The College Park City Council discussed how to move forward with the Hollywood Streetscape Project on Tuesday night after encountering a delay for a proposed pathway.
The project, which was created in October 2014, will add more public spaces and improve existing features of College Park's Hollywood Commercial District in order to make the area more resident- and visitor-friendly.
The city had planned to prioritize a proposed wellness circuit, which is a pathway that could include exercise equipment, but recently learned about county plans to explore daylighting, or redirecting the underground stream, Narragansett Run, into an above-ground channel.
The circuit will be delayed until the daylighting impact on the path can be assessed, according to this week's mayoral update.
Daylighting typically is an attempt to restore a stream to a more natural state. The city's planning director Terry Schum noted it would be a good idea to do a study on daylighting to see if there could be environmental benefits involved with the redirection of Narragansett Run.
"I feel like that deserves further study, and it has merit," Schum said. "That's why I would suggest to you to not move forward with the first phase wellness circuit, but to commit funds to this feasibility study and get more information about the condition of the pipe."
The feasibility study would take about two months to complete, Schum said. Performing the study includes a preliminary cost proposal of $22,000, according to the agenda.
"The daylighting on the stream, I think that would be a great thing that could happen," District 1 Councilwoman Christine Nagle said.
Aside from the wellness circuit, the two-phase project includes construction of small parks, pedestrian lights, street furniture, bike lanes, among other things.
The goal is to enhance the commercial area for pedestrians and bicyclists with a larger right of way and "enhance the aesthetics" of the commercial district to "make it more attractive for tenants," Schum said.
Mayor Patrick Wojahn said there seemed to be consensus among the council to move forward with the first phase of the project. The first phase includes prioritizing building the parklets, traffic calming on Edgewood Road, beginning upgrades to the Niagara Road intersection and deferring other work, such as the potential for the circuit, to a later phase.
It is estimated that construction could begin on the Hollywood Streetscape in fall 2018 and be completed in six months, according to the work session agenda.
The council gathered resident input at a June 14 meeting and staff presented the final design report to the North College Park Community Association on Sept. 14. District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir said the community feedback meeting was "very well attended" and that "staff and consultants took all the comments and tried to incorporate" some of them, such as resident comments about public art.
In the preliminary design report, the total project's estimated cost is about $2.92 million, but there is currently $1 million available in the capital budget to move forward with design and construction, according to the work session agenda.
One of the council options moving forward was to continue with their current consultant, or competitively bid as they move forward in the planning process.
Wojahn said he got a sense from the council that they'd like to competitively bid.
District 2 Councilman P.J. Brennan said he thinks it is paramount that the city does not just retain the same designer as they move forward in the planning process.
"[There is a need] to competitively bid … especially if we're looking toward a $3 million dollar budget," Brennan said.
Before the meeting, Kabir said the project is important because the public area on both sides of Rhode Island Avenue and part of Edgewood Road aren't "quite developed yet" and are not used much by residents. The area's improvement could attract quality businesses, he added.
"We're hoping that some day, in the future after the project is done, we might be getting quality businesses in there," Kabir said. "We hope that our investment in the public space will attract private investment."