Archive for the ‘College Park’ Category

Bethesda Bar Owner Awarded Liquor License for Thirsty Turtle Space

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

The space on Baltimore Avenue in College Park formerly occupied by the Thirsty Turtle may have just gotten a new tenant.

The Prince George’s County Liquor Control Board unanimously voted Tuesday to award John F. McManus, owner of The Barking Dog in Bethesda, Md., a Class B liquor license for beer, wine and liquor at 7416 Baltimore Ave. A Class B license allows alcohol to be served and consumed on location.

The approval allows McManus to negotiate a contract with the space’s landlord and Thirsty Turtle owner Alan Wanuck, who still holds the lease. McManus said the three parties have been in discussions for three months, but a deal was contingent on McManus securing a liquor license.

The Thirsty Turtle had its liquor license stripped Nov. 3, after evidence of underage drinking was brought to light after the stabbing of four men, three of them underage, following an altercation inside the bar.

The Barking Dog owner said he expects details to be worked out quickly. Though McManus said he felt badly for Thirsty Turtle ownership, he said he wouldn’t make the same mistakes as his predecessors. “I have nothing to do with those people,” he said.

“It’s a great location, it’s a great space,” McManus said. “University of Maryland’s not going anywhere. There’s not a whole lot of options (in College Park), really. … That building is inherently really nice. It needs some spit and polish. Right now, it looks like a wounded animal. Once it gets cleaned up, and fixed up, and organized and set up, people are going to be really surprised.”

McManus said he will have a target on his back at first, given the space’s history, but hoped to win over the community quickly. But he said some who were fans of the Thirsty Turtle probably won’t be fans of The Barking Dog. “The freshmen won’t like it,” McManus said. “They’re welcome to come in and eat, but not drink.”

Sgt. Ken Leonard, spokesman for University of Maryland police, said he wants to meet McManus soon to “get on equal footing,” given the space’s recent history.

“Hopefully it’ll be a successful business and a good draw for the community and students at large,” Leonard said. “But do it in a responsible manner.”

Franklin D. Jackson, chairman of the county liquor board, said voting to award the license to McManus, who owned five other bars and restaurants before The Barking Dog, was not difficult for him. Jackson said documents showed McManus did not have any violations on record for his bar in Bethesda.

“It appeared the applicant was fit and proper, he had significant experience in terms of running a restaurant,” Jackson said. “And he’s bringing a restaurant concept he’s proven elsewhere.”

Jackson said the space on Baltimore Avenue is the “largest retail commercial enterprise in College Park. (McManus has the ability) to keep it safe, (and) run such a space. Since he’s already running a business that’s extremely large, it just makes sense that he’d be able to transfer those skills over.”

McManus said he hopes The Barking Dog could open in College Park by May 1.

- By Maryland Newsline’s Alexander Pyles

UMD President: No Purple Line Not an Option

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Former Maryland governor Parris Glendening and Elizabeth Day, director of the Office of Project Planning at the Federal Transit Administration, listen while Ali Haghani, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, speaks at the Purple Line Town Hall meeting. (Photo by Maryland Newsline's Maite Fernandez)

Former Maryland governor Parris Glendening and Elizabeth Day, director of the Office of Project Planning at the Federal Transit Administration, listen while Ali Haghani, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, speaks at the Purple Line Town Hall meeting. (Photo by Maryland Newsline's Maite Fernandez)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Students, faculty, state and federal officials discussed campus locations for the Purple Line Tuesday evening, during a hearing in which the university president set the tone.

“Not having a Purple Line is not an option,” said Dr. Wallace Loh.

Former governor Parris Glendening, president of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, underscored the importance of the light rail line to the University of Maryland’s interests.

“This Purple Line makes us competitive,” Glendening told the crowd of a few hundred. “It is one of the most powerful economic development tools in any community’s arsenal.”

The proposed rail line, expected to reduce congestion on the Capital Beltway, would stretch 16 miles from Bethesda, through the center of the University of Maryland campus and across Route 1 to the future East Campus development. It would continue through to the College Park Metrorail Station before eventually terminating at the New Carrollton Metrorail Station, according to the Maryland Transit Authority.

Its alignment through campus is under contention. MTA has proposed an above-ground route along Campus Drive, through the center of campus.

But some members of the campus community have expressed concerns about the effect passing trains could have on sensitive lab equipment if the Purple Line is routed along Campus Drive. Others have raised concerns about pedestrian safety, if the line is above ground.

Ralign Wells, chief of the MTA, noted the crowd’s seeming support Tuesday of the Campus Drive station.

“I was glad to see everyone in favor of our proposal,” Wells said.

Not quite everyone.

Two members of the panel, Elise Miller-Hooks, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Michael Loehr, deputy practice leader of rail and transit at the engineering firm Hatch Mott MacDonald, spoke in favor of an alignment at Preinkert Drive.

