By Eric Olson
In my last column, I discussed some of the data compiled over the last ten years that informed development of the new University Community Vision 2030. As a recap: in 2011, representatives of the city and the University of Maryland, and state and local officials came together to support the University District Vision 2020, which set goals for improving transportation, housing and development, schools, and safety and sustainability in our community. We made a lot of progress over these 10 years, and now we’ve set our sights on the next decade.
The new 2030 plan includes goals and strategies that will continue to move College Park forward as a thriving, equitable and sustainable community. We developed this plan over the past year with input from city, county and state officials, residents, business leaders, and university and student representatives. The 2030 Vision identifies four key areas that echo and build the 2020 plan: housing and development, transportation and mobility, public health and safety, and education. All of our work will be conducted with an eye to ensuring equity and increasing sustainability.
Here are some goals for the coming year and longer-term goals for the decade.
Within the category of housing and development, our overarching goals are to attract and retain homeowners; recruit and retain retail, commercial, and hospitality businesses with local and regional appeal; and attract new research and development companies to build on the success of the university’s Discovery District. We structured these goals to enhance the working relationship between and among the city, the university, the Partnership and Terrapin Development Company, which is a joint venture of the city and university.
In 2021, our effort within this category will be focused on neighborhood preservation, including exploring the establishment of a trust to help preserve owner-occupied housing in neighborhoods throughout the city and to address residents’ needs to ensure that people with moderate incomes are not priced out of College Park. This trust would be a nonprofit entity that could purchase houses and the land they sit on. The trust would permanently own the land, but would sell the houses, with conditions. This makes homes more affordable and helps increase homeownership.
Under the category of transportation and mobility, we want to increase ridership on public transit, including on Metro bus and rail, and university and county transportation services. We will also make improvements to encourage walking and biking throughout College Park. We will achieve these goals by continuing to support completion of the Purple Line light rail, completing the current phase of the Baltimore Avenue renovation and expanding the project north of University Boulevard, and developing an infrastructure plan that serves bicyclists.
This year, the bulk of our work in the transportation and mobility category will focus on advancing plans for a riverwalk along the east side of Paint Branch, between Metzerott Road and Baltimore Avenue, and including connections to the Paint Branch Trail. This project addresses environmental restoration and includes features that engage pedestrians with the water and existing landmarks. In addition, we will review existing plans for walkways and bike lanes and consolidate them into a cohesive whole. We will pay particular attention to increasing east-west connections throughout the city.
In the area of public health and safety, we will focus on enhancing cooperative efforts by the city, the university and other agencies to support and further our community needs in these areas. As part of this effort, we will underscore the importance of the university’s student code of conduct and maintain the expanded jurisdiction of the university’s police force.
As we focus on education, we will seek to enhance K-12 opportunities, including expansion of College Park Academy, to attract and retain families with school-age children. We will also focus on expanding pre-kindergarten opportunities for residents’ and university employees’ children, and on developing new partnerships with local schools.
Of note, two pre-kindergarten/child care centers are opening this year: Monarch Preschool College Park, and the University of Maryland Child Development Center. We will be promoting both of these to the public.
Another area we will spend significant effort on this year is developing a plan to market College Park as a great place to live and work.
More information on the University Community Vision 2030, including background data, can be found on the City-University Partnership’s website at collegeparkpartnership.org/universitycommunityvision2030/.