New Dorms Unlikely Thanks to State Law

Centreville HallAlthough local leaders want them, state law means new dorms are unlikely to be the answer to the student housing problem at Maryland. In response to our question about alleviating the student housing crunch on our city council special election candidate survey, District 3 candidate Stephanie Stullich and District 4 candidates Mary Cook and Russell Scarato all mentioned new dormitories as part of their answers.

New dorms are thought of as unlikely because state law demands dorms be self-supporting. Official University policy on student housing explains in more detail:

Residence Halls, the Graduate Apartments, and dining halls must be self-supported by mandate of the General Assembly. No State or University funding is received, so student fees must be sufficient to pay all expenses including utilities, facilities renewal, plant maintenance and construction debts. In addition, the affected departments (Resident Life, Graduate Apartments, Dining Services) must pay a percentage of expenses to the University as overhead.

The effect of the law is that the University itself — or a private partner — must bear the debt burden to construct any new dorms. The last residence hall (suites) the university built by itself was New Leonardtown in 1982. The last traditional dormitory they built was La Plata Hall in 1968!

Since then the university has partnered with private developers to build the 1825 bed South Campus Commons and the 700 bed University Courtyards. In 2005, the Diamondback reported university officials were optimistic they would be able to finance a new dorm on North Campus that would house 500 students. However, since then the Board of Regents denied funding for construction.

The trend away from state supported housing has been hugely problematic – especially since a lot of the demand comes from freshman wanting traditional dormitories without kitchens (not conducive to a public-private partnership) thus pushing older students off-campus. In the mid-90’s, 50% of freshmen sought on-campus housing. Now it’s over 90%.

City Special Election Tomorrow, CP Mayor endorses Nick Aragón for District 4

We’d like to remind everyone that the College Park special election is tomorrow, January 16th, from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. If you’re in College Park and registered to vote in the following areas please remember to cast your vote at the indicated locations. If you filed for an absentee ballot remember to mail it!

District 3: Old Town, Frat Row, Graham Cracker, all of the Commons buildings, Knox Towers, Graduate Gardens, Calvert Hills, and all of College Park east of the railroad tracks.

Read our District 3 candidate survey

District 3 votes at City Hall

District 4: Denton and Cambridge Communities (But not the Ellicott Community), the Knox Boxes, the Courtyards, and the areas Northwest of campus including Crystal Springs and College Park Woods.

Read our District 4 candidate survey

District 4 votes at Davis Hall

On a separate, but not unrelated note, we’ve been informed that three-term College Park Mayor Stephan Brayman has given a surprise endorsement of UMD Student Nick Aragón for District 4. Aragón, 25, showed an impressive grasp of the issues at a recent Candidates Forum according to Brayman. Read the Mayor’s full endorsement here.

An Aesthetic Assessment of Downtown

While there is no quick-fix for community redevelopment, community beautification through art is relatively simple. The only ingredients are cheap materials such as paint and the spark of a creative mind. Let us take into account the current state of affairs in downtown College Park aesthetics.

The horizon is bland, squat, and nearly uniform. From the vantage point sitting on the bench in front of Noodles and Boston Market facing north, a strip mall of just three stores stews in an awkward parking lot devoid of logical design. From the left they are College Park Bicycles, Kimi & Phil’s China Café (which is so unsavory that I ate there once and never returned) and 7-Eleven. Abutting this federation of mediocrity is, of course, Santa Fe Café. There is a reinforced vinyl banner strung up on one of the unused terraces, half of which is a Bud Light logo, the other the phrase “WELCOME BACK STUDENTS.” Further to the east is a retail bank, Bentley’s, and a spate of grub joints.

DowntownIn the center of this panorama is the one aesthetic anomaly in downtown College Park. It is a towering trompe l’oeil painted façade of a building, attached unceremoniously to the side of an actual building. The mural is odd – it would seem to be the upper portion of a neo-Georgian brick home. Complete with three flat chimneys and five green attic windows, the center of this faux home is crowned by a hexagonal spire that juts above the building and is propped up from behind. The base of the spire is rimmed with miniature balustrades and what are perhaps baroque portals. It is supposed to be a belfry but it has no bell. Not even a painted one. It is the tallest point in downtown College Park and would be tallest point in the entire town were it not for the Memorial Chapel looming in the distance. The painted façade represents College Park in many ways – its disjointed attempt to look authentic and functional when in fact it is a messy pastiche of frippery. The painted bell tower without a bell could not be a more appropriately hollow symbol.

