent residents, the other for students living in the neighborhood.  The University of Maryland supports two community gardens – one on campus near St. Mary’s Hall, the other near the Archives.  Jerry pointed out that the only public area in the neighborhood, besides Cherry Park, is between the old trolley tracks and Patuxent Avenue.  What type of fencing and who would be responsible for maintenance of the shed and paying the water bill are issues that would need to be addressed.  The Board will take up the issue at its next meeting.  If we wanted to tap the community grants program to help fund such a garden, we’d need to do so before October 19th.

 

6.         Agenda Item 6. City Election Candidates.  The three candidates for the two spots on the City Council, 2nd District, had an opportunity to address the audience.
     Jack (John) Perry spoke first.  He has served on the City Council for more than years.  He’s in favor of growth and change – is afraid of neither.  He has lived in College Park since 1969.  Change is coming to College Park – “we’re in a unique position to benefit from it.”  Although we have to to to Park and Planning, the General Assembly, and the Prince George’s Council to get just about anything we want, the fact that we have an active City Council helps.  There are three issues that Jack will focus on: (i) redevelopment of Route 1 from the Beltway to the North gate of the campus; (ii) transit-oriented development (intense development around the Metro station); and (iii) condos (Jack likes them), encouraging student housing as close to the campus as possible (the General Assembly says it won’t support more student housing on campus).  Jack said that he’s always open to communication with his constituents.transit-oriented development (intense development around the Metro station); and (iii) condos (Jack likes them), encouraging student housing as close to the campus as possible (the General Assembly says it won’t support more student housing on campus).  Jack said that he’s always open to communication with his constituents.
     Bob Catlin spoke next.  He’s lived in the metro area since 1979, in College Park since 1989.  He used to think College Park looked unsightly when he had to commute through it, before moving here.  In 1985 he moved from D.C. to Berwyn Heights.  When there, he realized that College Park was much nicer than the view of it from Route 1.  He’s served on the City Council since 1997.  There are lots of projects along Route 1 in the works.  The East Campus project is very promising.  The City has a friend in Doug Duncan, former Montgomery County Executive and now Vice President of Administrative Affairs at the University of Maryland.  There’s talk about converting schools to kindergarten through 8th grade, which Bob supports.  Green buildings are coming to the forefront and Bob wants to encourage that.  There are a lot of eyes on College Park right now as a model for the future.  The City’s tax base is improving; taxes are currently relatively low.
     Stacey Baca then addressed the audience.  She has been a stay-at-home mom since 2005 and is an agent for Long & Foster.  She has been very active as a community volunteer for years, beginning with her election work while residing in Athens, Georgia.  She got accepted in the Leadership Athens program, which trains leaders, and would like to begin a similar program here.  She’s been married to Bob since 2002.  She used to work on Capitol Hill as a court reporter.  In early 2006 she joined the College Park Education Advisory Committee because of her concern about schools, and in 2006 was elected as Chair of that committee.  She has a strong commitment to the community.  She has been active in the American Association of University Women.  She got her Bachelor’s in Sociology in Virginia.  College Park is in a state of active transition – she wants to encourage participation in the political process by all citizens.
     Steve Brayman, mayor of College Park, was in attendance and was asked to address the audience.  His seat may or may not be contested – it was unknown at the time of the meeting.  He has raised the bar on the work ethic.  He has been very proactive in redevelopment of the Route 1 corridor.  He wants better retail there.  The East Campus development will be good for College Park.  As for student housing, the closer we can put it to campus, the better for transportation, and the more our neighborhoods will be preserved.  Safety remains to be an issue – even though crime in College Park is lower than in the rest of the County, it’s unacceptably high for College Park residents.  The City had been considering “buying” contract officers, but a consultant recommended that we contract P.G. County officers by the hour instead.  The parking garage was on his wish list when he first became mayor; it was put in the budget and has gradually gained a lot of support.  We need to make sure that downtown College Park continues to thrive once the East Campus development is realized.  The mayor graduated from the University of Maryland in 1983 – he met his wife there.  In 1991 he moved to College Park.  In 1997 he was elected to the City Council, and in 2001 was elected as Mayor.  He has worked for the city of Rockville for 16 years.  Under his leadership, we’ve had a real presence in Annapolis and College Park has positioned itself to be a real player.
     The candidates took questions from the audience.  Several issues were raised.  One was the retail area on Berwyn Road.  We’re fortunate to have Smile Herb Shop.  The sidewalks and lights are an improvement, but as long as Alvin, the owner of much of the property, is willing to keep so many of the properties vacant, our hands may be tied.  The City has authority over “blighted” properties, but since the properties along Berwyn Road meet code, our hands may be tied.  Mayor Brayman brought up the possibility of eminent domain, but said that that remedy isn’t popular with the citizenry.  Someone stated that the City isn’t proactive enough regarding “dumpy” properties.  Jack Perry said that if the neighborhood prospers, someone will look at the commercial strip here and want to use it better than it’s being used now.  Someone asked why we can’t have codes that require a minimum level of landscaping, etc.  New development has to meet higher standards.  The City doesn’t have zoning authority.  One member of the audience asked the candidates to state what project(s) in particular he or she would put their efforts behind.  He used as an example the landlord problem College Park and how Bob Catlin had spearheaded the effort to make College Park less desirable for absentee landlords.  The Mayor said that Councilman Eric Olson (District 3) is the go-to person to talk about retail for the area – that he has been particularly involved and successful as Councilman.  Stacey Baca said that she wants to stabilize single-family neighborhoods, making the neighborhoods more desirable to live in.  She wants to improve the schools – the library at Paint Branch Elementary school is a shame – the shelves are almost bare of books.  The Mayor said that Eric Olson is to thank for getting Route 1 improvements moved up from #6 to #4 on the County’s priority list.  The “private driveway” that the University is trying to get built is estimated to cost, if built, over $200 million.  The University doesn’t want the Purple Line to come to campus unless it will be underground.  Jack Perry wants to promote bike-riding more.  Businesses along Route 1 used to be against its redevelopment – now they’re more supportive of the effort.  College Park needs to study school capacity.  More people are moving to College Park, but are many of them children?  We don’t know – we need to find out.  Someone noticed recently that there are only a couple of bike locks outside University View.  Stacey Baca said that there’s a consortium on campus that’s looking at that issue.  Bob Catlin said he was recently in Gainesville for a conference where “town-gown” issues were addressed.  He said these issues are particularly intractable.

 

7.         Agenda Item 7.  Halloween and October Bonfire.  We will discuss at the next meeting how to avoid the problems that occurred last Halloween with kids that were too rowdy and disrespectful.  The Oktober Fest Bonfire will be October 20th.

 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.

 

 

Meeting Attendees:

 


Marcus Afzali

Jerry Anzulovic

Stacey Baca

Gordon Brayer ???

Steve Brayman

Bob Catlin

Marina Dulnig

Kerry Fitzpatrick

Rita Hather ???

Maria Huzzer

Patrick Hyousse

Christopher Larsen

Christian Melendez

Jack Perry

Tim Triplett

Forrest Tyler

Sandy Tyler

Larry Wenzel

Lori Young


 

 

 

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.