A New Logo and Slogan for College Park

City’s marketing plan consultant idFive came to last week’s Council work session and presented four brand concept proposals and asked which, if any, of the those the City should pursue. idFive may solicit more opinions from other focus groups in the city to make a final decision.

For the past several months, idfive asked more than a hundred people in the course of its research. It was a diverse survey outreach effort that was as varied in form as it was in the types of people who responded to them. A sampling of respondents included current city residents, residents of nearby jurisdictions, City and County Councilmembers, neighborhood association representatives, State Senators and Delegates, local educators, small business owners, commercial developers, University of Maryland (UMD) faculty and staff, and many more.

Please see below the four brand concepts idFive presented to the Council.

A smart place to live
Small City, Big possibilities
Smart, Naturally
College Park, Maryland

The City of College Park is…
























The City of College Park needs your help!  As part of a citywide marketing campaign we are looking for the most truthful, surprising, interesting, or little-known things about the City. Click the link below to participate by finishing the sentence: “The City of College Park is…” Submissions may be voted on and the results will be used to guide a marketing campaign to attract new residents and businesses to the City. Thank you in advance and have fun! http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8ZRTV2G

College Park Farmers Market – Survey

As part of the recently-formed Farmers Market Committee, the City is conducting a survey to gauge satisfaction with the current Downtown Farmers Market while garnering ideas for the Market’s future. Please take a few moments to answer the survey as the responses will enable the Committee to understand the interests of residents and develop recommendations for the future structure of the Downtown Farmers  Market.

The survey can be found here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GZBYC79.



City of College Park – 2012 Real Estate Roundtable

The city is hosting their first Real Estate Roundtable in nearly two years on Thursday, March 15, 2012 from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM at the Clarion Inn. The event provides an opportunity for local stakeholders to receive updates on major developments and to discuss future plans that will shape the city for years to come. The keynote speaker for the event is Rob Specter, the Vice President for Administrative Affairs and Chief Financial Officer at the University of Maryland. Mr. Specter was appointed to these positions in July 2011 with more than 25 years of senior leadership experience in higher education. Mr. Specter will discuss the University’s plans for the first phase of East Campus, development plans at M Square, and the ongoing faculty housing study.

Additional speakers will include the City of College Park’s Planning, Community, and Economic Development Director, Terry Schum, and Economic Development Coordinator, Michael Stiefvater. The event, which is free of charge, will begin with a breakfast buffet and time for networking.

To RSVP, please contact Michael Stiefvater at 240-487-3543 or mstiefvater@collegeparkmd.gov by March 5th.

College Park Business Beat – December

fishnet.jpgThe Business Beat is a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the City of College Park Planning, Community and Economic Development Department covering local business news including openings, closings, expansions, leases signed, and other information of interest to College Park businesses. This edition features news on Pho Thom, Fishnet, California Tortilla, and Naked Pizza. To subscribe, please feel free to contact Michael Stiefvater at (240) 487-3543 or mstiefvater@collegeparkmd.gov.

Calvert Hills Access to Cafritz

The opinions expressed in this piece represent the views of the author and not Rethink College Park or its other contributors.

In conversations about the Cafritz property, I have often wound up conversations about how the property will relate to the community around it. Two basic models can be followed – the urban street grid or the suburban pod. Street grids have a lot going for them, most notably on walkability. You can get a lot further in a one kilometer walk on a grid than in pod.

Street Grid Walkability
How far you get walking 1km in either a suburban (left) or urban (right) street layout.

Grids also have an impact on traffic. When there are only a handful of roads to travel on, a problem on any one of them creates tremendous impact. Grids create alternative routes and spread out the traffic more, relieving pressure. In short, there’s a reason humans have built cities on this pattern for millenia.

Although College Park itself, particularly Old Town and Calvert Hills, leans towards the grid, it exists amid a series of pods. Calvert Hills is itself a pod, with Riverdale Park another pod, University Park a third, Hyattsville and Berwyn and University Town Center all pods further away.

Many in the communities surrounding Cafritz have rightly pushed for both a connection southward into Riverdale Park, and a bridge Eastward across the CSX tracks. Both of these links would increase site access in general and help provide connection alternatives to Route 1 and East-West Highway. With these connections already under consideration, County planning staff have also suggested studying a connection Northward into Calvert Hills.

