May 2014 Hyattsville Life & Times

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Students at the newest dance studio in town get ready for their first recital, to be held in June at Joe’s Movement Emporium. PAGE 8

By a margin of 6 to 3, the city council denied the police department’s request for four additional staff, voting to keep the approved positions at their current number. PAGE 5

The city’s first Citizenship Celebration Day honors its newest U.S. citizens with a party and proclamation. PAGE 4

Safeway breaks ground at UTC by Susie Currie

Vol. 11 No. 5

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781

May 2014

Retired military officer takes command as city administrator by Susie Currie

Hyattsville’s new city administrator is a decorated Army veteran who believes her experience running military bases will have direct applications to running the city. Col. (Ret.) Tracey Nicholson started her new job on May 14, becoming the city’s third fulltime administrator since January 2011. She

replaces Jerry Schiro, who started the job almost exactly a year before she did – May 15, 2013 – but left in December, in the middle of his contract. At its April 21 meeting, the Hyattsville City Council approved Nicholson’s $130,000 annual contract unanimously and with no discussion. Community and Economic Development Director Jim Chandler, who had been

filling the role temporarily, will serve as assistant city administrator. Mayor Marc Tartaro said in an interview that he was “excited to have such a highly qualified candidate.” “Tracey has a strong background – a little unusual, maybe, but I think she has all the tools ADMINISTRATOR continued on page 13

Historic home tour dedicated to equality Acknowledges hard part of history by Rosanna Landis Weaver


Hyattsville residents are a step closer to having another grocery store in town. On May 7, city and county officials joined ECHO Realty executives to break ground on a 55,000-square-foot Safeway at University Town Center (UTC). Two more businesses have recently signed leases there that together make up about 9,000 square feet. Unleashed will open as a smaller, boutique version of pet-supply company Petco, while Phenix Salon Suites will offer space for independent beauty professionals. Unlike the controversial development anchored by Whole Foods just 1.3 miles away, which divided residents and led to hundreds of hours of public hearings, this project has enjoyed widespread support from city and county officials. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for UTC and the city,” Mayor Marc Tartaro said when ECHO first described its plans to the city council. “There’s a vacant lot now, and [this plan] will create a front door off EastWest into UTC. This will jumpstart that whole area.”

Hyattsville Life&Times

ANDREW MARDER Glass artist Scott Mitchell puts finishing touches on his latest piece at DC Glassworks during the Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, held on May 10 throughout the Gateway Arts District.

The Sunday in May that Hyattsville residents devote to strolling from beautiful home to beautiful home is a long tradition. The tour, which will take place on May 18, is in its 35th year of highlighting the charming homes of Hyattsville. One thing that sets this tour apart from others in the metropolitan area is the Hyattsville Preservation Association’s (HPA) explicit effort to highlight larger historical connections. In 2013, for example, the tour program emphasized a moment in Hyattsville history connected with the women’s suffragettes movement. This year the HPA is dedicating its tour to the “long and ongoing battle for full equality for all our residents.” The proTOUR continued on page 12

Included: The May 14, 2014 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter — See Center Section

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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014


This town is your town, this town is my town by Rosanna Landis Weaver

This is my final official editorial for the Hyattsville Life & Times. On June 1, I begin a new fulltime job with the As You Sow Foundation and need to end treasured part-time work. (Yes, this means the HL&T is hiring. See the ad on p. 3.) Though the foundation is located in California I am fortunate to be able to work from home, which is a

A community newspaper chronicling the life and times of Hyattsville Mailing address: PO Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781 hyattsvillelifeandtimes Hyattsville Life & Times is published monthly by Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc., a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. Editors welcome reader input, tips, articles, letters, opinion pieces and photographs, which may be submitted using the mailing address above or the email addresses below. Executive Editor Susie Currie 301.633.9209 Managing Editor Rosanna Landis Weaver 301.277.5939 Production Ashley Perks Advertising 301.531.5234 Writers & Contributors Amanda Alley, Katy June-Friesen, Lauren Kelly, Gray O’Dwyer, Molly Parrish, Scarlett Salem, Fred Seitz Board of Directors Joseph Gigliotti - President and General Counsel Chris Currie - Vice President Susie Currie - Secretary Peggy Dee, Karen J. Riley, Valerie Russell, Gretchen Brodtman, Debra Franklin, T. Carter Ross Rosanna Landis Weaver - Ex Officio Circulation: Copies are distributed monthly by U.S. Mail to every address in Hyattsville. Additional copies are distributed to libraries, selected businesses, community centers and churches in the city. Total circulation is 9,300. HL&T is a member of the National Newspaper Association.

good thing because I’ve never loved Hyattsville more. I’m sad to leave the HL&T, but would be so much sadder if I needed to leave the fantastic town. My time as managing editor has let me get to know the town and the people in it a bit better. The city is lucky to have the amazing HL&T staff and board, and the hard-working members of our City Council and staff (and a special good-bye to the incredible Abby Sandel who is leaving her position as well this month.) However, for my final editorial I want to talk about my other part-time job, which has also given me a glimpse into a part of our community I previously had little connection with. I’ve been teaching English as a second language to recent immigrants in an evening class at Northwestern High School.

Teachers always get a special glimpse at humanity, the dayto-day unfolding knowledge of lives. Teachers learn more about students than their grasp of the subject, gaining a bit of insight into the character and home life of the person being taught. I remember that from being a student, and it worries me sometimes as a parent. (“Oh,” I imagine the teacher saying, “based on what I see in that backpack, young Weaver has a very chaotic home life.”) From that perspective, I have been nothing but impressed with the students I had the pleasure of teaching over the past year. In teaching numbers and time we would do an exercise on “What time did you wake up this morning?” and every answer, every time we did this, made my 6:30 wake up seem like sleeping in. I encountered

a great deal of kindness from these students: They were patient with my stumbling teaching, and supportive when I was ill. I also encountered a great deal of courage and commitment. One bitterly cold January night, a day when the schools had closed for no reason other than the temperature, a student called me to see if winter class registration was on as scheduled. I reminded her that because the classes follow the Prince George’s County school schedule it would not be. However, since I was already at the library decided I would go down the street to Northwestern and see if there were others there. I found a crowd of over 40 people standing in line in the windchill cold, many of them without gloves and wearing sweatshirts rather than the parkas

the weather demanded. Once the term began, students would learn to listen for closures, but at registration many did not know of this policy. The doors of the school were locked, the halls were dark, but outside they waited in case the doors would open. I made some calls and was able to let these students know when registration would be rescheduled, but I was so very struck by the experience. That happened to be right around the time when iconic folk singer Pete Seeger passed away. I have a children’s book of “This land is your land” that I took in to read to my class. Some of the words are challenging and the concepts difficult to grasp for beginning English speakers. Sometimes in Hyattsville’s history — as noted in HPA’s recent look at recent history — the concepts may be difficult to grasp for those who have been speaking English their entire lives. Hyattsville continues to grow and flourish because it defines itself not by those that it excludes but by those it welcomes. This place is made by

