Some of College Park's greatest assets are our green spaces, including excellent MNCPPC parks such as Lake Artemesia, Calvert Road Park, and Calvert Neighborhood Park; as well as city owned parks such as the Calvert Road School and the Calvert Hills and Old Town playgrounds, and the beautiful grounds of the University of Maryland. In addition to supporting our green spaces, the City has made a commendable commitment to our environment, including becoming a certified Maryland Sustainable Community, and has been working to reduce the City's carbon footprint through tree planting and purchasing hybrid city vehicles.
Though these efforts are laudable, the City of College Park can and should do more.
Over the past several years, we have seen a dramatic change in the University of Maryland's approach to and overall level of engagement with the City of College Park. From a past relationship that many in the city have characterized as "icy", the University is now actively engaged in collaborating with leaders throughout the City as we work together to make College Park an even better place for all residents. Signs of this collaboration continue to develop around us, from the recently-announced "Art Space" venue on Baltimore Avenue downtown, to the new University of Maryland Hotel and Conference Center, to closer partnerships with local schools including the College Park Academy, the University is a full partner with the city in the re-imagining of College Park as a top 20 college town.
This new collaboration has thus far been very good, and I commend both the University and the City for their good-faith engagement, much of which has been accomplished through the excellent work of the College Park City-University Partnership (CPCUP).
It is extremely important that this collaboration continue. However, it is equally important that our city leadership assess new opportunities for collaboration critically, to make sure that joint projects serve all residents of the City, including those who (like me and my family) have no formal affiliation with the University.
One of the things I love and value most about College Park is that it is truly multi-generational. From our youngest residents to our most senior, our neighborhoods are diverse, vibrant, and active places. A key to maintaining this vibrancy is enhancing services and supports to residents as they age, so that they may, if they wish, comfortably stay in their homes and make such key contributions to our neighborhoods.
If elected, a particular focus of my time on City Council will be the successful redevelopment of the Calvert Road School site. This property, which is owned by the City of College Park and once housed a public elementary school until the 1970s, has been left mostly vacant for nearly a decade, and is in the process of slowly decomposing.
This is unacceptable.
The school was the neighborhood school for four decades, and several generations of residents have fond memories of going to classes, community events, and even teaching in the building.
The Calvert Road School site must be redeveloped, and it must occur soon.
This election is happening at a critical time in our City's history. We can all see the cranes rising above the skyline; from the Riverdale Station/Whole Foods development adjoining our city to the south, to the new University of Maryland Hotel and Conference Center on Baltimore Avenue and Paint Branch Parkway, College Park is undergoing a transformation. It will take passionate, dedicated leadership to make sure that the many projects underway deliver smart development with the amenities that we need, while still respecting the quality of life, character, and vitality of our neighborhoods. This is clearly a difficult balancing act, yet achieving this balance is critical.