West Hyattsville Kaiser Permanente medical facility approved by Planning Board

Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved detailed site plans for a Kaiser Permanente medical office building on Ager Road near West Hyattsville Metro Station, clearing the way for developers to apply for building permits.

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

Hyattsville tries to change Magruder Park’s racist deed

Hyattsville will try a unique legal strategy to remove segregationist clauses that still exist on the deed underlying Magruder Park. At its May 4, 2020, meeting, Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing city staff to work with outside attorneys to prepare a “quitclaim deed” for the park that would allow the city to remove the racially restrictive deed clause. 

The move comes more than a year after Hyattsville City Council directed city staff to research possible ways the deed could be amended or the name of the park could be changed. The May 4 resolution only focuses on amending the deed. The issue has been bubbling in Hyattsville’s civic discourse since Sept. 2018, when city resident Jim Groves proposed changing the name of the park because its namesake, prominent early 20-century Prince George’s landowner and politician William Pinkney Magruder, donated some of the land with a clause the restricting its use “for the Caucasian inhabitants only” of Hyattsville.

After protest, Hyattsville official says Shand killing ‘consistent’ with police policy

Protesting the re-instatement of six city police officers who shot and killed Leonard Shand in September 2019, police reform activists staged a drive-in demonstration in front of Hyattsville’s City Administration Building on Gallatin Street May 4, 2020. The event later prompted Hyattsville City Administrator Tracey Dougals to reveal city officials reviewed the events surrounding Shand’s death and found no violations of internal policies. 

“Preliminarily, the [city police] command staff conducted an executive review of the unfortunate death of Mr. Shand and determined that the actions were consistent with departmental policy,” said Douglas during Hyattsville’s May 4, 2020 City Council meeting. “While I know that is of little comfort to the Shand family and friends, the chief made the decision to ensure that the residents had uninterrupted law enforcement services.”

Douglas also said the city has begun to research new technology and equipment that could be used when “non-lethal equipment is not as effective.” The comment is notable because, according to narratives put-forth by county and local police officials, Shand was shot after police tried several times to tase him early in the encounter, all unsuccessful. 

“We are awaiting the results of the investigation to glean any knowledge or insight from that, but also in conducting our executive review we did look at the type of equipment that we did use and the type of equipment that we could potentially use in the future,” said Awad, following up on Douglas’ comments. The drive-in demonstration was organized by the group Community Justice, which has accused Prince George’s County law enforcement agencies of systematically aggressive policing of minorities and the poor. 

Route 1 Reporter did not witness the event in person, but watched live-streamed videos from activists on the scene as they blocked entrances to the parking lot, honked horns, chanted slogans and made brief speeches excoriating city officials for their decision to re-instate the officers. Hyattsville officials announced mid-April six unnamed officers would be re-instated from administrative duty to full-time active duty to shore-up patrol staffing on the city police force during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hyattsville Council unsure how to use $1M pandemic relief fund

Hyattsville City Council continues to look for ways to spend its $1 million local pandemic relief fund. During discussion at its April 22, 2020, meeting City Council members discussed in broad strokes possible ways the money could be spent, including donations to local charities already dealing with the aftermath of coronavirus’ disruptions, and programs for business aid. 

Mayor Candace Hollingsworth, lead sponsor of the city relief fund measures so far, pushed City Council members to think realistically about how the fund could best be used to provide direct relief to individuals. Additionally, she said Hyattsville economic development officials were crafting ways they could expand existing city business grant programs with some of the relief funding. Hollingsworth noted a city-funded program to provide about 75 grocery gift cards to Hyattsville residents attracted more than 650 applicants, of which only 88 turned out to be city residents. The deluge of applicants, and the work needed to verify their city residency, proved challenging for city staff to manage.

Hyattsville Administrator: Bringing officers back was right decision in pandemic

Hyattsville City Administrator Tracey Douglas addressed the full-duty re-activation of several police officers involved in the still-under-investigation fatal shooting of Leonard Shand in 2019. Douglas’ comments, during Hyattsville’s April 22 City Council meeting, came in response to a prompt from Councilor Joseph Solomon to address the decision, which was conveyed to City Council after its April 6 meeting and disclosed to the media in an April 14 press release. “That was a decision that the chief of police made. It was an important decision. It was a very difficult decision that she grappled with.