The Prince George's County Council came to terms with one of its most difficult political issues yesterday and formally recommended that the Metro subway line to Greenbelt be completed as planned.
The council action, on a 7-to-3 vote, came after citizens and local politicians from the College Park-University Park areas made one last stand against the subway line that they have vigorously opposed for years.
At least partially as a result of that opposition, the final motion included the statement that the planned station at College Park would be deleted or "redesigned or relocated in a manner satisfactory to the city of College Park." The College Park City Council had formally opposed the Greenbelt route.
The County Council deferred for one more week a final decision on the other Metro question for the county. That is whether the line through Anacostia and southern Prince George's County should terminate at Branch Avenue just inside the Belt-way, as presently planned, or should be rerouted to the Rosecroft Raceway, as many southern county residents wish.
The council asked that staff develop estimates in the next week on how much it would cost to make everybody happy by extending the line from Branch Avenue to Rosecroft. Such an alignment was part of an ealier Metro system study.
The Greenbelt route has been the toughest question, however, because it deals with the issue of whether Metro is needed at all in that corridor.
The alternative to completing the line to Greenbelt would be a dramatic truncation of the route at the Columbia Heights station in the District of Columbia, near 14th Street and Park Road NW.
Those two alternatives - a Columbia Heights terminal or Greenbelt terminal - are among the various options being considered by are governments on four lines as part of the federally ordered restudy of the Metro system. The Prince George's County recommendations will be forwaded to the regional Joint Policy Steering Committee along with those of other jurisdictions.
From those recommendations will come a final, regional decision by this committee on what Metro system to recommend to the federal Department of Transportation.
Sixty miles of Metro's presently planned 100-mile system are funded or under construction; about five miles are partly constructed and noncontroversial; another five miles - Montgomery County's Glenmont line from Silver Spring - are not officially under study but still face serious federal cost questions; the remaining 30 miles are part of the committee's study.
The Greenbelt line has generally been regarded as presenting the toughest issues in terms of citizen opposition, not only in Prince George's County but also in the District of Columbia.
The College Park station, proposed for along-established residential area near Calvert Road, raised the most opposition. Lou Stengard, a College Prk City Council member, told the County Council yesterday that "the station impacts heavily on (U.S.) Route 1, Calvert Road and Kenilworth Avenue. Traffic will be at a stanstill on those roads during peak hours. It will impact the old established neighborhood . . ." about 15 others of anti-Metro persuasion accompanied her to the council meeting.
She also challanged the projected number of riders a completed Metro system would attract. Consultants' estimates project that, if the 100-mile system is completed, Metro will carry about 400 million people a year by 1990. The bus and subway system now carries about 125 million riders annually.
College Park residents had also noted that there already is rail service in that corridor with the B&O commuter trains, and that such service County Council member Francis W. White, however, "commuter rail doesn't offer any hope at all. . ."
Another County Council member, William B. Amonett, noted that "in political year there are just as many who will vote for Metro as against it in the county. It is unpleasent to vote one way or another for it."
He voted for the Greenbelt route, but his statement pointed to the fact that some council members had hoped to defer acting on Metro routes until after council elections. The primaries are in September.
In a series of recent public hearings, the complete Greenbelt line has been supported by citizens and politicians from Greenbelts, Hyattsville, Berwyn Heights, Riverdale and University Park. The last community's political leadership was split on the subject.
District of Columbia opposition to the route has centered on the various neighborhoods through which it might pass, depending on the final route alignment between Columbia Heights and Fort Totten, where the line would intersect with the present Red Line. District officials have consistently said that, if Prince George's County wants to take Metro to Greenbelt, then the District will find a route to get it there.
The Greenbelt route recommended by the County Council yesterday includes a change in alignment that would move the Prince George's Plaza station closer to the shopping center than present plans show.
In addition to Amonett and Francis White, Council members voting for Greenbelt were Sarah Ada Koonce, Francis B. Francois, David G. Hart-love Jr., Gerald T. McDonough and Floyd E. Wilson Jr. Those opposed were Samuel W. Bogley, Frank P. Casual and Paris N. Glendening.Member Darlene Z. White was not present.