State of the Town 2000
by Ann Ferguson
Throughout the year residents receive regular services from the major departments of the town--Public Works, Police and General Government. Presented below is a report concerning additional projects undertaken by these departments in 1999 and a brief summary of other town-related activities.
Town-wide street and sidewalk improvements were completed with the oversight of the General Government office under a Phase I infrastructure program. In late 1999, an engineering survey was arranged to determine the Phase II projects for the 2000-2001 budget. In the past year, the town office also worked with the State Highway Administration to coordinate the Kenilworth Avenue streetscape improvements which were started in October.
Red light camera enforcement was initiated by the Police Department at six intersections beginning in late June to reduce the high accident rate along the major highways which run through the town. Also a satellite police office was opened at Jefferson Hall (Ward 6) in an effort to reduce the higher crime activity present in this area. For the third consecutive year, the number of townwide burglaries and robberies were reduced.
New trash compactor trucks, a backhoe and a pressure washer were purchased for the Public Works Department. Acquisition of a backhoe and pressure washer expands the type of projects PW now undertakes. (On Riverdale Park Day a PW employee used it for the first time to remove a heavy van that contained sound equipment and was stuck in the soft ground of the mansion lawn). The washer equipment is used to clean trash trucks and to remove graffiti from public areas. Public Works continues to receive a high approval rating from residents.
The total attendance for all 1999 events sponsored by the Recreation Board was estimated at 2000 persons. The Board is made up of volunteers from all wards of the town who put their time and talent together to provide seasonal events for families.
Other town volunteer organizations are: the Farmers Market Task Force, in coordination with the town office, sponsored a successful (and expanded) second year market at town center. The Preservation Association gathered photographs and background for use by the County Historic Preservation Commission in determining boundaries for a historic district. The "Boys and Girls Club", supported by the town through use of the community building and the ballfield on Tuckerman Street, had a successful and well-attended sports schedule including a soccer tournament win. The town now has a web site and is set up to receive e-mail thanks to the work of the Web Site Committee. Members of the "Seniors Club" enjoyed a bus trip to Brookside Gardens and the annual Christmas Luncheon sponsored by the town government. Through the recommendations of the Traffic Study Committee, stop signs were installed in areas with high speed problems bringing about improvements for residents. The Tree Committee began an inventory of all town trees that will list identification of variety, condition and maintenance needs.
A special project completed in 1999 was dedication of a Veterans Monument funded through individual, organization and business donations matched by town funds. Oversight of this project was thanks to the good work of the Veterans Monument Committee.
Two major projects completed in 1999 were Crescent Cities Center at the former Leland Hospital site and a new McDonald's on Route One. The town government played a major role in both of these projects.
A problem that the town government faced in December was the termination of emergency medical services announced by the Riverdale Fire Department (RFD). After action taken by the Mayor and Council, in conjunction with Prince George's County Fire Department officials, an agreement was reached for reorganization of the RFD under an oversight committee. The goal is a continued joint operation by the town volunteer and county career firefighters providing fire and emergency services to town residents. In this coming year we look forward to the opening of the Madison Hill Playground funded in the 1999-2000 M-NCPPC budget. This playground was requested by the town with support from the Madison Hill Homeowners Association.
Sympathy on the death of John McDevitt, a resident and retired employee of the Public Works Department, is extended to his family. Also, sympathy is extended to the family of Fred Schatz of Taylor Road. And, longtime resident, Mrs. Julia Babcock of Somerset Road died in late December. Our sympathy is extended to her many friends.
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