“We think the Preinkert alignment increases safety and operational reliability,” Loehr said, reducing interference with pedestrians.

The University of Maryland released a report in October 2010 prepared by Hatch Mott MacDonald that suggested alternatives to the Campus Drive alignment, including a tunnel under Preinkert Drive.

But the estimated $50 million such a tunnel would cost is of concern to planners, said Monica Meade, MTA’s transportation and land use planning consultant.

“Any added cost will be a challenge for the state,” Meade said. “Clearly, the cost of anything is a big issue right now.”

Loh has not yet taken an official position on the Purple Line’s alignment, but will make a recommendation to Chancellor William Kirwan in coming months, said Millree Williams, a university spokesman. Kirwan will then make a recommendation to the Board of Regents, which will inform the MTA.

The MTA sends the final plan to the federal government.

Christopher Ellepola, 25, who has lived in College Park since he was 2 and is now a computer science major at the University of Maryland, expressed disappointment that Loh did not throw his support behind the Campus Drive station.

“The risk to pedestrians is a non-issue,” Ellepola said. “The alternative is what we have now, and safety is already unacceptable.”

Construction of the Purple Line is expected to begin around 2013 or 2014 at the earliest, if funding is available, Meade said. To obtain sufficient funds, the project would first have to win highly competitive federal money to cover at least half of its approximately $1.7 billion cost, said Terry Owens, a spokesman for MTA.

The project would likely take three to five years to complete once started, according to the MTA.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Collin Berglund

The Comfort Zone Controversy

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Have you been to the Comfort Zone in College Park?

Is it an adult book or video store? Or is it a variety store?

Share your thoughts.

--From Maryland Newsline’s Tami Le

Officials Hope Next Thirsty Turtle Tenant Will Be Good Neighbor

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – If Bob Ryan had his way, the next establishment at the current site of the Thirsty Turtle would include duckpins.

“My understanding is that the building was built as a bowling alley,” Ryan, director of public services for College Park, told the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners Wednesday night. “I’m sure our council will approve of that.”

Ryan’s suggestion got chuckles from the board, making brief light of the more serious topic the Liquor Board took up – what’s next for the College Park bar whose owner, Alan Wanuck, surrendered its liquor license earlier in the day.

Wanuck did not appear at the hearing, but several public officials expressed their opinions about a business owner’s responsibility to the community.

“I expect the proprietor would obey the law,” University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said. “They need to act in the best interests of the students of the University of Maryland that go there.”

The board originally was to hear testimony surrounding a fight that took place Oct. 12 inside the Thirsty Turtle. The altercation led to four men involved in the fight being stabbed across the street from the bar after they had been ejected by Turtle employees.

Since then, Mitchell has railed against underage drinking in College Park, specifically focusing on the Thirsty Turtle as a bar that had too frequently served underage patrons alcohol and served people who were already intoxicated.

Wanuck’s lawyer, Linda Carter, laid blame on the bar’s employees for the license revocation.

“[Wanuck] has gotten to the point where he doesn’t trust anybody to do the job that he would do,” Carter said.

–by Maryland Newsline’s Justin Karp

BREAKING: Liquor Board Moves to Revoke Thirsty Turtle Liquor License

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

HYATTSVILLE, Md. — The Prince George’s County Liquor Control Board took the first step toward revoking the Thirsty Turtle’s liquor license Wednesday night, voting unanimously to strip the downtown College Park bar of its ability to sell alcohol.

The move was made after the board found the bar and its owner, Alan Wanuck, guilty of serving alcohol to a minor for the second time in two years.

“A revocation is certainly appropriate,” said Franklin Jackson, chairman of the county Board of License Commissioners. “There is a whole lot of evidence of underage people under the impression that they can get into the Thirsty Turtle.”

The Thirsty Turtle will be allowed to sell alcohol until a Nov. 23 hearing, in which the county will determine an exact reason for the revocation of the liquor license, officials said.

University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell, who has railed against the bar for being a “bad neighbor” to the community, said he was relieved to hear the board’s decision.

“They obviously have taken the testimony that they’ve heard this evening and rendered what I believe to be an appropriate decision,” Mitchell said.

Wanuck declined to comment following the hearing.

The hearing was held in response to a Sept. 23 integrity test in which the liquor board, in conjunction with University of Maryland Police, attempted to send underage police aides into each of the three downtown College Park bars.

The aides, Andrew Ross and Eric Hamrick, were granted entry to the Thirsty Turtle and turned away from Cornerstone Grill & Loft and R.J. Bentley’s, police said. They were served beer at the Thirsty Turtle despite producing identification at the door that showed they were underage, police said.

Problems at the Thirsty Turtle were underscored last month, when four men – three of them under the legal drinking age – were stabbed following an altercation inside the Thirsty Turtle. A hearing on that incident is scheduled for  next Wednesday night.

