By Sage Levy
Special to The Sentinel
GREENBELT – The Greenbelt City Council presented its proposed legislative program for Fiscal Year 2020 at a council meeting on Nov. 25, including top priorities for the coming year.
The legislation list will be presented at a legislative dinner with the city’s state and county representatives.
Mayor Colin Byrd began by reading the council’s proposed top priorities, including opposing the privatization of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, opposing beltway widening, blocking the Maglev Train routes through Greenbelt and Prince George’s County, making Greenbelt Road Streetscape improvements and opposing the proposed Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) facility.
He also went on to list the council’s four other priorities: increasing Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) funding for city recreation programs, replacing sidewalks on state roads, creating a ban on plastic straws and Greenbelt Metro Station improvements.
According to the legislation, Byrd advised that “staff strongly suggests that the city’s 2020 priorities be limited to a small number because it is better to present a concise, manageable package of initiatives to our state and county representatives.”
Following Byrd’s presentation, council members voiced their concerns about the order of items as well as the subject matter.
Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan suggested reordering items and moving requests, including an added bond request, to the top of the legislative priorities rather than including the oppositions first, which he stated the delegation is already well aware of what they are.
“I’d like to propose that we make a request for a bond, a state bond, to provide for trail and recreational improvements over at Greenbelt station,” he said. “I think if we have a chance, we should ask for some funding.”
Jordan’s comment created an uproar of responses from other council members about needed areas of focus for improving Greenbelt recreation, including deciding the fate for an open lot near the Greenbelt Metro Station.
“I never have a problem with asking for money from the state, but I think before we do that, we really need to have some meetings with people in Greenbelt West and people around the city…and come up with a plan of what we really need in Greenbelt West and what our priorities should be,” said Councilmember Rodney Roberts.
Councilmember Judith Davis then began to discuss the outcomes of previous meetings with Greenbelt West citizens that had already taken place.
“What came out of some of the discussion is that they need a community center,” she said. “That might be something that you could get a bond for.”
The conversation continued to surround the open lot until it returned to ask for a general bond request from the state.
“For our legislative program and our request, I think we should ask for some funding,” said Jordan. “I think that we can probably find a way to craft it so that it is kind of general so that we can do a number of different projects or a big project, depending on what the residents say.”
Byrd then read aloud the new order of legislative items that the council generally agreed upon, aside from remaining reservations about the ordering of the council’s oppositions versus their requests.
“I just think that in general, you should ask for what you want first, and I think our delegation is well-aware of the projects that we are opposing,” Jordan said.
Despite Jordan’s comments, Byrd, as well as other council members, insisted that their oppositions are more important than their requests.
“They all may know that we’re opposed to those things, but those are also things that the state can affect, but they have not affected. So, they need a hell of a lot of pushing on these issues,” Roberts said.
Council members continued to give further input with Davis suggesting ordering items by oppositions and requests, while Councilmember Leta Mach expressed support for Jordan’s original suggestion.
After further discussion, Byrd and the council concluded the items would be numbered and listed with their opposition to the BEP facility going first, as the delegation is thus far unaware of their opposition, before listing their requests and their remaining disagreements. The council agreed upon the legislative amendments, and reordering was approved unanimously.
The council will present their newly agreed-upon legislation to the city’s state and county representatives on Dec. 18 at the Greenbelt Crowne Plaza.