Mount Rainier City Hall is seen from the distance on a bright sunny day. Solar panels top the roof.

Stale email cost Mount Rainier solar panel money

For the better part of a decade, Mount Rainier missed out on revenue it could have earned from the solar panels topping its City Hall, city officials revealed in passing Tuesday. That’s because the energy broker – or “aggregator” – the city worked with to sell the solar power generated from those panels didn’t have an up-to-date email address to communicate with city officials.

Tweaks in store for College Park Southern Gateway

The development team behind the College Park Southern Gateway project is making some tweaks to its plans that will slightly reduce the retail space available at the site. 

The College Park Southern Gateway project would redevelop a now-vacant collection of properties that include the former Platos Restaurant and a Quality Inn along the city’s southern Baltimore Avenue corridor near Calvert Road. When finished, it will have 393 market-rate units, 70,000 square-feet of retail, a 230,000 square-foot parking garage, and is planned to be anchored by a large grocery store. In 2018, the project, backed by multifamily development titan Bozzuto, received tax incentives from College Park City Council and County Council. 

Officials with Bozzuto tell Route 1 Reporter construction is anticipated to begin this Spring. Procedurally, this is an amendment to the original detailed site plan for the project. The amendment would change the layout of the retail along Baltimore Avenue south a planned extension of Calvert Drive on the eastern side of Baltimore Avenue. 

In total, the layout changes will result in a slight deduction in the retail square footage.

Metrorail cars parked in Hyattsville could become bar, somewhere

Since at least September 2019, two retired Washington Metro railcars have been collecting dust – and a bit of graffiti – in an abandoned gas station lot near the West Hyattsville Metro station on Ager Road. But someday, somewhere, they might be transformed into a bar or restaurant, presumably gracing the grounds of a hip new development. By chance, Route 1 Reporter happened upon the cars Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, as workers appeared to be preparing them for transport. The cars bear the serial numbers 5059 and 5058, and the work underway appeared to be cutting each car in half to fit on wide-load trailers.

Hyattsville pushed to share police shooting body-cam video

Hyattsville city officials say they are open to allowing Mount Rainier city officials to review video from Hyattsville police body cameras showing the events leading up to the fatal police shooting of Leonard Shand. The move comes after Mount Rainier City Councilor Scott Cecil, speaking during public comment at Hyattsville’s Jan. 6, 2019, City Council meeting, complained that Hyattsville officials had not responded to earlier requests from himself and Mount Rainier Chief of Police Anthony Morgan to review the footage, which had already been screened by Hyattsville city officials to members of Hyattsville’s City Council and to the president of the Prince George’s Count NAACP. 

“Many local residents were horrified, confused and concerned by this incident. They’re looking for transparency, which is rooted in civilian oversight from each of us,” said Cecil during the meeting. “I’ve reviewed the body camera footage from our officer on two occasions and I’m left with many questions.

A photo, taken from the center lane of the Baltimore Avenue-slash-Route 1 corridor looking directly south from the intersection of Oglethorpe Street and Baltimore Avenue, shows an urban vista. The green hills of Bladensburg are in the far distance, set against a cloudy evening sky and above a ribbon of roadway. Nearer to the photographer, an urban streetscape reveals row-houses and mid-rise commercial buildings south of Madison Street set against tree-lined sidewalks. Light traffic is seen on the roadway.

Prince George’s traffic deaths rose sharply in 2019

2019 was a much deadlier year on Prince George’s County roadways, according to data from the Prince George’s County Police Department. Traffic deaths across the entire county rose 76 percent in 2019, climbing from 38 total deaths in 2018 to 67 in 2019. Among those 67 deaths are 21 pedestrians killed by motorists, up 40 percent from 15 pedestrian deaths in 2018. The remaining 46 traffic deaths in 2019 in Prince George’s County were non-pedestrians. 

It is unclear from year-end police statistics provided to Route 1 Reporter how many cyclists were among the last two years’ traffic fatalities. Prince George’s County Police Department’s records do not break out cyclist incidents into their own category, according to a police spokesperson.

Transit briefs: Hyattsville eyes bike racks, bus service

Hyattsville is trying to expand its network of familiar yellow bike racks. The first round of this fiscal-year’s bike rack requests have been submitted to Arrow Bicycles for consideration, according to City Administrator Tracey Douglas. Hyattsville partners with Arrow Bicycle on the project. Under Hyattsville Bike Rack Request program, businesses and commercial property owners are able to apply for one or more free bike racks to be installed on or near their properties. The racks must be kept available for public use at any time.

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.