Michael Theis is the editor and publisher of Route 1 Reporter. He grew up in Hyattsville and College Park. He has more than 10 years experience as a professional journalist, working for such news outlets as the Frederick News-Post, The Shepherdstown Chronicle, Patch.com and the Austin Business Journal.
Required Reading is a simple, daily roundup of news coverage from other outlets relevant to Prince George’s County and its Route 1 communities. In our Dec. 14, 2018, edition: New questions for a proposed trail link to Greenbelt Metro, Prince George’s Police unscripted, and a look at these mysterious “opportunity zones.” Hurdles ahead for Greenbelt Metro bike trail plan (Greenbelt News-Review)
Prince George’s police turn to improve for de-escalation training (WAMU)
Maryland officials push for late-night Metro (The Montgomery Sentinel)
Providence hospital cutting back services (PGCTV)
Meet SeoulSpice founder Eric Shin (The Hyattsville Wire)
New age of Scouting joins boys with girls (Laurel Leader)
No need to subsidize St. Mary’s firing range (Southern Maryland Independent)
Another man hospitalized after shock at MGM casino (WTTG)
Air Force One hangar builder revealed (WTOP)
Opportunity zones pop up across Maryland (Baltimore Business Journal)
Berwyn Heights has a new mayor in former Councilor Stephen Isler, who was sworn in at Berwyn Heights’ Dec. 12, 2018 meeting following the resignation of now former Mayor Lynn White. It is the second time since June that a Berwyn Heights mayor has resigned.
“Last Thursday we received a message around 10 a.m. from now former Mayor White informing us she has resigned from her position as mayor and council member. We are really saddened to hear that. We were hoping to really work with her.
Several months after the trial ended, the nature of the crimes alleged to have been committed by Steven King have been revealed. King pled guilty in September to charges of embezzlement from the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department, where formerly served as president of the volunteer squad. The new details were disclosed in an interview with Denise Roberts, spokesperson for the Prince George’s County’s Office of the State’s Attorney. “Basically, he was living at the Fire Department, he was president of the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department and he used company credit cards for personal expenses,” said Roberts.Roberts said the total amount embezzled was about $37,000. In May 2018, a Prince George’s County grand jury issued an indictment against King.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct an error that misattributed votes by Councilors John Rigg and Robert Day.College Park City Council, with Mayor Patrick Wojahn in the tie-breaker role, voted five-to-four to send a letter outlining serious concerns with, but not-yet opposition to, a controversial proposal to build intramural fields on the University of Maryland Golf Course. Minutes earlier, Wojahn cast a similar tie-breaking vote to defeat a motion to send a letter to university officials explicitly in opposition to the proposal. The votes disappointed dozens of city residents in attendance who encouraged City Council to flatly reject the proposal during debate over the issue at its Dec. 11, 2018 meeting. The proposal now heads to the University of Maryland’s Facilities Council, which will consider the proposal at a closed-door meeting scheduled for Dec.
Required Reading is a simple, daily roundup of news coverage relevant to Prince George’s County and its Route 1 communities. In today’s edition: Opponents rise to plan for Redskins’ stadium at Oxon Hill, 911 suggestions put forward, and $3.5 billion for state schools. Advocacy group ‘vehemently opposes’ pitch for Redskins stadium on Oxon Hill Farm. (Washington Business Journal)
A conceptual site plan application for the redevelopment of Beltway Plaza was officially accepted for review by Prince George’s County Planning Officials Dec. 10, 2018. Key documents from that application are attached below this article. Development Review 101
That now kicks off a 70-day timeline for the application to be considered by the Prince George’s County Planning Board, though the timeline can be stretched through appeals and requests for delay. The first planning body to consider the proposal is the Subdivision Review Committee, scheduled for its Dec. 28, 2018 meeting.
Major construction on an expansion of the Little Paint Branch Trail is expected to be finished later this month, according to Prince George’s County officials. The new extended trail will run for 2.2 miles alongside Cherry Hill Road from the trail’s present-day terminus in Northern College Park near Cherry Hill Road Park. A steel hiker-biker bridge has been built to cross the Little Paint Branch creek. From there it will parallel Cherry Hill Road and cross the Beltway on existing bridges before turning east onto Sellman Road where it hooks up to an existing trail stub at Little Paint Branch Park in Beltsville.
Robert Patten, trail development program manager at Prince George’s County Parks, praised construction crews for their ability to rapidly make progress on the trail once construction started. In particular, he said the rate of construction was notable because of the heavy rains that have presented obstacles for work, particularly around the streambed where the bridge is built.
Here’s a weird footnote in Hyattsville’s development news: a decrepit downtown Hyattsville building was, until recently, owned by a man who twice campaigned to be president of Liberia. The building is 5223 Baltimore Ave., a two-story brick shopbuilding dating to 1932. A few weeks ago, it was bought for $505,000 by investors who hope to redevelop the site. Its previous owner was a husband and wife named Kennedy and Eugenia Sandy. Kennedy Sandy ran for the presidency of Liberia in 2011 and 2017, according to media reports.
It may be repetitive, but once again, I start another Reporter’s Notebook with a big hearty thank you to all of Route 1 Reporter’s subscribers! Last week was a busy one on the news front, especially if you are into development. For starters, Route 1 Reporter was the first news outlet to report on new development activity at Riverdale Park Station, where hundreds of new apartments are either about to start construction or enter the development review pipeline. In all, more than 850 apartment units are planned for the development on parcels closest to the CSX tracks. More on this story below.
Hyattsville city officials did not go far to pick its next chief of police, tapping interim chief Amal Awad to lead the city’s police department.
Awad becomes both the first woman and the first African-American to head up the Hyattsville City Police Department in the city’s 132-year history.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the dedicated men and women of the city of Hyattsville police department to enhance relationships, reduce crime and create opportunities so that all of our residents and community members feel safe, welcome and valued,” said Awad in a statement announcing her hire.
Awad is a native Washingtonian who holds a master of science in management from Johns Hopkins University. Her career in law enforcement goes back 27 years, when she started her career as a Prince George’s County Police Department officer at its Hyattsville station. At PGPD, she eventually rose to commander of the force’s Bowie station before retiring with the rank of major. She has worked for Hyattsville since 2017, when she came out of retirement to serve as the captain for the force, ranking second to recently-retired Hyattsville police chief Doug Holland.