The implementation of better public art would mean a lot more to our community than painting a bell inside that fake tower. Good public art provides a common point of reference. It can unite a localized region while endowing it with something attractive, something compelling. There is hope for College Park art yet. My personal favorite mural in CP is tucked away on a wall inside alumni-owned California Tortilla. Painted by UMD students Graham Garvie and Matt Mayer, the work cleverly promotes CalTort while playing up Maryland’s reputation. It conveys the diversity of our campus through the common point of reference of our mascot.

Reviewing the public art of College Park it would seem there is no shortage of places for new work like the CalTort mural: in or around new projects along Route 1, the underpass along Paint Branch under the railroad tracks, or even incorporated into the new parking garage or city hall now being planned.

Photo credit Flickr user Loke Sonne

Smarter than the Average Bear, but not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

When prospective national businesses look to a region and decide where to open shop, they consider many factors including taxes and rent. However, businesses that cater to sophisticated consumers will often consider a town’s education attainment level, too. What do these businesses see when they consider College Park? They see a town that is above the national and regional averages in educational attainment, but which still lags behind many of its neighbors.

We harvested demographic data from the 2000 U.S. Census and graphed them below. Since each number is a percentage of adults 25-years-old and older, the College Park figures exclude the vast majority of the student body. University Park, a popular bedroom community for faculty situated just south of campus, resembles Bethesda and McLean more than College Park.
demographics_hs.gif

demographics_bachelors.gif

demographics_grad.gif

Project Ajacent M-Square Could Create Grad Housing

A 460-unit project (including 30 town homes) is currently proposed for Riverdale Park right adjacent to the City of College Park. The project would take the place of the former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) building between Lafayette Avenue and Tuckerman Street known as the “Golub Property”. The Gazette reported on the project in November and few additional details have emerged since then. UMD originally sold the 13.5 acres to the developer – apparently with the stipulation that the university retain 50 of the units to recruit and house grad students.

Although roughly half a mile from the College Park Metro Station the project is tucked in a rather odd spot and as it’s currently being considered will contain 800 parking spaces. We urge local and county leaders to ease parking requirements for projects such as this in order to encourage residents to find alternatives to driving. Furthermore, we believe the project underscores the necessity of developing M-Square with a strong pedestrian character. As M-Square is currently planned we doubt many residents of the new project would enjoy walking along River Road to the Metro. Furthermore, it seems logical to connect the project to the nearby terminus of the College Park Trolley Trail at Albion Road so the residents can easily walk to campus and downtown College Park. This would probably entail an at-grade crossing of the MARC track.

>>Detailed “zoomable” map of the area.

Uniquely College Park – Age and the Definition of A College Town

agedist2nditeration

(SEE FULL SIZE GRAPH)

A brief analysis of College Park’s age distribution the other week revealed that UMD has easily the youngest college town of it’s peer schools. This brought about a deeper question: what exactly is a “College Town”? This question produces a vague answer – a place where a “college or university and the cultures it creates exert a dominant influence over the character of the community.” Using this definition we decided to eliminate large cities and state capitals with universities in this analysis.

One commenter pointed out in our last post that CP’s population is miniscule (25,000) compared to Chapel Hill (52,000), Urbana-Champaigne (110,000), Ann Arbor (114,000), and Berkeley (102,000). Basically, it’s clear that you can place college towns on a continuum whereby a university can be an increasingly less important player in the community (either because of the large size of the town or small size of the college).

This time we compared CP to 19 other “college towns” and came up with the chart you see above. These towns range in population from 17,000 to 114,000 but still average about twice (50,000) College Park’s population. Not only did we find that College Park’s population has an unusually high percentage of undergraduate aged people (very roughly we’ll say its about 45% undergrad), but we had great difficulty finding another major university (and similar sized, discrete political unit/a.k.a. town) tucked into a major metro area. Apparently other states placed their land-grant universities a little further off the beaten path than Maryland did.

