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New Community Development Corporation Forming in Greenbelt

The Greenbelt Community Development Corporation, expected to be established next year, promises to help citizens direct the city's future.

A newly formed steering committee chaired by Barbara Simon is working to create a nonprofit Greenbelt Community Development Corporation (GCDC) by late 2012.

Simon said the GCDC would be the opposite of the Greenbelt Community Foundation, which she helped found: "They give grants for others to do projects, while we will receive grants to do projects ourselves."

Time is Right

"The time is right," Simon says. She said the GCDC could "do anything to help a community — it's limited only by our dreams. It can help implement many of the ideas floating around Greenbelt."

Possibilities she mentioned included:

  • Finding a use for the old post office space in Roosevelt Center,
  • Creating an amphitheater for arts and music behind the mother and child statue,
  • Having weekly events in Roosevelt Center,
  • Helping form companies or co-ops that install green roofs and solar panels for businesses and homes
  • Helping new co-ops form
  • Supporting city-wide connector buses that make regular stops and connect to Greenbelt Metro,
  • Creating live/work units in commercial spaces like Roosevelt Center. (A live/work unit is space where a person can live as well as operate a business.)

Steering committee member Peter May envisions artist studio lofts in empty spaces such as those above the New Deal Cafe and the Beijing of Greenbelt restaurant in Roosevelt Center. May also mentioned the hardware store co-op that Greenbelter Doug Love is trying to form to replace the that recently went out of business. He said this is an example of something the GCDC could support.

May also cited an idea that emerged from a Roosevelt Center public charette (design workshop) — creating high-density development in Roosevelt Center by consolidating parking spaces in a parking garage to use parking lot space for senior housing.

Simon thinks the push for buying, living and working locally makes the timing right. "Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and other nearby towns have done it, so Greenbelt can do it," she said. "I'm very excited by the possibilities."

The first three meetings of interested parties were in the , which Simon said is very fitting because "the type of community spirit that created the cafe co-op is what we are looking for with the GCDC."

Unifying the City

"Although the people who came to the first meeting this spring started out focused on Roosevelt Center, they quickly broadened their view to the whole community," she said.

Ed James, Ruth Kastner, and Gwen Vaccaro, owner of Pleasant Touch, also serve on the GCDC steering committee. Simon said there will be a GCDC information table at the Greenbelt Farmers Market on September 25. "We hope to have a general membership meeting in October to adopt bylaws," she said.

Membership is at "about 20," according to Simon, who said the the steering committee's goal is to have 100 dues-paying members by November 1, when the committee plans to file for the non-profit 501-C status with the IRS. "You can be a founding member for $10 a year in dues," she said, "whether an individual, business, or organization."

The time for charrettes and visioning seminars is over," she said, acknowledging that many "wonderful ideas" came from these — but, now "it's time for action."

Donald James August 01, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Sounds great, but seems very Old Greenbelt centric. Hopefully, this will focus on connecting ALL areas of Greenbelt.
Donald Comis August 01, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Donald, I know I wrestled with that since many of the original specifics relate to Roosevelt Center. But I can assure you the group is determined to focus on all of Greenbelt. For example, the connector bus service would do that. The president of the Greenbelt East Advisory Coalition attended one meeting and the concern of not being Old Greenbelt centric was satisfied for her. Issues such as a possible community center in Greenbelt West, Greenbelt tourist literature racks in Greenbelt hotels, the redevelopmemt of Beltway Plaza, widening of the B-W Parkway, etc., were all noted by Barbara Simon as the type of issues the GCDC could take on. I think the thing to do is to come to their meetings and help shape it. Thanks for commenting on this issue. Don Comis
Donald James August 01, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Thanks for that Don. I do think this is a step in the right direction. I always wondered why we didn't have something like this sooner. I will try to get to a meeting. Will there be a schedule or website for further information?
Donald Comis August 01, 2011 at 08:12 PM
I think the first general meeting will be in October, once the steering committee's work is done and then there will be regular meetings that will be advertised in some way. I can ask Barbara Simon for more specifics--if you want to e-mail me at doncomis@yahoo.com and I'll tell you what she says. Thanks for your interest in this. Don
Donald James February 19, 2013 at 06:19 PM
What ever happened to this?

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