A Maryland Newsline document search revealed the Thirsty Turtle had previously been fined $8,000 for two citations since receiving its liquor license in November 2007. 

The bar was fined $3,000 in November 2008 for refilling expensive liquor bottles with cheaper alcohol and $5,000 in August 2009 for selling alcohol to a minor.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Justin Karp

Hearings to Determine Fate of Thirsty Turtle’s Liquor License

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – The Thirsty Turtle could face the Prince George’s County Liquor Control Board twice in upcoming weeks in the wake of incidents in which it is alleged to have served alcohol to minors.

Either of the two hearings, scheduled for Nov. 3 and 10, could lead to the downtown College Park bar being fined or having its liquor license suspended or revoked, officials said.

At a Tuesday morning meeting, county Chief Liquor Inspector Norma Lindsay and the county Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to schedule the second hearing in the interest of “peace and safety of the community.”

Linda Carter, a lawyer for the Thirsty Turtle, said the bar’s owner, Alan Wanuck, would be present at both hearings.

“We don’t believe that what is being represented by a few people is an accurate description of what the Thirsty Turtle is,” he said.

Concerns about the bar heightened after an Oct. 11 incident in which five men, including three underage University of Maryland students, were ejected from the bar after an altercation. The fight spilled out into the street, where four of the men were stabbed.

University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell sharply criticized the Thirsty Turtle in the days after the stabbing, calling for its closure.

“We’ll be at the hearing next week to make sure that we’re on the record, letting the operators of the Thirsty Turtle know that they’re not being a good partner with the university,” said Maj. Chris Jagoe, who represented University Police at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Nov. 3 hearing was scheduled after Mitchell said two underage police aides were allowed into the Thirsty Turtle and served beer despite producing identification at the door that showed they were underage.

Carter said the Thirsty Turtle has always employed active security measures to ensure that its abiding by county laws and codes.

“We take any violation seriously, but most of my clients, including Alan Wanuck, really try to abide by the law,” Carter said.

The Thirsty Turtle has already been fined $8,000 for two citations since receiving its liquor license in November 2007, a Maryland Newsline document search revealed.

The bar was fined $3,000 in November 2008 for refilling expensive liquor bottles with cheaper alcohol and $5,000 in August 2009 for selling alcohol to a minor.

–by Maryland Newsline’s Justin Karp

College Park Installs Speed Camera

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Speeding drivers in College Park should beware: Officials recently launched the city’s first speed monitoring system.

“We have several areas in the city that have proven dangerous to pedestrians,” said Bob Ryan, the city’s director of Public Services. “It’s an issue that’s evolved over time, as traffic has become heavier in this area and the city has grown … and become more pedestrian.”

The first of six systems is located near the intersection of Paint Branch Parkway and the Trolley Trail.

“I’ve been concerned for some time about the danger of pedestrians crossing at the hiker-biker trail … this is College Park’s main corridor for pedestrians and bikers,” said Council member Stephanie E. Stullich.

After a 30-day warning period, the city will begin issuing $40 citations to those who are driving 12 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit.

“I think it’s too generous,” Stullich said of the 12 mph grace.  She said that the speed limit is 35 mph, but drivers have been caught driving in excess of 50 mph.

Ryan said that the mayor and City Council met last spring to propose speed monitoring systems in school zones and within one-half mile of the University of Maryland campus.

The system will be self-sustaining, as revenues from tickets will be used to fund it, he said.

The city intends to use speed monitoring systems on five additional roads:

  • Rhode Island Avenue, from Route 193 north to the city boundary;
  • Metzerott Road, within city boundaries from University Boulevard to Adelphi Road;
  • Greenbelt Road, from Baltimore Avenue to Rhode Island Avenue;
  • Baltimore Ave, from Beechwood Road to Indian Lane; and
  • University Boulevard within the city boundaries, from Adelphi Road to 49th Avenue.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Tami Le

Police Call Bar ‘Bad Neighbor’ After Early-Morning Altercation

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
Prince Georges County Police Chief David Mitchell at the press conference. (Photo by Maryland Newsline's Tami Le)

University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell at the press conference. (Photo by Maryland Newsline's Tami Le)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell railed against the Thirsty Turtle during a press conference late Tuesday, calling it a “bad neighbor” in the wake of a quadruple-stabbing that followed a fight at the College Park bar.

Four men, three of them University of Maryland students, were stabbed across the street from the Thirsty Turtle early Tuesday morning. Shortly before the stabbing, the victims and a suspect were thrown out of the bar after an altercation, police said.

The three University of Maryland students are all under the legal drinking age, Mitchell said. He said the bar has been fined in the past for serving underage patrons.

“I’ve received complaints from parents and administrators about the lack of good common sense in admitting underage students,” Mitchell said.