We do like a point PG County Councilmen Eric Olson made on our first iteration of this: virtually every other town on the chart has a second spike around the graduate student age range. College Park just can’t hold on to grad students.

A separate study using 59 towns found that 18-24 year olds averaged about 30% of the population of those towns in the year 2000. College Park was more like 50%.

>>See Our Excel Sheet: College Town Age Comparison

Visionary Metro Proposal – Seeing Purple, Silver, and Green

Rethink College Park Metro Map/Proposal

(Click Here For Full Size)

purplelineOur very own Eric Fidler has overlaid three proposed Metro lines onto the traditional WMATA metro map that we’ve all learned to know and love. The first is the Purple Line, which we’ve covered extensively in the past and which gained significant attention in the last election. We propose 3 Purple Line stops in College Park in addition to the existing Green Line stop – one integrated into the new East Campus Project, one in front of the Student Union (pictured), and a third near the Marriott at University College.

Eric also added the Silver Line – a project expected to begin construction in early 2007 that will close the 23-mile gap between Virginia’s Orange Line and Dulles Airport. This at a price tag of $4 billion. The state of Maryland and its politicians, apparently overcome by fear that Dulles will be more accessible thanCollege Park as A Metro Transit Hub BWI Airport, are seriously considering a 20-mile Metro Green Line extension to that airport from Greenbelt. Various politicians have promised preliminary studies.

The net result? College park as a major Maryland Transit Hub within a greatly expanded regional transit system. Click Here to see our proposal in detail. Feel free to pass it around.


Special Election District 3 Survey Results

Below are the responses for the three candidates for the vacant District 3 seat on the City Council that will be filled on January 16th.

Candidates:

Stephanie Stullich
cell: 301-461-5051, home: 301-864-6709
email: stullich at verizon.net

Robert Massey
“Concerns, questions, and comments are encouraged. Email me at robert_massey at verizon.net”

Jutta Hagner
Campaign website URL: www.saslce.com (available Jan. 8th)
email: cspjutta at aol.com

1. If elected, what will be your top priorities as a councilmember?

Stullich: “My top priorities would be neighborhood quality of life issues, student housing, public safety, downtown revitalization, rebuilding Route 1, and support for the Purple Line. Code enforcement is an important tool for ensuring that neighborhoods are clean and well-cared-for and provide a comfortable and attractive place for people of all ages to live in, and to ensure adequate living conditions in rental housing. Public safety has long been a focus for me, and I will continue to vigorously promote public safety by working with residents, businesses, students, the University, and the county police. We need to move forward with downtown revitalization, Route 1 improvements, and the Purple Line in order to attract businesses, residents, and visitors to strengthen our community as well as better serve those who currently live here.”

Massey: “To improve our public safety, traffic, and student housing problems; build stronger relationships with the university, county, and state; enhance educational and cultural opportunities in the community; and continue working toward the revitalization of College Park.”

Hagner: “a. To work with local residents on projects of their choice that will enhance College Park for seniors, students and families.
b. To have more visibility into Council decision making by having City Council members declare their positions on upcoming legislation in advance of votes
c. To return more of the funds collected from residents back to residents in the form of services of interest to them such noise abatment from highways; safety cameras for select parts of the city etc.
d. To create more dialog between College Park residents so that there is greater cohesion and cooperation among all residents.”

2. What does a “great college town” mean to you?

Stullich: “My undergraduate degree was at Berkeley, and my years spent in that very unique and exciting community definitely influence my thinking about what a college town could look like. Berkeley has an extremely diverse array of businesses and business districts, and a lively and interesting environment. Both students and non-students often spend their free time lingering in the various business districts and wandering between bookstores, cafes, clothing stores, specialty food stores, shops selling imported and hand-crafted items, and a wide range of restaurants from cheap ethnic eateries to the world-class Chez Panisse. A premier college town like a Berkeley, Ann Arbor, or Boston takes time to create, but I see no reason why College Park cannot make substantial progress towards that goal in the next 3-6 years (and then keep going!).”

