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amen, amen , and amen. i have been waiting for some kind of outpouring on the worst college town I have ever seen (“Shell of a Town,” 9/29). Although my research pool is not huge, I have been on more than a hundred college campuses around the country, and none rivals College Park for squalor, boredom, and sprawl.
I have been a resident of the College Park area for over 15 years. I also worked for the University of Maryland for six years. As your article mentioned, it is a beautiful campus. It was also a wonderful place to work, but you can forget running out to get a decent lunch or having drinks with friends after work.
College Park is an eyesore. It brings shame and aggravation to all who live and work in the community. The lack of parking, the narrow roadways, the nonexistent pedestrian areas, the lack of creative and unique places to shop and eat serve as a deterrent to families and individuals who call this area home. We can’t pick up a prescription without circling the parking lot for 20 minutes. Forget trying to get anywhere when there is a game in town.
We can’t entertain our guests and family and, therefore, keep our money in our neighborhood because there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. The streets are dangerous, and college kids can act like feral children because there is no mix of adults and families eating at the same establishments, walking the same streets, shopping the same stores, or having a drink at the same bars. The city has abandoned us, and we have in turn abandoned the student population by taking our bodies and money elsewhere.
Who is to blame? The handful of individuals owning the retail space in and around College Park show no innovation or community pride. They jack up rental prices so that only a series of monotonous chains can afford to ply their trade. The neat music stores, secondhand shops, and trendy boutiques that border most college campuses can’t afford the rent.
The city of College Park itself and the residential homeowners who have decided that the rental money they can extract from college students is more important than keeping a community alive are also to be held accountable. Those who are responsible for zoning, city planning, and building who behave like hucksters rather than people with a vision are guilty of selling the city down the river. The city of College Park, Prince George’s County, the state of Maryland, and the University of Maryland are all responsible for this sad state of affairs.
Speaking of the University of Maryland: They have money; they are marketing their university to thousands of students and their families every year, and yet they have never thrown their money or their weight around to induce other interested parties to come up with a plan that will help ensure the safety, much less the quality of life, of their students and the surrounding community. If I were a parent of an out-of-state student and drove my child to the campus for the first time, I would be horrified. The university and the state of Maryland should both be ashamed and held accountable.
The citizens of this area have for too long thrown up their arms in a gesture of acquiescence. It is time that all those affected by and sharing in the problem stand up, or sit down (perhaps in the center of Route 1) and protest this neglect and intolerable lack of planning and concern on the part of all of those listed above.
The students of the University of Maryland, the citizens of College Park and the surrounding communities deserve a safe, interesting community in which to shop, eat, drink, raise their children, and be entertained. Let’s get mad as hell and do something about this travesty!