Green projects, transportation and development top Northern Prince George's agendas
Green projects, transportation improvements and new development are among the major goals of municipalities in Northern Prince George's County in the coming year, officials say.
Laurel City Councilman Frederick Smalls (Ward 2) said one priority is passing more green-related legislation to make the city more eco-friendly, while another is improving community relations.
"As a council, we have a few things [we're] working on ... some outreach projects in our communities, just to connect with folks," Smalls said.
One of the biggest challenges the city faces, Smalls said, is being fiscal stewards as the economy continues to slowly recover.
"We want to continue making sure we watch how we spend every dime in the city and also making sure that we're as vocal as we can be in Annapolis and in the county for funding," he said.
Smalls said the council will push for full or partial restoration to state highway user and police aid funding, in order to repair more streets and enhance city police development and equipment.
A major project in the Port Towns involves having the state designate the communities Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City and Edmonston as a green enterprise zone, said Edmonston Mayor Adam Ortiz.
"It will be ... a series of tax and hiring incentives to promote green businesses, particularly for our industrial areas," Ortiz said.
The construction of a MARC train station in Cottage City, which would service the Port Towns and also provide convenient access for Mount Rainier, Brentwood and North Brentwood in the Gateway Arts District, is another key goal.
A MARC train stop could help turn the Bladensburg Waterfront Park into a tourist destination, said Bladensburg Mayor Walter James.
A station would also help spur development, Ortiz said.
"It would be great to provide more access because we're not near a Metro [station]," he said. "We're kind of in a no-man's land."
Cottage City Commission Chair Aileen McChesney said the idea has been discussed for several years, but that community officials hope a feasibility study can begin this year.
Major issues in College Park will include the decennial reconfiguring of City Council districts to coincide with population shifts; a controversial proposal to build student housing at the site of the Maryland Book Exchange despite complaints from nearby residents; and whether new University of Maryland, College Park, President Wallace D. Loh will continue the administration's opposition to a Purple Line light rail route through the heart of campus.
City Councilman Patrick Wojahn (Dist. 1) said he will also push for expansion of neighborhood watch programs throughout the city, and improvements to North College Park's Hollywood Commercial District.
"We'd like to see some higher quality development there and businesses that better serve the neighborhood," Wojahn said, adding that aesthetic improvements to the area could attract new businesses.
Continued revitalization efforts in the Route 1 corridor will be a goal for Mount Rainier, which wants to build a new civic center at the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and 34th Street, as well as Brentwood and North Brentwood, both of which will be exploring façade improvements for their businesses.
Brentwood Mayor Xzavier Montgomery-Wright said her priorities for the coming year include maintaining public safety while the town searches for a new police chief to replace David Risik, who left in December, and helping to combat childhood obesity by establishing physical fitness activity days for families.
North Brentwood looks to expand its summer reading and after-school programs to include Spanish classes for children, said Mayor Petrella Robinson.
Hyattsville will be facing a major personnel change early this year, as this city is expected to have a new city administrator by the end of January, said Mayor William Gardiner. Elaine Murphy, the current administrator, is retiring after nearly 12 years with the city.
University Park officials will have to manage road repairs and the town's new $1.4 million energy-efficiency program, which will advise residents on how to arrange and pay for energy-saving renovations to their homes.
Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo said his town will have to maintain its roads despite massive cuts in state highway user funds, while also protecting the town from foreclosures and drafting a possible noise ordinance.
Greenbelt City Councilman Emmett Jordan said city officials will look to balance their budget and keep current public services despite declining property revenues, and will also monitor recent county bus route changes to ensure they don't affect riders adversely.
"We're just trying to protect our quality of life," Jordan said. "We'll look to continue to be as lean as we possibly can."
Staff Writer Jeffrey K. Lyles contributed to this report.