NEWS BRIEFS LATIN-AMERICAN RESTAURANT TO OPEN IN FORMER CALVERT HOUSE A new sign is already up for the restaurant taking over the Calvert House space, though the restaurant is not expected to open until July. Samuel Umanzor, a Hyattsville resident for over 10 years, will be opening his second location of Lesly Restaurant Bar & Grill. He opened the first restaurant in Falls Church in 2010, naming it after his oldest daughter. That restaurant features Latin-American food, and includes karaoke nights and live bands. Umanzor expects both the menu and the entertainment will be the same at the new location. “I think this is a good place for a restaurant,” says Umanzor. SEX-ASSAULT SUSPECT STILL AT LARGE At press time, Hyattsville police were still searching for a rapist who struck in the early hours of May 4 near the Mall at Prince Georges. Shortly before 2 a.m., according to Sgt. Chris Purvis, the man followed the 20-year-old victim out of the Prince

MATTHEW CREGER Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department President Thomas Falcone presents a plaque to Sister Geraldine McPhee, SND, (left) and Sister Janet Cahill, SND, at St. Jerome Church on Saturday, May 10. The HVFD honored the nuns during a Mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of the service of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the Hyattsville parish.

George’s Plaza Metro station, heading west towards T.J. Maxx. Holding her at knifepoint behind a dumpster, he raped her and then fled the scene. Police have released surveillance footage of the suspect. “We are working a lot of the tips and have some good leads,” said Purvis. Anyone with information is asked to call the Hyattsville City Police Criminal Investigation Section at 301.985.5060.

PEDESTRIAN FATALITY IN WEST HYATTSVILLE At 4:20 a.m. on May 10, a pedestrian was fatally struck in the 5600 block of Ager Road. At press time Prince George’s County Police were still investigating the incident, which occurred near the West Hyattsville metro station, and had not released further details. — Rosanna Landis Weaver and Susie Currie

Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

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Former Swiss Guard sees boss named saint by Susie Currie

Andreas Widmer, one of many Hyattsville residents in academia, is the director of entrepreneurship programs at Catholic University. Before joining the faculty last year, he started, ran, funded and advised several businesses over a lengthy career, and started a foundation specializing in enterprise-based solutions to poverty. But the job he got at 19 may be the one that made the deepest impression. From 1986 to 1988, he was a Swiss Guard in Vatican City, serving under Pope John Paul II in the oldest continually active military corps in the world. Though he didn’t know it at the time, what he learned about leadership from the pontiff would influence the rest of his career and eventually be distilled in a 2011 book, The Pope & The CEO. Last month, he was one of millions who flocked to Rome for the April 27 ceremony officially declaring his former boss a saint. “It's amazing to see how many people [ John Paul II] resonated with,” said Widmer, who made the trip with his wife, Michelle, and 10-year-old son, Eli. “On the streets during the canonization it was very moving to hear people talk about ‘their’ new saint — each in their own way, each from

their own perspective, but everyone profoundly thankful for having known him.” For Widmer, that path began in 1986, when he became the first Swiss Guard from his family in more than a century. (Two nephews have since followed him.) He met the requirements: Swiss, Catholic, single, male, cleanshaven, between 19 and 30, and at least 5 feet 8 inches tall. (In fact, he is full foot taller than that, while Michelle is 5 feet 2 inches.) And he had just completed another prerequisite: the military training that Switzerland requires of all its male citizens once they turn 18. Swiss Guards, who have been stationed at the Vatican since 1506, get additional training, although when they are starting in service their role is largely decorative. They are the ones in those signature, Renaissance-style striped uniforms of red, gold and blue. They aren’t allowed to talk or move, although some tourists delight in testing this, and that scary-looking medieval weapon they carry (a halberd) is just for show. “They’re not responsible for any safety or security,” explained Widmer. That’s up to the more senior members, whom he compares to the U.S. Secret Service: ever-present but invisible. “The actual protecting, we do in a black suit.”

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To his amazement, he was anything but invisible to the pope. In the book, Widmer describes guarding the papal apartments on Christmas Eve during his first month on the job, feeling especially homesick after a phone call to his family. The youngest of six, he had never spent the holidays away from home. When John Paul II emerged from the apartment for midnight Mass, he stopped, studied the 19-year-old trying to keep a stiff upper lip, and guessed the problem. He came over and took the young guard’s hand, thanking him for the sacrifice he was making and promising to pray for him during Mass. “That was all I needed,” he writes. “Someone had noticed my pain, someone had cared, and that someone was the pope himself.” There were many more such interactions, and hundreds of hours observing John Paul II interact with everyone from world leaders to Rome’s homeless to his fellow guardsmen. He interacted, Widmer recalls,

courtesy of andreas widmer Andreas and Michelle Widmer went to Rome for the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul II, whom Andreas served as a Swiss Guard.

more as a coach than a remote authority figure. “In our conversations, he wasn't a stern or authoritarian figure, lecturing me and making me feel inadequate. He was like a coach, urging on one of his athletes.” That attitude was evident in the pope’s final words to Widmer, who was leaving to marry the pretty American college student wrapping up her studies in Rome. “Go out into the world and bring what you have learned here

with you,” said the pontiff. “I have great hopes for you.” Today, 28 years later, Widmer remembers those words and tries to capture that spirit in the classroom. “I love to deal with the really difficult students because I was one of them,” he said. “I was a mediocre student — and that’s being nice. I make a special effort to focus on them. John Paul had more faith in me than I had in myself, and hopefully I can do that for my students.”

Will YOU be our next award-winner? The Hyattsville Life & Times seeks a new part-time managing editor. See our Facebook page at facebook. com/HyattsvilleLife or email Executive Editor Susie Currie at for more information. To apply, send resume and two writing samples.


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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

City welcomes new American citizens by Rosanna Landis Weaver

There were balloons and an abundance of chocolate chip cookies, but the profound ideals behind Citizenship Celebration Day, held at City Hall on May 3, lent heft to the event. The proclamation read by Councilmember Joseph Solomon (Ward 5) noted in part that “the City of Hyattsville wishes to acknowledge the importance of the decision of immigrants to become citizens of the United States of America and to acknowledge their commitment to the United States of America and its Constitution and to the idea of liberty and justice for all on which this country has been founded.”

