UMD/CP Jump on the Bikesharing Bandwagon (again)

Bike Sharing Attributes

Back in June, we speculated that UMD and the City of College Park would reapply with Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER competitive grant program. Back in February, we noted that the MWCOG did not win the $10 million for bikeshare expansion that it had applied for through a federal stimulus program called TIGER. Apparently, both the university and city did jump on board for the TIGER II grant round that was due to the feds last Friday, August 20th. The new proposal requests more than $12 million to add 2,500 bikes (and 331 stations) regionwide to the nascent 1,100 bike (110 station) Capital Bikeshare program that DC and Arlington are unveiling next month. The new proposal includes a request for $306,000 for 56 bikes in College Park, 6 stations on campus, and 5 in the city including at least one at the College Park Metro (read the full proposal).

If the proposal is successful, you could start seeing implementation in College Park as early as March. Unfortunately, just like the first round of TIGER grants, the second round will be just as competitive and it’s extremely unlike any money will be awarded. No official numbers are out now that the final deadline has passed, but the July 16th pre-application brought in $26 billion worth of requests for $600 million in available funds. Still, we commend UMD and CP for joining this application and we hope they’ll continue to pursue the idea when the grant application ultimately fails.

UMD Seeks Campus Drive Closure Feedback

After a “half victory” with Campus Drive this summer, here is our chance to speak out as part of the University’s public involvement process and make it known that students, staff, faculty, and visitors do not support plans to restrict Shuttle UM and Metro Bus (and in the future, the Purple Line) access to Campus Drive.
If you were on campus at all this summer, please fill out the University’s survey http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GRN8KFN

Questions 17 and 18 are crucial.

17. If in the future Campus Drive were closed to most vehicles, and Shuttle-UM dropped off passengers on the outskirts of campus (only Campus Connectors would be permitted on Campus Drive), what do you think that would mean for the campus?
18. If in the future the Shuttle-UM bus route were to terminate at Regents Drive garage, how long would you be willing to wait for a Campus Connector to take you to the center of campus?

It’s almost as if the survey design indicates that the administration is leaning toward keeping the roadway open to buses while closing it to cars…. honestly we don’t see any reason why they couldn’t permanently implement such a scheme during the fall semester. Perhaps the “half victory” in May will ultimately lead to some sound transportation planning decisions from the UMD administration.

ANYONE who has been on campus over the past three months– students, staff, faculty, alumni, and visitors included–can fill out this survey so please circulate widely!

Board of Regents Announces the Appointment of New University of Maryland President

It’s official.  The University of Maryland, College Park, has chosen a replacement for retiring President, CD Mote.  According to a University System of Maryland press release, the Board of Regents reported today the appointment of Wallace D. Loh as President, effective November 1, 2010.

Mr. Loh, who has over 30 years of experience in higher education, is currently the Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Iowa.  He has held this position since 2008.

Although Mr. Loh was born in Shanghai, China, he grew up in Lima, Peru.   After graduating from high school in Peru, he immigrated to the U.S., where he attended Grinnell College in Iowa.  In addition to holding a PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mr. Loh holds a JD from Yale Law School.

More information can be found at the following link, http://www.usmd.edu/newsroom/news/877.

The Tour Rolls on

The Experience and Enjoy College Park Tour will be visiting N.Y. Deli in the Hollywood commercial district on Wednesday, August 25th.  The guest speaker for this event will be the new Police Chief for the University of Maryland – David Mitchell.  The Experience & Enjoy College Park Tour is designed to bring those who work, live, and play in College Park together to talk about local issues and patronize a local restaurant once a month.  Previous guest speakers have included College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows, State Senator Jim Rosapepe, and County Councilman Eric Olson.

I highly encourage anyone interested in supporting our local restaurants,  meeting with other city residents, or wanting to find out more about what is going on around College Park to attend.  These events are always fun and if you haven’t been to one yet now is as good a time as any to check one out.

Where are they now? Goodspeed and Daddio move beyond the beltway.

Some of our longtime readers may be wondering what has become of RTCP’s former editors and co-founders. Both of them have moved on to top planning programs and are cheering on College Park’s renaissance from afar.

