By Sydnee Singletary

The City of College Park has worked closely with Prince George’s County, the University of Maryland, and the state to fully plan and pursue the “Complete & Green Streets Project.” This implementation plan was released in 2016, to make the residential, educational, commercial, and entertainment areas more accessible by active transportation such as walking and biking.

Edmonston Road runs parallel to Kenilworth Avenue, from Old Calvert Road through the College Park Estates and Yarrow Subdivisions.  The City began a sidewalk installation project in February 2023. The plans for the project include cutting down a large portion of trees to build a sidewalk for mobility to bus stops and ultimately to the Calvert Road Community Park along Old Calvert Road.

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The installation of the sidewalk along Edmonston Road has resulted in the loss of significant numbers of trees.
Photo Credit: Jessica Burshtynskyy

Although the Complete & Green Streets Project’s objective is to ensure safety among pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages, this project creates controversy for residents who voice concerns about cutting down trees.

“The Complete Streets project is part of our broader initiatives that the city has been involved in. But it’s been about enhancing connectivity and safety for pedestrians and cyclists in our city. The city invested millions of dollars in sidewalk improvements, trail improvements, and roadside improvements to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists,” College Park City Councilmember John Rigg said.

According to Rigg, the city is required to build additional stormwater enhancements on any road when making improvements to it. For the Edmonston Road project, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has replaced the water main along this road and built bioswales, which collect polluted stormwater runoff and require the removal of greenery. 

“The sidewalk would be useful for the students attending schools in the area walking home, but the money used to construct the sidewalk could definitely go towards other aspects of the community like more flowers and less trash in the area,” said Greenbelt resident, Kennedy Walker.

In an interview, College Park City Councilmember Stuart Adams discussed the local meeting that was held on March 2nd to review the project with city officials and other members of the community. 

“I think the strong majority of residents in the area understand the city is doing what’s right. But some residents would prefer that we didn’t do this project. They would prefer that the trees would have remained and the sidewalk would just not be installed. But it’s a tough decision,” Adams said.

This project adds to the previous concern of canopy loss with more than 37,000 cut-down trees between 2009 to 2018, according to the College Park Tree and Landscaping Board. College Park city officials, however, report that they are working towards a reforestation plan where hundreds of replanted plants and trees will replace the previously removed greenery.

“You’ll see in our budget for future years, we’re looking at allowing residents to simply call the city on our form, to request trees to be planted on their private property. We’re taking this to heart and this is part of that equation.” Adams said.

This reforestation plan is expected to be finalized in April 2023.