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.

Mount Rainier eyes food truck extravaganza for 2020

Mount Rainier is planning a food truck event, perhaps as early as spring. The idea is to use the event to test demand and operational burdens for a potential food truck hub in Mount Rainier. However, the city is still working through the logistics involved with hosting a food truck hub. City officials first toyed with the idea in December 2018, but there remain significant logisitical, procedural and political challenges to address before Mount Rainier becomes a destination for vehicular restaurateurs and gormands. 

Politically, the city’s brick and mortar restaurants aren’t exactly wild about the idea of a food truck hub. Representatives of the Mount Rainier Business Association aired concerns that a food truck hub could bring a competitive burden for the city’s restaurants. 

“We’ve had five restaurants that have failed in Mount Rainier in the last five years, and we have three new restaurants coming up,” said Jimmy Tarlau, representing MRBA, during a discussion of food truck hubs at Mount Rainier City Council meeting Nov.

College Park nixes City Hall water wall

College Park’s new City Hall will not have a water feature in its main plaza. College Park’s City Council voted four-to-three against a measure that would have directed designers to proceed with plans to incorporate either a water wall or a synchronized pump-jet fountain. The proposals for such a hydrolic feature were controversial in College Park for the additional cost, which would have ranged from between $400,000 for the less-complex water wall and $685,000 for a pump-jet fountain, though the cost would be split 50-50 with the University of Maryland, which is partnering with College Park to build the new City Hall, which will have offices for both the city and the college, in addition to ground-floor retail space. 

City Council’s vote came at its Nov. 19, 2019, meeting. Councilors Fazlul Kabir (District One), Dustyn Kujawa (District Four), and District Two Councilors P.J. Brennan and Monroe Dennis voted against a motion from District Three Councilor John Rigg, seconded by fellow District Three Councilor Robert Day, to include a water wall in the plaza designs. 

The vote followed a presentation from represenatives of Design Collective, a Baltimore-based architectural firm College Park has contracted with to design the new City Hall facility.

College Park Hollywood streets overhaul gets warm reception

Updated plans for a re-imagined streetscape for College Park’s Hollywood commercial district now omit a planned “fitness trail” once proposed for the project, but they retain significant enhancements to pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure in the heart of the city’s northern business hub. Chief among those design features are new bus shelters, the expansion of a concrete-curb-protected bike lanes on Rhode Island Avenue south of Edgewood Road, miniature parks with swingsets and stages in road blocks that were once dead-end service lanes. 

The meeting was attended by about two-dozen residents. During comments, most were broadly supportive of the plans, though there existed some quibbles about individual design elements. Mel Blain, owner of Posh Cycling and Fitness, said she is eagerly awaiting new city investment in the neighborhood. Her business fronts one of the planned mini-parks on the eastern edge of Rhode Island Avenue, which features a pavilion stage Blaine said her business could use to host yoga classes. 

“When I brought my business here I was told this streetscape was coming, and I really wanted to take advantage of it,” said Blaine after the meeting.

Tonight: Updated Hollywood streetscape plans unveiled

College Park residents will have a chance tonight to review and weigh in on updated plans for a complete re-imagining of the Hollywood neighborhood’s commercial streetscape. 

Tonight’s meeting will be an unveiling of the “60 percent” design plans, where more fleshed-out schemes will be discussed. The meeting will take place at 4912 Nantucket Road in College Park from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The project dates to 2015, when College Park hired a consultant to examine opportunities to enhance the public right-of-way in the Northern College Park neighborhood’s commercial center near Rhode Island Avenue and Edgewood Road. This area is home to a number of businesses, such as Proteus Bicycles and MOM’s Organic Market, that inhabit a mix of mid-century and earlier strip malls fronted by parking lots and a haphazard mix of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. The entire project, from engineering design through construction, is estimated to cost a combined $1.8 million. A $275,000 engineering contract was awarded to firm Sabra Wang and Assoc.