A Petition by Suchitra Balachandran
Mayor and Council of the City of College Park
In 2014, the Mayor and Council of College Park voted to build a new and larger City Hall at the present Knox Road site for roughly $8 million. They chose this site despite the majority of civic associations urging the council to build on the Calvert Road school site which was larger and could accommodate onsite parking. Instead the Mayor and Council preferred a joint project with the University of Maryland which included an office building or two for the University and a larger space for City Hall. That project required the University to acquire the frontage property on Route 1 which the University has been unable to fully obtain yet.
So, on Tuesday, November 28th, the Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing and plan to immediately vote on whether to threaten eminent domain acquisition for the two frontage properties the University has been unable to obtain. [See Ordinance 17-0-09 at http://www.collegeparkmd.gov/document_center/MayorCouncil/Agendas/2017RegularMeeting/111417RMP.pdf ]
PROJECT COST: The cost of the project has mushroomed to a conservative $12.5 million. Designs show a 3-story City building behind a 5-story University building and no onsite parking. [See http://www.kabircares.org/city-eyes-to-acquire-route-1-properties-by-eminent-domain-for-city-hall-project]. Council members have not discussed this cost inflation with residents; in fact the City Hall project has not been explained in public since the 2014 vote was taken. Before any further action is taken, it is incumbent on the Mayor and Council to discuss the size, scope and cost of the project in public forums held citywide and solicit public input on all aspects of this project.
COMMUNITY SPACE: Furthermore, since 2014, the City has signed the Calvert Road school property over on a 40-year lease to the University for a daycare facility. That lease agreement makes available 3000 sq ft of community space to residents on evenings and weekends except for 4 days each month. The allocation of this community space will be managed by the City. That means that the new City Hall project, which included community space, should be redesigned.
Since 2014, the Mayor and Council have had no public discussion on the City Hall project and are now poised to embark on a project that costs at least 50% more than previously planned. The Mayor and Council owe us answers before planning to spend any more of our tax dollars.
Please sign the petition here: http://bit.ly/2zt1M3m