With former President Gwynn Roberson, Secretary Debbie Kutzleb, and Board Member Troy Lee not running for re-election, the Piscataway Hills Citizens Association will have significant leadership changes following the annual membership meeting on September 24.
Candidates for the vacant officer positions could not be found, so under the bylaws, Vice President Dave Lishin will serve as Acting President. The position of Secretary remains vacant, but Joni Jones volunteered to be on the board and was elected unanimously. Members also approved a motion thanking Gwynn Roberson for her service as President; she will remain on the board as Immediate Past President.
Other issues discussed at the annual meeting included the neighborhood watch program, the PHCA budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, and excessively noisy parties.
Board Members George Satterthwaite and Joni Jones provided a status report on PHCA’s efforts to establish an officially recognized neighborhood watch program. The program is designed to enhance the reporting of suspicious activities in the neighborhood to the police. Piscataway Hills is to be divided into 10 zones, each with a block captain. Volunteers and other members of the community are to report suspicious activities to the block captains, who will then contact the appropriate offices within the Prince George’s County Police Department. The program will probably not include scheduled citizen patrols, George said.
The first step in establishing a neighborhood watch is to obtain signed petitions from at least 75% of the households in the community. Piscataway Hills has 172 homes, with 15 of them vacant, meaning that 117 signatures are needed. George reported that he and the other organizers, after canvassing the community and approaching residents at Oktoberfest on October 5, had collected 109 signatures and need only eight more to submit the neighborhood watch application. More block captains are also still needed, he said. Once the signatures are gathered and the block captains are trained, then PHCA would receive two free “neighborhood watch” signs and could buy additional signs. It was proposed at the meeting that PHCA purchase enough signs so that each of the 10 zones could have one.
Treasurer Don Benedict reported that PHCA ran a surplus of about $600 during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, ending with a balance of $4,368 and 60 dues-paying members. The surplus was achieved despite the one-time expenditure of $1,079 for the new playground at Lot 39 Waterfront Park. Members at the annual meeting ap- proved the proposed budget for 2013-2014, which for the first time includes a $750 premium for liability insurance, a subject that had been debated extensively at earlier quarterly meetings.
The annual meeting concluded with a discussion of excessively noisy parties in Piscataway Hills. It was pointed out that Prince George’s County prohibits noise that is audible more than 50 feet from its source from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., with fines of up to $250 for the first offense and $500 for the second offense and up to 30 days in jail.
The noise ordinance can be found at:
Letter from the President
As we move into a new year of resolutions and goals, PHCA has set the bar high for 2013. Our focus last year was on family and family-oriented amenities by creating the waterfront playground. This year our focus will be on neighborhood security. Although we do feel like we live in a gorgeous safe haven out here, we are not completely immune to crime. The extent of our crime is primarily an occasional car vandalism or shed theft, but no matter how minimal, the affected neighbor feels a sense of insecurity and violation. So let’s all come together this year to make this goal a reality.
The two goals of security we plan to accomplish this year will be:
- the implementation of a county recognized Neighborhood Watch; and
- a surveillance camera system with multiple cameras strategically placed throughout the neighborhood.
The Neighborhood Watch will be spearheaded by Joni Jones and George Satterthwaite, both residents of Holly Road. They will set up a core team of block captains from neighbors who have already volunteered (volunteers still needed) and create a neighborhood watch schedule that would be conducted during day and evening hours. We hope that all households would volunteer to do a short shift of patrolling during a time of day or night that is convenient for your schedule. Once this is complete, along with the assistance of our PG County Community Police Officer, Officer Mullendore, we will acquire official signage from the county that will be posted at the entrance. With the diligence of every resident this can and will be a very successful program.
The surveillance system would be a huge deterrent to theft, being that we would be able to obtain make, models, and tag numbers of vehicles entering or leaving the neighborhood during the timeframes of suspicious and criminal activities. We would ultimately want to strategically place 3-4 cameras throughout the neighborhood. We plan to accomplish this in phases. The first phase, which we would like to have completed by year end, would include installation of a camera at the Piscataway Hills entrance and a camera at the Waterfront park. We anticipate the first phase equipment and installation to cost in the range of $2,500 – $3,000. Although we can’t put a price tag on our families’ safety, this is a very expensive undertaking, which we plan to accomplish through fundraising events conducted throughout the year. So we ask that everyone please participate either through attending fund- raising events or making a monetary donation payable to the association towards the Surveillance Camera Fund.
I look forward to another productive year in Piscataway Hills, and seeing everyone out and about with better weather coming soon.
For those who may be unaware, the PHCA offers the use of a Canoe Rack which provides individual slips of up to 12 canoes or kayaks. The Canoe Rack was the idea of one of our past Board Members and residents, Leo Morowski, who passed away before the structure was built, but in whose name it is dedicated. To offset the cost of maintaining the structure and to ensure active slip usage (by residents who canoe several times annually), the PHCA Board has decided to assess annual fees of $20 per slip for PHCA members and $40 per slip for non-PHCA members. The fees will be implemented on the first Saturday of April 2013, the same day as the Annual Potomac River Clean-Up Event.The annual usage fee year will run from April 1 to March 31. Piscataway Hills residents who want to start or continue using one or more of the spaces on the canoe rack should contact PCHA Board Member Calvin O’Neil at the contact information below.
Current slip users will receive first preference to maintain your existing slip. The slip usage fee must be received no later than March 31 to maintain usage or your boat will need to be removed by April 6, 2013. Any boats left in an unpaid slip on April 6 will be determined to be abandoned and disposed of during the Annual Potomac River Clean-up event.
Longtime PHCA Secretary and social event coordinator Gwynn Roberson was elected PHCA President at the fall membership meeting Sept. 20. She succeeds John Schnizlein, who stepped down after two years of service.
Elected to succeed Roberson as Secretary was Board Member Debbie Kutzleb, and elected to take Kutzleb’s spot on the board was Troy Lee. All other officers and board members whose terms were expiring were re- elected without opposition.
PHCA members at the meeting also approved the budget for fiscal year 2012, which began Sept. 1. Total spending under the budget is $2,802, which includes $600 for the lawn tractor for mowing Lot 39 Waterfront Park, $600 for Oktoberfest and the summer picnic, $500 for community landscaping improvements, and $500 for welcome baskets for new neighbors.