Massey: “One that provides an exceptional quality of life to all residents in all neighborhoods.”

Hagner: “College towns are unique in that they hold the potential to be lively, vibrant communities that bring new ideas for projects from the university members . It provides the opportunity to be a model town from many different perspectives art, architecture, technology and more. A liberation of the imagination is required to bring this about. The annual awards for All American Cities go to towns that can liberate their imagination to solve problems and bring about a higher level of functioning.”

3. What would you like College Park to look like in 30 years?

Stullich: “College Park will have a vibrant downtown that provides a diverse mix of restaurants, retail, and entertainment options in a “walkable village” environment with attractive architecture, walkways, and lighting. There will also be smaller-scale business districts in Berwyn, Hollywood, and the northern section of Route 1. Integrating plazas, outdoor seating, and landscaping will make these areas gathering places and a real center of the community. Mixed-use developments that combine residential, retail, and office uses will create a vibrant “24-7” community that is alive during the weekday, evenings, and weekends and attract long-term residents, students, university faculty and staff, as well as visitors from neighboring communities and beyond.”

Massey: “A thriving community with safe and friendly residential neighborhoods, commercial areas that provide essential and desired services, set in a natural, walkable cityscape fitting of its world-class educational institution.”

Hagner: “I would like College Park to be a town of innovations. Innovations in transportation, communication, robotics, architecture, art, social issues and more. The University community can provide much of the leadership for such innovations.”

4. What do you think is the ideal mix of retail for the city? What would you do to achieve it?

Stullich: “Currently College Park is dominated by fast-food restaurants and auto-oriented business; we need to diversify! We need more restaurants that provide an enjoyable leisurely dining experience, perhaps some “white tablecloth” restaurants but also more varied ethnic and moderately-priced restaurants (e.g., Thai, Indian, bringing back the Mandalay). I think residents would like to have more locally-owned businesses that provide more interesting and unique shopping opportunities, but also including stores with a national reputation can help to anchor an expanding business district. We need to actively reach out to the kinds of businesses we want to attract, and support mixed-use developments that include residences and offices that will help to provide a “critical mass” of clientele to support the shops and restaurants.”

Massey: “I support the mix-use plan and would encourage more development that places retail on the ground level, commercial office space on the second, and residential units above that. We still lack essential services (grocery store one can walk to from downtown), not to mention highly desired ones (nice restaurants).”

Hagner: “An ever greater number of cities are moving toward self sufficiency within their own boundaries. Current retail, professional needs to be evaluated against community needs. I have previously announced my support for the mixed use construction that provides retail on the lowest levels , professional services on the next level and housing on the upper levels. Brian’s ideas for the Knox Boxes are interesting.”

5. How do you feel about high density construction (9 – 16 stories)?

Stullich: “Although I see the value in some high-rise structures, particularly to accommodate the need for additional student housing, I am concerned about too much high density exacerbating the traffic problems we have on Route 1. I’d like to see most new development along Route 1 be consistent with the height limits in the sector plan (3-5 stories), but would be open to a limited number of higher density projects, particularly near the University View where we already have some high-rise taking place, and perhaps in the Knox Boxes area. I would like to see community involvement and input on this issue.”

Massey: “With the student housing shortage we have, high density buildings would serve an important need, as long as construction was done with the surrounding environment in mind. In addition to blending with the physical cityscape, they need to be safe for both occupants and neighbors, and not have a negative impact on traffic (which can be done by moving building entrances off Route 1 to side-streets).”

Hagner: “A limited amount of high density construction is needed given the size of the student body. However, this needs to be one of many choices not the only choice for affordable student housing.”

6. What is your position on the Connector Road and why?

Stullich: “The Connector Road concept at first glance seemed appealing to me – after all, who doesn’t want to reduce traffic on Route 1 – but after learning more about the issue, I have concluded that it would do more harm than good. First, the road would not really have that much impact on reducing traffic, since studies have found that only a small fraction of Route 1 traffic is university-related. Second, it would cut through the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, harm the research being conducted at this premier institution, and open the door to further development of this important site. Perhaps most importantly, the Connector Road would divert scarce state transportation funds away from improving the safety and appearance of Route 1, which should be our first priority.”

