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Gone, but not forgotten, Ms. Janis Lomax, former City Clerk for Mount Rainier Maryland

As some of you are aware, Ms. Janis Lomax transitioned on September 27, 2016.   Ms. Lomax worked for the City of Mount Rainier for more...

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Mayor's City Chat, Volume One 2017

The Mayor’s CITY CHAT
Volume One
August 5, 2017

Introduction

This is the first volume of The Mayor’s City Chat.  The Mayor's City Chat can be found on the Web at “From the desk of the Mayor”, “The Mayor's Facebook Page”, and some items discussed here can be found in “The Message.”  The goal of The Mayor’s City Chat is to start a conversation with residents about City business, to generate a two-way dialogue between the residents and the Mayor, and to inform residents of issues and projects in the City.

Many of the items in the report will remain on the report until they have been accomplished, eliminated or otherwise addressed.  Additional items will be added as they come up.  In addition, items that will have a long-range impact on the City will be reported here.

To receive a copy of The Mayor’s City Chat, please send your email address to mayormiles@gmail.com.  You may also direct questions, suggestions, and concerns to this email address as well as volunteer for projects, committees, etc.  A response will be provided. 

Activities since Mayor and Council Recess June 2017

In accordance with the City Charter, the Mayor and Council voted to go on recess during the months of July and August.  Although on recess, the Mayor and Council continued to work for the City and carry out City business.  

Here are some highlights from the past two months:

1.         June 2017 -- Attended the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and was elected to the MML board of Directors by the membership and to the executive committee by members of the Board.  Also appointed Liaison to the Engagement and Outreach Committee.

2.         Continued to work with Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Committee (MNCPPC) to get the Agreement worked out and signed for 31st Street Park.   Agreement signed and go ahead given to begin plans for the use of the Park.  Council, staff and Mary Abe notified.   A final signed copy of the agreement is to be sent to the City within next few weeks.

3.         Met with Comptroller Peter Franchot regarding improvement on Rhode Island Avenue.   Got promise to consider a cut across Rhode Island from Party Time to Thirty Car Rental and planting in the median   Also promise to provide resources to maintain the median.  Asked for native plants to ensure hence the gateway entrance to the State/County.  Next meeting in September. 

4.         Met with PEPCO and Mobilities regarding poles and 5G technology.  Provided sample agreement to Council, and City Attorney for review and further discussion.  The agreement could provide City with an additional income stream.   The goal is to meet with Brentwood, North Brentwood, Cottage City, and Colmar Manor to partner in this endeavor.  They have indicated interest in working with us.

5.         Met with PEPCO'S new Government Liaison, Mr. Tony Ruffin. His goal is to improve the relationship and work more closely with the municipalities.   Issues discussed included double poles, two weeks notification before beginning work in the City, share schedule of upcoming work, quarterly meetings with the five municipalities to stay in touch with PEPCO and upcoming changes (Note:  City should review its permits for work being done in the City and add on conditions required, e.g., 2 weeks’ notice before starting work, dual language supervisor, paving requirements, etc.).

5.         Worked with MNCPPC to schedule support and equipment for 2018. MNCPPC has assigned Antoinette Guerra as the Regional Director for our area.  The hydraulic stage, face painting, skate mobile, basket all equipment and fee waiver requested for Mount Rainier Day, Public Safety Night and some of the same support for National Night Out (NNO) for 2018.  WAITING FOR APPROVAL.

6.         Worked with CERT Team to plan, fund and carry out National Night Out (NNO). The event was held at 30th ND Arundel from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 1, 2017.  Next year's NNO is to be held at Mount Rainier Elementary School.  NEED to get clearance from PGCPS.  Donations were received from Trinity Lutheran Church, the Fraternal Order of Police, #89, Rainier Manor, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC), Mount Rainier Bike Coop, DJ Lee Miles and Chef Twon!  The was well attended and enjoyed by all attendees.

7.         Held meetings with the group I am interested in working with me on renovating the old Kaywood Theater into a cultural center. Took a tour of Kaywood Theater.  In 2014, I started the discussion with Kaywood.  It was placed on hold after the fire in Silver Spring.  The City is now looking at this as an economic development project.  Plan to be presented to Mayor and Council at September 5 public meeting.

