In the winter, residents bring hot chocolate to workers fixing water-main breaks, and in the summer, they offer Popsicles to the city’s garbage collectors. Their community features Scout troops conducting cleanups and activists working on everything from beautification projects to safer crosswalks.

North College Park, a collection of subdivisions in the city of College Park that’s also known as Hollywood, has for years been a close-knit neighborhood: The small lots that house the modest single-family ramblers, bungalows and Cape Cods have been a destination for families since they were built on a streetcar line along what is now Rhode Island Avenue.

Today, despite its proximity to the University of Maryland, North College Park is still populated mainly by families attracted by its affordable housing, a Metro stop within walking distance, and access to the Capital Beltway for easy commuting.

When those commuters return home, they get involved with a host of activities: youth sports, cycling, athletic and cultural events at the university, and goings-on with local churches.

“We’ve tried to make our neighborhood into a family-hood,” said Donna Weene, 51, who has lived there since 1983 and has been involved with church groups, Girl Scouts and civic affairs. Weene wanted to raise her children in the kind of friendly neighborhood she experienced when she and her husband, Seth, grew up in nearby Adelphi. “When push comes to shove, people help out other people,” Weene said.

Gateway to activism:
Larry Bleau lived in College Park as a college student, and when he was looking for a home in 1993, he knew that North College Park was affordable and near his job at the university but far enough away from the more hectic aspects of student and campus life.

“I was looking for something older — not historic, but stable,” said Bleau, 61. There are student residents in the neighborhood, but “it’s pretty quiet — you don’t have the all-night activity,” he said.

Bleau, who does not drive, decided on his home because it had easy access to Metro and bus transportation, including the university shuttle. Bus stops are located along Rhode Island Avenue and Edgewood Road.

Bleau has been active with the North College Park Citizens Association and serves on the city’s advisory planning commission, working on land-use issues, including the Route 1 sector plan. “When I bought my house, I wanted to get involved in my city,” Bleau said.

Route 1, a major commuter route, remains difficult for both drivers and pedestrians to navigate, despite ongoing efforts by the city and county to mitigate the traffic and to attract mixed-use residential and commercial development. Traffic overflow runs down the parallel two-lane Rhode Island Avenue, where a four-way stop at Edgewood Road that brought vehicles to a crawl during rush hour has been replaced with a traffic signal. “A little thing like that can be a big improvement,” Bleau said.

When Metro opened its Greenbelt station in 1993, North College Park residents gained access via a pedestrian underpass at the end of Lackawanna Street. Metro was a selling point for Mark Shroder, who was house-hunting at the time. “The houses were about $25,000 cheaper than the same houses in Montgomery County” in the Rockville area, Shroder noted. “And you didn’t have to put up with Rockville Pike.”

Shroder, 61, also got involved in his new city. He spent four years on the College Park City Council and is still active in the North College Park Civic Association. “And you have access to all kinds of stuff at the university,” he said.

College Park, MD - November 5: A view of the North College Park neighborhood in College Park, MD, November 5th, 2015. The neighborhood borders on Route 1 to the west, Greenbelt Road/University Blvd to the south and the Beltway to the north. (Photo by Evy Mages/For The Washington Post) (Evy Mages/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Years before Metro, the area’s growth was fueled by the commuters who wanted to live along the streetcar line, which extended to Washington.

Some homes in the southern portion include foursquares and bungalows built in the early 1900s by Edward Daniels in what was known as Daniels Park, according to a history provided by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The northern portions, featuring ramblers, were put together largely by developer Albert Turner, who built other subdivisions in Prince George’s County.

Most houses are on small lots, averaging about 7,000 square feet, said Sharon McCraney, an agent with Long & Foster. “Most have basements and were upgraded over the years,” she said.

Many of the older homes are along the west side of Rhode Island Avenue, McCraney said. Parking is easier on that side, she said, because street parking permits are required for houses near the Metro station. However, residents living on the east side have a closer walk to Metro. McCraney noted the area’s convenience to transportation: “You can be on the Beltway in five minutes, on [Interstate] 95 in five minutes, and the B-W Parkway in five minutes.”

In addition to the Greenbelt Metro, residents can access Metrobus 81 and 83 lines along Rhode Island Avenue and Edgewood Road. The 83X and 86 lines run along Route 1. The University of Maryland shuttle also runs through North College Park.

College Park, MD - November 5: A view of the North College Park neighborhood in College Park, MD, November 5th, 2015. The neighborhood borders on Route 1 to the west, Greenbelt Road/University Blvd to the south and the Beltway to the north. (Photo by Evy Mages/For The Washington Post) (Evy Mages/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Living there:
The North College Park area is bordered by the CSX and Metro tracks to the east, Greenbelt Road to the south, and Baltimore Avenue (Route 1) to the west. To the north, it extends just outside the Beltway to include the Sunnyside subdivision.

Nine single-family homes are currently on the market, ranging from a four-bedroom rambler at $259,900 to a four-bedroom Colonial for $437,000. Seventy-eight properties sold in the past 12 months, ranging from a $125,000 two-bedroom rambler that needed “lots of remodeling,” according to McCraney, to a newly constructed $380,000 five-bedroom split-foyer. A renovated Colonial sold for $354,900.

The area is served by Hollywood and Paint Branch elementary schools, Greenbelt Middle, and Parkdale High, as well as the private Al-Huda school.

In the past 12 months, according to Prince George’s County police incident reports, there were three sexual assaults, eight assaults, 19 breaking-and-entering incidents, 51 thefts from vehicles, and 26 other thefts.

Jim Brocker is a freelance writer.