Berwyn District Civic Association Thursday, November 19, 2015

  1. Agenda Item 1. Rhode Island Avenue and Greenbelt Road Turning Issues. Venu Nemani of the State Highway Administration (SHA) attended the meeting to have a constructive dialogue and get ideas about what might need to be done to improve the design for left‐hand turns where Rhode Island Avenue and Greenbelt Road meet. There have been ongoing issues with that section of Greenbelt Road since realignment took place about a year ago.

    Mr. Nemani oversees all state roads for P.G. County. As such, he’s responsible for Greenbelt Road, which is a state road that connects with 193. His office had been asked if all the capacity on Greenbelt Road was necessary, and whether some of the travel lanes couldn’t be converted to bike lanes. SHA’s policy is to look at bike lane feasibility before making any changes to an existing road. They do not make these decisions unilaterally.

    They reduced the two lanes in each direction to one lane. But they had to accommodate turning traffic. There’s a lot of “thru” traffic on Greenbelt Road. The left‐turn lanes where Rhode Island Avenue and Greenbelt Road meet, going in both directions, are basically “coming toward” each other. The footprint of that intersection is challenging. People trying to turn were getting too close to each other to turn, so SHA laid a “track” last spring, putting down yellow markings to guide people who were turning. The yellow markings give you a sense of the path you need to take to “get to your prospective target.” A solution decided upon last summer was to install improved lighting at the intersection. He asked Pepco to upgrade four existing intersection lights and install one more. A lot of people going westbound on Greenbelt Road are already turning at 49th instead of onto Rhode Island Avenue, in order to avoid that left‐turn lane. One way to eliminate this problem would be to make Rhode Island Avenue a cul‐de‐sac, or switch the current one‐way direction of Rhode Island Avenue.

    Someone with the fire department said they see plenty of “near misses”. The biggest problem is at 49th Avenue and Greenbelt Road, at the liquor store.

    Jeff Lemieux suggested traffic calming and a median, and showed a sketch of his proposal. A median could be decorative and attractive. No one’s going to use the westbound stretch of

    bikelane from Greenbelt Road to the area where the left‐turn onto Rhode Island Avenue is because there’s no way to get to that portion of the bikelane; most bikers use the side streets because traffic on Greenbelt Road is too fast. So that portion of the bikelane could be eliminated.

    Concern was raised about pedestrians. Can we have flashing lights or something at the crosswalk? Mr. Nemani said the crosswalks are highly visible, and there are warning signs at both crossings going both eastbound and westbound at that location.

    Someone stated that the intersection at Rhode Island Avenue and 193 is also dangerous, and needs a flashing pedestrian safety light. Mr. Nemani said the need for flashing beacons have to take into account the volume of pedestrians and the crash numbers; SHA looks at the three most recent years of crash data available. That particular location had one crash.

    There’s a lot of construction activity going on on Route 193. That new development going in just on the other side of the tracks means that what used to be a single left‐turn lane from 193 to Greenbelt Road now needs to be two left‐turn lanes.

    The City has a goal to promote bikeability and pedestrian traffic. Greenbelt Road is too wide for what should really be there; currently, it divides Berwyn from Branchville. Any design we end up with needs to be a safe one for pedestrians and bikes. He hopes something innovative such as a median could be explored. Currently, Greenbelt Road is a “huge on‐ramp, off‐ramp,” shuttling cars between Route 1 and Route 193. That entire concept needs to be changed.

    Frustration was expressed that SHA looks at how things are rather than how they could or should be. A complete re‐think of 193 and Route 1 interchange is needed. Greenbelt Road is a Maryland state highway only because it connects Route 1 and Route 193. It wouldn’t hurt for the City of College Park to send a

    letter to the Office of Planning to suggest how things could be changed.

    Mr. Nemani was asked if he could return with a greaseboard to show us different scenarios. SHA will not implement any major design change without coming back and presenting to us first.

  2. Agenda Item 2. White Lotus. Ann Contee of the White Lotus Wellness Center introduced herself and briefly talked about the various services available at White Lotus, including massage and yoga. Each customer gets individualized attention. White Lotus believes in a spiritual agenda. Every Wednesday they have free yoga. There’s a lot of research in the mental health industry about the benefits of yoga. White Lotus was just approved by Weight Watchers. If the community undertakes an initiative such as a fundraiser, etc., please let her know, as she would like to be involved.