It was the first of what is intended to be an annual event. Invited to participate were students who had recently completed a citizenship class at Northwestern High School, sponsored by the Prince George’s County Community College (PGCC), and subsequently passed the national citizenship exam. While there are many levels of grant-funded English classes around the county, these are part of the Workforce Development and Continuing Education Division of PGCC, which created a Transition ESL program two years ago. The class is held each semester; currently there are 54 students registered for the Northwestern class, and others

taking it elsewhere in the county Hyattsville resident Jennifer Kubit, who works for the PGCC Adult Education program, invited her councilmember Edouard Haba (Ward 4) to attend a registration night. That experience helped inspire Haba, who emigrated from Guinea by way of Italy, to draft and sponsor the proclamation. It passed unanimously at the city council meeting of April 21. During the May 3 event, State Senator Paul Pinsky handed out a copy of the resolution to participants including 74-year-old Phon Ngo. The sprightly Ngo was in his late 60s when he arrived in Hyattsville from Vietnam five years ago to join his daughter here. Now, says his neighbor Kubit, “he knows more about the U.S. government than many high school students.” There’s a reason for his depth of knowledge: both the require-

rosanna landis weaver Ward 4 Councilmember Edouard Haba stands with Phon Ngo.

ments of the citizenship test and the effort he spent preparing for it. Kubit notes that he came to her home with the list of 100 questions written out, and asked her to help drill him. On another occasion he recorded her reading the questions so he could hear them in the voice of a native English speaker. Kubit helped him

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find the Northwestern citizenship prep class. By the time he took the test, said Ngo, “The writing part was easy, the speaking part was easy, the questions were easy . . . for me.” Haba hopes immigrants like Ngo will be inspired by the event, adding that he is troubled by “a lack of engagement with the community, less and less people being involved.” He sees this as a problem not just among immigrants but in the broader community. Kubit adds that the citizenship classes provide information on the state and federal government but “very little on how to be involved in local government.” Haba hopes that events such as this one will encourage recent immigrants to become more active in local issues. “You are part of the community, and we want you to participate,” says Haba, “Jump on in and say what you have to say.”

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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

Page 5

Police denied extra staffing by Andrew Marder

At its May 5 meeting, the Hyattsville City Council voted by a margin of six to three to keep the number of funded sworn police officer positions at 40 for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. That is the same number approved during the last budget cycle, for the current fiscal year. The previous year’s budget, for fiscal 2013, had allowed for 43 positions. But only 40 of them were filled as the fiscal 2014 budget process began. Facing a daunting budget deficit, the council elected to freeze the three vacant positions: an investigator, a member of the Community Action Team and a K9 unit (and kennel). Police Chief Douglas Holland had expected those positions to be restored in fiscal 2015, and included them in his proposed budget along with a fourth position, captain. The request for four additional staff would have brought the total number of sworn officers to 44, costing the city $376,000. Holland, addressing the council before the vote, said it was misleading to label the motion as “maintaining” approved staffing levels. “This is a reduction,” he said. “This is not a maintenance of approved positions.” Right now, only 36 positions are filled. Holland said he expects that that the full 40 will be on board when the fiscal year ends on June 30.

The motion to remove funding for the extra positions from the 2015 budget was sponsored by Ward 1 councilmembers Candace Hollingsworth and Bart Lawrence, with Patrick Paschall (Ward 3), Edouard Haba (Ward 4) and Clayton Williams (Ward 5) voting for it. Mayor Marc Tartaro also supported the measure. Councilmember Joseph Solomon (Ward 5) abstained, saying afterwards that he felt he “didn’t have enough information to vote.” Voting against it were councilmembers Paula Perry (Ward 4) and both Ward 2 representatives, Robert Croslin and Shani Warner. Councilmember Tim Hunt (Ward 3) was absent due to previously scheduled travel, but he had strongly opposed the measure when it was introduced at the April 30 meeting. At that time, councilmembers Perry and Hunt argued that Hyattsville did have a crime problem and that an increase in the police force made sense. In the May 5 discussion, Perry cited shootings on her block and concerns from her constituents about safety saying, “Every time I’ve gone out and campaigned, the number one [concern residents had] was safety and police.” Croslin echoed that sentiment. He said, “Our residents pay taxes for two main reasons. The two things they find most important to them is police protection — safety in the city — and public works.”

When the motion was introduced, Lawrence said that the police department needed to do more to justify its requested budget increase for 2015, as it represented such a large portion of the overall budget. The police department’s total request was for $6.67 million, which amounted to 42 percent of the city’s total annual operating budget. He noted that from 2007 to 2013, crime in the city had fallen by 36 percent while calls for service had remained flat. Over the course of the discussion, councilmembers related their own experiences with crime in Hyattsville and those of their constituents in support of or in opposition to the measure. At one point during a heated discussion about whether Hyattsville had a “crime problem” or not, Councilmember Williams — himself a victim of burglary — cautioned his colleagues about not

allowing personal stories to carry too much weight. “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’, ” said Williams. The data does say that crime is down. Over the last year alone, according to the police department’s annual report, total reported crime fell 7 percent. The notable exception to the trend was commercial breaking and entering, which increased by 145 percent, from 11 incidents in 2012 to 27 in 2013. There is concern in the business community that crime is still a problem. Henry Watford, general manager of the Mall at Prince Georges, spoke on behalf of the mall’s over 120 businesses. He supported an increase in police department staffing levels saying, “Safety is the number one issue when we approach retailers.” Any reduction in police, he warned, could delay response times, which Community

Development director Jim Chandler said could have an impact on business investment in the area. As Hollingsworth noted, part of the reasoning behind the increase in sworn officers was to grow the number of police patrol units from four to five. That would allow the department to cut back on overtime and provide additional coverage in the community when needed. Asked whether the department would be able to staff five squads without the increase, Chief Holland replied that the department would be able, if it were fully staffed with 40 officers. But, he cautioned, squads would be have four or five officers, instead of the ideal six. Overtime costs could rise as officers would have to work longer hours. After the vote, Lawrence told the HL&T, “I’m proud of the hard work and reasoned decision-making the mayor and council demonstrated. And I’m confident in Chief Holland’s ability to effectively manage the department with the approved resources.”


