Our mission is to help transform College Park into a great college town. We believe in full access to information, public dialogue, and the power of creative ideas.
Rethink College Park is edited by David Daddio (dwdaddio @gmail.com)
The City of College Park is at a crossroads. With the growing size and prominence of the University of Maryland and burgeoned by an ongoing regional real estate boom, the area is primed for several major redevelopment projects. Meanwhile, the city faces unprecedented traffic and continuing pressures to compromise its planning goals.
We believe a consensus is emerging about how College Park should develop: a walkable, inclusive, and dynamic city. Despite this shared vision, the stakeholders remain isolated. University students bring energy and ideas but are often ill-informed about ongoing debates. University experts’ vision and expertise are not connected to the work of municipal leaders. All too often developers only hear feedback in the form of criticism. Both politics and zoning in College Park, like in many other college towns, are fragmented. The university as a tax-exempt, politically autonomous institution often pursues goals contrary to the wishes of its neighbor and vice versa.
The challenges of more people living and working in College Park are significant. The university already draws nearly 50,000 people a day during the regular school year, making it the single most traveled to destination in the state. Of the 35,000 students, 14,000 live in on-campus housing and many more live immediately off campus and contribute to College Park’s 25,000 residents. For many years students have expressed dissatisfaction with College Park’s lack of student amenities, poor sense of place, and substandard housing. City residents, like non-students in college towns the country over, take issue with raucous parties, traffic, the poor appearance of rental units and prefer to be more like the average American community.
We hope this website– Rethink College Park— will begin to bridge these divides and foster a focused and sustained open conversation about the future of the city and facilitate a unique and ongoing visioning process. We hope you join the discussion.
This website first got going after David Daddio wrote an op-ed for the University of Maryland Diamondback titled “Rethinking College Park.” After attending a student design charrette organized by student leaders and the School of Architecture, David proposed a user-friendly website about College Park development issues where “students and city residents can be educated, debate the merits of projects and voice opinions.” Rob Goodspeed noticed the article and had some thoughts about how to make the idea a reality. The two began planning and reaching out to community leaders shortly afterwards. If you would like to contribute to the project or offer any feedback whatsoever, we would love to hear from you.
Since our launch in July 2006 we have published over 200 articles and received over 700 community comments.
Rethink College Park has been mentioned in the College Park Gazette (#1, #2, and #3), the Washington Post (#1, #2, and #3) and dozens of times in the Diamondback. The Diamondback described our efforts in January 2007 and Maryland Newsline published a profile of the website’s editors in December 2007. The project was also profiled in the Terp Alumni magazine in the Spring of 2007. An article about the site titled “From Parking Lot to College Town,” written by Rob Goodspeed and David Daddio, was featured on the national website CampusProgress.org. David Daddio also appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show (WAMU 88.5FM – a DC area NPR affiliate) in April 2010.
The site garners an average of 200 readers per day. Among the many issues we cover, these key areas represent where RTCP has had the most impact:
- Student Housing – successfully advocated for the construction of the Mazza Grandmarc Student Housing project and an amendment to a state Impact Fee Waiver law that gives incentives for private student housing projects. This tireless advocacy from 2007 on set the local attention and debate to the issue of the serious lack of student housing in College Park and paved the way for the construction of thousands of new student beds on and off campus. Each off campus project incorporates ground floor retail; bringing major new amenities to the community.
- Transit – successfully brought the proposed Purple Line light rail project to the forefront of public dialogue and debate in College Park; helping overcome the University’s four year opposition to an at-grade (above ground) alignment across campus.
- East Campus – successfully set the tone of the debate for the particulars of the East Camps Redevelopment project.
In November 2011, MD Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration awarded Rethink College Park the Florence Beck Kurdle Award for Community Activism and Achievement. 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.
In 2008, Rethink College Park was named one of the web’s Top 10 Planning, Design, and Development Websites by the planning portal Planetizen.
At the end of the 2006-2007 school year the Diamondback dubbed us a “winner” of the year:
David Daddio and Rob Goodspeed have become major players in waking up area officials to what the area needs by ranting and raving on local development and disaster. Their direct, prescient style has won them seats at the table in influencing local legislation and guiding local development toward a bold but insightful completion.
In an April 2008 Staff Editorial, the Diamondback highlighted our work on the Purple Line:
The primary power of any elected body on campus lies in its ability to speak for the voice of students, but the SGA and RHA have both been overshadowed on [the Purple Line] issue by Rob Goodspeed and David Daddio, the editors of Rethink College Park, who collectively have written 52 blog posts on the subject. Goodspeed and Daddio have embraced the meritocratic power of the Internet to grant a voice to individuals who are consistently prepared and diligent in promoting transparency…
The site’s editors were awarded the Graduate Student Government’s Presidential Service Award in May 2007 for their work advocating for the Mazza Grandmarc and other student housing projects.
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During the academic year, Rethink College Park holds weekly meetings. We are always open to new contributors, simply contact us to get involved.
In order to achieve our mission to cultivate constructive public dialogue, we reserve the right to remove comments that contain personal attacks, hate speech, or other content antithetical to the mission of the website.