Area in the red box suggested for study as a combined vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle link

I live in Calvert Hills and like the idea of having a way to leave the neighborhood that does not involve Route 1. A connection between Calvert Hills and Cafritz would provide direct access South into Riverdale Park and East across the planned CSX Bridge. I do not know what all the potential impacts would be but I believe it is worth studying because more informed choices tend to be better chocies.

Sadly, others in my neighborhood disagree. Councilmember Stullich, encouraged by certain hysterical Calvert Hills residents, fired off an e-mail Saturday decrying County staff for even daring to suggest studying the matter. Posters on the local listserve conjured visions of a giant “through way[sic]” which would “destroy” Calvert Hills, slammed County staff “who do not live here” as liars, and dismissed the idea of study even while acknowledging the general principle that connectivity provides benefits. The sheer ferocity of the opinions gave me pause and I realized that I was not reading a rational discussion – it was about faith.

Planning decisions have an emotional component. We all make value judgments that are not strictly rational. I dislike brutalist architecture and I will not for a minute pretend that this based in fact. It is taste, which is emotional. We ask for trouble, however, when we let emotion become everything. One can claim that a link between Calvert Hills and Cafritz would create a huge new highway, destroy the neighborhood, increase crime or unleash a plague of frogs, but merely asserting it does not make it so. That is the entire point of study – to gather the best facts and best forecasts possible so that we know what the impacts of our decisions are.

I have no idea if a connection between Calvert Hills and Cafritz makes sense. I do not have any facts to make an informed decision. If, like me, you prefer to make your decisions based on evidence and not supposition, I encourage to contact Councilmember Stullich, the City Council and the Planning Board and encourage them to support rational decision making.

Councilmember Stullich’s original e-mail is available below the jump.

Continue reading Calvert Hills Access to Cafritz

Route 1 Event Seeks to Educate Residents about Redevelopment Opportunities

Route 1, College Park

According to City’s Economic Development Coordinator Michael Stiefvater, the City is working on an event concerning redevelopment opportunities along Route 1 and they want to begin publicizing it in order to give everyone some advanced notice.

The agenda is a work in progress, but the basic premise for the event is to educate residents on the current status of these opportunities, while collecting feedback on their vision for these sites.

There will be presentations by the Planning and Economic Development staff along with plenty of time for open discussion and questions. Here are additional details for the event:

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Time: 8:30am to 12pm
Place: City Council Chambers


City’s First Skate Park to Open Early Next Year

Rendering of the proposed Sunnyside Skate Park

Back in March this year, the City Council approved the design of College Park’s first skate park. According to City’s planning department, if permits are issued (as expected), construction of the facility should begin next month. The site of the project is within the confines of Sunnyside Park on Rhode Island Avenue just north of Edgewood Road in north College Park. Construction is anticipated to take 60 days. The City’s planning department published the final design late last week to its website.

On Mar 22, 2010, the City awarded Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks (http://www.grindline.com/) a contract to design and build a skateboard park in Sunnyside Neighborhood Park in north College Park. The City held two public hearings on the park, one in April and another in June last year.

In October last year, the park’s design went through a few major revisions, after receiving concerns from M-NCPPC and some residents on children’s safety in the proposed park. According to the new design, the park’s bowl is much shallower (four feet) compared to the previous one, which was more more than seven feet deep. The new design is expected to attract more beginning skaters and would be more safe for the community and easier to maintain. There are also an addition of a stair element to the new design.

M-NCPPC continues to have concems about maintenance and has requested that the City provide assistance. The City Manager and Public Works Director indicated that supplemental maintenance could be provided as part of the City’s routine park maintenance program.

Speaking of the park, Kennis Termini, a long time resident of north College Park, and a member of the park design committee, said: “I look to the Sunnyside Skate Park as being a positive outreach to our youth community that is local, safe and widely supported.”

[Fazlul Kabir lives in north College Park and writes a daily blog at http://KabirCares.org]

College Park Business Beat – October

The Business Beat is a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the City of College Park Planning, Community and Economic Development Department covering local business news including openings, closings, expansions, leases signed, and other information of interest to College Park businesses. This edition features news on Big Play Sports Grill, Fishnet, and College Park Day. To subscribe, please feel free to contact Michael Stiefvater at (240) 487-3543 or mstiefvater@collegeparkmd.gov.