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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

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I don’t think your thumbs are really black, but I’m pretty sure your walnut is. My Cousin Moribunda tells me that the black walnut ( Juglans nigra) was one of the first plants to be observed to be fatal to plants near it. She says the Greek naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about it and other allelopathic plants in his Natural History back in the first century AD. Although the term allelopathic is Greek (meaning to harm another, or each other) it was coined by an Austrian scientist named Hans Molisch in 1937. The way Moribunda describes it, allelopathy is a kind of biochemical warfare waged by certain plants to make sure they are not crowded out by other plants. Black walnuts, for example, exude from their roots a substance called juglone that is highly toxic

Black walnut trees exude a substance called juglone that is highly toxic to many plants, particularly those of the nightshade family.

to many plants, particularly those of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, chili peppers. Even falling twigs, leaves, and the rain dripping through the trees can affect the soil. You might have better luck with raised beds if you were to make sure that the base of the bed was impermeable and had no contact with the soil. On the other hand, that might cause drainage problems. You might have better luck with plants that are less susceptible, such as beans, beets, carrots, corn, melons, onions, parsnips and squash. Tolerant flowering plants include begonias, monarda, daylilies, and hostas, The University of Virginia’s website has lists you may find useful. Allelopathy has its positive uses. For example, planting larkspur around rose bushes doesn’t harm the deep-rooted rose but keeps a lot of weeds at bay. There is a lot in knowing which plants help or hinder plants in their vicinity. Many gardeners, for example,

plant marigolds with their tomatoes for pest control. Marigolds exude alpha-terthienyl from their roots that prevents the development of nematodes and their odor repels whiteflies and aphids. On the other hand, neither marigolds nor tomatoes should be planted near bean plants, or indeed any of the vegetables that tolerate the vicinity of your black walnut. I strongly recommend that you consult a good book on companion planting. The first I read are still highly thought of: Roses Love Garlic and Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte. There will be no meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society in May because members will be helping to make flower arrangements to grace the homes of those on Hyattsville Preservation Association’s 35th annual house tour on Sunday, May 18, from 1 to 5 p.m.. You won’t want to miss seeing some of the loveliest homes and gardens in the city.

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Rain or shine, it’s Bike to Work Day. Stop by the City-sponsored pit stop en route, or find one of 78 other area stops at www. 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. Magruder Park Pavilion, 4000 Hamilton Street. 240.461.4560 or

May 17

Today’s A-May-Zing Animal Fest features birds of prey, exotic reptiles, farm animals, a puppet show, food vendors, arts and crafts, and more. Free. Noon to 4 p.m. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg. 301.779.0371. Like bikes? You’ll want to see the motorcyclists gather for the Chariots of Fire Biker Blessing, a family-friendly festival that also includes giveaways, a moon bounce, ping pong, and something called a “wheelie machine.” Free. 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Crossover Church, 5340 Baltimore Avenue. 301.927.5620.

May 18

If you love historic houses, you won’t want to miss the Hyattsville Preservation Association’s 35th Annual House Tour, which will showcase homes and gardens throughout the city. $10 in advance (at Franklins or the municipal building) or

$12 on tour day; $2 for children. 1 to 5 p.m. On tour day, pick up a detailed brochure guide at the municipal building, 4310 Gallatin Street. 301.699.5440 or

May 19

The Hyattsville Branch Library’s independent film series continues with Cutie and the Boxer, a documentary that follows the May-December romance and careers of two New York artists from 1969 to the present day. Afterwards, local filmmaker Mimi Machado-Jones will facilitate a brief discussion on the film. Free. 6:45 p.m. 6530 Adelphi Road. 301.985.4690.

May 28

In the 18th century, people couldn’t just stop by Staples to pick up a pen. At this afternoon’s The Art of Quill Writing, visitors ages 6 and up can learn firsthand what it was like to write with goose quills and ink. Reservations required; space is limited. Free. 1 p.m. Battle of Bladensburg Visitors Center, 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg. 301.927.8819.

May 31

This isn’t your usual open house. At Open House on the Waterfront, you can learn basic fishing and canoe paddling techniques. All necessary materials provided. Free. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bladensburg Water-

front Park, 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg. 301.779.0371. The 9th Annual Rivers to Rockets Bike Rally is named for sites along the 12-mile tour, which will incorporate segments of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System. Entry fees range from $15 for individuals to $40 for families, and include lunch. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tour begins at 94th Aero Squadron parking lot, 5310 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park. 301.887.0777 or

June 1

The Genesis Dance Company presents “The Arrival,” a spring showcase by youth dancers. $20 ($15 in advance). 3 p.m. Joe's Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier. 301.246.0598. Stepping outside their usual role, 12 pastors will act as the choir in a benefit concert for the Lutheran Mission Society Compassion Center, an aid center run by Redeemer Lutheran Church. Organist Kay Bredberg will accompany them in the hour-long performance, which is followed by a reception. No charge for admission, but there will be a free-will offering. Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3799 East West Highway. 301.277.2302, ext. 13.

June 6

It’s opening day for the Route 1 Farmers Market & Bazaar, which will offer fresh produce, live music, family activities, and works by regional crafters and artists every Friday, 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., through the fall. In the former B&J auto shop at 4100 Rhode Island Avenue, Brentwood. www.rt1farmersmarket.

June 7

Judges will be watching the Brentwood Day parade, which starts at 10 a.m. from 3400 Windom Road, and giving prizes for best-dressed dog and best-decorated bicycle. Afterwards, the fun moves to Bartlett Park (4300 39th Place) where a festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. features a dunk tank, games, crafts, live music and plenty of children’s activities. Potential parade marchers and festival vendors may contact

June 7

Hosted by the Caribbean Council of Prince George’s County, the Caribbean Heritage Festival brings you a taste of the islands with performances, food, crafts, boat rides and more. Free. Noon to 8 p.m.Bladensburg Waterfront Park, 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg. 301.779.0371. calendar continued on page 9



Jam 2014

The second Friday of every month, May through September, 6:30 to 8:30 PM City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street Rain or Shine!

Admission is free; delicious food for sale

June 13 - The Crawdaddies July 11 - The Roustabouts August 8 - N2N September 12 - Just Us

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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014


No. 286 • May 14, 2014 • 301-985-5000

Spring & summer planning

The warm weather is here, and there are plenty of activities to keep everyone in Hyattsville busy – from our four-legged friends to music lovers, from the westside to the east, and everywhere in between!


Friday, May 16 – Bike to Work Day, Magruder Park Pit Stop Sunday, May 18 – Hyattsville Preservation Association, Historic Hyattsville House Tour


Saturday, June 7 – Dogs for the Arts Friday, June 13 – Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam, featuring the Crawdaddies


Friday, July 11 – Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam, featuring The Roustabouts


Tuesday, August 5 – National Night Out Against Crime Friday, August 8 – Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam, featuring N2N


Friday, September 5 – Sunset Movie Series at Heurich Park Friday, September 12 – Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam, featuring Just Us, and Police Department Open House See details in this edition of the Hyattsville Reporter, or watch for updates in future editions!

Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

35th Historic Hyattsville tours takes place May 18

On Sunday May 18, from 1-5 PM, the Hyattsville Preservation Association will present the 35th Annual Historic Hyattsville House Tour. Begin your tour by picking up a map at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street. Advance tickets are $10 per person, on

sale starting in April at Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery & General Store, 5121 Baltimore Avenue, Monday through Sunday, 11 AM to 9 PM, or the City of Hyattsville, City Municipal Building, Third Floor, 4310 Gallatin Street, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM.

