Brentwood’s five-person Town Council is down one member. Despite a requirement in the town’s charter to fill the seat within 120 days, Town Council wants to keep the seat vacant until the May 2019 municipal election. At the Jan. 16, 2019, Brentwood Town Council meeting, Mayor Rocio Treminio-Lopez announced long-time Councilor Gina Morlan had resigned her seat, though the matter was apparently contentious. “This was a very difficult and time-consuming decision,” Treminio-Lopez said during the meeting as she prepared to read a statement.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department President William Broadus. 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.
A lawsuit challenging the consolidation of the volunteer fire departments operating out of the Bunker Hill Fire Station continues to move ahead. This week, lawyers for both sides will be in court for a hearing on pending pre-trail disputes and motions, set for Nov. 20, 2018, in Upper Marlboro. According to a scheduling order issued by presiding judge John Davey, the pre-trial phase of the suit is expected to end by Jan. 30, 2019.
Studio 3807, the new 147-unit mixed-use apartment complex that’s been under construction at – appropriately – 3807 Rhode Island Avenue, is about to have its grand opening this coming Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Before this weekend’s grand-opening festivities, members of the Brentwood Area Business Association were privy to a meeting and tour of the nearly-complete facility. Route 1 Reporter got to tag along and explore the new apartment complex, a bright yellow, white and gray building. To put it briefly: this place is swanky.
Is the Gateway Arts District helping local artists? Anecdotally, the answer seems to be “yes.” Over the past 20 years, a number of arts organizations in the Gateway Arts District have sprung into life and created new visibility for the local arts industry along Prince George’s County’s southern Route 1 corridor. For instance, the Hyattsville Arts & Ales festival, formerly the Hyattsville Arts Festival, has grown dramatically, spanning multiple city blocks in downtown Hyattsville and attracting thousands of arts-oriented revelers to the corridor. But numbers to back up these anecdotes are hard to come by, or – worse – very fuzzy. The Gateway Arts District can informally refer to two things.
The Bunker Hill Fire Station was built in 2004 to house three volunteer fire departments, consolidating the Brentwood, Mount Rainier and Cottage City volunteer squads under one roof and supplementing its services with professional county fire and rescue personnel from one centralized location. But today – through a mix of county volunteer fire department oversight policies and cliquish infighting between volunteer fire squads working in close quarters – only one volunteer fire department remains active at Bunker Hill: the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department. To the casual observer, it may not seem like much has changed. Fire and emergency medical vehicles bearing the livery of Bunker Hill’s three founding volunteer fire associations still respond to calls as needed, but they are operated by either volunteers from Brentwood or county staff personnel. “We have basically been put out of business by the county,” said Mount Rainier Volunteer Fire Department president John Mutchler in a July 2018 interview.
Editor’s note: This letter is in response to an opinion article by Thomas Stone Elementary parent Sarah Christopherson alleging mismanagement and confusion of the school’s first-day of class activities.
Prince George’s County Public Schools is aware of the experiences that Ms. Christopherson and other Thomas S. Stone Elementary parents had on the first day of school. The principal apologized to parents in a robocall Tuesday evening for not allowing them to enter the building with their child. Our Administrative Procedure requires school visitors to present government-issued identification with their name, date of birth and photo. However, there is an exception for large groups, such as visitors attending assemblies, performances or parents who wish to accompany their child to class on the first day of school. We are working closely with the school’s leadership team to maintain a welcoming and positive environment for all families in the Thomas Stone school community.
Editor’s note: Prince George’s County Public Schools has issued a response to the concerns raised in this article.
For the students and parents of Thomas Stone Elementary in Mount Rainier, the first day of school turned into a hot, lengthy, and sometimes scary ordeal thanks to the same administrative dysfunction that has regularly plagued the school in recent years.
This week I was part of a long line of angry parents forced to wait outside for more than 90 minutes in hot, humid weather just to drop off school supplies or meet our children’s teachers. Meanwhile, nervous children as young as four years old, many of whom do not speak English at home, were sent into the school to find their teachers without help from their parents. The results were predictably disastrous. While I was standing outside, school staff walked out several times with scared, unhappy children and called out to the crowd, hoping to find their parents. In some cases, I later learned, the children didn’t know their last names (or couldn’t communicate them well enough for staff to understand) and so couldn’t be sent to the right classroom.
Brentwood Town Council wants to change the closing time of a forthcoming eatery and cocktail bar on Rhode Island Avenue.
This past July, the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners (more commonly known as the Liquor Board) unanimously approved an application by restaurateur and culinary entrepreneur April Richardson’s Savor at 3807 “food hall” allowing the establishment to serve alcohol from 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Thursday, and between 11 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Saturday. The eatery and cocktail bar will be located inside the still-under-construction Studio at 3807 apartment building at, appropriately, 3807 Rhode Island Avenue. But the Liquor Board approved that license without taking the opinion of Brentwood’s Town Council into consideration. Prior to the Liquor Board’s approval of Richardson’s application, Brentwood Council members had drafted a letter asking that the restaurant’s closing time be limited to midnight each night. That letter was not sent to the Liquor Board by the time they approved Savor’s liquor license.
Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department’s quest to replace two of its aging fire trucks is being hampered by a lack of funding from many municipalities served by the department. At its August 15, 2018, meeting, Brentwood Town Council had harsh words for surrounding municipalities, alleging their failure to fund the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department puts their communities at risk. During that meeting, Council considered and approved a funding request submitted by William Broadus, chief and president of the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department. “I don’t feel fair that we are the only ones that put money in there and you have to service all of them,” said Brentwood Mayor Rocio Treminio-Lopez during discussion of the funding request. In all, it was a small measure.