Massey: “I am open to all discussion oriented at easing the community’s traffic problems. It shouldn’t take forty-five minutes to travel two miles down Route 1 on weekends. While I don’t oppose the concept of the Connector Road, I am concerned about its expense and impact on neighborhoods and the environment. There is still a lot of work to do and I think the community is better served by having the city and the university work together on this.”

Hagner: “The connector road is fraught with limitations. It is unlikely to get funded. It will present difficulties for residents of the affected District and it is not clear that it will yield the expected improvements in traffic congestion. More options need to be studied.”

7. Do you support the Purple Line?

Stullich: “I strongly support the Purple Line and look forward to working with the community to make it a reality. Increasing public transportation options is important for increasing access to our city and university while also reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. The current metro structure is focused on commuters to D.C. and does not meet the needs of people traveling to the east and west; the Purple Line will fill this important gap, and will also help revitalize College Park’s downtown. I believe the Purple Line should be developed as light rail.”

Massey: “Absolutely, it would be great to have an easy connection to our sister cities of Silver Spring and Bethesda. It would take a lot of traffic off Route 1, 410, and the Beltway, and bring much needed support to the city’s revitalization efforts.”

Hagner: “Yes”

8. How do you think the city council can work to alleviate the student housing crunch?

Stullich: “Insufficient and inadequate housing for students is a long-standing problem in College Park, and it would be one of my top priorities to seek ways to increase the supply of student housing. I would encourage the university to build more on-campus housing and also encourage developers to build more student housing along Route 1 and adjacent to the campus. We also need to address living conditions in student housing: too many students live in substandard housing conditions, yet often are afraid to complain for fear of retaliation. Code enforcement can help, and we need to crack down on unscrupulous landlords, as well as reach out to students to find out where problems exist and work together to address them.”

Massey: “Encourage the development of multi-unit residential units by letting the market work for us, rather than against. Adding ineffective and overburdening stipulations to building contracts drives developers away, leaving the problem to escalate.”

Hagner: “As you very excellent blog points out there are a number of construction projects planned for the greater College Park area. There is townhome construction underway in nearby Hyattsville.”

9. Do you support owner occupancy requirements for new residential developments? Where would you like to see students living in the city?

Stullich: “To create the vibrant college town that I believe we all want to see College Park become, I believe we need to support new residential developments for both students and non-students. Building housing for additional long-term residents in College Park will help to provide a more stable customer base including during the summer and winter breaks, which is needed to attract a more diverse mix of retail and restaurants. Owner occupancy requirements can help to make some developments attractive for non-student residents, but these developments need to be part of a comprehensive effort that also includes substantial new student housing, which should be located on or adjacent to the campus.”

Massey: “As mentioned above, no. With the housing situation we have, I see a scenario where parents of university students buy these condos for their children to live in while at school, and selling to the parents of incoming students upon graduation. It would end up being student housing, but housing for only the affluent. I would much rather see the city ease restrictions and encourage multi-unit residential development for student housing.”

Hagner: ” I don’t see how that can be enforced.
Where would you like to see students living in the city? One of the realities of living in a multi age community is that there is a different clock for each segment of the community.

Students often study late into the night and continue to be active until midnight as well as rise later in the morning. Working families rise early to go to work and bring children to school. Seniors often shut lights off early and expect to get a full nights sleep.

Much of the discord that arises in local housing situations arises from these different schedules and the noise associated with them. This is the essential issue that needs to be resolved . It can be done in many different ways. How we live where we live is more important than where we live.”

10. If elected, how will you engage the city and campus communities?

Stullich: “I plan to encourage both students and long-term residents to become more involved in the community though city boards and committees, civic associations, neighborhood watch, and other organizations. I also will encourage people to share their views about important issues facing the city council; elected officials don’t have all the answers, and community involvement is key to making the right decisions. I have strong relationships with many civic association leaders and have been reaching out to student leaders (such as in the SGA and GSG), and I will also reach out to university officials to seek ways to build a more positive and productive relationship between the city and university. I believe that we as a community will be much more effective in achieving our common goals if we work together and communicate often.”

