Most northern Prince George's County drivers go at one time or another to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration office on Berwyn Road in College Park, and residents of the tiny neighborhood are sick of it. r
The busy agency's eight-year lease is up on Dec. 6, and residents are pressing the state to find it another home.
But officials of the MVA and the Department of General Services say they can find no other suitable space for the facility.
At a meeting last week, members of the Berwyn District Civic Association questioned officials on their plans.
"I'd like one of you to tell me if you have any other facilities located in a residential area where you have an elementary school and increased traffic, and you don't have but one road to go in and out," said Mary Armstrong, the association's secretary.
"I'm still surprised that no other place in Prince George's County could be found for the office than at the end of a dead-end street where all that traffic has to go by a school," said Charles W. Spivey Jr.
The MVA office is located in a building near the B&O railroad tracks at the end of Berwyn Road. Drivers renewing license tags, registering car titles, obtaining learner's permits, or taking driver's tests can get there only on Berwyn Road -- past a parochial school and through an old residential neighborhood of about 450 homes. A sleepy community with a few stores, it is more reminiscent of hitching-post days than suburban Washington. Residents like it that way.
But an average of 600 persons do business daily at MVA, creating heavy traffic along Berwyn Road. In March, at tag renewal time, traffic doubles and residents say cars are often backed up for blocks along the two-lane street.
Last year, an ambulance was unable to get into the area to aid accident victims because of the back-up said John E. (Jack) Perry, the neighborhood's newly elected City Council member.
But state officials told Berwyn residents there is no place for the office to go without spending a lot of money. Last May, the Department of General Services, which handles state leases, ran advertisements in local papers asking for office space and land to suit MVA needs. No one responded.
A second advertisement and letters to 60 realtors drew only two responses -- both from the present landlord who is Irving L. Kidwell, a Maryland State Roads Commissioner.
Kidwell, who rents property to four other state offices, proposed either to renew the present lease or to build and lease a new facility in the Murkirk Industrial Center on Rte. 1 south of the Capital Beltway.
The new building would cost the state $140,000 a year more than the present location, said W. Raymond Bosley of the Department of General Services.
Al other locations would cost considerably more than $5 per square foot plus utilities, the rate Kidwell is charging at MVA now.
MVA has asked Bosley to renegotiate its present lease for another five years.
"It shouldn't be here. I don't want it here. Yes, I'm ready to spend more money to put it in an industrial park somewhere," said Spivey.
State Del. Timothy F. Maloney (D-District 21) told residents he has suggested that MVA switch buildings with the State Highway Department. The highway department and the governor's regional office share a state-owned building on Kenilworth Avenue at the Capital Beltway. Neither generates as much traffic as MVA.
Not everyone at the meeting was for MVA moving.
"I don't think our school children are in jeopardy," said Ruby Dorr. "I'm in favor of MVA rather than something else down there." Several others agreed with her.
Residents reached no agreement on action to take. A move to urge state officials to negotiate a new lease, which could be terminated in three years after a new location had been found, was defeated by residents who wanted stiffer action.
"This is a repeat performance of earlier atempts to do something," said Berwyn District Civic Association president Mike Parsons. "The obvious point is that the community does not want MVA. The question is: Is the state going to listen to the community or is the state going to keep going for the cheapest-is-best policy which to us is unconscionable."