Salutations, Streetcar Suburbs!

Welcome to the Streetcar Spotlight — “Is that Snow, Petals, or Ash?” Edition. The short answer is: yes. You’ve already noticed the abrupt meteorological shift in seasons, but now it’s official: Spring arrived on March 19 at 11:06 PM after nearly a week of temperature highs hovering up in the 70s followed by actual snow flurries Tuesday — a last gasp of winter in its final hours. I had more encounters with neighbors out gardening this past weekend than during all of winter combined, though my joy was tempered by the simultaneous annual return of antihistamines and inhalers — and now, wildfire smoke from Virginia.

Here’s my spring wish to you all: may all of your picnics be sunny, your gardens bountiful, and your allergies and asthma well-controlled!

What are your secret early-spring gardening hacks to share with fellow readers? Add your tips to our related Facebook posts (HL&T, CPH&N, & Laurel).

Click “view in browser” or HERE to see the full version with UPCOMING EVENTS.

Warm Fuzzies

Shout-out to the roadside cleanup crew I passed last week on Kenilworth Ave. in College Park. Is it just me, or does it seem like an entire garbage truck’s worth of trash has been spilled per mile on that stretch of road over the last few months?

Whether it was volunteers or MDOT’s State Highway Administration, thank you, and please come back to finish the job! By the way, here’s how to request litter removal for any state-maintained road.

Got a kudos for a local business or government office/employee? Send it to us to potentially be included in the next newsletter!

Local News in a Nutshell: Original Reporting & Analysis

Vacant Building Tax Proposal

Vacancy 6870 2048x1437 1The city of College Park voted to explore imposing a tax on vacant and/or blighted properties. As Sam Gauntt of the Here & Now reports, it can be more profitable for owners and developers to keep a property vacant, for a variety of reasons, including being able to offset capital gains taxes by writing the vacant properties off as a loss. In other words — it’s just math, and the city is hoping to identify the right tax structure and language to make that math work more towards ending vacancies.

From the Editor: Bring back in-person council meetings

chambers 2048x1536 1While we’re on the subject of city government, Life & Timesmanaging editor Griffin Limerick offers an editorial calling for a long-overdue return of in-person council meetings in Hyattsville. He notes that Takoma Park, Greenbelt, College Park, and Laurel have all returned to some combination of in-person and virtual meetings starting as far back as 2022. Limerick writes that since March 2020, “the people of Hyattsville have not shared a room with their government, have not been able to observe more than one councilmember at the same time [if at all]…have not made their presence more difficult to dismiss than with the brief click of a mute button.”

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Hyattsville resurrects its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Also in Hyattsville, Paul Ruffins reports that the city is working to reactivate its dormant CERT, a group of residents who can help in local emergencies, such as the recent train derailment or flooding. CERT volunteers support first responders during disasters or provide immediate aid until they can arrive. The city currently has 12 volunteers and is seeking at least 8 more. Contact Reggie Bagley for more info: crbagley@hyattsville.org.

Time for tree TLC (& planting more of them)

tree photo scaled 1Back to the topic of spring: the best time to plant trees is right now (or in fall), according to Laurel’s Joe Murchison in this month’s column. It’s also time to evaluate the health of the trees you already have, especially given the many stressors related to climate change. His advice is certainly timely: we’ve just had to schedule our own treatment for a bad case of Crepe Myrtle scale in our front yard. You can also sign up for a number of “free tree” programs right now if your yard is eligible. There’s a statewide watershed-focused seedling giveaway, up to 25 trees from Casey Trees countywide, three free trees from Global Health Projects, and various city initiatives on top of those. There’s even a $25 off coupon for select native trees at participating nurseries.