Massey: “With such a long-serving city government, it’s natural that some relationships have become strained as individuals move away from dialogue and focus more on digging in their heels. Voters have an incredible opportunity in this special election to add a fresh perspective on the council, and I look forward to working with the undergraduate and graduate student body; faculty, staff, and administration; and board of regents as we renew a working dialogue between the university and the city.”

Hagner: “There is currently a representative from the university to the College Park Council. This is good but not enough. A student selected board of representatives who can meet regularly with the City Council is the key. I will work to create such a forum.”

11. What special ideas or plans would you like our readers to know about? (optional)

Stullich: “I pledge to be responsive to citizen concerns and needs and will continue Eric Olson’s record of strong constituent service. Please contact me with any questions or concerns – 301-461-5051 or stullich@verizon.net.”

Massey: “As councilmember, I will invite all residents to attend a monthly brunch (day and location to alternate) to discuss issues, raise concerns, and ask questions in an informal setting.”

Special Election District 4 Survey Results

Below are the responses of the candidates for the City Council’s District 4 seat to be filled on January 16th.

Candidates:

Mary Cook
email: district4vision at yahoo.com
tel: 202-213-5579

Nicolas “Nick” Aragon
3712 Marlbrough Way, College Park, MD 20740
email: aragon.nicolas at gmail.com
cell: 301.580.3947
http://www.VoteAragon.com/

Linda Lynch
tel: 301-935-5224

Rosario (Russell) Scarato
email: rscarato at comcast.net
http://scarato2007.blogspot.com/

1. If elected, what will be your top priorities as a councilmember?

Cook: “My preferences will be development, safety and transportation.”

Aragon: “In no particular order, my top priorities will include increasing affordable-quality housing for students and residents; improving College Park retail; preserving College Park’s neighborhoods; reducing traffic; and improving safety by utilizing technology and promoting creative low-cost initiatives. Many of these initiatives will need to be pursued over the long term, but I feel in order to make College Park the place we all envision, we need to develop long-term strategies. As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so we shouldn’t expect College Park to be.”

Lynch:“- Route 1 traffic and the impact on surrounding neighborhoods
– Positive mixed use development
– Neighborhood security and the potential of a College Park Police Department”

Scarato: “Organize communities around transportation, safety and recreation”

2. What does a “great college town” mean to you?

Cook: “Having gone to Georgetown University, my undergrad years were not spent in ” a great college town.” I had all of Washington, DC to explore and enjoy. If we are thinking to turn College Park into a “great college town”, I would hope that more “funky” shops and privately-owned restaurants could be attracted to the town to give it a more distinctive character.”

Aragon: “When you start planning your next trip before you’ve ended the one you’re on, you know you’ve been to a “great college town.” It is vibrant, entertaining, and the atmosphere is contagious. In my mind a great college town starts with an engaged institution and a strong community and includes the mixture of activities, retail, housing and scenery you would expect to support both residents and campus. It should be walkable, environmentally conscious, and architecturally pleasing. In the urban environment around College Park, I believe we can attain a “great college town” by promoting dense development close to the university by using smart growth principles: adequate public transportation, first floor retail, and residential/office components above the first floor.”

Lynch: “In my opinion, to be a great college town, or any great town or city, is one where an interactive and collaborative relationship exists between affected groups. Ancillary activities that make any city a great place to live include adequate housing, parks and recreation, green space, theater and dining.”

Scarato: “Intellectual and dynamic community”

3. What would you like College Park to look like in 30 years?

Cook: “I would like the town to have a more cohesive look in whichever style the residents deem most suitable. It would consist of services and amenities needed and wanted by the residents and students, such as bookstores, clothing shops, doctors offices, etc.”

Aragon: “I would like to see College Park become the most desirable place to live, go to school, and spend your time. I see pleasant green-spaces surrounded by long strips of retail with residential and office space above the first floor. I envision brick sidewalks bordered by very classy street lights and trees, bright and colorful business fronts, reflecting glass on brick buildings, and lines of people waiting to get into a movie or upscale restaurant. I see people laughing and talking everywhere as they window shop College Park’s finest retailers.”