North College Park Residents Debate New County Redistricting Map

August 13 Redistricting Hearing

Residents of north College Park are debating a new county redistricting map that proposes the entire city be part of one single county district (Dist 3). The debate amongst residents’ mainly revolves around the identity and development issues in the northern part of the city.

Currently, north College Park is part of county District 1, whereas the rest of the city is part of District 3. A map showing the boundary changes can be found here.

Like the City of College Park, which went through its own redistricting process recently, Prince George’s County is required to revisit its district map every 10 years following the national census. The State of Maryland is going through its congressional redistricting process currently.

Supporters of the proposed redistricting plan think that a single County district will give College Park a larger share of attention of a County Councilmember and there will be a unified voice for the city. They also believe that the northern and southern parts of city have far more in common than NCP does with Laurel.

it will be simpler to coordinate meetings and action items with a single Councilmember, no one will have to wonder (should they forget) who the County representative is” – said one resident supporting the new plan.

Opponents of the new map disagree. They believe two voices on the County Council would make our City’s position stronger. For example, north College Park City Council member (District 1) Christine Nagle thinks residents will be best served by retaining the current Council representation. “The current representation provides increased communication opportunity and has been beneficial for North College Park. “ – Nagle said.

Nagle’s counterpart in District 1 (city council), Patrick Wojahn is not so sure. Wojahn said he has not made any official stands on the redistricting, but he wants residents to “to give this [new plan] some thought”.

While Mr. Wojahn thinks north College Park shares some traits with Beltsville and Laurel, he thinks cities north of College Park would never be so concerned about the interests of North College Park residents.

If the interests of Laurel residents were to somehow come in conflict with the interests of North College Park residents, I think just about any County Councilmember who represents both areas, no matter how well-intentioned, would give more weight to the interests expressed by the Laurel residents” – said Mr. Wojahn.

That sentiment is shared by former north College park council member Mark Shroder. Mr. Shroder, who is now the president of north College Park Citizen Association, thinks College Park has a lot of experience of disagreeing with, and sometimes being drowned out by Beltsville.

If you adopt the northern boundary of College Park as the southern boundary of the district, the County Council member will always represent Beltsville against you in these cases; but may be conflicted if the boundary shifts south. Even conflicted, the Council member will usually side with Beltsville.” – Shroder argues.

North College Park resident Stephen Jascourt also believes that (NCP) residents “are much closer aligned with the rest of College Park than with Laurel, by far, and with Beltsville it is a close call – may vary by issue”.

However, Jascourt says he is of mixed minds because of north College Park’s interests. “the advantage of influencing 2 Council members is a considerable advantage, and as long as North College Park is proactive and has people who will be proactive, then I would expect we would continue to have some influence with the Council member who is often likely to come from Laurel.” – said Jascourt.

Some residents are opposing the new plan because of their support for the District 1 county councilwoman Mary Lehman. If the new plan goes forward, Lehman will no longer represent north College Park residents.

One of these residents is Kennis Termini. Termini thinks Lehman and her staff have been extremely responsive and helpful in addressing various issues for the community at large. “[Lehman] does not subscribe to ‘double talking’ and has always had an open door policy to her constituents.” – Termini asserts.

Mary Cook, former District 4 City council member also wants to remain in District 1 with Mary Lehman. Cook thinks that North College Park has never received the attention it deserves from the City. “The majority of its resources are used/spent south of 193 (District 3) I believe that by remaining in District 1, there would be the necessary checks and balances to help all of NCP prosper.” – Cook argues.

Unlike Cook, the current District 4 council member Afzali says he is not going to advocate for either position. “North CP seems to have no clear consensus on what they want in terms of having CP in a single district or two districts.” – said Afzali.

Given the fairly even split in the community over this issue, the City Council decided last week not to take any position on redistricting and to let the chips fall where they may.

The County’s Redistricting Commission held a public hearing on July 28, where residents from both sides testified. The County Council will schedule another hearing on August 13 (Saturday ) from 10 am-noon at the Council Hearing Room in the County Administration Building at 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Dr., Upper Marlboro.

It’s imperative that we act quickly and that as many people show up on Saturday as possible.” – Cook asks her fellow residents to attend the Aug 13 hearing.

Fazlul Kabir lives in north College Park. You can read his daily community blog at http://KabirCares.org