Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
On Oct. 24 the College Park City Council voted to request more state funding to improve traffic and safety along the Route 1 corridor. The corridor improvements are meant to increase traffic flow and decrease accidents — both necessary steps to improve the city of College Park and the University of Maryland.
Resident students at this university, as well as those who live in College Park, know all too well the mess that is Route 1. Traversing the area as a pedestrian can be difficult and, as freshman Maria Fisher's recent death proved, potentially dangerous. The city's push for corridor safety improvements is long overdue, especially after Fisher's death at the intersection of Route 1 and Campus Drive, an area covered by the corridor project.
However, increased safety shouldn't be the council's only concern. College Park fails to be the hub of culture, social life and business it can be, and instead too closely fits the college town stereotype. There are far too many pizza shops and apartment buildings and too little that promotes College Park as an up-and-coming city. While I support classically college student-oriented businesses such as bars and pizzerias, their presence only goes so far in attracting residents and businesses outside of the college-sphere. The city is trying to deviate from the stereotype with The Hotel and Old Maryland Grill, College Park must go much further.
College Park's bid to host the next Amazon headquarters is a step in the right direction towards bringing in business and attractions that aren't explicitly college-related. And while Amazon alone won't fully meet College Park's potential, the idea behind the bid is promising. Imagine a College Park that serves as a hub of culture, business and, most importantly, college life. A city where students can find internships and jobs just down the road and not necessarily a Metro ride away in Washington, D.C. Imagine a city that has more within walking-distance of the campus than the current small selection of Route 1 bars and restaurants. Imagine attending this university in a city with those opportunities.
The council is making the right move advocating for funds to improve the Route 1 corridor, and the benefits of such safety improvements for students has the potential to be immense. But the council also needs to consider the future of College Park's culture. After all, improving traffic flow through the corridor just means people can move through the city faster than before — but what can the city offer that makes people want to stop?
Caitlin McCann is a sophomore communication major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.