It's hard to believe that the first day of school is just a few weeks away. The County Council is on a legislative break for the month of August, but my staff and I will be busy working closely with our civic associations, responding to constituent concerns, planning Parkdale High School's first annual Career and College Fair, attending National Night Out events and much more.
The teachers and students who will return to William Wirt Middle School know that the school is in desperate need of complete replacement. At my April Town Hall meeting civic association leaders like Alice Bishop passed around a petition requesting this as a priority.
I'm proud to report that the Fiscal Year 2016 budget (FY2016), which began on July 1, includes the capital funding necessary to begin planning for a complete replacement of William Wirt Middle School and also includes funding to begin planning for an additional middle school to be built in the northern area of the County. I also worked to ensure additional Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for PGCPS to upgrade food service facilities and kitchen renovations throughout the system.
In the FY2016 budget we created a Prince George's County Office of Veterans Affairs--the first County Office of Veterans Affairs in the state, which will serve as a crucial point of contact for our veterans of all ages to access information and connect to resources. Two library projects are moving forward--the renovation of the New Carrollton branch, which will start soon and a new Hyattsville branch. Both libraries are some of the oldest in the County and have been renovated in many years.
Since taking office, I have been focused on doing all that I can to support economic development that will add to the County's commercial tax base and take some of the tax burden off of our homeowners. Development, especially at our Metro stations and in our established communities, will strengthen our neighborhoods and connect our residents to new job opportunities. I am excited to see the fruits of my work--and the work of many others--come to fruition through incredible new projects.
The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development moved into their new office building at the New Carrollton Metro. Market-rate housing adjacent to that site will be coming soon and retail will follow.
The new TargetExpress opened in College Park last week. This is the first TargetExpress on the East Coast. North of Target Express on Baltimore Avenue at Paint Branch Parkway, the Hillman Hotel is coming out of the ground. Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon, Kapnos by Mike Isabella, and a high-end restaurant by Mike Franklin, beloved owner of Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery and General Store, are just three of the amenities that will be located in the hotel.
Still further north, the old Koon's Ford site--vacant for years--has been demolished to make room for another new hotel and CVS. Check out Bis Buzz's article, College Park is About to Explode to learn more.
On July 22, I partnered with the Prince George's County
Executive, Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation, University of Maryland, City of College Park, WMATA/Metro and LOCUS Smart Growth America to host Showcase College Park. More than 100 developers and business leaders attended the event to learn about our shared vision for the College Park Metro and specific development opportunities on parcels of land owned by Prince George's County and WMATA. Former Council Member Eric Olson, now executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership, led a bus tour of the area.
I know that establishing Food Truck Hubs in the County will also promote economic development throughout the County, especially around Metro Stations. My colleagues, Councilwomen Lehman and Toles and I have been working with citizens, municipalities and associations such as the Food Equity Council and DMV Food Truck Association since January to craft legislation that will bring high-quality food trucks to areas around Metro stations while increasing health, safety and enforcement regulations for all mobile vendors. Legislation to do this--and implement steep fines and towing for mobile vendors parked or operating illegally--passed out of Health, Education and Human Services Committee and will have a public hearing in September.
Did you hear that ARTOMATIC is coming to Prince George's County in October? The month-long art exhibit will take over a currently-vacant building on the south side of the New Carrollton Metro station. I'll post details on Facebook and Twitter as soon as I learn more.
There's no doubt you heard that Governor Hogan announced he is moving forward with the Purple Line. With 9 of the 21 total stops in District 3, this is a project I've been working on for more than a dozen years. I have no doubt that the Purple Line will help revitalize our inner-beltway neighborhoods and am committed to working with organizations like the Central Kenilworth Area Revitalization (CKAR) Community Development Corporation on workforce development job training to ensure that our residents and neighborhoods are lifted up--and not left behind--by the revitalization and new development the Purple Line brings. You may have read in the Washington Post that the County government is considering moving its offices to Largo. While the story was premature, the County has purchased an office building in Largo that could house the legislative branch and other agencies. The Council was briefed on this for the first time last week and I have requested a public briefing, which I hope will be scheduled in September. Like you, I have many questions and need to learn more. This is an important discussion for us to have as we work to ensure that our County government is as accessible as possible to the almost one million residents we serve. The decision must also make financial sense. Please also be sure to like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter --I'm pretty active on those spaces and share good information every day. Thanks in advance for engaging with me there. But, of course, don't hesitate to use the phone or email to reach out to my staff and me anytime at (301) 952-3060 or CouncilDistrict3@co.pg.md.us.
Together Strengthening our Community,