From the Editor: Let’s have less heat, more light

September 10, 2011

Paula MinaertBY PAULA MINAERT — There seems to be no real middle ground when people talk about or write about the proposed Cafritz Corporation development in an area just north of Hyattsville.

Some of them are really excited about the prospect of a Whole Foods store coming to the area and see it as an unmitigated good. They maintain that it will make good food more accessible and may help make for a more walkable neighborhood, as well as bring in revenue. It will be a major plus for Prince George’s County to have such a high-end store, they say, and a sign that we’ve arrived.

People on the other side of the issue are concerned about the development’s effect on the already heavy traffic in the area. They point out that the Route 1–East-West Highway intersection is already a failed one. What will happen, they ask, when you add more people going to more stores (not just Whole Foods) plus a large number of apartments and townhomes? And they worry about the impact on schools and other infrastructure: How will they handle all these new people? And they add to this what they see as the negative environmental effects of removing a rare piece of woodland in our midst.

With the hope of moving the discussion forward a little, My Two Cents this month offers some of these divergent viewpoints, voiced by Hyattsville residents.

In my opinion, this matter is not simple. It’s about more than one store. It deserves to be treated as the complex, many-layered issue it is. Among other things, it touches on how we live with each other. It’s never easy to live together, whether it’s in a family or a neighborhood or a town or a county. We’re going to bump into each other and there’s bound to be friction when we do. Sometimes there are sparks. And sparks tend to create heat rather than light. What we need is light: good information, transparency, discussion and mutual respect.

Elsewhere in this issue, we’ve taken a look at the various retail areas closer to home. We introduce you to new businesses at Arts District Hyattsville, and detail the foreclosure of University Town Center, which once held such promise. You’ll also find out what other major retail area was auctioned off earlier this year, and which business wants to give one lucky school $5,000.

There’s an article about what our local government hopes to tackle in coming months. Finally, we talk about the results of the first community survey taken in Hyattsville. It gives us some good information as we decide how to live and work together. Everything around us affects us.