The Greenbelt East Advisory Coalition (GEAC) is a forum for members of homeowner and condominium associations in Greenbelt East. GEAC enables the communities of Greenbelt East to communicate more clearly to the City of Greenbelt and other government entities their positions on matters of common interest. GEAC’s functions include:
- Keeping coalition members informed of pertinent government activity,
- Helping members to arrive at positions of opinion on matters of mutual concern,
- Making such positions known to the appropriate audiences, and
- Serving as a forum for member associations to share and exchange ideas relevant to Greenbelt East and Greenbelt as a whole.
GEAC’s Value and Purpose: The value of the coalition is that it provides a way for different, even divergent, groups to come together for a common purpose. Like it or not, our governmental system responds more to power, and power may come from money, position or numbers of voting members. GEAC then is better positioned to influence the behavior of our local and state governments than any one of the nine associations which comprise GEAC. The common purpose may be something as simple as lobbying for a bus stop or lighting, or something as complex as finding solutions for unresponsive owners who rent to undesirable elements. All issues may not be resolved as quickly as GEAC members would like, but the greater power of a petition from a larger group still can influence action better than a single voice.
GEAC, organized in 1986, has an impressive history of helping to bring improvements to our neighborhoods of Greenbelt East. The following are just a few of its accomplishments over the years:
- Greenbelt Post Office: Several years ago, GEAC helped in the fight to keep the US Postal Service from moving out of Greenbelt. Result: The new Post Office on Hanover Parkway was built.
- Population Density: GEAC has supported the City Council since the 1980s in opposing zoning changes which would allow an increase in population and traffic density, especially along Hanover Parkway. Result: Several proposals for high rise commercial and residential complexes have been defeated or curtailed.
- Traffic Safety Issues: GEAC has cooperated with local, state, and school board officials to address traffic problems and improve pedestrian safety at road intersections. Result: The State Highway Administration installed new traffic lights at the intersections of Mandan and Greenbelt Road and Frankfort Drive and Greenbelt Road. Also, a protective guardrail was placed along Greenbelt Road near Eleanor Roosevelt Senior High School. GEAC has worked more recently with the City to encourage the construction of traffic-calming roundabouts and speed humps in Greenbelt East.
- Traffic Density: During the 1980s, GEAC lobbied hard against plans to create road pattern changes that would have led to increased traffic density for its communities. Result: Hanover Parkway was extended through to Good Luck Road, easing traffic density on Hanover Parkway and Ora Glen Drive; and Mandan Road was not extended to Good Luck Road, thereby avoiding increased traffic on Mandan Road south.
- Crime: GEAC has been very vocal in making the City Council and the Police Department aware of crime problems in its communities. Results: The police have stepped up surveillance in some areas and are continuing to communicate better with Greenbelt East residents especially with regard to juvenile loitering issues. The Council itself is continuing to work on crime problems. GEAC also reported recent crimes associated with online transactions with companies like Craigslist. Now the police have provided a small “Safe Space Transaction” office in the Police Station lobby where residents can conduct their online transactions more safely.
- Bus Issues: GEAC complained about safety and lighting around bus stops and problems with inconvenient bus routes. Results: WMATA has provided some improvements on routes. GEAC has also asked the City for more bus stops and better lighting around bus stops. Results: The City is aware and has stated it will correct the lighting situation. A new bus stop which could also be installed when the city budget permits, would help afford better protection for users of mass transit.
- School Bus Stop Safety: Some GEAC communities were concerned about school buses letting young children off where they had to cross a dangerous road. Result: The bus stops were relocated to safer and less busy locations to better safeguard the children.
- Hospital Signs: GEAC complained that there were no hospital signs posted on the major roads around the area. Result: Numerous hospital signs were installed.
- Playgrounds: With the help of the City Council, GEAC has been instrumental in providing upgrades to playgrounds in Greenbelt East. Results: Encouraging more family oriented communities as well as addressing playground equity for Greenbelt East as part of the Greenbelt community at large.
- Renters and Landlords: GEAC has made the City and County aware of the issue of problem renters and landlords in its communities. Result: There continues to be a collective effort to discuss and explore solutions.
- Legislative Affairs: GEAC contributes to the CAI Maryland Legislative Action Committee (MD-LAC) which advocates for issues of interest to condominium, cooperative, and homeowner associations (HOAs) before the Maryland Legislature. The Maryland-LAC is part of the national Community Associations Institute (CAI). GEAC helps the MD-LAC advocate for legislation affecting homeowner associations to help them better compete with large corporations or organizations, like the bankers, in influencing the votes of state legislatures. For example, there have been several occasions when GEAC members have testified before the state legislature regarding legislation. Result: There have been several victories for homeowner associations, including the Priority Lien Act of 2010-2011 which places associations in a better position to collect money from delinquent owners.
- City Council Relationships: Every year GEAC holds a Stakeholders Forum with the complete City Council, city manager and other officials so they can respond to GEAC, questions and discuss important issues with the Board and community members. Results: Cooperation is improved because the City learns about issues that concern Greenbelt East residents and the community associations gain a better understanding of the City’s constraints in looking for solutions.
- State and County Legislation: GEAC hosts an annual Legislative Forum with state legislators and county officials to discuss issues of concern to Greenbelt East Residents. Result: Again, everyone is made aware of the problems, possible solutions, and the issues which affect solving those problems.
- City Council Candidates Forum: GEAC hosts this Candidates Forum prior to city elections to help inform Greenbelt East residents about the candidates and to discuss topics of mutual concern. Result: Better informed voters.
- State and County Council Candidates Forum: Every four years, GEAC also hosts an Election Forum for all candidates for Maryland State Senate and House delegates, County Council representatives, and School Board representatives. Results: GEAC members and all Greenbelt citizens have a chance to interact with the candidates. An interesting and informative evening is had by all, candidates and voters alike.
GEAC board meetings are open to the public. Members of GEAC association communities are also especially welcome to attend and participate in discussions. Meetings are normally the first Thursday of the month at various GEAC associations. Please contact any GEAC Board member or member association for further information.