Hyattsville hopes to rename Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station

Hyattsville city officials want to rename the Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station to Hyattsville Crossing. The move would be the culmination of a years-long effort by city officials to develop a more cohesive identity for the neighborhood anchored by the Metro station. In a June vote, Hyattsville City Council approved a measure directing city staff to request the name be changed on official Metro maps in advance of the planned opening of Phase II of the Silver Line, which will require all Metro maps to be reprinted. The Metro station derives it name from the former Prince George’s Plaza mall, known today as the Mall at Prince George’s and branded as simply MPG by its owners REIT. Since the Metro station opened, the surrounding area has changed dramatically.

Mount Rainier might escalate request for Shand shooting video

Mount Rainier City Council appears favorably disposed to make an official request to Hyattsville city officials for body camera footage from the 2019 police shooting that killed Leonard Shand. 

During its Aug. 6, 2020, Mount Rainier City Council meeting, Councilor Scott Cecil said he was planning on making a second request for Hyattsville to provide video filmed during the incident from Hyattsville officers’ body cameras. One Mount Rainier police officer, Damien Graham, was on the scene during the incident, along with 10 other officers from Hyattsville and Prince George’s County who opened fire. In his prior request, Cecil said Mount Rainier government officials should have access to the footage to help them better understand an incident that involved on of its officers. 

“I am planning on making a second written request to Hyattsville’s mayor and Council asking them to send the body camera footage. I understand there is an investigation happening, but I don’t personally have a ton of faith in the process,” said Cecil during the meeting. 

Cecil’s first request was made without Mount Rainier City Council backing.

College Park takes side in Supreme Court case

College Park City Council officially took a side in a forthcoming Supreme Court case that asks if religious beliefs exempt organizations from civil rights laws. The case, Fulton vs. The City of Philadelphia, was brought by Catholic Social Services, a religiously-affiliated nonprofit adoption agency, and worked in contract with the city of Philadelphia to place children in foster homes. In 2018, the group lost this contract after the city learned the nonprofit refuses to place children with same-sex parents. Catholic Social Services sued, claiming its loss of the government contract was a violation of its religious freedom to, in this case, believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Hyattsville approves tax cut for affordable housing

Developers will soon be able to get tax breaks if they build affordable housing in Hyattsville. While many municipalities offer tax credits to lure developers, Hyattsville is believed to be the first of Prince George’s County’s 27 municipalities to tie these tax credits to the production of affordably-priced housing units. 

The move, approved at Hyattsville’s Aug. 10, 2020, City Council meeting, revises Hyattsville’s Revitalization Tax Credit program, which gives developers tax breaks for new construction near Prince George’s Plaza and West Hyattsville Metro stations and the Gateway Arts District along Baltimore Avenue. Previously, any project that significantly added to the city’s property tax base could apply for the tax credits. The developers behind the EYA Arts District development and the forthcoming Armory development have applied for these credits. 

The revisions add “production of affordable housing” to the list of eligible projects for the tax credits.

Hyattsville set to rename Magruder Park

Hyattsville City Council will soon launch an official effort to solicit a new name for Magruder Park, but the details still need to be hammered out. 

The park’s current namesake, prominent early 20th-century Hyattsville politician William Pinkney Magruder, has come under scrutiny partially because he donated much of the land for the park with segregationist deed clauses that prohibited people of color from the park. 

Earlier this year, the city removed signs bearing Magruder’s name from the park entrances after the signs were vandalized. City Manager Tracey Douglas outlined a proposed outreach effort to rename the park during Hyattsville City Council’s Aug. 10, 2020, meeting. Hyattsville City Council was generally supportive, but only discussed the proposal, and took no action. The measure is expected to return for discussion and possible action at the next City Council meeting. 

According to the proposal, city officials would first announce a “name selection challenge” in local news outlets, social media and the Hyattsville Green Sheet – a newsletter sent by mail to city residents. City officials plan to solicit input through Hyattsville’s website, a physical suggestion box at the park, or by email to ParkName@Hyattsville.org. 

City communications staff will collate the responses and provide reports to the Health, Wellness and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Hyattsville Race and Equity Task Force.

Prince George’s County limits free covid testing

Several Prince George’s County residents say they were recently denied free coronavirus tests from the county Department of Health because of a little-known rule limiting free tests to one-per person. 

The rule surprised County Councilor Deni Taveras, who represents Langley Park and Adelphi neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic. Taveras said she was denied a test Aug. 5, 2020, at the Rollingcrest Community Center in Chillum because she had already received a free test. One county resident who previously received three tests through the health department, also was turned away from Rollingcrest this week for similar reasons. Another resident, a teacher in Prince George’s County Schools, 

County officials provided little additional information about the policy.

Low demand for College Park coronavirus relief

College Park set aside $1.7 million to assist residents and businesses dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. But so far, few have availed themselves of the grant program. According to city manager Scott Somers, the city has only processed 28 small-business assistance grants totaling $47,400 plus 18 family assistance program grants totaling approximately $6,200. “I was surprised at how low that was,” Somers said during College Park’s Aug. 4, 2020, City Council meeting.

Hurricaine Isaias closes Prince George’s Covid test sites

In anticipation of heavy winds and rains from Hurricaine Isaias, Prince George’s County Covid-19 testing sits will be closed Aug. 4, 2020. As of this time, all testing sites are scheduled to reopen for normal hours on Aug. 5, 2020. Editor’s note:Route 1 Reporter is – normally – a subscriber-supported local news website.

As Prince George’s lags in Census response, a last-ditch push to be counted

With news that the Census may cut-short its door-to-door data collection, Prince George’s County officials are urging residents to take matters into their own hands and self-report their Census info by phone or online. Prince George’s County lags well behind state averages and behind other suburban-metro Maryland counties when it comes to Census response rates, with only an estimated 64.7 percent of county huoseholds responding as of Aug 3, 2020. Statewide, 66.9 percent of Marylanders have responded to the Census. 

Within Prince George’s County, areas inside the Beltway, such as Chillum, Langley Park, East Riverdale, Landover, and Hillcrest Heights, lag well behind other county Census tracts when it comes to Census response rates. Prince George’s County will host a covid-conscious Census completion and food, medical and school-supply distribution event at Ebenezer Church of God at 7550 Buchanan Street in Landover Hills on Aug. 8, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. During this event, county officials will provide free meals, backpacks, school supplies, personal protective equipment, Census swag and information.

Data: Coronavirus growing in rural Maryland

Coronavirus is on the rebound in Maryland and – to a lesser extent – in Prince George’s County, according to official state numbers. This surge in cases is being driven by growing outbreaks in rural areas of Maryland, according to an analysis by Route 1 Reporter. In particular, exurban communities in central Maryland and along the Chesapeake Bay’s western shores have seen the number of positive tests increase most-dramatically since July 1. Meanwhile, urban areas closer to Washington D.C., hard-hit by the virus early on, have seen far less-dramatic changes in the number of new positive coronavirus cases. !function(){“use strict”;window.addEventListener(“message”,(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data[“datawrapper-height”])for(var e in a.data[“datawrapper-height”]){var t=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-“+e)||document.querySelector(“iframe[src*='”+e+”‘]”);t&&(t.style.height=a.data[“datawrapper-height”][e]+”px”)}}))}();

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As of July 21, Total cases have risen to 79,545 across the state, and include 3,402 deaths.