My Top 5 Local Twitter Tidbits (okay, “X”)

Screenshot 2024 03 20 at 5.27.03 PM

  1. That’s not a BBQ you smell: High winds / low humidity fuel a Red Flag Fire Warning for the immediate area, potentially through Friday. Several large fires are already burning in Virginia & West Virginia. Limit outdoor sparks from mowers, cigarettes & vehicles near dry grass & woodlands — and NO outdoor flames. @capitalweathergang.
  2. Have you ever wanted to sit in the metro operator’s cab? Now you can: the future of Metrorail at the #FleetoftheFuture expo on the National Mall! Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind opportunity 🚇🚍 @wmata.
  3. Police are seeking public assistance in locating the vehicle and driver involved in Sunday’s fatal hit-and-run in Laurel. On March 17, 2024, at approximately 9:20 pm, patrol officers responded to the 13000 block of Laurel Bowie Road. The vehicle is believed to be a dark gray Jaguar with heavy front end damage. @PGPDNews.
  4. UMD ends fraternity ban but continues to investigate hazing at 5 Greek organizations. The alleged activities included chapter members being beaten with paddles, burned with cigarettes & torches, laying on nails and forced to “consume things that are not food,” such as living fish, chewing tobacco and urine. @thedbk (The Diamondback).
  5. April showers bring May flowers, and another chance to join #NoMowApril this year. Residents of College Park and Laurel (& elsewhere) are encouraged to refrain from cutting their grass for the month of April to encourage pollinator habitats@CollegePark_MD; @cityoflaurel.

That’s it for this edition! Sending best wishes to woodland firefighters in Virginia. May you have a blessed Purim, Easter, Holi, & Ramadan, and a thoroughly ridiculous April Fool’s Day 🥸. (And email me any time with questions or comments on the newsletter!)

Cheers,
Heather Marléne Zadig, Newsletter Editor
heatherz@streetcarsuburbs.news

Upcoming Events

Unless marked with an “$,” events listed do not charge admission.

Thurs. March 21, 7:30pm. Weekly Trivia on Thursdays at Denizens in Riverdale with Nate from Cap City Trivia. Bring your crew and win some awesome weekly and seasonal prizes!

Fri. March 22, 7-10pm. Magical Mystery Four – an all-female rockin’ quartet of musicians that pay tribute to the Beatles in sound, quality and costumes. New Deal Café, Greenbelt. (Tip the band.)

March 22-24, var. times. $ Closing weekend of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Called “the funniest farce ever written,” Noises Off presents a manic menagerie of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called Nothing’s On.

March 22-30, var. times. $ Photos with the Bunny, The Mall at Prince Georges. Visit the Bunny in Center Court to capture your spring family memories. Digital photo packages are available with options to purchase prints. Reservations strongly recommended.

Sat. March 23

Var. times. City-sponsored Egg hunts! Check websites for specific times and ages, BYO basket. HVL in Bloom Spring celebration, Driskell Park, Hyattsville. City of College Park Egg Hunt at Calvert Hills Park. City of Laurel Eggstravaganza event. Town of Riverdale Park Egg Hunt. (See below for more municipal egg hunts.)

1pm. $ Navalny documentary film screening, Greenbelt Cinema. One day only! Detailing the 2020 assassination attempt on Russian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Alexei Navalny, in which he was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

1-4pm. Plant Swap at Streetcar 82 brewery with the Hyattsville/ Riverdale Buy Nothing Group.

5:30-7:30pm. Purim at Mishkan Torah: Purim party for families with kids of all ages — snacks, crafts, and Purim stories. Kids & adults encouraged to come in costume. 10 Ridge Road, Greenbelt. RSVP to childrensed@mishkantorah.org.

5:30-8:30pm. $ Oseh Shalom Purim Festival: Erev Purim Fun for Everyone – Pizza, Ice Cream Party, & Wine Tasting. Sing, dance and act out the Purim holiday! Pizza & salad dinner, followed by hamantaschen & ice cream. 7515 Olive Branch Way, Laurel.

7-10pm. A Klezmer Purim feat. Corned Beef Hash at Maryland Meadworks in Hyattsville. In keeping with the Purim spirit, folks are invited to come in costume and/or bring canned goods to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank.

8-9:30pm. $$ Syncopated Ladies: Live is a ground-breaking all-female tap production that propels beautiful, classy, and diverse women onto a re-invigorated stage, weaving their inspiring stories with intricate footwork. Prince George’s Publick Playhouse in Bladensburg.

Sun. March 24

3pm. Annual University Park Civic Association egg hunt in the woods next to the soccer field. Children as young as infants through elementary school-age are welcome to participate in the egg hunt, crafts, photos with the bunny, & more.

