Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From the Desk of the Mayor


September 26, 2010

Mount Rainier Nature Center HAS CHANGED!

Have you visited the Mount Rainier Nature/Recreation Center (the Nature Center) recently? If not, you have missed a big change that has occurred there.. For one Kevin is no longer there. Miss Tonya Banks, Katrina Williams and Ashley (get last name) are the new staff at the Nature Center. They have come with new ideas and programs.

On Saturday night they had movie night for the kids and the Nature Center was open until 9:00pm. Approximately 47 people (mostly children and teens) came out and enjoyed the evening. Two or three of the adults were overjoyed to be able to sit out under the stars and take in a really good movie.

But that is not all that has changed at the Nature Center. There is a push and a MOVEMENT to make it a real recreation center for teens. Here are some of the things that are new at the Nature Center.

1. Xtreme teens program -- the Xtreme Teen Open House is Oct 8th, 2010. The fun begins at 7pm.

2. After school programs where teens can get their service hours, do homework, and have fun with other teens.
3. Partnership with the Community Center at Queens Manor so that when the children age out of programs there, they can automatically become members of the Nature Center and continue in various recreational programs.
4. MNCPPC admissions cards are now available at the Nature Center. this card is good for all MNCPPC programs throughout the County.
5. Ms. Tonya Banks really want to hear from the residents of Mount Rainier about programs and activities that you wish to see at the Nature Center.

For more information, contact the Mount Rainier Nature/Recreation Center at 4701 31st Pl Mt Rainier, MD 20712 - (301) 927-2163. I believe you will be glad you did.

Suite Magazine

Just received a copy of the Suite Magazine. If you have not picked up one, stop by City Hall and get a copy. Mount Rainier is featured in the magazine in the Magazine's feature article "Our Town." Also featured in the magazine is Brentwood and North Brentwood. There is a full list of the Mount Rainier business community as well as other useful information about the City. This is another must see. Pick up your copy today.

Vacancy created by the late Councilmember Alta Morton

The death of former Councilmember Alta Morton was a sad day for many of us. It ended a budding career that had potential for greatness, and it ended and era of her leadership on the development of our down town area. Mayor and Council now has the task of getting on board a new councilmember that is willing to continue working toward the vision that will revitalize Mount Rainier.

In accordance with our Charter, Mr. Jimmy Tarlau, Councilmember for Ward 1 has put forth three names for the position, Cheryl Fountain, Bill Updike, and Amy Callner. These persons will come before the Council for consideration on Tuesday, September 28. The Council will interview the candidates and make a decision about the candidate to fill the vacancy. If no decision is reached, the Charter requires a special election be held. At that time the vacancy would be open to all residents in Ward 1.

It is my hope that the Council will be able to come to agreement on one of the three names that have been proffered for consideration, and that the selected person will be sworn in as soon as possible to complete the remaining months of Alta's term.

Speed Cameras

There has been a lot of talk about speed cameras, but few of those talking about the speed cameras have addressed the need or the reason those cameras exist.

Here's my take on the speed cameras. I hate them. They are annoying, and they actually take pictures of the car, the tag, and the speed that the car is travelling. What would be better would be for the cameras to take pictures of the drivers.

We actually race around our streets at speeds that are definitely above our posted speed limits. We run stop signs or do a "rolling stop." We zip through our own City with little regard for our children, and think nothing about it until that envelope arrives in the mail. With today's cars and trucks it is easy to go above the speed limit without knowing it, and those speed cameras remind us. I know because I have had two reminders, and I could not believe it. Those two reminders made me pay more close attention to my speed when I am behind the wheel. I hope those little reminders did the same for you.

Now, on to the larger picture about speed cameras. There are concerns about speed cameras in every municipality. The law requires that those speed cameras be monitored; read by a trained police officer; and verified. This is a daily and sometimes twice a day operation. Any suspicious looking pictures are dumped.

The cameras are here. AND, they are more than a revenue source. We have had teachers hit by cars while doing their jobs to make our children safe. We have had a few of our children hit by drivers (these are residents dropping their children off at our schools). We have police officers on watch at our schools because of the way we drive around our schools and in the school zones.

Are our speed camera legal? Yes, they are!

The State of Maryland approved the use of speed cameras for municipalities. The Mayor and Council voted to use speed Camera in and around our schools. This was no easy decision, however, the decision was made and an announcement issued in The Message (Verbatim from The Message December 9, 2010).

