Thursday, May 21, 2020

Adams’ explanation of ice arena vote contains some false and misleading information

By Mike Rauck

Reasonable people can disagree about the Bowie City Council’s vote to cancel the Bowie IcePlex project, but it’s important to note that the explanation provided by Mayor Tim Adams for his vote contains some false and misleading information.

Adams claims that a 2013 feasibility study concluded that industry experts advised the city that local demand for ice facilities warranted spending no more than $10.66 million to construct a new ice arena. That’s not what the feasibility study concluded.

The study concluded that there was sufficient demand for two sheets of ice in the city, and the estimated cost for a facility seven years ago was $10.66 million.  The study did not say, as Adams claims, that the city should spend no more than $10.66 million.  The estimate was for high-level planning purposes at a time when the city was evaluating multiple indoor sports options.

The consultants who provided the estimate did not provide a cost range, and they did not indicate a list of assumptions that went into the estimate.  They did not say whether or not the estimate included costs for land acquisition, land improvements, and infrastructure improvements.

For comparison purposes, the same 2013 study estimated the cost of a 61,400 square-foot facility featuring five hardwood basketball courts at $7.58 million.  A 2018 feasibility study conducted by the city concluded that a much smaller two court facility would cost between $7.3 million and $12.9 million depending on the type of structure constructed.  The study evaluated air domes, tension structures, metal buildings, and brick and mortar buildings.

The conclusions of the 2013 feasibility study were presented to the Bowie City Council during a June 3, 2013 council meeting.  Video of that meeting is available on the city’s web site.

In the same letter where Adams erroneously criticizes the previous council for not taking the advice of industry experts, Adams makes a case for cheaply renovating the current Bowie Ice Arena by citing advice from a different industry expert - Black Bear Sports Group (BBSG).  According to Adams, BBSG criticized the Bowie IcePlex project, and the privately held company offered suggestions for how the existing Bowie Ice Arena at Allen Pond Park could be transformed into a world-class facility for less than $3 million.

The claim that the existing ice arena could be converted into a world-class facility for $3 million is ludicrous, and it gives reason to question Adams’ analysis.  The irony is that city residents have never sought world-class sports facilities.  Adams made an unfortunate choice of words.

The bigger issue is that Adams ignored previous studies of the state of the Allen Pond ice arena in favor of unvetted information contained in a letter from an industry expert who has a financial incentive to limit ice capacity in Bowie.

BBSG owns and operates multiple ice rinks, including the nearby two-sheet Piney Orchard facility in Odenton.  The two-sheet Bowie IcePlex could have drawn paying customers away from the Piney Orchard facility in favor of new facilities and a more convenient location.

It’s also important to note that as a private owner and operator of ice arenas, BBSG’s construction requirements may be very different than those needed for a municipal complex.  Private companies are likely to build rinks with an eye towards short term profits, and the city has an interest in creating a sustainable facility that will last for 50 or more years.

BBSG’s analysis of the current Allen Pond ice arena may be correct.  We don’t know.  But because there is a conflict of interest and because the analysis hasn’t been vetted, the information can’t be considered reliable at this time.

Although Adams can criticize the high cost of the Bowie IcePlex, the project did follow proper municipal governance, including independent third-party consultations, many open public hearings, a competitive bidding process for the construction contract, and transparency including a video library of related council meetings.  The same cannot be said about the BBSG letter, which, according to Adams, helped guide his decision to cancel the IcePlex project.

Every councilmember, including Adams, who voted against the IcePlex project stated this week that they support the Bowie ice community.  It’s clear, however, that none of those councilmembers know what that support will cost.  That’s something that should have been determined before the IcePlex project was canceled.

Yes, reasonable people can disagree about whether or not the Bowie IcePlex project should have been canceled, but it’s important that those decisions are guided by proper governance and vetted information.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Bowie Cancels Rink

By Mike Rauck

It’s possible that the people who write headlines for the Bowie Blade-News have a crystal ball that allowed them to predict the Bowie City Council’s early morning vote today to cancel the ice rink project.

In a 4 to 3 vote, the council approved a motion by District 2 Councilmember Dufour Woolfley that called for construction to stop at the Church Road site and for the contract with Costello Construction to be canceled.  The motion also called for city staff to begin evaluating the same Church Road site for a future indoor court facility that’s already in the city’s capital improvement program.  City staff were also instructed to begin evaluating options for the existing one-sheet ice arena at Allen Pond Park, including possible renovations and a public-private partnership.

The latest council meeting will likely be remembered as the longest and most contentious council gathering in the history of the city.

