The College Park Metro station is in a pretty awkward spot, when you think about it.
Located at the intersection of Campus Drive and River Road, the commuter rail station is surrounded by underutilized industrial space and a tiny airport to the east and a suburban residential neighborhood to the west.
Historically speaking, it’s not been very walkable, although the row homes at Riverdale Park Station, the soon-to-be-completed Trolley Trail and the recent addition of bike rentals have made it more accessible.
Now, a former Hyattsville council member who went on to serve as Prince George’s County executive and governor of Maryland has shed some light on how it happened.
Speaking at a recent campus symposium, Parris Glendening said that the location was a “huge mistake, made on my watch.” He said that while he served as county executive in the 1980s, the University of Maryland and College Park residents both had concerns about putting a Metro stop in the middle of campus, or even closer to the Route 1 corridor.
He noted that residents of community meetings at the time seemed concerned about crime coming from other stops on the Green Line.
“It was maybe not blatant racism. But [residents at community meetings] would say, ‘We don’t want crime spilling over from the District of Columbia.’ That is a code word.”
As Glendening noted, the problem will soon be addressed by the addition of the Purple Line, which will have stops at the College Park Metro station as well as throughout campus.
Although it’s unfortunate that the Metro station isn’t closer to Route 1, which would have boosted ridership, the location has had an unintended side benefit to the area around it. The new Discovery District research park nearby and proposed apartments both benefit from the Metro location being where it is now.