Speed Cameras

Maryland law (Transportation Article, § 21-809) allows municipalities to enact speed monitoring system enforcement programs commonly referred to as “speed cameras.” Speeding is a major cause of accidents, deaths, and injuries. Studies show that speed cameras significantly reduce the number of speeding violations and crashes. Traditional speed enforcement forces police officers to follow and stop a violator in order to cite the violator, but traffic volume and safety considerations mean that police officers can only apprehend a fraction of the violators, thereby putting motorists and pedestrians at risk. Speed cameras provide safe and consistent enforcement at a reasonable cost, while allowing police officers to focus on other enforcement efforts. The City of Mount Rainier believes that use of speed cameras in school zones within the City will help prevent speeding, protect our children as they come and go from school, and benefit the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

The following school zone areas have been designated by the City for speed camera enforcement effective December 1, 2009:
Mount Rainier Elementary School
Thomas Stone Elementary School
Christian Family Montessori School

On or after December 2nd, 2009 a speed camera will be put in place in front of Thomas Stone Elementary School in the 4500 block of 34th Street. This camera will assist the police department in enforcing the 25 mph speed limit eastbound on 34th Street between Arundel Road and Varnum Street. The camera will be operational from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Until January 4th, 2010 violations recorded by this camera will result in the violator receiving a warning notice. Effective January 4th, 2010 violations recorded by this camera will result in the violator receiving a notice of violation.

On or after January 4th, 2010 a speed camera will be put in place in front of the Christian Family Montessori School (St. James Church) located 3628 Rhode Island Avenue. This camera will assist the police department in enforcing the 25 mph speed limit southbound on Rhode Island Avenue between 38th Street and 34th Street. The camera will be operational from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Effective January 4th, 2010 violations recorded by this camera will result in the violator receiving a notice of violation.

On or after January 4th, 2010 a speed camera will be put in place in the 3000 block of Queens Chapel Road. This camera will assist the police department in enforcing the 35 mph speed limit northbound on Queens Chapel Road between 25th Street and Buchanan Street. The camera will be in operation from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Effective January 4th, 2010 violations recorded by this camera will result in the violator receiving a notice of violation.

So, yes our cameras are legal, and based on the number of tickets issued, THEY are needed. (Quote from Chief Scott, "Can you believe there was one person caught by the camera doing 80 miles an hour on Arundel Road!")

New Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (ATHA) Banners Coming to Town
Remember those banners hung around town a few months back, and how quickly they went to seed! Well, they are all going to be replaced over the next few months and Sundays at no cost to the City. The quality of the current banners were of very poor quality and many of them are down because of that.

So, ATHA has sent out an RFP to see what it would cost for new banners. Berry and Homer, who does banners for MNCPPC, responded and can replace all of the banners for about $19,500. They will also replace the harnesses that are down (about 12 of them in the heritage area). It is anticipated that these will be of much better quality and will be mounted better also and will last much longer. Also, a few extra will be made so that if some come down, the municipalities will only have to contact ATHA, and Berry and Homer will put a new one up at minimal charge -- about $100. NOTE: ATHA will not be replacing the medallions.

What's Going on Around town?
Lots of great things are happening in Mount Rainier. New street curbing is going in on a number of streets.

New grants are being submitted for programs and services including a new grant to the Chesapeake Trust Foundation for work on Buchannan Street.

Revision of the Mixed Use Town Center Plan is coming to closure and had its first hearing before the Prince George's County Planning Board. Because of concerns raised by the City no action was taken and the plan was sent back for further work. Mayor and Council will be meeting with representatives from Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission on the plan on September 29, 2010 at 7:00pm at City Hall residents are invited to come out to hear the discussion. To view the document click on or copy and paste the following link: www.pgplanning.org/Resources/Publications/Mount_Rainier_MixedUse.htm .

Thanks to the continued work of Jimmy Tarlau and the Centennial Committee, Mount Rainier House Tour will take place on October 17 starting at 12:00pm and ending around 5:00pm. The Tour is being conducted as part of the City's Centennial Celebration. Interested in going on the Tour? Contact City Hall to sign up. I think you will enjoy the Tour and learn more about what is going on with homes and building s in Mount Rainier.

