Residents of College Park presented a divided front to Metro officials Monday evening at a public hearing called to discuss the route of the subway through their city.
At issue is the location of the College Park Metro station. Under current plans, the station, which would be above ground, would be built where Calvert Road now intersects with the B&O Railroad tracks. Calvert Road, a heavily traveled route between Kenilworth Avenue on the east and Rte. 1 on the west, would be closed permanently.
Some residents support the location specifically because it would close Calvert Road -- now used by 12,000 cars a day, Metro officials said. Residents have long objected to the road's use as a thoroughfare, and the town has set up a complex network of stop signs and one-way streets to discourage shortcuts through the neighborhood.
Others from the neighborhood asked angrily why Metro wasn't putting the subway stop on the University of Maryland campus, within easy reach of the 35,000 students and closer to downtown businesses. They said the planned Metro station would result in increased bus, car and student traffic in their area.
Metro scheduled the hearing to solicit comment on one portion of the Metro Green line, which eventually will connect the Gallery Place station in the District with Greenbelt. The hearing, one of several on the Green line, was the last round before the Metro board's final decisions on the location of the line and its stations. Several of the College Park residents said they had been fighting for or against proposed Metro routes for the past 10 years.
"What I'm afraid you're going to hear is a divided community," College Park Councilman Jack Perry predicted as the meeting opened. "Everyone would like to see Metro in a tunnel, from wherever it came from to wherever it is going."
About 400 persons turned out for the hearing at the University of Maryland's Adult Education Center. Outside, a small group carried signs advocating a subway station on the campus.
College Park Mayor St. Claire Reeves said he and a majority of the City Council approved the proposed station site because it would have "the least adverse impact on the residential community." He requested, however, that an alternate route between Rte. 1 and Kenilworth Avenue be built and opened before Calvert Road is closed.
Councilman Chester M. Joy led a coalition of residents and students who want a campus Metro stop.
"I think it's highly ironic that in order to find a hole big enough to hold the Metro hearing tonight, we had to come to the University of Maryland," Joy said, and many in the audience applauded. "Why can't the station be here?"
But there is disagreement over whether university students would use a Metro stop. Councilman Alvin J. Kushner said studies of the students' home addresses found that very few of them live in the District. Others said students would use Metro to visit other colleges and libraries, and that students from Silver Spring could ride the subway to classes. Metro's proposed location would place the station a mile from the center of the campus.
Sixty persons had signed up to speak at the hearing, and most of them seemed to favor altering the current plan and putting the station on the university campus.
"Who would put such a facility as this in a college town, and locate it away from the college? It does defy logic," said Dora F. Kennedy, who lives in the old town section of College Park near the proposed station site. "George Washington University has a station; Catholic University has a station -- how come the University of Maryland doesn't have a station?"
The current plan "doesn't put Metro where it belongs," complained J. Michael Donnelly of College Park. He said the subway stop should be "within direct walking distance of the downtown center of (what is) the third largest city in our state when classes are in session."