Northern Prince George’s County residents and developers could see a new park and pond to use as recreation and a catch-all for water runoff from nearby developments by 2014, if a University Park-initiated pond project is approved and funded.
The project, called “9 Ponds” after a pond that used to be in the area, encompasses a wooded 9.5-acre tract in Hyattsville and University Park bordering the Prince George’s Community Center and the University Town Center plaza on Adelphi Road.
University Park residents say that after years of battling developers of University Town Center, The Mall at Prince George’s and other commercial properties in regard to land use and storm water management, they’ve proposed a solution. The park and pond would capture runoff from the properties and effectively drain it into the Anacostia River’s northeast branch, creating an open space for residents and a way to reduce overflow from nearby streams, which flood during heavy rainfall.
“Ecologically, this is a win-win situation for everybody,” said Tom Stickles, a University Park resident who heads the town’s 9 Ponds steering committee. “Only thing we’re concerned about is preserving our stream. After two years of this debate, developers have come to [the] conclusion that peace among shareholders is a whole lot better.”
Stickles said University Park’s 9 Ponds committee, which includes developers of the nearby properties, town leaders and Prince George’s Department of Public Works, has funded and completed engineering, traffic and land-use studies for the project. Stickles said it is only a matter of the county giving a final stamp of approval to develop a detailed site plan for the planning board and to seek federal and state grant funding sources for the $500,000 pond.
Apart from digging ditches to divert water runoff from developed parking lots and buildings into the pond, Stickles and University Park residents say the pond project would mitigate overflow into Wells Run, the stream that runs from University Park through Hyattsville and into the Anacostia.
William Hockberger, a University Park resident of 39 years, said whenever there is heavy rainfall, Wells Run is flooded because of erosion and vegetation that has grown into the stream, causing a backup of water flowing onto neighbors’ yards and basements.
“This shouldn’t happen. This is purely a result of inattention,” he said. “The trees are really impeding the flow of water and causing a lot of turbulence.”
Hockberger said he is happy to know about the project, which offers a large pool of water that the stream can flow into without being backed up.
“We’re working on the 9 Ponds agreement that would control the volumes of water and allow us to moderate the volumes of water, which should reduce the flooding in that area,” said Len Carey, a University Park Ward 4 councilman. “We’re maintaining our reserve for work on the stream. It takes time to make these things happen.”
Stickles said the committee hopes to bring a site plan to the county’s planning board by October, estimating a completed project by early 2014.
Stickles said that the capacity of Wells Run is 18,000 gallons a minute but that it acquires 24,000 gallons a minute during heavy rains. With 9 Ponds, the flow would be reduced to about 14,000 gallons per minute, he said.
The 9 Ponds plan calls for 4.5 acres of water and the rest to be open space for recreation. Developers have been supportive, he said, because the project would allow them to direct their development runoff to the pond rather than building underground water storage units for future developed parcels.
Stickles said it is unique to have residents, county officials and developers working together on a common project.
“Community organizers, environmentalists, developers and county government have decided that the best way forward is to cooperate,” he said.