Lynch: “30 years is quite a view into the future, however, I would envision College Park to be the picture of prosperity, with mixed use commerce, shopping and restaurants, theater and housing for its residents with a method of mass transit that affords the opportunity for travel that is efficient and environmentally friendly.”

Scarato: “City with a centeral plaza and multiple community events for both families and students”

4. What do you think is the ideal mix of retail for the city? What would you do to achieve it?

Cook: “Retail is only one component the city is composed of. If I had to say, chain restaurants would make up only 40% of the mix, hotels/motels 30% and clothing/food/misc. 30%. I would actively work with the CP Planning Department to attract new businesses although I know that the individuals working in that department have worked hard to do so already.”

Aragon: “An ideal College Park retail mix is one that achieves one very important goal: it makes it desirable and possible for College Park residents and students to stay in College Park. This means increasing the number of upscale food and beverage establishments, attracting a variety of additional retailers, fostering unique local businesses, and securing space for quality entertainment venues (like a cinema or performance venue). To achieve this, I would support giving the City zoning authority, streamlining the approval process for upscale retailers and developers, increasing owner-occupied housing to stabilize the market, lobby the county to change the Route One sector plan to better fit our needs, and provide better incentives to businesses that fit our ideals for a diverse and flourishing market.”

Lynch: “I don’t think there is an IDEAL mix of retail for this city. I think it requires a balancing act to make sure the city maintains its character AND continues growing.”

Scarato: “collee shops/resturants/food stores/clothing and hi tec shops … Assist community organizations to create a power base to to support issue resolution”

5. How do you feel about high density construction (9 – 16 stories)?

Cook: “High density construction is not what most residents in the city would like to see and is not part of the city’s Sector Plan. It is logical, however, to house students and residents in high density condo or apartment buildings near the university which use less green space. If such construction was undertaken with Smart Growth and Green Building principles in mind, it might be feasible.”

Aragon: “High-density construction is not inherently bad, but if it is not planned properly, it can disrupt the practical and aesthetic qualities we should be looking for in good development. Furthermore, when governments and developers do not adequately plan for the resources needed to support higher density projects, they can substantially change the lifestyle of the existing community (sewer and water usage; traffic and parking; police and first-responder ratios; education systems, etc.). As development in College Park continues, we must expand the City’s infrastructure to minimize our growing pains, and advocate development that creates an attractive – and unified – look in our City.”

Lynch: “I think some high density housing is a necessary component and could be palatable; however the College Park I envision would be one that limits it because an overabundance would diminish the College Park city flavor.”

Scarato: “Not Good! Unless there is the necessary infrastructure concurrently developed including water, sewerage, parking, traffic, open space, walking a biking lanes, lighting, pleducation, etc. with out these supporting facilities”

6. What is your position on the Connector Road and why?

Cook: “Let me expand on your original question. Any type of road which impinges on the existing neighborhoods should only be considered in the rarest of circumstances. As for the Connector Road, it will damage BARC, remove only 10% of the traffic from Route 1, divert dollars which can be used to improving Rt. 1, and impinge on College Park Woods.”

Aragon: “I do not support the Connector Road and I think it would be harmful to College Park. To make College Park the “great college town” and vibrant community we all desire, we need to devote our attention and resources to Route One redevelopment. The Connector Road will divert tens of millions of dollars away from that redevelopment and local businesses, as well as infringing on the quality of life in our residential communities. To reduce traffic we have to promote strategies that take cars off of the road, not displace them to other parts of the City. I have signed the West College Park Civic Association’s petition in opposition to the Connector Road, and encourage others to do the same.”

Lynch: “As proposed I have very strong reservations about the impact on the abutted neighborhoods and the damage it will do to the green space in and around the city.”

Scarato: “The CR will not resolve the traffic problem in the City.”

7. Do you support the Purple Line?

Cook: “As an ardent advocate of transit alternatives, I definitely support the Purple Line. I am all for any type of transportation that results in less traffic and pollution.”