Both residents and non-residents submitted more than two hundred comments to be shared at the meeting, including 191 for the ice rink public hearing alone.  City Clerk Awilda Hernandez read comments for most of the nine-hour meeting that began at 8:00pm on Monday and ended at 5:00am Tuesday morning.

Council debate was tense at times, highlighted by a fiery diatribe by At-Large Councilmember Henri Gardner.  He hurled insults at other councilmembers and made the claim that some councilmembers had racial motivations behind their decisions to support cancelation of the ice arena project.

Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Boafo and District 4 Councilmember Roxy Ndebumadu offered similar reasons for supporting cancelation of the project.  They both indicated that their votes were fiscally responsible and reflected the wishes of the majority of their respective constituents.

According to an estimate by the city’s finance department, the city stands to lose approximately $7 million by canceling the project.  Woolfley insisted that despite that loss, the city should not continue to throw good money after bad on what would be the single most expensive project in the city’s history.

Mayor Tim Adams repeated his assertion that the ice arena project had to be canceled to prepare the city for expenses and lost revenue associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  He made the argument that it’s important to look out 18 months or longer because the city will likely be dealing with the effects of the virus for a long time.

All four councilmembers who voted in favor of canceling the project said that they support the ice community and are in favor of exploring plans for the Bowie Ice Arena at Allen Pond Park.

At-Large Councilmember Ingrid Harrison disputed Adams’ claim that the ice arena project impacted the current and future financial stability of the city.  Harrison also expressed concern about possible lawsuits stemming from the cancelation.

District 1 Councilmember Michael Estève told the rest of the council that canceling the project would be premature without having additional information, and he warned that the cancelation was something that could not be reversed.  Estève indicated that he was willing to consider a pause in the construction to give the city some time to get more questions answered, including cost and options for the Allen Pond ice arena, and Estève is concerned that there are questions about the bond issuance and implications to the city’s AAA bond rating that haven’t been addressed.

The new ice arena facility has long been criticized as a money-loser project being built for non-residents, and Estève took a few minutes to challenge those concerns.  He pointed out that all Bowie facilities, including the senior center, the city gym, city parks, and the Bowie Ice Arena, are heavily used by non-residents.  Estève quoted a recent city study that showed that 60% of South Bowie Boys and Girls Club members using city facilities are non-residents.  The difference is that non-residents provide more than $200,000 in fees annually to offset expenses at the Bowie Ice Arena, and non-residents pay a tiny fraction of that amount in fees to support facilities like the Bowie City Gym.  As a result, ice facilities can recoup 80% or more of annual expenses by collecting user fees, and court facilities typically recoup about 16% of annual expenses through user fees.

Some citizen comments read during the council meeting were submitted by District 3 residents who are concerned about the proposed ice arena’s impact to traffic and safety along Church Road.  Based on the direction set by the council this morning, those concerns will likely switch to the impact of a court facility instead of an ice facility in the same location.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

History of the New Bowie Ice Arena Project

By Mike Rauck

Debate over the future of the new Bowie Ice Arena project reached a fevered pitch over the last couple of weeks as Councilmember Dufour Woolfley proposed that the council discuss the project’s future and Mayor Tim Adams penned an opinion piece claiming that financial impacts to the city related to COVID-19 make it necessary to stop the project.  An overview of the history of the project might be helpful to review at this time.

Although the project history described here is very detailed, it could have easily been twice as long.  A lot of attention was given to the origins of the project as those details are probably not as well known as the more recent events.

In the spring of 2012, the city council appropriated money for a feasibility study for the construction of an indoor sports facility.  The goal of the study was to evaluate the need, determine what activities the facility should support, and determine where the facility should be located.  After reviewing six proposals from consulting groups willing to conduct the study, the council selected The Sports Facility Advisory (SFA).

The SFA study was conducted in the spring of 2013.  Approximately 60 interviews were conducted with stakeholders including leaders representing various sports and organizations in the city.  A survey of sports users in the city was conducted, sites were evaluated, construction costs were calculated, and SFA created a report detailing financial options for the city.

The city advertised the online survey through its web site, the city’s Facebook page, and through the Alert Bowie system in April 2013.  A post on the Bowie Living Facebook page directed people to the survey as well.

More than 900 people completed the survey, including some non-residents who participate in Bowie sports.

SFA held a public briefing in May 2013 to present preliminary conclusions of the feasibility study and to provide an opportunity for public feedback.  The meeting was advertised on the city’s web site, the city’s Facebook page, Alert Bowie, and Bowie Living.

SFA delivered a lengthy report to the council at the end of May 2013, and the highlights of the feasibility study were presented during a Bowie City Council meeting during the first week of June 2013.  The council meeting is available for viewing on the city’s web site (as are all council meetings since November 2008).

