City receives state funding for major projects
By: Sam Draddy
The City of College Park is receiving more than $22 million in funding from the State of Maryland for a number of improvements in the city; $9.7 million in additional funding is earmarked for the Route 1 rebuilding project, $5 million is tagged for graduate student housing at the University of Maryland (UMD), and $200,000 will go towards a new playground for the Al-Huda School. Additional funds will help preserve affordable single-family houses in the city.
Maryland Funding Goes Projects Throughout the City
By funding improvements to Route 1, the state is continuing support for a project that has been in the works for years, according to State Senator James Rosapepe, who is the vice chair of the state senate’s budget and taxation committee. The project impacts the stretch of Route 1 from downtown College Park to Greenbelt Road. Rosapepe said the improvements will increase safety and create a visually pleasing thoroughfare. “I call it the Champs-Élysées of College Park,” he said. Rosapepe and the 21st District delegates have been pushing for completion of the project which began in May 2020. “Fundamentally we’re coming to the conclusion of the project over the next year or so,” he said.
College Park City-University Partnership allocates Maryland funding
The College Park City-University Partnership will receive $7.9 million to create the Community Preservation Trust. The partnership will use the trust to purchase single-family properties and make those homes available at a lower-than-market cost to buyers who meet certain income criteria. In the event that a participating homeowner later sells their home, a portion of the home’s appreciation will be returned to the trust — funding that will then ensure continuity of the program. “The city and the University of Maryland have embraced this model very quickly, and the intention is to try to keep it in single-family home ownership,” Rosapepe noted.
The College Park City-University Partnership formed a workgroup to address issues related to the lack of sufficient graduate student housing in the city, as well. Based on the workgroup’s recommendations, the city requested $50 million from the state for a proposed residential complex to replace the Leonardtown apartments on campus. While the state has not signaled whether the full amount will be made available, the city will receive $5 million this year. “Our notion is that over time, we want to get more state money to subsidize more graduate student housing,” Rosapepe explained. “It can not be all done at once, but this is just the beginning.” The city is also considering using CPT funds to acquire properties to use as graduate student housing.
Local private school to use funding for new playground
The Al-Huda School received funding from the state, as well, for a new playground. The private Islamic, preK-12 school, which was founded in 1995, will open the playground to the public, which is a condition of the funding. “We’re basically collaborating with the state to add a playground which will benefit all the residents in the area,” said Minhaj Hasan, who is an at-large board member of Dar-us-Salaam, the organization that oversees the school.
By upgrading safety measures along Route 1 and ensuring availability of affordable housing in College Park, the city is directly advancing two key objectives of the 5-year strategic plan that the College Park City Council passed in 2020.