Archive for January 2012
Greenbelt Community Solar, LLC is a limited liability corporation formed by a group of local residents, and recently, in December 2011, the company installed a solar power generation plant on the roof of Greenbelt Baptist Church, the first at a non-residential site in Greenbelt. The 90-panel, 21.6-kilowatt system started generating electricity on December 30, 2011, and on January 28, 2012, the group holds a public commissioning celebration at Greenbelt Baptist Church.
This winter of 2011-2 has been snowless so far, except for a fairly light October snowfall which surprised the D.C. region. On Friday night, the first real winter snow storm finally arrived, and on Saturday, I took these pictures around Old Greenbelt and at the Lake.
The Greenbelt Museum was established in 1987 as one of the many projects to celebrate the city’s 50th anniversary. It includes an original Greenbelt house from 1937 at 10-B Crescent Road and an exhibition room in the Community Center. Throughout the year, the museum hosts a series of public lectures and programs on topics related to Greenbelt history, and on January 17, a lecture is held at the Community Center by Megan Searing Young, the museum’s curator, on a Greenbelt photo book she recently coauthored.
Greenbelt Climate Action Network (GCAN) is a local environmental group whose mission is “to educate residents about climate change” and “how they can change their behavior and take political action.” The group meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Greenbelt Community Center. At its January meeting, the featured speaker is Juanita Constible who is a Climate Presenter with The Climate Reality Project. This project is founded and chaired by Al Gore.
Greenbelt’s city charter, approved by Maryland Legislature in June 1937, established a council-manager form of government. The elected City Council passes ordinances, and the appointed City Manager is responsible for enforcement and execution. Election is held every two years, and all seven Council members are elected at large (which means each member is elected by the entire city rather than a portion of the city). The current Council has just started a new term, having been elected in November 2011.
The City Council holds regular meetings the second and fourth Monday of each month (except July, August and December when it meets once a month), and these meetings are held in the Council Room in the Municipal Building. They are open to the public and are broadcasted on local TV and city website.
The following is an account of the January 9, 2012 City Council meeting. The agenda can be found here.
Coming out of the Community Center after the 75th Anniversary kick-off event, I meet Ms. Britton sitting with her two dogs at a stone bench in front of the Library.
Artful Afternoon is an art program held on the first Sunday afternoon of every month at the Greenbelt Community Center. It is a Greenbelt tradition and usually includes hands-on art activities, open studios, and performances. The January 8, 2012 Artful Afternoon program also serves as the kick-off event for the city’s year-long 75th anniversary celebration, with a special address by the Mayor.
Greenbelt Homes, Incorporated (GHI) is the housing cooperative that owns the original government built houses in the center of Greenbelt. There are 579 brick or cinder-block homes from 1937, 992 wood frame townhouses from 1941 (the so-called defense houses), and 29 larger homes built in 1969. These houses are in good condition but obviously they are not as energy efficient as newly constructed homes. In the late 1970s and early 80s, there was a rehabilitation program that replaced the original oil-fired boilers by electric baseboard heaters, but 30 years later there are better ways to insulate and heat houses. GHI has been planning for a community-wide upgrade for many years, and a replacement reserve fund was created in as early as 1987. Currently a pilot study is underway in 28 units to test out methods of insulation and heating, and the community-wide upgrade is scheduled to start in 2015 and last several years. This winterization workshop provides members with information about staying warm and keeping heating costs down during the winter season, and there will also be updates about the on-going Pilot Program.
On New Year’s Day 2012, the Greenbelt Aquatic and Fitness Center hosts a polar plunge in its outdoor pool. This is the first year the Aquatic Center is doing this because normally after the outdoor pool closes in the fall, after the dogs have their chance to swim (pooch plunge), the pool is drained and stays dry during the winter season. However earlier this year, the pool was resurfaced with white coating and has to stay full for one year to maintain it. That presents an opportunity for a New Year’s Day polar plunge.