8.         Worked with the police department to review traffic on Arundel Road.   Two new stop signs were installed and may need others to slow traffic.  The City will also be considering placement of other signage in the area to slow traffic on Arundel Road.

9.         Worked with public works to get one-way signs in Luskin's Shopping Center.  It is up and in place.  The one-way sign allows entry into the parking lot from 34th Street.  In addition, increased code enforcement is taking place in that shopping center to stop the auto repairs and oil changes that result in oil getting into our water streams.

10.        Continue to work with Washington Gas to stay abreast of work in the area, i.e., in Mount Rainier, Brentwood, North Brentwood, and Colmar Manor.  Meetings are quarterly. 

11         There has been some criminal activity in our community over the past two months that have caused some concern:

A car-jacking of one of our residents in broad daylight on our main street.  Fortunately, the resident was not physically hurt.  The driver of the car has been apprehended and is in custody.

A homicide occurred in front of the City’s Library that is under investigation by the City and County police departments.  Based on available data there does not appear to be an uptick in crime nor any targeting of any one ethnic group.  This homicide is the first one in the City in more than five (5) years. 
There have also been some home invasions (breaking and entering—B&Es) in the City. 

Our police department is stronger than before, and residents are safer and more proactive.  If you see something, say something and call 301-985-6565. 

12.      Over the past three years, Chief Michael Scott and I have been seeking ways to improve our dispatch and reduce the cost of dispatching our officers throughout the City of Mount Rainier.  July 1, the City transferred its dispatch from the Town of Bladensburg, Maryland to the City of Hyattsville.  This was a very critical move and one that should serve the City well over the next three to five years.  The transfer of dispatching did not in any way interrupt services, and we thank Bladensburg for being our partner for so many years as we look forward to working closely with Hyattsville.

13.      Over the past several years, the role and responsibilities of the Mayor have increased, e.g. responding to emails, initiating and carrying out specific projects, sitting on County and State boards and commissions to represent the City’s interest, etc.  As most of you know, there is no office or meeting room for Mayor and Council at City Hall (one is being created), and there is no staff assigned to Mayor and Council.  In years past, there was a Council secretary, but that position was abolished.  To assist in responding to residents and executing some of the events and projects that are undertaken as Mayor, I have created a volunteer community coordinator position.  It is my hope that the position will provide closer and more direct services to residents.  Ms. Sandra Bramble has agreed to take on this position along with Ms. Barbara Wheeler.  Both residents will report directly to me and will be held responsible for community outreach and services.  More information will be forthcoming on this project.

Upcoming/ongoing projects

The Mayor’s Book Club – this has not gotten off the ground but is still in the works
The campaign sign painting party is still be organized so don’t throw away those signs.
Plans for 31st Street Project – ready for implementation

Reconstruction of MD 500 going through Mount Rainier and to Eastern Avenue -- funded
Reconstruction of the Levee Arundel Road area – working on a report
Rainier Manor 2 construction completion and rental date – update coming

Call-a-bus replacement – still up in the air, but working with County for an exception to their rules

3300 Rode Island Avenue report from staff – not sure of status

BUNKER Hill Fire station-- is Mount Rainier safe? – scheduling a meeting with new Fire Chief, Mr. Barksdale

Annexation -- where are we?  Another project that staff is working on

Upcoming Event/Calendar

Back to School 2018
The school year will begin on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, and the last day of school is scheduled for Thursday, June 14, 2018.

August 31, 2017 -- Pre-K & Kindergarten Students Systemic Orientation Day.

Please check with your child(ren)'s school for more information about this day.

September 5, 2017 -- Systemic Orientation Day: New 6th & 7th Middle-Schoolers and New 9th Graders

City Events/Schedule

The following are some of the events in the City for 2017-2018 Fiscal Year (NOTE:   City Council Meetings are routinely held the first (1st) and third (3rd) Tuesdays of each month unless otherwise noted.

