ATHA Inc.’s new projects help residents reach more ‘milestones’

This wall displays the draft exhibit design for the Heritage Center space. Courtesy of Bella Carolina Photography.

BY BRIANNA RHODES — Anacostia Trails Heritage Area Inc. (ATHA Inc.) has a lot in store for its Maryland Milestones program that will benefit the City of Hyattsville and Prince George’s County over the coming months.

Maryland Milestones is a program that informs visitors about specific landmarks along the Anacostia Heritage Area. Visitors are able to learn about the history and culture of the region by way of travel tours and routes.

ATHA Inc. is currently in the process of opening a Maryland Milestones welcome center, called the Heritage Center, in the Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center on Gallatin Street in Hyattsville.

Aaron Marcavitch, the director of ATHA Inc., and Lee Cain, the managing board president, held a reception on Oct. 4 for politicians, local developers, and public figures who were invited to tour the building and learn about what the program has planned for the future.

 

The Heritage Center will provide visitors resources with which to visit historic sites in Prince George’s County. A timeline, exhibit panels, and an iPad will provide information about the history of the area and places to visit. Brochures will be available, and an arts element will be added to pay homage to the Center’s Arts District location.

“This space is going to be designed to be sort of stand-alone in its function,” said Marcavitch. “You’re going to come in and say ‘Oh, wow, okay, there’s all of these interesting things that I never knew about this area. I didn’t know you could go fishing right up the road. I didn’t know that there were dance classes here.’”

The Heritage Center space will also be used as a multipurpose room to host events and meetings. Anacostia River Trail, which is a part of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, is another project ATHA Inc. will soon open to the public. As of Oct. 31, citizens and visitors have the opportunity to take a bike ride in Prince George’s County to explore the history and historic sites along the corridor of the Anacostia River.

“I think it is an anchor for healthy and sustainable lifestyles and economic development in Prince George’s County and our towns,” Cain said. “What’s interesting about Prince George’s County is that we have a history, and it’s not necessarily an extension of DC’s history. It’s its own thing and so there are a lot of cultural resources. There’s a great Arts District here, and then we have a lot of really cool things happening that people can enjoy along the bike trails.

“I think that a lot of people are really excited about the bike trail in Hyattsville because we get to ride down to the Nationals game or down to Capitol Hill.”

ATHA Inc. is also attempting to expand the Heritage Area to include Bowie, Cheverly, and Glendale.

Furthermore, Cain and Marcavitch are working with Prince George’s County Department of Transportation to promote cycling by starting a Capital Bikeshare program. Many other nearby jurisdictions, including Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax, VA, Montgomery County, and Washington, DC, have Capital Bikeshare stations; so far, Prince George’s County does not.

“Prince George’s County currently has zero, and so we’re pushing for those kinds of things in order to create, not just the stations themselves, but also sort of the trail infrastructure and the safety that goes along with the infrastructure along the roads so that people feel like they can safely get around on a bicycle,” Cain said.

Cain and Marcavitch have a lot planned for people to learn about the history and the stories of significant landmarks in the county in a fun and eventful way.

“There are all these towns and all these things to do and see,” Cain said.

“We really want to promote that, the culture that’s there, and the history, and that kind of economic development.”