There is a question mark at the end of the title for good reason. After 2 years, 347 posts, 1,666 comments, 646 photos, countless emails, phone calls, public meetings, private conversations, and newspaper articles, Rethink College Park finds itself at serious risk of needing to shutter its doors. Financially, the website is sound and can go on indefinitely. Yet we continue to be plagued by an inability to recruit and retain additional staff. Aside from our reliance on an extensive network of people for information, this site has basically been kept afloat by 3 contributors: co-editor Rob Goodspeed, technology guru and writer Eric Fidler, and myself. Now that all three of us find ourselves living outside of College Park and removed from the day-to-day interactions that kept the blog posts flowing, we’re finding it extremely difficult to post the quantity and quality of information that the community has come to expect of us.
We founded this site on a basic premise that the community has a right to have full and true access to development information. Journalists in traditional local media outlets are ill-prepared and ill-suited to follow contentious, nuanced, and often multi-year land-use disputes. Government provides development documents, consistent with government in sunshine laws, but does little to present the information in an easily digestible form. Planning and zoning issues dominate local politics, especially in College Park. Yet what you often find in local politics is an incredibly low level of public participation, which makes it susceptible to the outspoken and overzealous rather than the reasoned and even-handed. The void of reliable and easily accessible public information only exacerbates the situation…. leaving the general public zoned out rather than informed and engaged.
We believe there is a consensus in College Park about the need for a more dense, walkable, livable, and transit-friendly built environment. It’s a consensus that has been building for well over a decade and it is reaffirmed each time someone drives down Route 1 and marvels at the fundamental incompatibility of our buildings and infrastructure to the basic needs of local students and residents. What was once a rural arterial highway has evolved into a congested and blighted thoroughfare engulfed in a sea of sprawl. The community has already envisioned Route 1 as a pedestrian-friendly urban boulevard and our goal has always been to help it realize that vision through greater access to information. With East Campus and several large developments making there way through the pipeline as we speak and a reopening of the Route 1 Sector Plan this fall, there has been no more critical time for Rethink College Park than now.
After some internal discussions, we’ve decided to call an open meeting in which we’ll welcome anyone to come an join to discuss the future of this project. We won’t consider attendance at this meeting as a signal of your willingness to play an active role in the future of the site, but your participation will be extremely useful in helping us chart a course for the future.
Please join us at 7:30 PM in College Park City Hall this Wednesday, August 27th in the Lower Level Conference Room.