Rethink College Park will be officially presented with the 2011 Florence Beck Kurdle Award for Community Activism and Achievement by Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard E. Hall this morning. The honor, part of Maryland’s Smart, Green, and Growing Awards Program, is presented annually to a group who demonstrates professional commitment to making Smart Growth a reality in the state. Secretary Hall will make the presentation before a regular meeting of the Region Forward Coalition at College Park City Hall at 10:30 a.m. Clay Gump, a longtime member of the Rethink College Park, will be on hand to receive the award on behalf of the group’s contributors and founders.
What is Rethink College Park?
Rethink College Park (RTCP) was launched in July 2006 as a user-friendly website dedicated to creating a focused and sustained conversation about the future of College Park. Its mission is to “help transform College Park into a great college town…. [through] full access to information, public dialogue, and the power of creative ideas.” Thousands now visit the site each week: reviewing maps, renderings and site plans; posting comments and contributing stories and tips.
RTCP’s simple structure, straightforward style and engaging content have garnered the project nearly universal praise in the community. Part journalism and part smart growth advocacy community group, the project’s impact spans far beyond the Internet. The group is the preeminent area advocate for redevelopment of the Route 1 Corridor in College Park; helping local citizens, politicians and university officials understand current events that affect their mutual interests. Its reporting helps further the goal of a pedestrian-friendly, transit-ready, mixed-use district for the state’s flagship university. The website has dramatically changed the way local citizens and the region view College Park’s smart growth potential.
Rethink College Park sets the debate in local traditional news outlets: helping initiate countless stories in the Washington Post, The Gazette, and the Diamondback (UMD student newspaper). It educates journalists and “breaks” dozens of smart growth-related stories each year. More importantly, the project has succeeded in instigating substantive policy change. The group’s members use the site as a sounding board to communicate smart growth concepts to the public and shape specific projects such as the University of Maryland’s East Campus Redevelopment Initiative (a major mixed-use redevelopment) and the routing of the Purple Line through College Park.
Perhaps best known for its advocacy of student housing construction for University of Maryland students, Rethink College Park has played a significant role in alerting local elected officials to the desperate need for student housing and bringing student leaders to the table to push projects to completion. The group also helped preserve and expand an important impact fee waiver incentive that encourages private student housing projects near the University of Maryland campus. Almost 4,000 beds of student housing, mostly in private, mixed-use projects have been completed since the group’s founding in 2006.
In 2008, the urban planning portal Planetizen named Rethink College Park one of the web’s top 10 planning websites.
Learn more HERE.