CLINTON — At-Large County Councilmember Mel Franklin hosted an Advisory Neighborhood Community (ANC) meeting to discuss with residents in the Clinton, Camp Springs, Morningside and Joint Base Andrews area issues particular to their community on June 26.
“This is a meeting where we are trying to bring the county government closer to the community, in a nutshell,” Franklin said. “I’ve been around for many years, I was the council member for District 9 for eight years, and what struck me was how disconnected a lot of folks felt their own county government.”
The first round of ANC meetings was held in April to address the north, central and southern portions of the county. To begin looking at more specific areas of the county, over the next six weeks, Franklin will hold 10 other meetings in places such as New Carrollton, Laurel, Temple Hills and Bowie.
The end goal of the ANC meetings is to address quality of life issues in the county.
Following the summer ANC sessions, Franklin and his office plan to collect feedback from residents on issues that are important to them. Another round of ANC meetings will be held in the fall, which will discuss and focus the feedback into the proposed quality of life objectives for each ANC area.
Finally, at the end of the year, there will be a countywide ANC meeting to finalize the quality of life objectives for each ANC community so they can be put into practice during the next fiscal year.
“It will evolve over time, but at least we will have a series of specific objectives,” Franklin said. “There is a rule, ultimately we’ve got to get something that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.”
During the first half of the meeting, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment Director Joseph Gill discussed the county’s new food waste pick up day as well as other environmental issues facing the county.
In the past, the county picked up food waste twice per week, but it was later changed to only once a week.
“The other option is to go back to a full, twice a week collection practice,” Gill said. “A reason that we went back to once a week is that it was best practice for 20 years, and the amount of trash on the second day didn’t justify it.
“So we’re looking at both those options in terms of what we can offer and what makes the most sense.”
To address the issue, the county will be reintroducing a second day of food waste pickup on the same day yard waste is picked up. The second-day pickup will be rolled out on a pilot basis beginning with 200 homes in north and south county.
Beautification has been one of the top priorities of County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. She initially introduced the second-day food waste pickup pilot program on May 1 as part of her Beautification Initiative.
In addition to food waste pickup, the initiative also includes improvements to bulky trash collection, coordination with law enforcement to catch people who litter, education and a social media campaign.
“We want this to be sustained and comprehensive and we want it to work because we want to stop seeing the litter,” Gill said.
Following Gill’s presentation, those in attendance asked questions and raised concerns based on their experience of the county’s cleanup efforts. These included problems with illegal dumping, the timeliness of trash pickup, the upkeep of trees in the neighborhoods, removing illegal signs and how to make people stop littering for good.
“The problem to date is that no one has been made an example of for litter,” Franklin said. “We just recently had folks made an example of for dumping, but we need more of that.”
The group then discussed priorities for quality of life in their community.
Road conditions were a factor that many people pointed out. They talked about how roads have not been paved for years and pose a hazard for drivers pointing out specific areas such as Woodyard and Piscataway Roads and Coventry Way.
People had mixed feelings about development in the area. Some took issue with the lack of public transit options in the south county as well as the lack of pedestrian walkways and biking areas.
However, some worried that the area is being overdeveloped. People were concerned with how often farms are sold off, and big neighborhoods with large houses replace them. Some worried that the increased development puts a strain on the county’s environmental facilities. A resident pointed out that Clinton was created as a rural area and should remain so.
One of the questions asked was should Clinton be made into a municipality, citing the perception that municipalities such as College Park and Greenbelt do not have many of the problems that Clinton has because they have their own local government.
Franklin advocated for making Clinton into a municipality saying it would solve a lot of the problems in the area.
“The reason why Bowie and Greenbelt and College Park get stuff is because they have municipalities and those municipalities advocate just for those communities. And they do a great job at it…Clinton has a lot of people that live here, but it’s unincorporated, so it’s really left to the mercy of the county. I’ve always thought it would be stronger if it were a municipality.”
He did point out, however, that becoming a municipality would include an additional tax that people would have to be willing to accept if Clinton were to be made into one.
“I’m glad to see such great participation come out to celebrate and contribute to the communication of Councilmember Franklin, it’s a great opportunity to see everyone,” said Morningside Mayor Bennard Cann.
At the end of the meeting, residents such as Ann Reynolds found it to have been “extremely helpful.”
“I think it was very educational,” said Clinton resident Janice Osbourne. “There were issues that were addressed that I was not familiar with. I would have never considered becoming a municipality. If we don’t have the economic base, then there are going to be some things we are going to be without…The bottom line is, if you want all of these things, you have to give up some things.”