Minutes of January 7, 2002
Town of Riverdale Park
Mayor and Council Legislative Session
Call To Order
The legislative session of the Mayor and Council was called to order. Present were Councilmember's Feldberg, Blaschke, Davis, and Scott. Also present were Police Chief Evans, Administrator Prangley and Mr. Houser, the new Director of Public Works.
CM Tiberio was absent due to back and nerve trouble. CM Almirez is out of the country.
Pledge Of Allegiance And Moment of Silence
Approval Of Agenda
CM Davis made a motion to approve the agenda. CM Blaschke seconded the motion. CM Davis asked that DPWT's latest bus route proposal be considered and it was added under Item 17, Unfinished Business. The motion passed unanimously.
Town Administrator and Treasurer's Report
Mr. Prangley read aloud the Treasurer's report noting that the council approved Phase I to Phase II balance transfer took place during the month of December.
The motion to approve the Treasurers report, subject to audit, was made by CM Davis and seconded by CM Blaschke. The motion passed unanimously. There were no questions or comments.
Mr. Prangley gave a brief, end of the year report. Mr. Prangley announced that all departments have worked creatively, and innovatively, to save the town money. An extensive list of public works projects is available for review. Management and staff are working to implement projects decided on by residents. This has been a good year of doing more with less, coming up with innovative programs, as well as pursuing and obtaining grants.
The remainder of Riverdale Rd street lights are coming in on Thursday, another 55 in the inventory are coming in to complete our Neighborhood Conservation/Smart growth Project. Completion of the work is expected in 2 -3 weeks. Also, there was a meeting with Mr. Weincoup of PG County who has agreed to the amendments to the public works improvement plans. A staff person was assigned to Dr. Kazmierzack to see fruition of the minutes that would be incorporated and approved by county staff. That process should be completed in 2 weeks and bidding can begin around the middle of the month.
CM Davis asked how soon the new lights on Riverdale Rd would be turned on. Mr. Prangley said they want PEPCO to be sure everything is grounded properly before turning on the first 55 lamps (there are three power stations involved). The floating cobra heads will be removed. The lights were spaced for public safety coverage.
The original project deadline was June 30, 2002, though they're hoping to be finished within the month (no specific date). He recommended that the Mayor and Council do a full walk through in early spring to look for expansion cracks and joints, and to be sure the work was done properly. The Mayor noted that four don't permit enough clearance for a wheelchair and are not fully ADA compliant. There is an effort between the engineer and contractor to make modifications to move the conduits for full ADA compliance on the north and south sides of Riverdale Rd.
No letters were requested.
Mayor Herman announced that one of our officers resigned to accept a position with another jurisdiction. The vacancy was short because Riverdale Park has an environment and the type of police force that others prefer to move into and join forces with.
Chief Evans introduced Officer Slattery, explaining that he has 2 years experience with the Forest Heights Police Department and is a qualified individual. He cleared the background process and has been range qualified, so he will be on the street tomorrow. Officer Slattery is a resident of Montgomery County and is a graduate of the University of Maryland.
The Mayor swore in Officer Slattery.
Mayor Herman explained that in he has had opportunity to work with Officer Slattery in his capacity as Assistant State's Attorney and commended him.
The Mayor explained the extensive process the town underwent to fill Mr. Donaldson's position after he retired as the Director of Public Work's early last summer. The council approved James Houser as the new Director of Public Works and he has accepted. He was the previous Deputy Director of Public Works for the Town of Berwyn Heights, and he brings a lot of ideas about improving and streamlining our processes. The Mayor asked Mr. Houser if he wished to speak to the Town and Council.
Mr. Houser thanked the Mayor and Council for the opportunity to serve. He announced that his first priority was to make our public works department second to none in the area with the cooperation of the council, dedication of public works employees, and the patience, time and cooperation of everyone. The Mayor welcomed him.
