TOD Plans for College Park, M Square Purple Line stations

Back on April 4th the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission presented the results of their Purple Line community workshop at a public meeting. I attended, and while M-NCPPC’s delay in posting material has delayed this writeup, there’s still quite a bit to talk about. The Prince George’s County Planning Department within M-NCPCC established five Station Planning Areas to address stations areas not covered by another plan of some form.

M Square and College Park station areas, looking West.

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College Park Community Foundation Seeking Members

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Over the past year, a group of College Park residents from around the City have been meeting with the goal of establishing a College Park Community Foundation.  A community foundation is a non-profit organization that raises funds and then distributes them as grants for projects and other non-profit organizations that benefit the community.  It can support projects ranging from food kitchens to arts organizations, funds to revitalize blighted commercial areas to community events.
There are a number of examples of similar projects in the area.  Greenbelt’s Community Foundation was started just a few years ago and has funded or helped fund a food bank, various youth projects, and a museum celebrating the heritage of Greenbelt (see greenbeltfoundation.net).  The Columbia Foundation in Howard County is bigger and has funded hospice programs and supports, services and volunteer programs for people with disabilities, children’s choirs, arts festivals, and scholarships (www.columbiafoundation.org).  Community Foundations can give grants to organizations for their own projects or seek out organizations that are interested in pursuing the goals established by the Foundation itself.
The possibilities for College Park are virtually endless.  A Community Foundation could be used to support public art projects in commercial areas around the City.  It could be used to establish partnerships in adult education with the University, have community clean-ups, work with City kids on public art projects, help underserved populations, or show movies at local parks.  The only limit is the imagination and goals of the people running it.
We invite you to become part of the Steering Committee for the Foundation and help us make this vision a reality.  The Steering Committee will create a plan for the organization, allocate the funds, and ultimately be in charge of raising the funds necessary to support community projects.  Although some people don’t like fundraising, we want to make it easy – we’re looking for people who are willing to do things like help organize chili dinners and other events to raise funds, as well as make commitments to help out the Foundation personally.
The Steering Committee will be having a kick-off on Thursday, May 17, at 6:30 pm at the IHOP on Route 1, at 9680 Baltimore Avenue.  If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Wojahn at 240-988-7763.

A New Era for Biking in College Park

bikeshareIf you happen to be a College Park resident and a fan of biking, then the developments in the past few weeks have been cause for celebration.  First, we had the announcement from Prince George’s county about their ground breaking legislation for improved pedestrian and cyclist connections in new developments.  Then, to kick off Bike Month on May 1st, Governor O’Malley announced that College Park and the University of Maryland were awarded a state grant to establish a bike sharing program.

Efforts to bring bike sharing to College Park have long been in the works, and there have already been several failed attempts in the past few years, including a few associated with the federal stimulus (TIGER & TIGER II), and another one with the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant program.  So this victory has been hard fought and now that the state grant has been won, the city can move on and focus its efforts on designing and building a bike share program.

Important details about the proposed bike share program can be found in this Patch article.  The proposed College Park/UMD bike sharing program will be part of the Capital Bikeshare network.  Originally started in DC & Arlington less than two years ago (Sept. 2010), Capital Bikeshare has experienced explosive growth , with over 18,000 members and one million rides in its first year of operation. Later this year, Capital Bikeshare will expand into Alexandria and Rockville.  The city of Arlington has put together a fascinating report about its program, showing that 55% of CaBi trips would have been replaced by non-active transportation modes without bike sharing.

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Greenbelt Sector Plan: Preferred Alternatives

On April 19, the last public outreach meeting was held for the Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan, which laid out a more detailed vision for the plan area. What follows are some of the highlights of this vision. A draft of the sector plan is expected to be released in July, and a joint public hearing will occur in September (tentatively set for September 18, 2012).

Land Use
Greenbelt Sector Plan Zones
Land use is to be organized in part by dividing the plan area into two zones: Greenbelt Metropolitan Center (which includes Capital Office Park, Franklin Park, and Greenbelt Station’s north core) and MD 193 Corridor (which includes Greenway Center, Belle Point and University Square, Beltway Plaza, and Greenbelt Station’s south core). The goal is to enhance connectivity within each zone and promote development that complements the other areas of the zone.

Two different land use approaches for Greenbelt Station’s north core will be proposed. It would call for either a comprehensive, transit-oriented mixed use community or a major employer (such as a GSA tenant like the FBI) with some potential for associated mixed-use development. For a more detailed description of each scenario, see our post on the North Core Concepts and Design meeting.

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