Riffs on Retail

As someone who grew up in Prince George's County and still lives here, I enjoy [Michelle Singletary's] columns on retail in the county. The idea of a Lexington Market-type vendors' mall is an interesting idea to resolve the issues resulting from the elimination of roadside stands. As a black man, parent and husband of a passionate shopper, I hope that you'll continue to beat the drum as far as the shortage of quality retail in the county and continue the dialogue about why certain merchants aren't locating here. I also enjoy the "Color of Money" columns on Sunday. In fact, my wife is one affected by the Cellular One settlement you've written about the past two weeks. Keep up the great work!

Steve Brown

Upper Marlboro

U-Md.: Consider Neighbors

I live in the 4000 block of Metzerott Road in College Park. I watch the frustration and anger mount in my neighborhood. Why? Because of the University of Maryland's expansion and their seeming lack of concern for the people who are trying to live, work and raise a family near the university.

There is a traffic problem in the College Park-Laurel-Route 1 corridor, and the University of Maryland's idea that it can and will expand whenever it wants is a major contributor to this problem. It is irresponsible and detrimental to the citizens of the College Park area. The quality of my neighborhood is threatened by:

1. the new campus dorms being erected on the former Monte Miniature Golf Course;

2. the new arena the University of Maryland is building in my "back yard";

3. the "new" Azalea Lane spur, which has threatened to take part of the property [4001 Metzerott Rd.] next to my property [4003 Metzerott Rd.] and flood my street with 1,800 extra cars;

4. the rumored moving of the University of Maryland Route 1 greenhouses immediately behind my back hedges; and

5. the constant threat of an I-95 spur coming through my property.

We are in a squeeze play with the University of Maryland and the state of Maryland, and no one seems to care. Once again money and large institutions talk and honest citizens are ignored or simply expected to fall quietly through the cracks. The lifeblood and future of this county is not found in the fancy arenas, the art complexes or the athletes that pass (or fail) through the university regardless of the amount of money they seem to generate. The lifeblood of this county is found in the hard-working honest people who are trying to live peacefully and raise a family here. Unfortunately, the future of this county won't be these honest hard-working citizens because the local, county and state governments seem to be driving us out! But that seems to be just what the University of Maryland would love. They could acquire our property, bulldoze our homes, erect all the arenas they want and freely build all the roads they desire.

Perhaps the growth and development of the University of Maryland should be reviewed. Perhaps the University of Maryland needs to be held in check. I always wonder if the education of the individual student is improving or only the means by which they are entertained. But who can hold in check an institution that can build a $91 million stadium and not have to hold any public hearings, have to do an environmental impact study or inform the neighborhood of its plans? [How would they like surveyors staking out their property and refusing to give explanation?] But then how do you fight Parris N. Glendening, who is determined to leave a legacy of stadiums before his term as governor has ended, a governor who plans to use lottery money to finance this stadium and its subsequent roads? Lottery money that was to go to education. Hmmm . . . does an athletic stadium qualify as education because it sits on university property? Sounds like Parris Glendening is just a little jealous of MCI Center and is trying to find a way to get another stadium built without having to get the approval of the citizens of this county or state. Or does Glendening just have to pay back a few campaign contributors before they help him move on to bigger and better political offices?

Marlene Young

College Park

The Prince George's Extra welcomes Letters to the Editor. E-mail to pgextra@washpost.com; fax to 301-952-1397; or mail to Letters to the Editor, Prince George's Extra, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Please include address and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited.