LARGO – County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Councilmember Derrick Leon Davis (D) assured residents of District 6 that improved development coming their way in the upcoming years is going to support their needs as Prince George’s County continues to grow into the future.
In front of a filled conference room at the Largo Student Center in Prince George’s Community College on June 29, Davis and Alsobrooks spoke on the updates going on in the area, and how passed legislation will affect residents.
The yearly breakfast affair also gave county citizens a chance to talk to both county leaders about the problems they face living in the county.
Alsobrooks said while the crowds are nothing new for her to see, it shows how much county residents are looking to get involved with what is going on in their environment compared to years passed.
“We can attribute much of the success we are enjoying in various areas to the engagement of the community and it is amazing,” Alsobrooks said. “I have not been to a meeting where it did not look like today, capacity crowds across the county, and this is an amazing community.”
Davis, who is on his second term representing District 6, started off with an update on current construction projects including the opening of the new University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center and the redevelopment plans for downtown Largo. The long-awaited hospital was compared to a “seven-act play” by Davis as the final completion date is set for 2021.
The councilmember’s address included an update on how the county’s new FY 2020 budget, which passed in May, will affect residents in the district that he called the “heart of the county” because of its geographic location. He touched on improved public safety, better resources for education and road improvements.
In terms of public safety, Davis said that the county provided the final amount of funds needed to complete the new Prince George’s County Police Department headquarters in Westphalia, which is set to open in August. The area will also receive a new District 8 police station in July as well as two new fire stations.
Davis spent a majority of his time talking about the road work currently being done on the highway system in Largo and road repavement plans in District Heights. While residents were telling him about the traffic problems being caused by the projects, Davis said that these were road projects that the county should have been completing years ago and is currently playing catch-up.
“In 2012, we were only repaving one-one thousandth of the roads in Prince George’s County,” Davis said. “A few years later, the county council decided that was not the way we were going to operate, so we added to the budget $30 million to begin the process of repaving our roads. If there was one call that came in often besides potholes or leaves in my lawn, it was about roads.”
After explaining the process to get to the road construction projects that are currently happening throughout the district, Davis told the audience that once all the projects are completed, they will reap the benefits from smoother roads and fewer traffic problems.
“You want your roads to be repaved, you want your potholes filled, so there is going to be a little pain to go with that,” Davis said jokingly. “…So I want you to chuckle like you did there because we going to be repaving those roads.”
As Alsobrooks arrived on stage for her address, she was light-hearted in her approach, talking to people in attendance that she considered “my friends and my neighbors.” She related on the struggles of having to travel far for entertainment options and told the crowd that the county secured $500,000 of state funds for a feasibility study for a new $14 million amphitheater in the district.
“We want something in our own neighborhood,” Alsobrooks said. “We do not want to go to Merriweather Post Pavilion. We do not want to go there; there are no Prince Georgians there. We have been spending all our money at all these jurisdictions and now, we want our money to stay here.”
Alsobrooks, who lives in the district, expressed her concerns meeting with local mall owners during a recent conference in Las Vegas. Instead of looking to add grocery stores to aid in the county’s fight against food deserts, their concerns were lifting restrictions to add another nail salon.
The county executive admitted that she hopes recent grants given to nine mall owners will help them fix their businesses and sell them to new ownership that “care to invest” in the county’s needs.
Mary Kyler, 80, has lived in District Heights for over 35 years but it was her first State of the District address she has attended. The D’Arcy Road resident said she felt that the information received was informative as it showed that local government officials are still trying to appeal to their older constituents.
However, she was concerned with crime not being addressed during the forum. Despite Police Chief Hank Stawinski telling The Sentinel in a separate interview that crime is down “17% overall for 2019,” Kyler said certain break-ins and car thefts have her worried.
“They said a little bit about crime,” Kyler said. “There have been a lot of auto break-ins and a lot of violence in the schools. They didn’t say a lot about that; I guess they did not want to put a negative spin on it.”
Both Alsobrooks and Davis wanted to assure residents that the growing improvements going on are not intended to kick anybody out but help advance the county with the rest of the state’s economic status. They both ended their addresses by reminding residents to get counted by the 2020 Census to ensure more money comes from the state to help the county progress further.
“Growth will hurt a little, but we have the responsibility of growing appropriately because we are the heart of Prince George’s County,” Davis said. “If the heart is working well, the rest of the body will work well.”