On the morning of Friday May 16, Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association invite you to join over 10,000 area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun, and healthy way to get to work. Magruder Park will be one of 79 pit stops throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia offering refreshments. Free t-shirts available at pit stops to the first 14,000 who register and attend. Learn more or register at


The City is expected to adopt the FY15 budget the Council Meeting of Wednesday, May 28. Residents are welcome and encouraged to attend all public meetings, including Council Meetings and Work Sessions. To review the process to date, please visit the website:


The Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam Series has become a traditional Friday night event throughout the summer months. Held from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on the second Friday of the month May through September, this event includes delicious food (burgers, chicken and hot dogs) provided and prepared by Outback Steakhouse of Hyattsville, a beer and wine garden, musical entertainment, the ever popular moon bounce and Mandy the Clown and her very talented face painters. The series is held at the Municipal Building at 4310 Gallatin Street. This is a rain or shine event! In the event of inclement weather, the Jam moves into the multi-purpose room. Attendance is free and open to everyone. There is a charge for food and beverages. 2014 Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam Schedule: Friday, June 13 - The Crawdaddies Friday, July 11 - The Roustabouts Friday, August 8 - N2N Friday, September 12 - Just Us For more information on the Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam Series, please contact the Department of Community Services by phone at 301-985-5021 or by email to If you’d like to volunteer at a Jam or for any other City event, please contact Colleen Aistis by phone at 301-985-5057 or by email to

Dogs for the Arts returns to Magruder Park on Saturday, June 7

Magruder Park goes to the dogs on Saturday, June 1 at 9:30 AM. Paw painting, dog tricks, owner-dog look-alike contest, and more. Fancy dress encouraged! Presented by the Lively Arts in Hyattsville – no admission charge, but donations accepted. Call 301/699-5440 to register.

CALENDAR May / June 2014 Wednesday, May 14

Special Council Meeting, 8 - 10 PM

Friday, May 16

Bike to Work Day - Magruder Park Pit Stop, 6:30 - 8:30 AM Magruder Park

Saturday, May 17

Volunteer Opportunity: Magruder Woods non-native invasive removal, 9 AM to 1 PM Magruder Park

Monday, May 26

Memorial Day - City Administrative offices closed No Yard Waste collection, City-wide

Day of Tour tickets are $12 per person, at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street. Ticket sales open at 12:30 PM and close at 4 PM. Check or cash only, please. For information, call 301-699-5440, email, or visit

Wednesday, May 28

Special Council Meeting, 8 - 10PM

Monday, June 2

Council Meeting, 8 to 10 PM

Tuesday, June 3

Board of Supervisors of Elections Meeting, 4 to 5 PM


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If your household is serviced by the Department of Public Works for trash collection, please note the following schedule changes over the summer holidays: Memorial Day There will be no Yard Waste collection, City-wide on Monday, May 26. Independence Day If your regular collection day is Friday, your trash will be picked up on Thursday, July 3. Please note that Public Works will be collecting both the Thursday and Friday routes on July 3. This means that your collection might be earlier or later than usual on those two days. Labor Day There will be no Yard Waste collection, City-wide on Monday, September 1. Questions? Please call 301/985-5032.


Ageless Grace is a low impact exercise program for mind and body and consists of 21 simple exercises designed to improve healthy longevity. The exercises are designed to be performed in a chair and almost anyone can benefit from them, regardless of most physical conditions. And did we mention? It’s also great fun! Classes meet on Fridays at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street and costs just $2 per class. The Spring semester continues through May 30. Summer session starts June 6. For more information, call 301/985-5000 or email Colleen Aistis,


The next meeting of the City’s Book Club will be on Thursday, June 12. We meet from 7:30 to 9 PM in the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street. The Book Club was founded to build community by exploring cultural differences through literature and open conversation. The Club is continuing its discussion of Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus. All are welcome, regardless of literacy level, educational attainment, or any other characteristic. The event is free and open to the public. Questions? Please call Council Member Robert Croslin at 240/460-1827.

Commemorating National Police Week

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC is the site of many Police Week activities, including the addition of 362 names to the walls this year, the names of those officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. One name on the wall is familiar to many in our community.

Private Robert John King was one of the City’s first motorcycle officers. The City of Hyattsville’s Police Department was the first in the County to adopt motorcycles for traffic patrols. Officer King was the very first member of the force to request a transfer to the new Motor Unit. He was known to all as a proud and dedicated officer, committed to the community he served. On June 18, 1984, Bob had just cut short his vacation, returning home to report “Motor 112, 10-8” – he was back in service. Later that night, Bob took part in the pursuit of a stolen motorcycle. The unthinkable happened – during the pursuit, Bob’s bike crashed and he was rushed to the hospital. The next morning, Bob passed away from injuries related to the crash. He was just 27 years old. You can find Officer King’s name on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. He is listed on panel 33, E-1, just one of the more than 14,000 police officers who gave their lives during the twentieth century. We honor his sacrifice, and the many sacrifices of those who risk their lives to ensure the safety of our families and our communities. Visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund for more information.


Are you on Facebook? You can now keep up with City events and happenings at When you see Vainglorious, the silver metal bird sculpture at Centennial Park, you’ll know you’re in the right place. He is kind enough to serve as the City’s wall photo. The City is also on Instagram at and on Twitter as @4310Gallatin.


The community is always welcome to attend City Council meetings in person, at 4310 Gallatin Street. City residents can also watch the meetings from home on Comcast (Channel 71) or Verizon (Channel 12), either live or on rebroadcast. The rebroadcast schedule is as follows: 7 AM, 1 PM, and 8 PM seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. We typically rebroadcast the most recent Council Meeting. Meetings can also be streamed live at www.hyattsville. org/meetings. Questions? Comments? Please talk to Jonathan Alexander, the City’s cable coordinator, at or 301/985-5028.


Join us for non-native invasive removals in Magruder Woods on the third Saturday of every month, year-round, from 9 AM to 1 PM. Work is led by Dr. Marc Imlay, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning. Upcoming dates include Saturday, May 17 and June 21. Please dress for the elements – long-sleeves, long pants and sturdy boots or shoes. Questions? Contact Colleen Aistis, or 301/985-5057. Participation helps to satisfy State of Maryland Student Service Learning requirements.

Outback Steakhouse Summer Jam, 6:30 to 8:30 PM

Tuesday, June 17

Planning Committee Meeting, 7:30 - 8:30 PM Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street.


