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

Economic Development Update

* INDICATES UPDATED PROJECT INFORMATION

PLANS FILED (3)

BAYWOOD HOTEL REDEVELOPMENT

DSP-10005

Status:               Pre-application notice sent January 28, 2010.

Location:          9137 Baltimore Avenue

Developer:      Baywood Hotels

Description:    Replacement of the existing Howard Johnsons and Days Inn hotels with a Springhill Suites and a Homewood Suites.  Applicant is also proposing to construct approximately 8,835 square feet of commercial office and retail space on the property.

Continue reading Economic Development Update

Economic Development Update

*Indicates updated project information
New information italicized

PLANS FILED (8)

CHINESE BIBLE CHURCH OF COLLEGE PARK*
The Chinese Bible Church has filed their Detailed Site Plan to build an addition to their existing church and to expand their parking lot.  The DSP has not been accepted.

THE DOMAIN AT COLLEGE PARK*
Located at the corner of Campus Drive and Mowatt Lane, this project is proposed to be a 5-story luxury multi-family building with 250 residential units and 5,000 – 10,000 square feet of retail.  The Hanover Company will be the developer.    The developer will market the project to graduate students, young professionals, visiting professors, and empty nesters.  The project is expected to be delivered in the fall of 2012 based on a tentative construction schedule.  In July 2009, the District Council approved a zoning change from R55 to M-X-T. Continue reading Economic Development Update

College Park Economic Development Internship Available

The City of College Park offers a paid part-time (15-20 hrs/ wk) internship position with the Department of Planning’s Economic Development Section. We are seeking a graduate student with an interest in economic development, technical writing, and design. The candidate must be able to work independently, write effectively and meet with community stakeholders. Experience with Microsoft Office, including Publisher (or other graphics software) and ArcGIS is desired. For more information about the position, contact Chris Warren at cwarren@collegeparkmd.gov.