How about that Mount Rainier Farmers Market! Thanks to the work of Councilmember Ivy Morton and the late Councilmember Alta Morton, the City has had a wonderful experience with the farmers and Vicki Rees re-establishing the farmers market. Although not the number of vendors/farmers expected, the farmers market has had lots of visitors, and has become a place where residents meet. The Farmers Market will continue on Saturdays until early November. If you haven't been there, time is running out.

The Mount Rainier Holiday Soiree has been agreed upon! It will be held on Saturday, December 4, 2010 at Joe's Movement Emporium. There will be a cost for this event, but it is expected to be the major climax for our Centennial celebration. We hope that residents will come out and support this event. Lots of guests will be invited to join us for this auspicious occasion as we begin the road to our next 100 years!

Remember "drive in movies? Well, we have walk up movie. This project was started by Councilmember Ivy Thompson, and has gained in popularity. Movie and popcorn are free. The movies are shown outdoors at 33rd & Perry Streets on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month and will continue through October 8. Bring the family and a blanket or lawn chair and spend an evening in the neighborhood enjoying a movie and popcorn. Movies start at 7:00pm.

Police decides after years of complaints to crack down on solicitors of prostitution! What a novel idea. Arrest those persons making prostitution an eyesore in our City. After a news article that Councilmember Knedler saw in the papers regarding a crack down on prostitution in Laurel, our Chief of Police, Michael Scott employed similar techniques on Rhode Island Avenue. The results were amazing. It's same story about who is really speeding on our streets -- Us. It is also "us" contributing to the prostitution on Rhode Island and other parts of our town. Thank you Chief and Councilmember Knedler. Let's stay on top of this on. It's good to arrest the prostitute, but it is even better to arrest the solicitor. Dry up the need, and the rest will take care of itself.

Primary election September 14, 2010! WOW! What a day. Even though we experienced a low turn, many of the candidates that support Mount Rainier were elected to run in the General Election. If you did not come out to vote in the Primary, I encourage you to participate in the General. Remember, politician count votes when they make decisions about appropriations. They also respond quicker when they KNOW they have an active citizenry. If we (DEMOCRATS) are to win in November, Democrats MUST come out in full blast to vote in the November General Election. If you are not registered to vote, voter registration reopens, September 27 and closes October 12, 2010 for the General Election. You can register today by clicking on or copying and pasting this link: http://www.elections.state.md.us/voter_registration/documents/2010%20English%20Internet%20VRA%20final.pdf.

Did you miss "A Company of Strangers" production at Joe's Movement Emporium? Well it has booked a one day showing at the Family Crisis Center, 3601, Taylor Street, Brentwood Maryland, October 16, 2010. The play "According to Us" will begin at 7:00pm following the reception at 6:00pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. All funds raised will be donated to the Family Crisis Center.

Macy's one day sale to benefit nonprofits. October 16 has been designated as nonprofit day at Macy's, and the Family Crisis Center is participating by selling $5 coupons that are good for 20% off all purchases on October 16 ONLY. Tickets can be purchased at the Family Crisis Center or you can call 301-779-2100 x1116 and speak to Sarah Jones.

Congresswoman Edwards invites students to apply to admission to one of our nation’s military academies: the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; the U.S Military Academy, at West Point, New York; the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; or the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. The rewards for individuals who qualify include tuition, career training, and service to our country. Please click here for information on the application process. Applications are due Friday, October 15, 2010.

Congresswoman Edwards will hold her 2nd annual college fair and symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at Northwestern High School located at 7000 Adelphi Road in Hyattsville. "Planning for Future Success: Helping Students and Families Understand and Navigate the College Application Process" is designed to help students and parents learn about financial aid resources and post-secondary education and training opportunities. The event will also feature representatives from colleges and universities, testing centers, and career training institutions, as well as lessons on writing essays, resumes, and completing applications. For more information, or call 301-516-7601 or click/copy or paste this link: http://donnaedwards.house.gov/uploads/2010%20College%20and%20Career%20Forum.pdf.

ATHA Welcomes new executive director. Aaron Marcavitch has been selected to take on the task of replacing Karen Crooms at ATHA, Inc. He started Monday, September 27, 2010. His email address is aaron@anacostiatrails.org. With Aaron coming on board, Odette Ramos will be leaving ATHA after transitioning everything over to Aaron. There is a possibility that she will continue working on the celebration for the War of 1812 Battle of Bladensburg Commemoration, but that has not been confirmed. Call or go by and welcome Aaron to our area. ATHA, 4310 Gallatin St, Hyattsville, MD 20781-2050, (301) 887-0777.