Mayor Herman presented his first state of the Town address reviewing council actions in the last seven months. The town's end of calendar year expenses were $170,000 below current revenues and what was projected may result in a small surplus because of the actions of the new council. They're budget streamlining to maximize the impact of every dollar for the taxpayers.
Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, many in our community answered the call to help by donating blood, giving money to relief efforts, and assisting with food drives. Many flew flags and paid homage to the nation and those fallen. The state is attempting to reprogram previously earmarked monies for important programs so they can assist in emergency preparedness. Recently the town's $300,000 community legacy grant money was potentially jeopardized as the state sought every means possible to save money. The financial and psychological impacts of September 11th is real but the town has not been affected financially yet. A dispatcher and one of the officer's from our police department have been called up to active duty. The length of their tour of duty is yet unknown, but their positions will be held open until they return.
This past year saw a new emphasis on economic development. Tonight, the council will select a redeveloper for the town center properties. A new restaurant is moving into the old McDonald's, and there is renewed interest in dilapidated Route 1 properties which may see the benefit of the Sarbanes Route 1 grant program.
Recognizing the importance of economic development, Chris Davis was selected as Vice-Mayor, and will head up the new Economic Development Committee. The council has set aside money in the budget to hire a deputy administrator (who will soon be hired), whose primary focus will be economic development. In the past year, the Town has secured more than $1M in infrastructure and redevelopment grants, more than two times the annual figure in any year since the town was incorporated in 1920. The $300,000 community legacy grant, announced last month, was just one prong of the effort since we recently completed approximate 90% of the $800,000 Riverdale Rd refurbishment program. The final phase should occur in the next 2 weeks.
Construction work has recently occurred on 57th Ave in Ward 6, 54th Ave in Ward 2, and sections of Somerset in ward 1. Contract negotiations, worth more than $600,000, continue to provide money to pay for roadwork in areas affected by recent WSSC water main work (the majority of this work is in Ward 4). The Town has been active and aggressive pursuing grant money to minimize the impact of improvements on town residents.
There has been a greater cooperation with the residents of Madison Hill, who in the past felt their voices were not been heard in Town (they're a large portion of Ward 2). He credited CM Blaschke of Ward 2, and renewed interest in the council to embrace Madison Hill as a vital and important part of the community.
Discussion will continue tonight about the DPWT expanding service into our community with The Bus, allowing elderly residents, and those with limited access to other public transportation, the opportunity to receive transit right through their neighborhoods.
The Mayor explained that the Town is looking to expand the economic pie through the potential annexation of commercial and residential areas east of town, creating the possibility to provide even more services for residents. Recently, the Town Crier began a Spanish translation page in recognition that more than 20% of Riverdale Park residents are of Hispanic origin and are not native English speaking. We're reaching out to make every effort possible to tell new residents that they are a vital part of the community.
Mayor Herman said there is tremendous cooperation between the Mayor and Council for the first time in many years. Of his 8 [omega] years serving, the last 7 months have been an absolute delight. Everyone doesn't agree on everything, but they agree to disagree without viciousness. Everyone comes to each session prepared to do business and work together. He said they move forward with boldness and refuse to accept the word “can't” as part of the governmental dialogue in Riverdale Park. They can do what they need to do to serve the residents of Riverdale Park. The Mayor hopes 2002 is as productive as 2001, and believes 2002 will be a banner year if they can use the next 12 months as well as they did the last 5 months.
Police Department and Code Enforcement Report
Chief Evans wanted to allay citizen concerns following an erroneous article in the Journal reporting that a Riverdale park man was sentenced to life in prison. The man was not resident, and the heinous crime he committed (sex assault/attempted murder) did not occur in Riverdale Park. It happened in PG County on 56th Ave. Citizens continue to enjoy a safe and secure environment in Riverdale Park.
He noted that December was busier than he'd seen in his 6 [omega] yrs serving the town. There was an increase in citizen robberies, there were 9 in Wards 5 & 6 near the Kenilworth Ave corridor. The suspects haven't been located yet, but they're working to bring a speedy end to the situation. It's also occurring in other communities in the area.