Rob Likes librariesRob Goodspeed is entering his second year as a PhD student at the M.I.T. Department of Urban Studies and Planning and has a three-year fellowship appointment in the Urban Information Systems program group. In keeping with his work here at RTCP, Rob’s research in Cambridge focuses on how technology can improve cities by making urban planning decisions more democratic and informed. In his current research, Rob is exploring the social, political, and practical dimensions of the use of Internet tools for participation in urban planning. You can keep up with Rob on his personal blog: GoodspeedUpdate.com.

David Daddio is about to enter the Master’s program at the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill where he will focus on Land Use, Environmental Planning, and Transportation. In large part because of his work here at RTCP, David was offered a two-year fellowship appointment by the Department and will serve as a Co-Editor of the Carolina Planning Journal – the oldest student-run planning publication in the country. David looks forward to studying market-oriented approaches to growth management and land conservation that facilitate investment in existing communities and advance rational, environmentally-conscious communities.

Prince George’s County Council Election

Those who read this blog on a regular basis know that the founder of this blog (David Daddio) and District 1 County Councilman Tom Dernoga had more than their fair share of disagreements on redevelopment issues in College Park over the years.   Months ago I spoke with Tom about these disagreements, in particular over the Route One Sector Plan and he told me that the future of development on Route One north of the 193 and in the Hollywood Commercial District would probably depend as much (if not more) on who replaces him on the county council than on what actually went into the sector plan.

This isn’t to say that the sector plan and zoning issues don’t matter to the redevelopment process – they clearly do matter a great deal – but the influence that those on the County Council have over what type of development takes place in their districts cannot be understated.  After all most council members practice “district courtesy” where they assume that the local council member knows best about the needs of his or her district and will vote on a local development issue based on how the council member who represents that area votes.  The Prince George’s County Council may vote on projects but whoever gets elected to represent District One on the Prince George’s County Council for all intents and purposes will decide what development projects takes place and which ones do not, as well as which conditions potential development projects will have placed on them.

That being said Tom Dernoga is termed out and five candidates are running to replace him.   The candidates are  Valerie Cunningham, Sam Epps, Fred Smalls, Mary Lehman, and Crystal Thompson.  The two favorites in my estimation are Mary Lehman (who is being endorsed by Tom Dernoga and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk)  and Fred Smalls (who is being endorsed by Delegates Ben Barnes and Barbara Frush).   I could be wrong, but Fred is already serving on the Laurel City Council and Mary is the chief of staff for Delegate  Pena-Melnyk so both are already well known in certain communities and actually have a base of support.

Who are you supporting for County Council and who do you think will do a better job on redevelopment and revitalization issues in North College Park?  Also where do you want our next county councilperson to stand on the whole Daddio/Dernoga debate?  Should we be fast tracking any development project that meets code to promote much needed redevelopment or support a longer process that seeks the opinions of locals to try and make sure redevelopment does not unfairly hurt local neighborhoods? (There is also a race in District 3, but Eric Olson is a pretty safe bet to be re-elected and his record on promoting redevelopment within his district is pretty strong).

Mazza Grandmarc NOW OPEN

The long awaited opening of the Mazza Grandmarc took place today as the first graduate students were allowed to move in.  The primary move in date for non graduate students will be August 22nd.  I spoke with the on site manager who told me the Mazza is now around 45% full (it was under 10% full when rethink college park visited there a few months back).  A little over 60 people will be moving in today which is a around 10% of the total capacity for the apartment complex (around 630 beds).   Two aspects about the Mazza that excite me the most are that it is connected to the Paint Branch Bike Trail system which leads to the University of Maryland campus and that it has its own UMD DOTS bus route.  Hopefully students will take advantage of these ecological friendly options when deciding how to get to campus which would help minimize the traffic impact that the Mazza will create.

I won’t write too much about the Mazza Grandmarc as there is already a long history of articles on it on this site, but the Mazza property owners are still trying to buy the properties directly on Route One in front of the apartment complex so they can build decent retail establishments there.  Hopefully the opening of the Mazza today is just the start of a redevelopment process that will both beautify a section of Route One and lead to more high quality dining and shopping options in College Park.  Despite the fact that the Mazza is finally opening today this project is still a work in progress in terms of its full potential.