He added the three university students, one 19 years old and two 20, were all allowed to enter the Thirsty Turtle after showing their own legitimate Maryland identification, which made clear they were not of legal drinking age.

The fourth victim was 23 years old, police said.

John McGroarty, a liquor inspector for Prince George’s County, said the bar, in the 7400 block of Baltimore Avenue, had been cited three times in the past two years for various violations, including admitting and serving underage patrons.

One of the incidents took place Sept. 23.

“We’re not here to adversely affect business; we’re here for the safety of students,” McGroarty said.

Mitchell added that in a recent three-week period, a “significant number” of underage students who had been injured and treated in incidents related to alcohol consumption identified the Thirsty Turtle as the place that served them.

The liquor board has the authority to shut the bar down without a hearing if there is an “imminent danger” to patrons or the community, McGroarty said. He said the board would not move to shut the Thirsty Turtle down immediately, but Mitchell said he is ready to take decisive action if warranted.

“I’m ready to padlock it tonight,” Mitchell said.

Management from the Thirsty Turtle declined to comment after several attempts by Maryland Newsline to contact them.

Prince George’s County Deputy Police Chief Kevin Davis said police are actively searching for a Hispanic male with a black mohawk as the main suspect in the stabbing. He was inside the bar with the four victims, police said, and was thrown out with them.

Police were notified of the stabbing at about 1:30 a.m., and the victims were found near the Cornerstone Grill and Loft, about a half block south of the Thirsty Turtle.

Three of the four victims were treated and released from area hospitals. A fourth was expected to be released soon, Davis said.

Catherine Yang, 31, store manager of Ten Ren Tea Time, said she wasn’t surprised by the news. “I always had the feeling that maybe something really bad gonna happen next door,” she said. “It’s a bar; what are you expecting?”

Yang said she has been working at the tea house adjacent to the Thirsty Turtle for more than three years.

Yang said Tea Time’s store windows were broken three times last year because of drunk people on the streets. “I’m not saying it must be their customers, but it’s easy people could get drunk over there and do whatever on the streets,” she said.

–by Maryland Newsline’s Justin Karp and Tami Le

Supporters of Health Care Reform Walk from Philly to D.C.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

If you’ve thought about visiting Philadelphia lately, it probably didn’t occur to you to walk there. But for the members of Melanie’s March, hoofing the approximately 135 miles from Philly to Washington was the only way to show they are serious about health care reform.

The small group of Pennsylvanians rallied with at least 90 supporters at the University of Maryland College Park campus Tuesday evening to encourage Congress to compromise quickly at President Obama’s health care summit Thursday.

Melanie’s March was named after Melanie Shouse, who died of breast cancer after she was unable to afford health insurance that would cover the treatment.

“Everyone that we meet knows a story, has their own story … about how they couldn’t get health care,” said Marc Stier, who organized Melanie’s March. “It’s not a problem for poor people. It’s not a problem for rich people. It cuts across the board.”

Participants in the eight-day walk included friends of Shouse, their supporters, and those with their own stories of health problems as uninsured patients.

Most of the marchers did not walk for a full eight days. There was always a safety vehicle, and some participants went back to Philadelphia at times to go to work.

College Park was the 12th city the group has rallied in since Feb. 17, and Washington will be the last.

Rion Dennis, the political director of Progressive Maryland, told attendees to take out their cell phones and call Congress. He pulled his own out, too.

“Thank [your member of congress],” said Dennis. “And tell them to tell [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid to pass the damn bill.”

Although fewer than 10 people made the walk from Philadelphia, at least 500 have signed up to walk the home stretch from Union Station to Congress.

Advocacy groups have also created a virtual march for those who can’t make it to the capital. This allows the groups to create and send letters to participants’ senators in the individual’s name, telling them to make reform happen.

Those who have walked what would have been a two-hour-and-forty-five-minute drive, according to MapQuest, will arrive at the Dirksen Senate Building Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the core group, who will walk from College Park to Union Station in the morning, will leave from the station at 12:30 p.m. and will be met by Reid and others at the Senate building at 2 p.m.

By Capital News Service’s Rachel Leven.

Obama Heckler Has History of Disruptive Behavior

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Andrew Beacham, a 26-year-old intern for Operation Rescue Insurrecta Nex, was ejected Thursday after disrupting President Obama’s health care speech at the University of Maryland.

“I did it because the emperor has no clothes,” Beacham said. “Every time the government puts forth a new proposal, they just find different ways to fund abortion.”

According to Insurrecta Nex, a conservative anti-abortion group based in Washington, D.C., Beacham was also arrested for disrupting Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech and Sonia Sotomayor’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

Beacham was escorted out of the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center by campus police.

“I was detained briefly,” Beacham said. “They asked for some of my personal information, but after that I basically was allowed to walk out of the building.”

By Capital News Service’s Tina Irgang