CITY OF GREENBELT

The Greenbelt Recreation Department will hold its 16th annual Festival of Lights this weekend starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, when Santa Claus lights the Christmas tree in front of City Hall, at 99 Center Way, in old Greenbelt.

The festivities will move to the Greenbelt Youth Center Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday with a holiday craft show that will include ceramics, country crafts and a children's room, where decorations and cookies can be made to take home.

Food and drinks will be sold by the Greenbelt Boys and Girls Club and parents are encouraged to bring unwanted toys to the Toys for Tots booth that will be set up both days. For more information on the fesival, call 474-6878.

CITY OF LAUREL

The Laurel City Council voted 3 to 2 last Monday not to close the Irving Street entrance to the Laurel Plaza Shopping Center, despite concerns by city highway officials and local residents about the safety of the entrance.

The city's Public Works Department had urged the closing, saying it was unsafe because it was too close to the busy intersection of Rtes. 197 and 198.

According to department director Bruce M. Dodgson, the distance from the driveway to the intersection should be at least 200 to 210 feet. The driveway was 180 feet from the intersection before the recent widening of Rte. 198 and now is only 140 feet distant, which Dodgson said does not allow enough room for motorists to enter and exit the mall near the busy corner.

"The majority of residents {on Irving Street} favored the closing to cut down on traffic problems," Dodgson said. There is "potential for an accident . . . we expected {the closing} to pass."

City Clerk Kaye M. Sandul said the council's vote was based largely on concerns about traffic problems that might arise if one of the mall's three entrances were closed.

"The owner of the shopping center and representatives from businesses there were very much afraid the closing of {the driveway} would increase congestion because it would leave only two entrances, one with a light and one without, and both opening directly onto Rte. 198," Sandul said.