The study made conclusions about demand, construction cost, annual revenue, and annual operating costs for four types of indoor sports facilities:  courts, swimming, ice, and turf.  Assumptions were made that the Bowie City Gym will remain operational if the city constructs a new court facility and the Bowie Ice Arena at Allen Pond Park will be shuttered if a new ice facility is constructed.
The study ranked the facility types based on need, construction cost, and operating cost in the following order from highest need to lowest:

  • courts (five basketball courts reconfigurable as six volleyball courts)
  • aquatics (50 meters by 25 yards)
  • ice (one Olympic-size rink and one NHL-size rink)
  • turf (two 200’ x 100’ turf fields, with four batting cages that can be setup on the turf as needed).

The rankings assumed implementation of new fee structures, SFA’s understanding of the city’s priorities, and the city’s willingness to pay for construction cost and annual net operating costs.

Each facility type represented unique challenges.  The construction cost of the proposed aquatic center was the lowest, but it had the highest annual net operating loss.  The construction cost of the proposed two-sheet ice arena was the greatest, but it had the lowest annual net operating loss because of the fees that groups in the ice community are willing to pay.  The construction cost of the turf facility was the second lowest, but demand was not high enough to keep the facility utilized during the entire year.  Staff requirements for the city to operate courts would have to nearly double because any new courts could not be co-located with the courts in the existing Bowie City Gym.

SFA estimated construction cost based on work starting in 2015, and councilmembers acknowledged that the cost were higher than they had anticipated.

All facility types would result in the city having to pay net operating costs annually as user fees would not cover operating expenses.  Neither the courts, ice sheets, aquatics center, or indoor turfs would be self-sustaining.

SFA discussed the possibility of using public-private partnerships to fund and operate some facilities – a trend that was growing in 2013.  The proposed ice facility represented the greatest opportunity for a public-private partnership due to the high fees that the ice community is willing to pay.

At the time of the June 2013 presentation, the city was facing an estimated $700,000 expense above and beyond standard operating costs to keep the existing ice arena at Allen Pond Park operational. The declining state of the current ice arena would continue to influence the council’s decisions for years to come.

Five possible locations for a new indoor sports facility were included in the 2013 study:

  • Annapolis Road (bordered by Old Annapolis Road, the Pope’s Creek train track, and Grenville Lane). This 61.5 acre site is in an ideal location, and it’s owned by the city of Bowie.  Geographic features would make development of the property very expensive, and it’s possible that environmental concerns might prevent the project from being approved.
  • Glen Allen Park (off Mitchellville Road).  The site is in an ideal location, and it’s owned by the city of Bowie.  The size of the property would only allow one type of facility to be constructed (i.e., could not be the site of a combined court and ice facility).
  • Green Branch (behind Rip’s):  The site is owned by Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning, and it has access issues that the county has been unsuccessful in resolving.
  • Mitchelville Road (current lacrosse fields):  This property is owned by the Prince George’s County Board of Education, and it’s intended to eventually be the location of a new high school in the city.
  • Race Track:  The Bowie Race Course is not currently available, but it could become available to the city at a later date.

At the end of the June 2013 council meeting, city staff was looking for direction. The council asked city staff to review the feasibility study in greater detail, and to involve the city’s Community Recreation Committee and Financial Advisory Committee in the process.

Mayor G. Fred Robinson (mayor from 1998 to 2019) concluded the meeting by issuing a statement about the city’s long history of commitment to quality recreation facilities.  “The one thing that I’m comfortable with,” Robinson said, “is that in this city, there is strong consensus to build and maintain quality recreation, because there is a strong commitment.  It’s part of the core of the city. It’s part of the dynamic of the city. It’s part of what brings and holds the city together.”

Nearly a year later during a May 2014 budget worksession (also available for viewing online), the council announced that the focus for an indoor sports facility had been narrowed down to several options including a no-build option, an ice-only facility, a courts-only facility, a combined facility, and an option where an ice-only facility was built first followed by courts.

Although it was clear why an indoor turf facility was dropped from consideration, there’s been a lot of debate about why an ice facility was prioritized over an aquatics facility, even though the feasibility study ranked an aquatics facility higher.  The following were some of the points discussed at the time.

  1. An aquatics facility had a higher annual net operating cost that the city would have to fund.  Estimates at the time were approximately $500,000 per year.
  2. The question of whether or not the city should build an aquatics center had previously been put to referendum, and the public failed to support it.  Some people believe that the referendum question was to blame as it asked whether residents would be willing to pay for a tax increase to fund an indoor aquatics facility.
  3. Although the feasibility study identified a high demand for an aquatics center, membership in local swim clubs in Bowie was declining at the time, suggesting to some that the demand might not be as high as the feasibility study suggested.
  4. The city was continuing to experience maintenance issues at the Bowie Ice Arena at Allen Pond Park.  If the city wanted to continue offering ice facilities to the public, ice had to be prioritized over aquatics.

