What’s New in CP

As many are well aware, RTCP is in semi-hibernation mode at the moment. We’re planning on a kickoff meeting to discuss the future of the site sometime in May. Until then there are a couple tid-bits to report despite the dampened state of the real estate market. Thanks to everyone who continues to email and post comments about all the great changes coming to the city….

-> Starview Plaza – The Diamondback reports that Starview Plaza is progressing through the early stages of the approval process. The project, which sits just north of College Park Carwash, has languished for years (at least 5?) and the underlying land is owned jointly by the City and University. Originally planned as a hotel, the developer now plans a 500-Beleagured Starview Projectbed mixed use student housing project with an impressive LEED Silver rating. As the Diamondback reports, there has been much debate over exactly what materials should be used on the facade. The Sector Plan requires 75% brick and as the Mazza Grandmarc debate showed us, the city and the county in particular hold tightly to that standard regardless of how visible certain parts of the building are. The choice is between hardyplank – a composite of recycled materials which helps a buildings LEED rating – and brick (an energy-intensive material) on the least visible parts of the building. Let’s hope the county council departs from its absolutist ways by avoiding unneccessary delays…

southwest district phasing-> Campus Construction – The University has released an updated campus construction map, which shows progress on several different projects we’ve blogged about over time. The new journalism building is progressing, the Tyser Tower expansion at Byrd Stadium is underway, and improvements to the Southwest quad and in front of the business school are coming to a close. Also, North Gate Park, a project mired in bureaucracy, funding constraints, and development SNAFUS for the better part of four years is scheduled to start construction this summer. North Gate Park is a joint venture between the city and university and was designed by undergraduate students. 

-> Parking – Recognizing the serious burden that parking requirement place on private developers of student housing, UMD-DOTS via the university’s strategic plan has agreed that students at select off-campus housing complexes can park on-campus. This is a smart move that we think could pay serious dividends by encouraging more student housing. Building lots on Route 1 are small and shallow, thus making the provision of suburban-style parking ratios extremely difficult for dense mixed-use projects. Hopefully the city/county can capitalize on this new policy to implement their Transportation Demand Management plans.

-> Purple Line – There are signs that Campus Drive advocates are making serious inroads. More to come shortly.

Commute Green on Earth Day and Everyday

Did you know you can purchase a bundle of one-day parking permits to park on campus, get discounted Metro cards, or even rent a Zipcar on campus?

Many of our readers commute to the UMD campus, and others are effected by the choices made by those who work or study here. To the end of encouraging transit and minimizing the number of cars on campus, the Department of Transportation Services has circulated a list of programs and services that encourage “green” commutes.

Continue reading Commute Green on Earth Day and Everyday

Latest Purple Line Videos, Presentation

Last week the Maryland Transit Administration held the latest information session about the Purple Line, revealing updated results of their work estimating the cost and proposed alignments through campus. We did not attend, but have obtained a copy of the presentation (PDF) and videos presented MTA consultants at the meeting. The Diamondback covered the event and even ran an interview with Joel Oppenheimer, the man who has become the public face of the engineering team at these meetings.

The videos show light rail vehicles in the context of campus along the proposed Campus Drive alignment.

Stamp Student Union

Hornbake Plaza

> See the MTA April 9 Presentation

Thanks to Laura Moore for sharing these materials

“Grasping at straws”

Or so Graduate Student Government president Laura Moore characterizes (in today’s gazette) the university’s continued opposition to the proposed light rail line on Campus Drive. Administrators continue to claim that vibrations and electromagnetic waves from the transitway will interrupt sensitive research on campus, yet continue to provide no evidence to support their claims. They continue to ignore that the MTA will avoid and mitigate these impacts just as other transit agencies have done the world over in these instances.

Meanwhile, commentor Joe Dexter points out that  the MTA will be returning to the City of College Park with a focus group scheduled for April 9th at 7-9 pm in CP City Hall (4500 Knox Rd).

Lastly, can anyone interpret this quote from UMD VP Doug Duncan in the article?

‘‘People look at it and say, ‘Well, this is where the traffic is today and therefore we have to have the station there,’ instead of saying, ‘Where do we want the traffic to be?’”

Does Duncan still think he is a transportation planner? I thought we dissavowed him of that.

Diamondback: Campus Drive is Best for Purple Line

Purple Line 5

In a long-planned editorial today, the Diamondback declared the “debate should be over” when it comes to the Purple Line location on campus. In their view, the “people have spoken” in support of the Campus Drive alignment, which “would be the most accessible for commuters, least disruptive for students in dorms and most easily incorporated into the overall layout of the campus.” They argue the Campus Drive alignment would reduce the University’s “heavy reliance” on private automobiles and advance the institution’s stated environmental goals. The editorial critiques the administration’s handling of the debate and has kind things to say about this website.

The editorial also points out University leaders and community members have a stake in the next transportation funding bill Congress will take up later in this congressional session. The re-authorization of the old bill (called “SAFETEA-LU”) will set funding levels and policies for much-needed transit projects like the Purple Line across the nation. While state planners have said they’ll apply for funding before this new law takes effect, it is certainly possible additional delays mean the project would be considered under new rules.

> Diamondback Staff Editorial: “The People’s Line