Looking for updates on WSSC projects in your neighborhood? Use their maps to see the status of current projects. Maps can be accessed on WSSC’s website:


Got kids? Then you’ve got car seats! Maryland law requires all children under the age of eight to ride in an appropriate safety seat. But the seat alone is not enough - proper installation is the key to keeping our littlest passengers safe. Despite our best efforts, estimates suggest that as many as seven out of ten kids are not buckled in properly. The City of Hyattsville’s Police Department can help. To schedule a safety seat check, please contact Sergeant Christine Fekete at 301/985-5060 or via email to She’ll be happy to help parents install a new seat or improve the fit of your current equipment. Car Seat Safety Checks aren’t just for new parents, either. Consider calling when your child transitions from an infant to a toddler seat, or when you buy a new vehicle and transfer your seats from your old car. Checks are free of charge for any City of Hyattsville resident.


The City is now using Nixle to send public safety alerts and information via both email and text message. This system replaces the SafeCity website previously in use. Many of our neighboring jurisdictions also use Nixle to send out information. Please note at Nixle won’t report on every incident – typically alerts are sent when the HCPD needs to alert the public to a potentially dangerous situation, or when we are asking for your help solving a crime. In other cases, Nixle messages relate to road closures, power outages, etc. If you have a account, there is no need to create a new one. Simply log in and add the City of Hyattsville to your wire. New to Nixle? Register at or enroll using the widget online at

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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

Dance studio readies for recital debut by Elana Dure

At Hyattsville’s newest dance and fitness studio, ballerinas and hip-hop dancers alike are preparing for their first recital, which will be held at Joe’s Movement Emporium on June 15. Since opening Ballet, Tap, and All That Jazz six months ago, owner Rene Hoffler has been delighted with the welcoming response from both area residents and civic organizations, such as the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation. Hoffler, 42, started dancing at age 5, studying the arts of ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance throughout her youth. However, at 4 feet 11 inches, she knew she could never dance professionally. So she focused on teaching. She opened the studio on October 3, after a stint of caring for her sickly father inspired her to live her life doing what she loved. She quit her job as an intervention specialist at a middle school in suburban Virginia, and began searching for studio space to rent. Hoffler, a resident of Upper

Rene Hoffler Young ballerinas at Hyattsville’s newest dance studio practice for the upcoming recital on June 15.

Marlboro, lived in Hyattsville as a teenager and found what

she was looking for in the former Tangled Skein yarn shop.

She spent about six months turning the former Tangled Skein yarn shop into a moderndance space. Her studio offers a variety of lessons including ballet, tap, jazz, Zumba, and belly dance. Other classes include yoga and Piloxing, a combination of Pilates and boxing. She teaches the ballet and jazz classes herself, and has 10 instructors for the rest. “It’s nice to have a place like this in Hyattsville because there isn’t anything like it nearby,” said Sarah Hurtt, a University Park resident and student in the adult’s ballet barre class. “The teacher [Hoffler] is very energetic and she keeps a positive attitude.” The only concern Hurtt had about the studio was that the class times have been inconsistent, sometimes changing from week to week. Hoffler said that as a developing business, the studio is still trying to figure out the best days and times for classes based on popular demand. (Lessons on Mondays and Fridays, she’s found, are sparsely attended.)

Monthly tuition rates range from as low as $45 a month for the weekly 45-minute preballet class to as much as $175 a month for a selection of four dance classes per week. Dropin fees are $15 per class. Chris Law, a resident of Hyattsville and hip-hop instructor at the studio, said dance is a great outlet to keep children off the streets and out of trouble. He said that dance inspired him to turn his life around as a teenager and he wants to give others the same opportunity. “I really enjoy teaching [the youth] because they have a lot of energy, they are very attentive whenever they are in class, and they are very excited about learning hip-hop and using commercial choreography,” said Law. Upcoming programs at the studio include an arts camp, starting June 16, in which children ages 3 through 14 will have the opportunity to learn dance, drama and vocals. For more information about class schedules, registration, or the upcoming recital, go to www.


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                                                                                        

                                                                                                                         

        

Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

Page 9



A scream in the night by Fred Seitz

It was a dark, but not so stormy night; rain and fog had mostly passed when a series of short screech screams emanated from Magruder Park. Too short for a ghastly murder, but creepy enough to bring drowsy dogs to alert. Not unlike the sound of a very frightened person, the sound repeated four times. Le Renard had made his statement for the evening and then was silent for the rest of the night. The 12-to-15 pound red fox is a common presence in Magruder Park and the nearby neighborhood. His (and sometimes her) vocalizations are often tied to mating season, but this outburst (on the evening of May 1) was a bit late for that seasonal rite, as the fox normally mate from December through March. About 52 days later, three to five kits are usually born and both parents share in feeding the offspring. It is only during winter and breeding season that the fox will have a den, which may be of his own construction or may be a commandeered and expanded groundhog hole. Foxes also are sometimes quite verbal when establishing territory, but most frequently when frightened or startled by something. What the “something” was on the night in question remains undetermined. Possible candidates can be as simple as a human intruder or Renard’s bigger brother, the coyote. While the bigger brother is in our area, I have caught a passing glimpse of one in the park only once in the 26 years I’ve lived here. Red fox are far more common. In fact, they are one of the most common carnivores in North America and are found from Southern Alaska to Mexico. Re-


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Ongoing The producers-only Riverdale Park Farmer’s Market has moved back outside, with a variety of local vegetables and fruits, honey, baked goods, meat, jams, flowers and more. Free. Thursdays, 3 to 7 p.m. 4650 Queensbury Road, Riverdale Park, 301.332.6258. The Prince George’s County Audubon society and the Patuxent Bird Club team up to host an earlyevening guided bird walk along the Luther Goldman Birding Trail at Lake Artemesia. Walks are held every first and third Thursday at 6 p.m. and start at the lake parking lot at Berwyn Road and Ballew Avenue. Free. 301.459.3375 or

gional variants range from the slightly smaller Arctic fox in the far north to the considerably smaller kit fox in the Southwest and Mexico. In Western Maryland, the red fox is joined by his tree climbing cousin, the grey fox. During early colonization of the East Coast, the grey fox was more common, but it is believed that the British helped encourage the spread of the red fox in the East, as they considered the grey fox less of a challenge for hunting and red fox were part of the British hunting tradition. Our red-coated friend is a true omnivore, well known for his ability to hunt voles under the snow. First, the fox will listen carefully for the sound of the small rodent moving in tunnels under the snow, then leap up and land at a point where he can easily pick up the vole. In milder seasons, his diet expands to include birds, a variety of insects, fruits, and the occasional turtle or lizard. Within his two-to-five mile territory — smaller if more fox are around — the fox will sleep in a sheltered area during much of the day and do much of his hunting during the evening. However, this pattern has changed somewhat in the recent decade or so, in part due to the return of his big brother, the coyote, to urban areas. Fox are now more frequently seen during the day and they include sheds and underneath porches among their resting areas in part to avoid unpleasant encounters with their big brother, who is their major predator other than humans. Neither little red brother nor larger dusty grey brown coyote is a particular threat to humans, though fox have been identified as a rabies vector and do carry types of mange that can be transmitted to dogs and other pets. The coyote, by contrast, is fond of devouring domestic cats.