Aragon: “Absolutely! Traffic is one of the most pressing issues facing our City, and it must be addressed by providing convenient, prompt, and reliable public transportation – bus and Metro. The Purple Line needs to be both on and off campus to maximize its convenience, accessibility, and usage. The Purple line will take hundreds of cars off of our City’s streets thereby truly reducing traffic, not displacing it as the Connector Road would do.”

Lynch: “I think mass transit is a necessary piece of the infrastructure that needs to be developed to support the growth of the city. Mass transit also has the added bonus of relieving some of the surrounding traffic.”

Scarato: “Yes”


8. How do you think the city council can work to alleviate the student housing crunch?

Cook: “My question to is: Is that really the city council’s responsibility? The university is a state institution which still has land on which it can build, so perhaps the city council can promote that space be used for affordable housing rather than constructing another hotel and more restaurants..”

Aragon: “To alleviate the student-housing crunch, we must improve the cooperation and coordination between four groups: the City Council, University, County, and developers. If these groups work together instead of against one another, we could build attractive, affordable, and accessible student housing close to campus. However, each group acts separately from the others, which makes the process of bringing student housing to College Park extremely difficult. The City and University must improve their relationship so that we are not sending mixed messages to the County and developers on how we address the student-housing crunch.”

Lynch: “By consulting with the university to gather information on housing needs and being supportive with the things the city can do.”

Scarato: “support funds for new dorms VS new event facilities”

9. Do you support owner occupancy requirements for new residential developments? Where would you like to see students living in the city?

Cook: “Certainly, owner occupancy requirements must be in place and enforced. These are in place for the safety of the students and their neighbors. Preferably, the students should be situated in housing on or near the campus which would allow them to walk to their classes.”

Aragon: “I cautiously support owner occupancy requirements, if they are limited to certain areas of the City. The closer you get to the University, the less credible I find these requirements because I feel new student housing is more effective when students are within walking distance of campus. By increasing the number of students walking to campus we reduce the amount of cars on Route One thereby improving traffic. As developments get closer to the Metro and generally father away from the University, I am more supportive of these requirements because it is very desirable for working people to have greater access to the Beltway and public transportation. Again, by putting working people closer to where they need to go to get to work, we help alleviate our traffic situation.”

Lynch: “Not really, I believe the city would be making a serious mistake by interfering in who home owners allow to live in their property. It should not matter where students live in the city. Homeowners should not be aware, unless they ask, if students are living next door or across the street. Campus life is different than living in a city community, hence; students living off campus must adopt the community’s posture.”

Scarato: “in dorms”

10. If elected, how will you engage the city and campus communities?

Cook: “I would encourage the students to get involved on city committees and neighborhood civic associations. As in the past, we will continue to invite the participation of the university’s administration on particular issues as well, as we did with the Committee for Transit Alternatives.”

Aragon: “A big part of my campaign is about bridging the gap between the City and University; between students and residents; and between long-term residents and the many new members of our communities. Having been heavily involved as a student leader at the University, I feel my connections and experience with the administration and student leadership community put me in the best position to engage the campus community. I have been engaging the city community throughout my campaign by reaching out to District Four community leaders, in addition to getting all of my candidacy petition signatures from people in the community. While in Student Government, I supported opening Shuttle-UM to city residents, funding for the City’s fall festival, and funding for Taste of College Park – all initiates aimed at bridging the gap between these communities.”

Lynch: “I would attempt consistent and on going dialogue between campus communities and the city. I think there should be a standing committee comprised of campus community members and city members whose primary function is to brings issues from both camps to the council.”

Scarato: “Expand the polictical power base at the State level to support University development with the necessary concurrent infrastructure without placing undue burdens on the surrounding community”

11. What special ideas or plans would you like our readers to know about? (optional)

Cook: “It is very important to realize that the students have a very different perspective of College Park than the residents, some of whom have lived here for 45 years or more. The issues which the residents believe to be important are not necessarily the ones brought up in this survey. They are concerned with traffic and safety, but also with noise and parking, trash pick-up and code enforcement, among others.”

Scarato: “I have over 40 years experience as an engineer and economist in planning and building community facilities with the necessary constituent support.”