Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

South County Looking for Resources, Respect

During the coronavirus pandemic, John H. Bailey IV helped provide food to the homeless, toys for children and other community endeavors for Camp Springs.

The efforts of Bailey and his wife, Titania, received the attention of Sheehy Ford. The company donated $2,000 to the couple’s nonprofit organization, Arch of Knowledge Inc.

“This is great to have, but we still have work to do,” John Bailey said Thursday, Jan. 7 inside the dealership’s showroom in Camp Springs.

Bailey plans to step down in May as president of the Camp Springs Civic Association. He said it will allow him to not only focus on his nonprofit, but also encourage new leadership to help the Camp Springs community comprised of 20,000 people.

One goal for his nonprofit will be to provide mental health support for young and adult males who not only reside in Camp Springs, but throughout the southern part of Prince George’s County.

Residents in the area known as “South County” have long clamored for more quality-of-life resources and support in boosting the tax base from residential and commercial developments.

Some major projects produced in the northern and center part of the county include Woodmore Towne Center in Glenarden, a mixed-used development called Riverdale Park Station near the University of Maryland in College Park and Konterra Town Center in Laurel.

The county plans to open its biggest hospital, the $543 million University of Maryland Capital Regional Medical Center, this spring in central Prince George’s next to the Largo Town Center Metro station.

RPAI US Management plans to build 3,000 residential units and 1.2 million square feet of commercial and office space on land adjacent to the hospital. The property known as Cap Capital Centre Blvd. would become called Carillon.

Former County Executive Rushern L. Baker III labeled the area “downtown Largo.”

Baker also encouraged transit-oriented development, which would enhance residential and commercial properties to be built next to Metrorail stations mainly located within urban settings in central and northern Prince George’s.

Although South County has hundreds of acres of open land, Sarah Cavitt, president of the Indian Head Area Action Council, said the development of homes and businesses is “a two-edged sword.” She said the number one problem is flooding.

“We could use the development along (Route) 210, but you can’t pave over everything for development without doing some mitigation to not exacerbate routine flooding,” said Cavitt, who’s lived in Fort Washington since 1977. “There is a downside to heavy development.”

Prior to voters approving two at-large seats in November 2018, held by Council Chair Calvin Hawkins II and Mel Franklin, council mainly had two members representing thousands of residents in southern Prince George’s.

The two main council members who solely represent that area are Monique Anderson-Walker (D-District 8) of Fort Washington and Sydney Harrison (D-District 9) of Upper Marlboro.

Residents such as Maurice Fitzgerald said limited representation make it more difficult and time consuming to push for “resources and projects we deserve.”

Twenty-four of the county’s 27 municipalities are located in the central and northern part of the county.

Some of these incorporated towns and cities are equipped with local fire, public works and transportation departments and even a mayor to serve as a local leader.

The other three municipalities in South County are the towns of Eagle Harbor, Forest Heights and Upper Marlboro (portions of Upper Marlboro located in District 6 are represented by Council member Derrick Leon Davis). Some of the unincorporated locales include Accokeek, Brandywine, Fort Washington and Oxon Hill.

Residents in unincorporated communities rely on regional services from the county such as police, fire and environmental needs.

“It’s a fight to get things down here,” said Fitzgerald, who’s lived in Fort Washington since 1984. “We’re getting stuff down here, but not as much as the northern and central part [of the county]. They have incorporated towns and representatives who can bang on the doors and get more things than us.”

‘A great place to live’

South County occupies suburban and rural land with some of the most spacious subdivisions in Prince George’s.

The area is the site of National Harbor, one of the county’s most visited places bordering Northern Virginia and the District.

It houses one of the county’s biggest taxpayers, MGM casino and resort. Near the casino stands Tanger Outlets with several dozen retail stores such as Cole Haan, Nike and Van Heusen/Izod.

The historic 267-acre Miller Farms in Clinton has been in existence since 1879.

Construction of the second phase continues on the $265 million U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters in Camp Springs slated to house 3,700 employees. Apartments, restaurants and other businesses are nearby.

The Southern Regional Technology Complex and Recreational Complex in Fort Washington remains one of the county’s most utilized polling places during election season.

One reason rests with the politically active South County Democratic Club. Two of its members, former state Sen. Gloria Lawlah and Kent Roberson, served as representatives for the Maryland delegation last month to cast two of the 10 Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

James Dula, a longtime community activist and former president of the South County Democratic Club, has lived in Clinton since 1984 because of the area’s family atmosphere. One way to make it better depends on the people themselves, he said.

“What will improve our county is the people to stop speeding and stop throwing trash on the streets,” said Dula, a veteran affairs officer for the county. “The county is doing all it can to keep the streets safe and clean, but the people’s mindset must change.”

Meanwhile, John Bailey will continue to educate everyone in South County that includes a divided Allentown Road.

If a pothole or other crack opens on the west side of Allentown Road between the Branch Avenue overpass in Camp Springs and continues toward Tucker Road in Fort Washington, it’s the county’s responsibility to repair it.

The east side of Allentown Road becomes Route 337, a state road, from the Branch Avenue overpass until it connects to Suitland Parkway in Upper Marlboro.

“You have to call state [officials] for one side of the road and the county for the other side. It can be a mess,” said Bailey, a resident of Camp Springs since 2008. “Even with some of the challenges down here, South County is a great place to live.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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