The free Anacostia River Boat Tours begin this month and will be held throughout the summer Tuesdays through Fridays at noon and weekends at 5 p.m. Led by a park naturalist, riders on the pontoon boat can search for birds and other wildlife. Free; registration required for groups of 12 or more. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg. 301.779.0371. On Fridays, seniors can participate in Ageless Grace, a fitness and wellness program designed to improve healthy longevity. $2 per session. 10 to 11 a.m. Magruder Park Recreation Building, 3911 Hamilton Street. 301.985.5058. The Hyattsville library offers a variety of storytimes. Space is limited; free tickets available at the children’s desk. Ages 9-23 months: Mondays,

10:15 a.m. Ages 2-3: Mondays, 11 a.m. Ages 3-5: Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. Ages 3-6: Wednesdays, 7 p.m. English-Spanish Storytime for ages 3-6: Saturdays, 11 a.m. 6530 Adelphi Road. 301.985.4690. Rise + Rhyme kicks off the week for the 5-and-under set with storytelling, performances and more. Suggested donation, $5. Monday mornings from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Zinn Room, Busboys & Poets, 5331 Baltimore Avenue. 301.779.2787. Community Calendar is a select listing of events happening in and around Hyattsville from the 15th of the issue month to the 15th of the following month. To submit an item for consideration, please e-mail or mail to P.O. Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781. Deadline for June submissions is May 23.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014


A rare glimpse inside Bostwick House by Gray OʼDwyer

On Sunday, May 4, Maryland Milestones hosted the Bostwick Heritage Festival to celebrate the Bladensburg estate’s three centuries of history with dozens of local vendors and artisans. Younger visitors made bricks and learned to swordfight, while University of Maryland historic preservation students led other guests on guided tours of the house. Interpreters in period dress gave lectures on 19th-century life and farm animals provided a pungent note of authenticity to the former plantation grounds. This year was the third Heritage Festival, which is part of an ongoing effort by Maryland Milestones and partner organization Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (ATHA) to promote the incredible historic legacy of the Anacostia River region. Bostwick is a particular focus for Maryland Milestones because of its close association with the War of 1812. The house was constructed in 1746 by Christopher Lowndes, an important merchant with his own shipyard at the bustling Port of Bladensburg. Notable residents included the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, and George and Rosalie Calvert who

GRAY O’DWYER The 18th-century Bostwick House, normally closed to visitors, was open during the May 4 Bostwick Heritage Festival in Bladensburg.

would later build Riversdale. Unfortunately, Bostwick has seen a lot of neglect over the years. Rosalie Calvert wrote in an 1801 letter that “this house [we] are living in causes the greater part of [our] indispositions, for neither the doors nor the windows close properly and when it is cold we freeze!” Bostwick was renovated extensively in 1904 by Civil War veteran James Kyner, but later generations of the family moved away from Bladensburg and let the house decline. It was sold by a Kyner descendant to the town of Bladensburg in the late 1990s.

Since 2008 Bostwick has been a “preservation lab” for students in the Historic Preservation program at University of Maryland. The students are collaborating with the town and ATHA to restore the house through grant funding and sweat equity. Aaron Marcavitch, ATHA’s executive director, says that events like the festival “are great opportunities to explore the house” and its history. Since the house is undergoing repairs — including a recent grant-funded window restoration and stabilization of earthquake-damaged chimneys — the public usually cannot ac-

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24, 1814, bearing witness to the disastrous American defeat that led to the burning of Washington later that night. Lowndes Hill behind the house was fortified with artillery and Bostwick was briefly a command post for both sides. This history is now largely hidden by highways, houses, and industrial buildings, but at the Heritage Festival it was amazing to see a little of the 19th century peeking through.

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cess the site for safety reasons. But everyone involved with Bostwick would love to see that change. Currently in the works are interpretive panels for the house and grounds to help passersby engage with the area’s history. Bostwick is very important to Bladensburg as a building and as a legacy of the now-lost shipping industry that was critical to development of Prince George’s County. The house was built in a way that allowed Lowndes to see the river and his shipyard from his front door. It was also a focal point of the Battle of Bladensburg on August

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Page 11


Taking care of seniors Dear Auntie, I hear that Hyattsville Aging in Place (HAP) wants the city to include a full-time senior services coordinator in its next budget. Why does Hyattsville need such a position? Doesn’t HAP take care of old people? Puzzled on Powhatan Dear Puzzled, Emily Stowers, who has served the city well as a senior services coordinator for two years, left her post earlier this year to move to Florida. Emily did a great job but was limited in what she could do because she was only a part-time worker. HAP believes that a full-time senior services coordinator can lead Hyattsville into the new day, now bearing down on us, when an aging populations

chooses to stay longer in their homes rather than moving to retirement communities. The baby boomers started turning 65 last year and are ushering in what Governing magazine calls “a seismic demographic shift unlike anything in [America’s] history.” The effect will be felt not only in federal entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, but also by local governments. (You can read the magazine’s series on aging in America online at An aging population needs certain services. HAP wants the senior services coordinator to work with city departments to ensure that policies are fair and take into consideration the needs of our oldest residents. For example, they might advocate street crossing lights

that are long enough for slower walkers to get across the streets. HAP would also like to see the city take the lead in providing a wider range of health and wellness services, such as health fairs geared to the elderly; an expansion of intergenerational activities where seniors can offer classes or mentor younger people; and extending communications to make sure that older people know what services are available. “Hyattsville should stay in the forefront of building an age-friendly city,” HAP chair Lisa Walker told the city council at a recent budget meeting. “Around the metropolitan area, Hyattsville has been recognized and applauded for taking steps to support senior services. Let’s extend that reputation.” HAP would also like to see

the city extend the program of referring seniors in need to more intensive services that a volunteer organization such as HAP is unable to provide. A full-time senior services coordinator at city hall “could assess the situation and find out which services are necessary,“ Walker said. Those services “could be as little as having someone over twice a week for light housekeeping or as much as having someone prepare meals four or five days a week.” There are needs Hyattsville hasn’t planned for, Walker said, as this winter’s snowstorms demonstrated. Some of those who received warnings about clearing their sidewalks were older residents, disabled, on limited incomes – or all three. “HAP volunteers shoveled snow for near shut-ins who never could have shoveled snow themselves,” Walker told me. Safety is a concern for many seniors who live alone and have no family members near-

by who can check on them on a regular basis. “Just getting down steps is risky and using the Call-a-Bus is, sadly, not an option if you can’t get around on your own,” she said. Clearly there is a need for senior services. In its first 12 months of taking service requests, HAP responded to 153 such requests. Of those, 104 were rides to doctor’s appointments. But other requests have been for yard work, snow shoveling, shopping and prescription pickup, telephone and computer assistance, and minor home repairs. “HAP is sort of the first line – occasional assistance and a friendly ear,” Walker said. “There has to be something else between that and assisted living.” The city council expects to decide whether or not to have a full-time senior services coordinator when it approves the budget, which is scheduled to happen by the end of May.