  3. Agenda Item 3. Approval of Minutes. A motion was made to accept into the record the minutes from the October 15, 2015, meeting. The motion was seconded, and passed by a show of hands.

  4. Agenda Item 4. Treasurer’s Report. Treasurer Nick Brennan made the following financial report:


    Expenses include fees for our website and a donation to Holy Redeemer. Income includes advertising fee from the White Lotus Wellness Center.

  5. Agenda Item 5. Old Business. There was no old business to discuss.

  6. Agenda Item 6. New Business. There was no new business.

  7. Agenda Item 7. Officers Present. The following BDCA officers were present: President Kevin Young, 2nd Vice President Harry Pitt, Recording Secretary Liesl Koch, Neighborhood Watch Director and Treasurer Nick Brennan, Director of State of Maryland and General Assembly Issues Dan Blasberg, and Director of Real Estate and Local Zoning Bob Catlin. Also in attendance were Mayor Andrew Fellows, Mayor‐Elect Patrick Wojhan, and Councilmembers PJ Brennan and Monroe Dennis.

  8. Agenda Item 8. Councilman Monroe Dennis’s Report. Councilman Dennis thanked those who had voted in the City elections. He and Councilman Brennan will be reinaugurated on December 7th.

    Construction has begun on the old Koons Ford property. The property on Berwyn House Road was demolished last week. Construction for the new development at the latter site won’t begin until sometime in 2016. You’ll see activity in the next week or two related to the demolition and stabilization of the hill behind. Construction work on the old Koons Ford property will probably slow down a bit before picking up speed again in 2016. They’re going to start building the part of the building that will house the CVS first. They won’t start the hotel part of the building until the Hotel at College Park project is complete.

  9. Agenda Item 9. Councilman PJ Brennan’s Report. Councilman Brennan reminded everybody that the Saturday after Thanksgiving is “Shop Small Day” in College Park. Everyone is encouraged to patronize small local businesses, such as the Wellness Center, Fishnet, and Proteus Bikes. “Shop Small Day” is a national campaign that was brought to our community by Randall Toussaint, the City’s Economic Development Coordinator. Councilman Brennan hopes Mr. Toussaint will come to one of BDCA’s future meetings.

  10. Agenda Item 10. Mayor‐Elect Wojhan. College Park Mayor‐Elect Patrick Wojhan thanked everyone who came out to vote and said he was humbled and honored to serve College Park for the next two years. The next event in the “Live Smart, Eat Local” series, which he founded, will be on December 16th at 7pm at Mama Lucia’s. The speaker will be the new City Manager, Scott Somers.

  11. Agenda Item 11. Neighborhood Watch. Neighborhood Watch Director Nick Brennan reminded everybody that heading into the holiday season we typically see an increase in burglaries, so remember to you’re your doors and windows locked at all times. And please remind your student neighbors to do so as well.

  12. Agenda Item 12. Other. Bob Catlin, BDCA Board Director of Real Estate & Local Zoning, announced that Attick Towers is going to add about 20 new parking spaces.

Amy Olivo, Chief of Staff for P.G. County Council Member Dannielle Glaros, greeted everyone and referred us to Councilwoman Glaros’s e‐newsletter (see Berwyn newsletter for information about it) to read about the legislative year’s accomplishments.

Nick Brennan reminded everyone that the College Park Community Foundation’s third annual awards gala was on December 5th. See for more details.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 pm.

Meeting attendees (from sign‐up sheet):

Crystal Bergemann Dan Blasberg Nick Brennan

PJ Brennan Bob Catlin Anne Contee Mary Cook Monroe Dennis Sean Eustis

Andrew Fellows Steve Halpern Brad Herbert Doug Hunter Liesl Koch

Jeff Lemieux Tom Pasta Linda Rioux Isabel Smith

Chad Stern Tom Tanner

Frank Underwood Karyn Keating‐Volke Patrick Wojahn Anito Walley Kevin Young

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.