6pm. $ Pa’lante: A DMV Showcase / Sabores Musicales de Washington, DC at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainier. Acompáñenos para un evento comunitario con algunos de los mejores representantes de la música Latinoamericana en el área de DC, desde mariachi y son jarocho de México, a cumbia Colombiana, y música Andina.

7pm. $ Ramadan 2024 Community Dinner and Fundraiser at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Break your fast with your brothers & sisters! Join Prince George’s Muslim Association for a night of reflections, community updates, and good company.

March 25-28, 10am-4pm. $ Just for Teens: Letterpress Intensive (Spring Break). Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, Hyattsville. During this 4-day workshop, students will be introduced to the exciting and inky world of letterpress. The historical equipment is now used to make modern creations, like persuasive posters, & art prints.

Tues. March 26, 8pm. Masterful Strings: Amadi Azikiwe, viola. UMD School of Music, Gildenhorn Recital Hall. Violist, violinist and conductor, Azikiwe has been heard in recitals in major cities throughout the U.S., including an appearance at the US Supreme Court.

March 26-30, var. times. $ Tails of Flight Animal Week: College Park Aviation Museum. Daily events celebrating flying creatures, including a guided birdwatching walk, movie night, live animal demonstrations, and dog adoption event.

Wed. March 27

3-4pm. Legos: Creative Club / El club creativo de Legos, Mount Rainier Library. Ages 5-12. Freestyle building. Legos will be provided, and kids can let their imaginations run wild! Disfruten creando construcciones maravillosas con nuestros Legos y dejen volar su imaginación.

7:30pm. Jazz jam session at The Hall College Park, led by D.C.-based saxophonist Elijah Balbed. The house band will play at 7:30PM. Bring your instrument; after their set, you’ll have a chance to call a tune! No tickets required and all levels welcome.

Thurs. March 28, 7-9pm. $ Softly, Softly: The Myth of the Strong Black Woman at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainier. Mixture of film, ballet production, art exhibition, readings, and fashion collection centering Black women’s humanity. Created by artist & Howard University professor, Maria Fenton, it touches on race, gender, suicide prevention, domestic violence, & more.

Fri. March 29, 7-10pm. Ruthie and The Wranglers: with 30 WAMMIES, this is rockin’ American Roots music at its finest. From original country to rousing surf instrumentals, their clever lyrics, high energy and hillbilly harmonies set them apart. New Deal Café, Greenbelt. (Tip the band.)

Sat. March 30

10am-12pm. City of Greenbelt Egg Hunt, Buddy Attick Park. Starts at 10am Sharp! Crafts & activities to follow. Ages 18mos.-4th grade.

11am-12pm. Strawberry DNA Extraction Experiment for Kids! – Hyattsville Library, Meeting Room 2. University of Maryland’s Biomedical Engineering Society presents an interactive session exploring the importance of DNA and how scientists use it in research. Lab coats and goggles provided, dress in clothes that can get dirty. 3rd-5th graders.

2-4pm. Egg Dyeing at Brentwood Arts Exchange. Join us for our annual Egg Dyeing Egg-stravaganza and celebrate the season by creating bright, beautiful, and colorful eggs. Participants will receive two eggs to paint and design at this family-friendly workshop.

2-6pm. $ Balam Pichkari, the DMV’s biggest philanthropic Holi Festivalat The Hall CP. A fun day of throwing water balloons and color to your favorite music! Custom Holi-inspired food & drink menu – and performances from UMBC, ADAA and more. All proceeds go to supporting student organizations & Save the Children. Tickets required & will sell out.

Sun. March 31, 9:30am. Community Easter Breakfast and Egg Hunt at University Park Church of the Brethren. Easter morning breakfast (pancakes, eggs, sausage and fruit) at 9:30 and Egg Hunt at 10:15. BYO basket or bag. All are welcome! ¡Todos son bienvenidos! RSVP @ www.upcob.org.

Mon. April 1, 1pm (not a joke!). The Way We Were, film screening at Greenbelt Cinema. Opposites attract when, during their college days, Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand), a politically active Jew, meets Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford), a feckless WASP. Rated PG.

Tues. April 2, 6:30-8pm. An evening of crocheting & knitting. Bring your current projects and materials. All ages are welcome. Led by the Laurel Branch Library’s Seventh Street Ravelutionaries crocheting & knitting group, Meeting Room B.