College Park city council takes initiatives to make community more livable

by BREANA BACON

The city of College Park has been plagued with 259 crimes, mostly larceny and burglary, as of this August—over half of the number of crimes for the entire year of 2014.

In response to the crime in the area, the College Park city council has made efforts to make the community more livable for all residents of the city. The Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee was adopted in September of 2013 to replace the Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Work Group, originally formed in 2012. The committee was formed to “engage with various stakeholders, including the University of Maryland, city residents, UMD students, public safety officials, and rental property owners, to identify possible strategies to stabilize neighborhoods,” according to the group’s resolution.

Councilwoman Denise Mitchell is the chair of code enforcement on the Quality of Life committee and hopes that the committee is able to eliminate some issues such as overcrowding, pedestrian safety and keeping the College Park area clean.

            “We are trying to ensure that everyone in the College Park community feels safe whether they are students only living here while they are in school or whether they are citizens that have lived here for years. Things like lights to illuminate the back streets and route one and making sure renters are keeping up with permits and inspections all have to do with making this city a place where everyone here wants to continue to live,” Mitchell said.

Code enforcement deals mostly with landlords in the College Park area and was set in place to help resolve conflicts between the city and the home or apartment owner and between the tenant and the landlords. Using this committee to solve issues, Mitchell says, can hopefully reduce the amount of unnecessary action like arguments and legal involvement. However, Mitchell also says that communication between the committee and all parties involved is crucial, especially when there are citations being issued.

Another component of the Quality of Life committee is what is called the Aging-In-Place Task Force, created to help older residents of College Park feel comfortable living in a college town by holding open forums to discuss the needs of older citizens as well as for the public to propose programs and initiatives to support the elder demographic of College Park.

Cole Holocker, student liaison to the College Park city council could not be reached for comment about what strides UMD is making to help College Park become a more livable environment.

Many students at UMD feel their community isn’t the safest and are glad College Park is making strides to make the city safer.

“I don’t really feel safe in College Park, mostly at night because this is a public university and the side of campus I live on isn’t well-lit so I always find myself looking over my shoulder. Hearing the city is trying their best to make sure I’m safe,” said Lexi Russell, junior kinesiology major.

The Quality of Life Committee has 24 members, plus the mayor and city council officials and all members serve a term of two years. The committee meets four times per year to discuss programs and initiatives and it holds one public forum per year.

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