A black metal gate bears a three-panel sign reading, top to bottom, "City of Hyattsville." In the background, bright green leaves.

Responding to Trump, Hyattsville officially open to refugees

It’s official: Hyattsville welcomes refugees to be resettled in its borders by the federal government. The declaration is a new necessity for cities. That’s because President Donald Trump issued an executive order this past September requiring states and local governments to notify the Department of State they consent to resettle refugees within their borders. 

In November, three local organizations that work with refugees – International Rescue Committee, Ethiopian Community Development Council, and Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital –  wrote to Hyattsville officials requesting they issue a consent letter. 

“The three refugee resettlement agencies requesting your consent have resettled refugees in the City of Hyattsville and the surrounding counties for over 13 years,” reads the letter from the nonprofits. “We have helped refugees successfully access housing, healthcare, education and employment with funding from the federal government. Local municipalities like the City of Hyattsville bear none of the cost of resettlement and reap many benefits.”

The measure to issue the letter passed unanimously.

Metro to sell West Hyattsville land to developer

WMATA is likely to approve a deal with Gilbane Development Co. and The Hogan Development Group LLC to expand the developers of the neighboring Riverfront at West Hyattsville project, according to Metro documents. 

Gilbane has been working for more than a year to re-grade and prepare for development at the Riverfront at West Hyattsville on the 18.5 acres it already owns. The project plans to have 183 townhomes and 9,000 square feet of retail space. So far, only the townhome portions of the project have already been approved by county officials. 

The proposal before Metro’s board, to be considered at its Dec. 12, 2019, meeting, would sell a 5.3 acre wedge of land to the southeast of the Gilbane property and the West Hyattsville Metro Station.

Hyattsville Council might weigh in on statewide energy proposal

Hyattville City Councilor Danny Schaible wants Hyattsville to throw its weight behind a proposed state law that would allow cities and other jurisdictions to negotiate for electricity service on behalf of their residents. The law is called the Community Choice Aggregation Act. It was introduced in Maryland’s legislature in 2019 by District 20 Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, but did not make it out of committee. A similar bill is expected to be introduced during the 2020 legislative session. If passed, the law would allow cities and counties to create a “community choice aggregator” to negotiate with electricity generators over the type of energy purchased by their community.

Hyattsville might axe free Shuttle-UM passes

Hyattsville City Council appears split on the future of a $6,000 program that lets Hyattsville residents ride the University of Maryland’s bus system for free. During discussion at its Dec. 2, 2019, council meeting of a budget measure that would fund the program for another year, some Hyattsville City Council members questioned the cost, noting only about 150 people applied for passes in 2018. 

“While I certainly understand that there are folks who are riding this, I think for me it really comes down to whether or not this is a good use of taxpayer money “For the few folks who do make use of it,” said Councilor Carianna Suiter during deliberations. “Or whether there is a better way we could use those…dollars to invest in ways that would affect more members of our community.” Two years ago, Hyattsville had a similar debate about the program.

Hyattsville’s longest-serving mayor dies at 75

Thomas Bass, mayor of Hyattsville for a record 16 years from 1979 to 1995, has died at age 75, according to a family obituary released this week. Before serving as mayor, Bass also served as a City Councilor from 1972 through 1979, and held many titles in local political and civic groups. He was a longtime member and president of a mens-only club of Prince George’s County Democratic Party bigwigs that only opened its doors to women in 2001. In 1982, Bass unsucessfully ran for County Council. Born in Cradock, Virginia in 1943 to parents Louis and Mary Bass, the younger Bass went on to be a 1962 graduate of Northwestern High School.