On Greenbelt Sector Plan, Krouse Asks Residents to Get Involved

Observing the Balloons
John Krouse at the 2007 Greenbelt development balloon demonstration (RethinkCollegePark)

Former city councilmember John Krouse recently gave us an interview on why he is so troubled by the proposed Greenbelt development and why he thinks north College Park residents should get more involved in the process.

Along with other City officials, he is organizing a town hall meeting this Thursday (7 pm, March 31, 2011) at Davis Hall. Please spread tthe word and try to attend.

In terms of proposed Greenbelt development, there seems to be a lot of ambiguity. Can you please elaborate this?

The process of discussion and planning really only ends when something is built (and even then, it’s never really ‘over’).   So far, nothing has been built.

Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights and College Park (including NCPCA) all supported the 2001 Sector Plan.  Since that time, the County supported a different ‘vision’ for the area near the station that did not conform with the Sector Plan that we all worked on, and agreed with.

The approved conceptual site plan of the Developer allowed much taller buildings than the Sector Plan, and did not conform to the step-back in building heights required by the Sector Plan.  Thus, the conceptual plan allowed much greater sight impacts and reflected noise impacts on the community.  It also proposed greater density, and had greater traffic impacts.

The issue of the enormous parking garage at the end of Lackawanna Street was another major problem.  Metro insisted upon construction of it’s own garage, just south of the station, which ended up as a proposed building about the size of the Washington Post Plant (!)

Is that the kind of building that we all want to see at the end of Lackawanna Street Street… and all the way down to Iroquios Street and beyond?

If not, then we might have to be involved in a process to ‘encourage’ the construction of smaller garages on the property, and less enormous buildings right next to our homes.

And there were other problems, too.  It’s a long list, really.

Continue reading On Greenbelt Sector Plan, Krouse Asks Residents to Get Involved

The University of Maryland at I-95

Image via Flickr user eddie.welker

The same university that worried about how a light rail line could endanger its students as they walk between classes is now looking to turn I-95 into a primary campus thoroughfare.

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller wants to merge the University of Maryland’s flagship campus in College Park with the professional schools at the University of Maryland Baltimore. It is not clear where this idea came from, but in a message to the UMCP community,  President Wallace Loh appeared to be dutifully following Miller’s request to make it so. Members of the university senate, which plays an important role in campus governance, reported that this proposal came out of the blue. Reporting by the Gazette and others indicates that the proposal has the support of Governor O’Malley, and describes some of the rationale for the proposal.

The motivations quoted so far by the media are not very compelling. One oft-cited fact is that the combined universities would have research expenditures of around $1 billion per year, and would rank as high as 10th in the nation. Both universities have a good number of strong programs. The implication is that this will lead to yet more research dollars—hence, jobs—and also more prestige for the university. This is not very persuasive. Is there any evidence that individual research grant proposals from College Park will be more favorably reviewed because of the merger. Not very likely. Continue reading The University of Maryland at I-95