BY MAX BENNETT — A special Hyattsville City Council meeting on September 25  to discuss ongoing projects in University Hills also became a forum to discuss repairs to 40th Avenue and Crittenden and Buchanan streets. Both projects are part of the city’s five-year capital improvement plan. 

Some University Hills residents who attended the meeting called for a reduction in planned work. Jim Menasian, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1994, believes the project will “destroy its character” by adding sidewalks over residents’ objections.

“Why waste city money on any extras we don’t want?” he asked the council.

Menasian and others have supported design changes put forth by Councilmember Tim Hunt (Ward 3), who both lives in and represents University Hills. Hunt said the initial project design did not reflect public comments, so retooling it was necessary.

After canvassing the residents and presenting petitions on their behalf, Hunt put together a set of block-by-block recommendations and gave tours of the area to his fellow councilmembers.

The council voted unanimously to move forward with design work, now 30 percent complete, with Hunt’s suggested changes. Once the project reaches the 60 percent point, changing any plans costs time and money.

Conversation then turned to the ongoing effort to improve drainage, realign the roadway and add sidewalks on 40th Avenue and Crittenden and Buchanan Streets. Director of Public Works Lesley Riddle said that design work is on hold until 10 trees in the city’s right-of-way “need significant evaluation … for structural integrity.”

Before the city tries to design around the trees, she said, “we need to see if these trees are even salvageable. If there’s an issue with their [root structure], they’re done.”

The trees will be examined by both city staff and an outside firm. After their condition is assessed, the city can move forward “pretty quickly,” said Riddle.