Editor’s note: Route 1 Reporter is a subscriber-supported local news website. In the interest of the public discourse, articles about government policy are available for free. If you like the reporting, please support Route 1 Reporter on Patreon.
Dozens of projects in Prince George’s County, including several in the Route 1 corridor, received millions of dollars in funding from the state of Maryland during the past legislative session. Projects funded include a long-sought parking garage in downtown Hyattsville, stormwater infrastructure work in College Park, an effort by DeMatha Catholic High School to redevelop land along Baltimore Avenue, and money for a new city hall in Brentwood.
The funding comes from the Maryland legislature’s annual bond bill, where legislators sponsor projects in their districts to receive funding for capital projects. Only nonprofits, schools, higher education institutions and local governments can apply for these funds.
Downtown Hyattsville parking garage
Hyattsville received $2.5 million to cover costs related to a long-planned parking garage in the city’s downtown Baltimore Avenue corridor. Hyattsville’s plans for a parking garage in the downtown Route 1 corridor go back more than a decade. In 2012, the city bought and demolished several automotive repair shops to make way for a parking garage.
But the city’s plans for the money are still up in the air, apparently. In a brief April 21, 2021, statement, Hyattsville communications manager Cindy Zork said “at this time the city has not made any decision with respect to a parking garage.”
Previously, Hyattsville’s director of community and economic development Jim Chandler told Route 1 Reporter in 2018 the garage has not yet been built because the city had been unable to secure funding. The garage could also be built as part of a new city hall building, which city officials have been weighing as a long-term capital expenditure.
A February 2017 report identifies Centennial Park and the 5200 blocks of Baltimore Avenue as a potential site for a new municipal building to replace its existing city hall. Additionally, if the city forgoes a municipal building, Chandler in 2018 said there is also the possibility of partnership with property owners to finance construction of a structured parking deck at the site in conjunction with some kind of redevelopment scheme, either public or private.
Hyattsville also received $500,000 toward the construction of the Hyattsville police headquarters and $400,000 for the design and construction of a teen activity and mentoring center.
A nonprofit set up on behalf of DeMatha Catholic High School received $1 million from the National Capital Strategic Economic Development fund for “predevelopment activities for commercial and residential development” to the East-West CDC Foundation for a future mixed-use redevelopment and community recreational space near the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Madison Street, in the area of DeMatha Catholic High School.
According to state business filings, the East-West CDC is a nonprofit organization registered to DeMatha Catholic High School’s Director of Development Thomas Ponton, with DeMatha alumni and lacrosse coach Walter Green serving as general counsel. The East-West CDC will function in a manner similar to the Terrapin Development Co., an entity established by the University of Maryland to sell and redevelop land owned by the college.
The National Capital Strategic Economic Development Fund was established by the legislature in 2017. Administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, the program awards grants to government agencies and nonprofit community development organizations for commercial or residential development projects. Projects must be able to provide matching funds, on the order of $1 of matching funds for every $4 in state funds.
DeMatha also received $500,000 for the construction of the planned DeMatha Engineering Arts and Robotic Building – or DEAR, for short. On a DeMatha fundraising website, the school says the planned $2.5 million facility will be located behind St. John DeMatha Hall, otherwise known as the monastery building on DeMatha’s Hyattsville campus.
A fact-sheet for the bond bill says the facility will be 6,500 square-feet, and will house classrooms for design, art, photography, sculpture, engineering and robotics. Other funding for the project comes from $1.7 million in private contributions and $300,00 in corporate grants. Construction is anticipated to begin early 2022, with potential completion by early 2023.
School officials said the facility, because it was receiving public funds, would feature a robust schedule of activities for the public, such as public classes, events and exhibitions
College Park projects funded
The legislature funded $5 million for drainage improvements in College Park’s Guilford Run watershed in the city’s Calvert Hills neighborhood. This project, while taking place in College Park, is overseen by the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment. It would add new storm drains and an underground stormwater storage vault to reduce the instances of flooding in the neighborhood, which has most-recently inundated during the torrential downpour of Sept. 11, 2020.
Additionally, the legislature funded $2 million for renovations at Attick Towers Apartments, a public housing complex for low and very-low income seniors and disabled persons. Built in 1967, the 108-unit Attick Towers has not been upgraded in any significant way since then. Planned work includes renovation of all common areas, and upgrades to in-unit fixtures such as doors, cabinets, plumbing, and appliances.
Other Prince George’s County projects funded in the bond bill include:
Joe’s Movement Emporium
- $200,000 to address storm water management needs, and create a outdoor program space. The project has a $700,000 overall cost, mostly covered by foundation grants and corporate sponsorships.
- $300,000 for the design and construction of a Public Safety Community Training and Workout Center
- $165,000 to replace an elevator at the Berwyn Heights Senior Center
- $400,000 for the design and construction of a new town hall in the city’s former Volunteer fire department building. This project has been somewhat controversial in Brentwood. This year, the city hired a lobbyist for $40,000 to help obtain these funds. Current Mayor Rocio Treminio-Lopez was opposed to the hiring of the lobbyist, which she said was unnecessary. Treminio-Lopez preferred instead for city officials to work with their statehouse delegation to press for the funds. Vice Mayor Tonya Harrison supported the hiring of the lobbyist, and on social media touted the bond bill funding as evidence the lobbyist hire was worth it. With Harrison challenging Treminio-Lopez for Brentwood’s mayoral seat, the funding has become a campaign issue.
- $500,000 for the African American Museum and Cultural Center in North Brentwood.
- $300,000, and $500,000 grants to the Huntington City Community Development Corp. for the aquisition of historic properties in Old Town Bowie.
- $40.7 million for Bowie State University’s planned new Communication Arts and Humanities Building.
- $16.3 million from the Board of Public Works for Bowie State University’s planned new Communication Arts and Humanities Building.
- $3.6 million for same
- $250,000 toward the construction of the Greenbelt Station Hiker Biker Trail, which would extend the Indian Creek Trail north, connecting the Greenbelt Station development directly with Greenbelt Metro Station.
- $450,000 for streetscape work, including pedestrian safety infrastructure, along School Lane, Wilson Lane, Old Mill Road and Spring Branch Drive.
- $2.5 million for work on a Multi-Service Center.