UP Meeting Notes: STEP-UP Initiatives Approved, Budget Discussion Delayed
Public Works Director Mickey Beall says road work is going well across town.
The University Park Town Council approved extending the kitchen waste compost pilot program and several other STEP-UP initiatives Monday night. An executive session delayed the public meeting by one hour, which meant the council was not able to get to all agenda items. Below is a summary of key developments and discussion points.
• Two Elizabeth Seton High School students—Erica Jackson, 18, and Shannon Hayden, 17—requested the town council install a stop sign at the end of 40th Avenue and College Heights Drive. Jackson said it’s difficult for her to drive near the intersection and that a stop sign would slow traffic in the area.
• The council quickly and unanimously approved a permit for the construction of a 15-by-17-foot deck at 6817 Pineway.
• Mayor John Tabori reminded council members that the Maryland Municipal League’s annual convention is June 24-27 in Ocean City. It’s an opportunity to exchange ideas with town officials from all over the state, he said.
• At the conference, Tabori and Small Town Energy Program for University Park Director Chuck Wilson will give a presentation on the STEP-UP program—a three-year federally funded effort to improve energy efficiency in University Park.
• Tabori also reported on the Prince George’s County District Council’s five-hour hearing for the 37-acre Cafritz development project last Wednesday, calling it “disorganized chaos.” The meeting was marked with confusion, since many attendees didn’t realize they would be placed under oath. The hearing will resume April 30, giving residents more time to prepare sworn testimonials.
STEP-UP director’s report
STEP-UP Director Chuck Wilson asked the council to approve several items, all of which passed unanimously:
• STEP-UP’s six-month, 50-household kitchen waste compost pilot program was set to end April 24, but the council approved a three-month extension. This is necessary to further research the program’s environmental savings and the logistics of implementing a townwide program, Wilson said. It will cost $1,400 per month, which falls within STEP-UP’s budget.
• The council approved hiring Pinnacle, a Baltimore-based communications consulting firm, to help the town market the program. The total price tag is $80,000 for 12 months of work, according to Wilson.
• Additionally, the council approved hiring SERA, a Colorado-based program evaluation consulting firm, to gather energy usage data. The total cost is $85,000 for 15 months of work, according to Wilson.
• STEP-UP is working to expand to three neighboring communities: Riverdale Park, Hyattsville, and College Heights. The program is drafting a letter of understanding with the town attorney’s help to be given to the three towns, Wilson said.
• The council unanimously approved establishing a loan loss reserve with Sandy Spring Bank for $50,000. This is extra cash put aside in case a business runs into financial trouble. Wilson expects to bring the final contract to the next council session.
• The council learned that a memorandum of understanding to put solar panels atop University Park Elementary School is with the Prince George’s County School Board’s attorney. A decision should be made by May 10, Wilson said.
University Park police chief’s report
• Chief Michael Wynnyk said the department is working with county police to combat theft from vehicles. In March, the town had nine such incidents, eight of which occurred in unlocked vehicles, he said.
• Additionally, the University Park Police Department secured a licensed radio channel frequency from the Federal Communications Commission, Wynnyk said.
Public works director’s report
• Construction on the town’s roads is moving along quickly, said Public Works Director Mickey Beall. Workers finished repaving in Ward 1 and have moved onto Van Buren Street in Ward 3.
• Beall commissioned traffic studies to occur before May 15 in three areas: 40th Avenue, College Heights Drive, and Tennyson Road. The cost falls within the $5,000 allocated by the town budget for governmental studies, he said.
• Council members were scheduled to provide feedback on the fiscal year 2013 budget draft. However, there wasn’t enough time to hold a productive discussion, so Tabori said he would arrange for a special meeting in the near future. The town has until May 31 to pass a budget, according to town Treasurer Dan Baden.
• The vote on two ordinances — to reward town employees for their hard work and to enact a permit fee and penalty for placing construction and storage receptacles on private property — was moved to the May meeting.
Ward 7 Councilwoman Jacqueline Bradley Chacón was absent.