Chief Evans read the rest of the December report. He said they need residents assistance by reporting any unusual activity they observe.
The new code enforcement officer starts work tomorrow and they will be moving forward diligently on a list of projects.
Paul Pazeck, a key member of the Chief's staff who ran informational services (automated enforcement field), has resigned. He was enticed away by a new vendor to our state. The Chief believes Officer Pazeck will be in a position to help us as we expand our automated enforcement program. Riverdale Park was the charter organization on line in the county.
CM Davis asked how the shed break in investigation was progressing. The Chief said they'd developed suspects and are still working with University Park and Hyattsville to apprehend the suspects
CM Scott asked if they were looking to fill Officer. Pazeck's position. He said they're evaluating the position to see how it works and fits into the police department. He will come back to council with recommendations in the future.
Public Works Report
Mr. Prangley said most of the Public Works report was addressed earlier, but added that the Anacostia Watershed Society has asked that discarded Christmas trees be given to them for help on a Northwest Branch project to refurbish the area. Public Works is stockpiling discarded trees for them, which will also save on landfill costs.
The Mayor pointed out the updated meeting schedule on page 2 of the agenda. Tree pick-up will occur this Friday and on January 18th. CM Feldberg will note other items during her ward report
Fire Department Report
Approval of Minutes
Approval of Minutes
The motion to approve the December 3rd Regular Legislative Meeting minutes was made by CM Davis. The motion was seconded by CM Blaschke and Scott. The motion carried unanimously.
The motion to approve the December 26th Special Legislative Meeting minutes was made by CM Scott. CM Davis seconded the motion. The Mayor noted that the meeting was to approve Mr. Houser as Director of Public Works.
Selection of Redevelopment Firm for Town Center Redevelopment
CM Davis explained that the Town Center Advisory Committee and several councilmember's met with two potential developers in December; All Phase Real Estate and Douglas Development. On the 19th , the committee overwhelmingly recommended their support for Douglas Development to the Council. Douglas Development is owned by Douglas Jamal and owns properties in town.
CM Davis read aloud the committee's recommendation, which was written by Jennie Reinhardt. The recommendation noted Douglas Development's experience with mixed use retail development of small scale historic downtown properties such as Granary Row in Gaithersburg, and The Park and Shop retail strip in the Cleveland Park's historic district in Washington DC. They have the experience and ability, to plan, design, finance, construct , market, and manage such developments with public/private ventures, and have financial resources more than sufficient for the project. Douglas Development is an experienced developer with enthusiasm for this Town and the project. They're committed to rebuilding and only bringing in businesses and offices that will encourage a bustling, commercial district with a small town pedestrian friendly ambiance, and to pursue occupants the town wants, and who will stay.
As recommended in the letter, CM Davis made the motion that the council select Douglas Development as the Town Center Developer, to enter into negotiations with Douglas Development with an eye toward them as the exclusive redeveloper of the Town Center. CM Blaschke seconded the motion.
CM Davis expressed her support for Douglas Development, echoing sentiments stated in the letter that Douglas Development is enthusiastic about the project even though it is small compared to higher profile projects they've done. Most recently they worked on redevelopment around the MCI Center in China Town. The Mayor pointed out that adoption of the resolution is only to entertain the beginning of the negotiations, not entering into a contract. The request for qualification process was an effort to receive proposals. The committee decided to orient towards redevelopment after entering into an agreement and covenants were placed on use of the land consistent with a multi page report by the committee. He explained that there was a third proposal advanced by a contractor who wanted the town to pay an individual to refurbish the town center but the process would have cost an additional $600,000.
Larry Tice, of Silk Tree Dr asked when the town center will be up and running. The Mayor explained that discussions and negotiations with the selected firm will occur over the next 45 to 60 days, the construction phase begin in approximately 6 months, with occupancy by fall 2002
CM Davis said that they're up against time constraints because of property variances. The county council refuses variance hearing after a certain date before an election and this year is an election year.