The City newsletter, “The Message” is issued monthly with combined newsletter for July August and December/January

F  Public Safety Night – September 29, 2017, Mount Rainier Nature Center
F  Thanksgiving Basket Drive – October through the third week of November
F  Month of November – Municipal Month – visit schools and fly municipal flag at City Hall
F  Veterans Day Recognition Program – Saturday. November 11, 2017 –Waffle and Champagne Brunch
F  City Budget Calendar approved in December/January
F  Christmas Basket Drive – November through the fourth week of December
F  Budget Preparation begins in January
F  If I Were Mayor Contest… begins in January 2018 and ends in March
F  NO ELECTION THIS YEAR
F  Mount Rainier Day – May 19, 2018
F  Budget must be approved by June 30, 2018
F  Mayor and Council Recess, July and August – TBA
F  National Night Out (NNO) – August 7, 2018
F  Public Safety Night – September 28, 2018

Some Priorities for this year
Developing a good working and functioning Mayor and Council
Assuring that the City Manager works well with Mayor and Council, employees, and residents
Producing a clean financial audit; a clean financial report that provides a solid picture of the City’s financial status with trends on spending that allows for future projections of expenses and income
Getting the City Charter Reviewed and updated
Taking Community policing to another level with a community review/appeal component
Continuing to work on getting Citywide WiFi – primarily for students, but also for adults
Improving relations with the Bunker Hill Fire Station to ensure adequate staffing at all times and that Mount Rainier residents are safe in their homes and businesses
Getting 3200 Rhode Island Avenue under contract and development
Appoint an independent financial advisory committee that reviews City spending
Secure funding for renovating the old Kaywood Theater and transform it into a cultural center for the City
Solicit funds to renovate Potts Hall, Library, alley, old police station into the Mount Rainier Civic Center
Bring Memorial Park and Spring Park to life – getting funding for these two projects
Get 31st Street Park up and operational, e.g., determine how it will be used etc.
Develop or get developed a citywide calendar of events

Complete list of projects – City, e.g., Levee Project on Arundel Road; MD 500(Queens Chapel Road); Singer Building; Civic Center; Public Works, etc. – updated and maintained
Accurate and current list of all businesses in the City with owner, renter, address, service provided, number of years in the City, etc. – in good standing with the City/health department
Annual report on CDMA fees paid by businesses in the City
Rodent abatement project – citywide problem that needs intervention
Annual recognition program for functioning committees etc.
Street and traffic sign replacement throughout the City that meets federal, state and county standards
Start citywide beautification program – Jack Engel
Start monthly or quarterly meetings with service providers, 47th District leaders, Senators/Congressmen, and County Councilmembers
Create and appoint a Police Advisory Committee that is independent of the police department and handles residents’ complaints, makes recommendations for improvement of the department, and works to improve community police relations

Websites that may be of interest:
Historic Mount Rainier Maryland --- http://www.mountrainiermd.org
Mount Rainier Police Department - http://www.mountrainiermd.org/police/  
Chief Scott's Blog -- http://mrpdchief.blogspot.com   
Bunker Hill Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company --- http://www.bhvfrc.com/  
Mount Rainier Elementary School --- http://www.pgcps.org/mountrainier/
Thomas Stone Elementary School --- http://www.pgcps.org/thomasstone/
Northwestern High School --- http://www.pgcps.org/northwestern/
Prince George’s County Municipal Association -- https://pgcma.com/
Maryland Municipal League   --- http://www.mdmunicipal.org
Friends of the Mount Rainier Library (FOL) --- http://www.mtrainierfol.org/
Gateway Community Development Corporation http://www.gatewaycdc.org/#modern-organic-thai
Washington Metro Area Transit Service -- http://www.wmata.com/
Mount Rainier Business Association (MRBA) -- http://www.mountrainierbusiness.com/mount-rainier/
Joe's Movement Emporium --- http://www.joesmovement.org/

Rachel P. Pemberton Health Care Center -- https://www.dimensionshealth.org/dimensions-health-services-prince-georges-county-maryland-md/pemberton-senior-health-center/

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