By Eva Sanchez 

You won’t be able to smell the freshly baked Nantucket cranberry pie that Cheryl Harrington made during a Zoom session, but the senior citizens who participated in her virtual cooking demo hosted by Corridor Conversations now have all the inspiration they need to try making their own. 

Corridor Conversations is a monthly series collaboratively hosted by Hyattsville Aging in Place (HAP), Helping Hands University Park, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the City of College Park and Explorations on Aging College Park. These virtual events bring together senior citizens living in communities along the Route 1 Corridor. 

“What we wanted to do was to bring the people, the culture, the excitement, the creativity of Route 1 to the people of the area,” said Lisa Walker, chair of HAP’s board.

Events and organizations like these all share the goal of improving the quality of life for seniors.

Many of the city’s seniors hope to age in place in homes they may have lived in for years. Their ability to do so successfully often hinges on their access to services, and recreation and cultural activities in the city and throughout the DMV. Many of these seniors believe that the city could do more to accommodate their needs. 

“When you can no longer drive, then it is difficult to age in place, due to lack of walkable grocery stores and walkable medical facilities,” said Miriam Bader, College Park’s senior city planner. 

College Park is applying to become a member of AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, which is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s global network that’s working to prepare cities for increasing numbers of older residents. To join the network, College Park must create an action plan that addresses issues of aging within the community. A team of consultants from the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute is leading development of the plan. The team’s work is being funded by the Prince George’s County Planning Department.  

“We want to help College Park become an even more age-friendly community than it already is,” said Agnes Artemel, president of Artemel & Associates Inc. The firm, which is a subconsultant on the project, specializes in revitalizing aging commercial corridors. 

On Oct. 18, members of the consulting team, led by Artemel, held a focus group for residents to discuss the city’s current support for seniors and what they want to see included in the action plan. 

Prior to the meeting, the College Park Seniors Committee identified what they felt the plan should focus on. Their list included transportation, housing, social activities, communication and information, health services, and community support.

The county’s planning board approved the proposal for creating the action plan on May 13, and the consulting team is currently conducting research as the basis for drafting the plan. According to the Prince George’s County Planning Department website, publication of the plan is tentatively scheduled for summer 2022.