Members of the County Council stepped out of their chamber this week to join developer Milton V. Peterson and County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) for the unveiling of an 8-by-10-foot, fully lighted model of a section of National Harbor, the $2 billion waterfront development in Oxon Hill.
Beaming council member Tony Knotts (D-Temple Hills) called the development "his project," noting that the massive complex of hotels, offices and shops will be in his district.
National Harbor has been described as the largest single commercial venture in state history. It will roll out in phases over 10 years. The first phase, which will include a convention center, resort hotel and other hotels, offices, condos and shops, is scheduled to open in March 2008.
Johnson said the unveiling signaled the culmination of a long-sought dream for the county. "National Harbor is another sign that Prince George's County is on the map and we have arrived," he said.
Past attempts to build on the Prince George's banks of the Potomac have failed. In 1987, a developer, James T. Lewis, broke ground for Port America, a 52-story office tower that would have overlooked the river, but the property was foreclosed on in the 1990s.
Peterson purchased the property in 1996.
Chairman Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville) said the council supports the project, although it still has to approve elements of the plan, including a move to add a residential component. And, he said, the council is looking for Peterson to add more small minority-owned businesses to the project. "We need African Americans to participate as subcontrators," he said. "And we'd like to see African Americans as leasers."
25 Years of Bull Roasts
U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) returned last week to Newton White Mansion in Mitchellville for his 25th annual Bull Roast.
The attendees included county State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Forestville), Del. Justin D. Ross (D-Prince George's), Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George's) and County Council member Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Bowie).
"I was pleased and grateful to be joined by so many of my longtime friends and supporters," Hoyer said through his campaign spokesman. "This event has grown over the years, and I was honored that there were both friends from the very first Bull Roast attending, as well as so many others I have met along the way who have given me such a strong vote of confidence."
Retiring U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) also attended the event. Hoyer has endorsed U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) to replace Sarbanes.
A Club No One Wants to Join
Add Sen. Gloria L. Lawlah (D-Prince George's) to the list of elected officials who have walked outside their homes ready to run an errand or head to work, only to find that they have no car to drive.
About two weeks ago, Lawlah said someone "came into my beautiful yard and past my beautiful shrubbery" and stole her black Dodge Durango.
She said she was upset but had to calm herself with the reminder that "you can't put a car in a casket. You can't take it with you."
Lawlah said her council member, Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant), called last week to ask whether police had found her car. They did -- within eight hours -- in Southeast Washington.
Last year, nearly 18,500 cars were stolen in the county. The number of vehicle thefts has nearly doubled since 2000.
Joining Lawlah on the list of auto theft victims are Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey and former state delegate Rushern L. Baker III.