The motion passed unanimously.
Appointment of Design Committee Liaison for Town Center Redevelopment
The Mayor announced that the following names have been forwarded as a design group to work in consultation with the developing firm toward a final town center design, but council appointment is needed: Mr. Prangley, Town Administrator, CM Davis, CM Blaschke, Dorothy Murdoch, Ann Marie Larson, Bruce Werneck and Jennie Reinhardt.
CM Davis made the motion to submit the seven names as the Town Center Coordinating Committee. CM Feldberg seconded.
CM Davis gave background on some of the individuals. Ann Marie Larson was the Co-Chair of the Town Center Redevelopment Committee. During the day she works for the company that redeveloped Union Station. Dorothy Merdock participated in the project early on and is a well known local architect who does a lot of historic preservation work (i.e. Cleveland park). Jennie Reinhardt was Chairperson of the town center design subcommittee. Bruce Werneck owns the property adjacent to Town Center.
The motion passed unanimously.
Setting Date for Next Meeting of Town Center Advisory Committee
The Mayor asked if there was a desire for the Town Center Advisory Committee and the council to meet jointly, or to hold off until after design committee has done been work. CM Davis said that the committee would like to meet separately to discuss covenants. In the April 2001 report, there were suggestions of things that should not be included, but given the current economic climate, additional discussion about the types of business the town might want would be helpful. The council agreed to meet Tuesday, January 22nd at 7:30pm.
Recommendation for Telecommunications Pole Design at Elk's Lodge (Ward 2)
CM Blaschke reviewed a previous presentation about placement of a cell tower on Elk's Lodge property, noting that a technical staff report was recently received from Myers, Broadbell and Rosenbaum about the tower. Copies will be made available for review. It was recommended that the council proceed by drafting a letter with their selection of colors for the cell tower and the tower painted blue in Ward 4 was mentioned.
CM Blaschke made the motion to draft a letter recommending that the new tower be painted a camouflage or foresting type of color on the lower portion, and sky blue above the tree line as agreed to by many residents. CM Davis seconded the motion.
Chief Evans asked if anyone spoke to Nextel about consideration of the proposal he made. The Mayor said they'll do the color selection letter and work later on aspects of the ongoing relationship with Nextel.
The motion passed unanimously.
Recess from 8:30 - 8:35pm
Fire Department report
Dave Sutton apologized for not having a full report. He was late arriving as he was earlier attending the funeral of the former chief's mother-in-law. He wished everyone a happy new year. If anyone has questions they should call 301-927-0356. Residents are recommended to check their smoke detectors or put them in if they don't have them.
Mayor Herman extended condolences to the former chief's family. He thanked the Riverdale Park, and Riverdale Heights Fire Department, who served the town by escorting Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Committee and Ward Reports
CM Feldberg wished everyone a happy new year.
Timberline Tree Service has been hired to take down dead trees around Town, prune hazardous trees, and grind down stumps for removal. Estimates were received from four different companies and Timberline was the lowest.
CM Feldberg said traffic issues are the most common constituent problem she's received input on. She asked that those with concerns from her ward please attend the Traffic Study Committee meeting tomorrow at 7:00pm. The three issues she will raise at that meeting are: recommending removal of the no parking signs on the new street near the Riggs building in Rivertech Center, recommending two way traffic on Rittenhouse St in an effort to slow drivers (even with speed bumps people are still driving too fast), work on solutions to correct traffic problems for residents on Lafayette between Rivertech and Kenilworth. She hopes people will attend the meeting.
CM Blaschke wished everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. She said she'd just completed her first six months of public service and it had been a learning experience. She thanked Mr. Prangley, the town staff, the Mayor and council members for their assistance. Most of all she enjoyed meeting and working with constituents to assist them in solving problems. She reviewed council accomplishments including: acceptance of the streets and lights of Madison Hill by Riverdale Park, work was completed on the new pedestrian entrance to the park at 51st Ave, dedication of Madison Hills playground, extension on 54th Ave is underway, funds held by Riverdale Park were transferred to Madison Hills Homeowners Assn, numerous revisions to the town ordinance have been adopted, and many requests for service have been completed. She thanked Chief Evans and the police department for assisting Riversdale with visitors parking during the Candlelight Winter Nights Celebration. Mr. Day and his staff are very appreciative of their efforts. Ms. Feldberg and the Public Works department were thanked for all the trees planted in Ward 2. Many residents are looking forward to seeing them in the spring. An article published in the December issue of the Town Crier discussed our community's response to the September 11th attacks. To date, $545 has been collected towards the Riverdale Park flag project, while funds for the Riverdale Park Fire Department and the FOP have been forwarded to those organizations. She thanked residents for their much needed support.
CM Blaschke announced that she will be in North Dakota from January 21 - 31 to help her parents with their continuing health problems. She apologized for not being able to attend the January 28th worksession in her absence. Anyone wishing to contact her should leave voice messages at 301-699-7870 or messages can be emailed at: cablaschke @yahoo.com. Both will be checked on continual basis.
A Legislative Committee Meeting was scheduled for January 15th at 7:30pm following the Neighborhood Watch Meeting. Draft redistricting maps, trash container revisions, graffiti ordinance, and other revisions to the charter and ordinance will be discussed. Mr. Houser and the new code enforcement officer were invited.
The Mayor thanked CM Davis who acted in his place, and Mr. Prangley, who kept everything going while he was on vacation
CM Davis wished everyone a happy new year.
The new code enforcement person begins tomorrow. Ward 4 issues have been waiting and hopefully will be addressed in the next couple of weeks. WSSC work will continue as long as the weather holds, and up to $600,000 in new repaving work should be done in the spring. Hyattsville still hasn't given their speed hump recommendations for 43rd. If the sinkhole is not the issue holding things up there, she recommended that we repave only our half of the road in the spring, which may turn out to be a WSSC problem.
CM Davis thanked Mr. Prangley who provided an accounting of her salary which she donating back to the Town. She believes flags on the light posts on Riverdale Rd and Queensbury would be an asset to the infrastructure and neighborhood and was hopeful residents would donate to the project. If there is more response from residents she will turn her salary over to that portion of infrastructure. If not, she will turn it over to sidewalks for use in the spring.
The next town center meeting is January 22nd and residents are encouraged to attend, whether or not they've participated up to this point. All ideas are welcome.
CM Davis is waiting for the town to hire an Assistant Town Administrator to work on economic development projects. Some are a little out of the ordinary and require lead time. There is interest among members of the Town Center Redevelopment Committee to put together a 4 color town calendar made up of photos from a contest they would hold. If they're to do it for 2003, work needs to get underway so she will put out a call for interested parties in the Town Crier and will see how it goes. They're also interested in doing a mural project on the blank wall at EW Highway looking down Rittenhouse. She'll look into beginning that and make calls for interested parties. A staff person is needed to look into the feasibility of these, and other economic development ideas.
CM Davis, Blaschke, and Mayor Herman attended a meeting with the Historic Preservation Committee on December 18th where they unanimously approved both the Riverdale Park and West Riverdale historic district's. The committee was very enthusiastic about the project. College Park's were approved at the same meeting. CM Davis and the Mayor will testify at a meeting with the Maryland Historical Trust on February 5th.
Traffic Study Meeting - January 8th at 7:00pm
The Preservation Association of Riverdale Park - January 17th at 7:30pm. They'll discuss the 2002 house tour and proposals for how the historic district grant program will be handled.
History Center Committee Meeting - January 23rd at 8:00pm
CM Scott also echoed New Year's sentiments, wishing residents a happy, healthy and safe 2002. She thanked the Riverdale Park police and fire department for their hard work and dedication noting her awareness of their work as Public Safety Committee chairperson.