TRASH CHANGES Public Works Trash Collection Changes Summer Holiday Schedule

If your household is serviced by the Department of Public Works for trash collection, please note the following schedule changes over the summer holidays:


There will be no Yard Waste collection, City-wide on Monday, May 26.


If your regular collection day is Friday, your trash will be picked up on Thursday, July 3. Please note that Public Works will be collecting both the Thursday and Friday routes on July 3. This means that your collection might be earlier or later than usual on those two days.


There will be no Yard Waste collection, City-wide on Monday, September 1.

Questions? Please call the Department of Public Works at 301/985-5032.

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Page 12

Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014


research for an application for a historic tax credit, that his home also had a covenant that would have prevented him from owning it. Research done by local architect Mark Ferguson found that Otway Zantzinger, who owned many properties in Hyattsville Hills, stipulated in deeds when he sold the properties that no African-American could live in any of the houses. “My son is in law school at Harvard,� notes Croslin, “and he was excited about it because they were talking about it in class.� Discussions at Harvard revealed more history of the Zantzinger family, including the fact that the actions of one descendant in 1963 inspired a Bob Dylan song, “The Lonely Death of Hattie Carroll.� Croslin believes knowing these sorts of stories is important. “In order to have a community that works together you need to know the history.� He notes, “When you know the history, and you know what you want to do from there, then you can become the kind of community you really want to have.�

continued from page 1

gram mentions the Hyattsville Human Rights Act passed by the City Council this year, and then seeks to educate residents an aspect of Hyattsville’s history that many may be unaware of, the racial restrictions placed on properties less than a century ago that only ended with a 1948 Supreme Court decision. As the program for the tour notes, “Residents of Hyattsville span the spectrum in terms of racial identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, socioeconomic status, and a variety of other identities. That diversity is what makes Hyattsville the fun, energetic, artsy, close-knit community we all love today.� As Gloria Felix-Thompson, president of HPA, studied the city’s history these restrictions were one thing that surprised her. She notes that when the land that became Magruder Park was donated to the city in 1927, the deed included language that said it was for white inhabitants only. “Can you imagine?� she asks. Thompson says that at a time when the country has made tremendous strides in racial equality it is appropriate to acknowledge how recently and how thoroughly the shadow of the past covers the city. “Look where we have been,� she says, “And look where we are now.� One of the homes featured on the tour this year is that of Joy Jeffries, whose Gallatin Street home is known for its white and

courtesy of HPA Joy Jeffries’ home on Gallatin Street is known for its white and red porch. Tickets for the May 18 house tour can be purchased up to that date. See calendar, p. 7, for more information on the tour and how to purchase tickets.

demographic changes since that time, including an influx of both minorities and young families. Later, when her son attended DeMatha, she would often find herself driving “In order to have a community through the neighborhoods. that works together you need “I just like the old to know the history. When homes,� she exyou know the history, and you plains, and in 1997 she bought one. know what you want to do Jeffries, who is from there, then you can African-Amerbecome the kind of community ican, has given some thought to you really want to have.� the city’s history. — Robert Croslin “Would I have Ward 2 Councilmember been able to live here in the ’20s and ’30s? I guess I red porch. Jeffries first became wouldn’t have been here.� familiar with the area in the City Councilmember Rob1980s when her brother attend- ert Croslin (Ward 2) recently ed DeMatha, and has noticed discovered, in the course of

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Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

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and skills to bring a new level of performance and professionalism to the city staff,” he said. “Her demonstrated leadership skills bode well for the city, staff and residents.” During nearly 30 years in the Army, the Willingboro, N.J., native held a variety of leadership positions on bases from Brooklyn to Baghdad. Her favorite, though, was installation commander, a position that she describes as “uniquely similar” to city administrator. A military base is “really like a city within a city,” said Nicholson, with its own housing, shopping, health care facilities, recreation centers, police force and public works department. She managed the Army garrison at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan, one of the largest multi-service military communities in the U.S. In 2005, she became the first female installation commander of Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn, N.Y. There, she was responsible for infrastructure and property valued at over $250 million while supporting more than 29,000 soldiers, family members, veterans and retirees. “I loved installation management – it was by far the thing I enjoyed the most. There’s a sense of satisfaction and pride when you see a community come together.” A civilian job will be something of a career change for Nicholson. According to the posted job description, the city administrator “provides leadership for the management and execution of policies and objectives set by the City Council,” and supervises all seven department directors. Ultimately, the only city employee not in her chain of command is the city attorney. “I’ll be walking into something new – very familiar, but new,” said Nicholson in an interview in early May.

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But she is used to that. In the Army, she said, “we change jobs often, and every job is different. So we have to get up to speed quickly.” Her military career began in 1982 at Rutgers University, where she joined the ROTC and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Later came master’s degrees in Strategic Studies (from the U.S. Army War College) and in Administration (from Central Michigan University). Her long military career, during which she earned a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal and other military honors, landed her in the Washington, D.C. area four times. Her last job, in fact, was at the Pentagon, where she worked for two years before retiring in August 2012. And each time she was here, she would spend time in Hyattsville with a friend from childhood, Joy Jeffries. Jeffries has lived across the street from the municipal building since 1997. The economic and community expansion the city has seen in recent years were all the more dramatic to someone who sometimes spent years between visits. “I was away from Hyattsville from 2003 to 2009,” said Nicholson. “When I came back, I couldn’t believe how much things had changed – especially in the Arts District. The city really has a smalltown feel in an urban setting.” It impressed her enough, she recalled, to want to live here. “Whenever I visited, I thought, ‘If I come back to the area [after retirement], I want to look for a home here,’ ” she said. For now, though, home will be one of the new apartments on Toledo Terrace while she settles into her new life in Hyattsville and her new role on Gallatin Street. “I’m grateful to the mayor and council for selecting me, and I look forward to working for them and with them,” she said. “I think [the city] can only get stronger, and I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen.”

Page 14

Hyattsville Life & Times | May 2014

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