CM Scott acknowledged and introduced two visitors, Mr. Gary Wetmiller, her boss at GEICO, and his daughter, Cara, who is doing her last few hours of nonpartisan political activity community service as video operator during the meeting in an effort to gain the girl scout's prestigious silver tree foil award.
She noted that there is a lot of activity requiring police department attention in Ward 6. Eight of the nine robberies in town happened in Ward 6. All citizens are urged to report anything out of the ordinary that they notice to the police department. Those who have lights in their yards should replace them when needed, and report street lights that burn out near their residences. CM Scott urged everyone from Ward 6 to attend the upcoming Neighborhood Watch meeting scheduled for January 15th at 7:00pm.
CM Scott explained that she donates her councilperson's salary back to the town as a gift on behalf of Ward 6. In looking for ways to use funds that would benefit the entire town, she spoke to Mr. Prangley about designing a Riverdale Park flag that would go on same posts that the American flag banners will be going up on. They'll talk to designers in the next few weeks about using the town seal to design the flag, get quotes and order them.
Mr. Prangley said they're presently in the process of working on the artwork for the banners and they can look at CM Scott's idea as well as a MARC train idea, and other seasonal banners. CM Davis said we do need some type of corporate identity, but we need to decide what we're “selling” and make a statement to that affect. When asked, Mr. Prangley said Jerry Cane is involved in the project. CM Davis said different flags should be used at different locations, i.e.: Route 1 flags should have a corporate identity, while internal flags should be more patriotic, or have a softer thematic approach. The Mayor said they'll see how things progress, they're still attempting to get a portion of the cost covered by state grant funding. The Mayor expressed appreciation for CM Scott's contribution.
Mayor Herman explained that a letter was received about a modified bus route for The Bus, DPWT's commuter bus, which is scheduled to begin service by the middle, or end of January. He reiterated that choosing the best route from the start makes placement of the bus stops easier, but nothing is etched in stone and changes can be made later if needed.
CM Davis said Option 2, service from Riverdale Rd to Auburn and Good luck and through Riverdale Heights, picks up more of the town, and noted that it would be easier to shorten the route later, as opposed to lengthening the shorter route, Option 1. The Mayor concurred. He reviewed for those listening that there was interest in Option 2 from those who lived in surrounding areas outside our town, from unincorporated parts of the county, without city or town council to speak for them.
CM Blaschke agreed with Option 2 noting that that route would also benefit Madison Hills residents.
CM Davis added that stops west of the railroad tracks, requested by Ward 4 residents were added to the revised route.
The Mayor held up the route maps for those at home to see on cable, and he explained the route from Good Luck Rd down Auburn. He said the disadvantage of Option 2 is that it takes 60 minutes to run the route as opposed to a 40 minute service under Option 1. The frequency of service is less because the route is longer, but the service area is expanded.
There was no public comment.
CM Davis made the motion to approve Bus Route 14, Option 2. CM Feldberg seconded the motion. The Mayor asked the Chief if there were any public safety issues and he noted none.
The motion passed unanimously.
The Mayor said he would direct a letter to Betty Francis, DPWT Director, approving Option 2 and indicating the town's eagerness to see the service implemented as soon as possible. He will also request promotional brochure material for residents and suggested publishing an article in the upcoming issue of the Town Crier on new service.
Mr. Prangley confirmed that the service will be implemented by the end of the month.
The Mayor explained that the bus service will eventually be curtailed if it isn't used because of county budget limitations. The cost to ride is only 75 cents, and senior citizens pay a reduced fare of 35 cents. He strongly encouraged residents to use The Bus so that service isn't cut.
CM Davis made a motion that the Town reimburse the Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Department for fuel expenses incurred while helping transport Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. CM Scott seconded the motion. CM Davis and Scott considered it a friendly amendment that the reimbursed amount not exceed $100. The motion passed unanimously. The Mayor directed Mr. Sutton to request an invoice of Riverdale Heights Fire Department.
CM Davis made the motion to adjourn. All agreed.
Meeting adjourned at 9:30pm
Minutes prepared from videotape.
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