During a May 19, 2014 council meeting, the FY2015 budget was approved with a recommendation for a combined ice and courts facility.  This recommendation continued to be included in subsequent annual budgets, but the project was delayed because the city had trouble identifying a site that could accommodate the combined ice and court facility.

In June 2016, the city purchased a 20-acre site on Church Road near the Route 50 overpass for the proposed indoor sports complex.  The size of this parcel of land was believed to be large enough to support a dual-use ice and courts facility.

In June of 2017, city staff announced that revised construction cost estimates for the indoor sports complex were much higher than previously calculated.  Construction costs were now estimated to be $37 million.

After much debate and a series of public hearings, the council decided to move forward with one of the original options that the council considered in 2014:  an ice facility first followed by the construction of additional courts at some time in the future.  The council believed at the time that the Church Road site would be able to accommodate courts in the future as an addition to an ice facility.

Based on councilmembers’ comments at the time, the following were some of the arguments that influenced the council’s decision.

  1. Costly maintenance issues continued to plague the Bowie Ice Arena at Allen Pond Park, thus putting an ice facility at a higher priority.
  2. Major renovations of the existing ice arena would cost almost as much as a new single-sheet facility.
  3. Major renovations of the existing ice arena or construction of a new ice arena at Allen Pond Park would displace the ice community for a year or longer, potentially disrupting the revenue stream that net cost estimates were relying on.
  4. Cost of a single-sheet ice facility was almost as expensive as a dual-sheet facility.
  5. Dual-sheet facilities had an advantage over single-sheet facilities because the facility could host tournaments.  The tournaments would help with cost recovery as well as attracting customers to area hotels and restaurants.
  6. Although there was demand for additional court space, the city was already offering some indoor courts at the Bowie City Gym.

The following are some of the arguments that were raised against prioritizing ice over courts.

  1. There was a great demand for more court time.
  2. Some court proponents felt that they hadn’t been included in the indoor sports facility planning process.
  3. There was a belief that many users of the ice arena at Allen Pond Park were not Bowie residents.
  4. Some people believed that ice facilities draw users from a wider area, and therefore should be constructed and maintained by a regional entity like the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.
  5. At least one councilmember expressed doubt that the city should be in the business of providing indoor sports facilities given the overlap with the mission of the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.
  6. Some people felt that building such an expensive facility was fiscally irresponsible.  The estimated cost for the indoor ice arena was higher than any previous capital improvement project in the city’s history.
  7. Some people expressed concern about the traffic impact to Church Road.
  8. Some people felt that a project of that size should be put to referendum.

Although the council as a whole moved forward with the project over the two years following the decision to proceed with an ice-only facility first, the debate didn’t stop.  Lower cost alternatives were discussed, including a “bubble” facility to host ice and courts.

The city conducted a study during this time to determine the residency of members of user groups using existing ice, court, and outdoor field facilities in the city.  The study has been used by some to conclude that the majority of users of the existing ice arena are not Bowie residents. The reality is much more complicated.

The residency analysis was restricted to user groups that rent ice, court, and field time, and it did not include people who participate directly in city run programs, including lessons, open skate times, and camps.

The study also shows that non-residents are frequent users of other Bowie sponsored sports facilities including courts and fields.  According to the results, roughly 40% of South Bowie Boys & Girls Club members using city facilities are city residents, and roughly 55% of Bowie Boys and Girls Club members are city residents.

The “glass half empty” point of view is that the city is building facilities that are heavily used by non-residents.  The “glass half full” point of view is that non-residents are subsidizing city owned facilities, making it possible for the city to make these services available to its residents.

Although most user groups for all city owned facilities are split about 50/50 between Bowie residents and non-residents, two outliers exist.  About 80% of the 500-member Bowie Hockey Club using the Bowie Ice Arena are non-residents, and about 80% of the 400-member Woodstream Christian Academy using courts are non-residents, according to the study.  It’s important to note, however, that the Bowie Hockey Club contributes about $274,000 annually in fees to the Bowie Ice Arena, and roughly $219,000 of that is coming from non-residents.  User groups paying for court time pay a tiny fraction of that amount.

In 2018, the council allocated money for an indoor court feasibility study.  The council was presented with options for one court and two court facilities.  Multiple public-private partnerships were explored, including proposals by the Greater Mt. Nebo Church and the Community Housing Initiative.
The council gave residents whiplash in June and July of 2019 as one month they voted to put the new ice complex up to a referendum vote, and the next month they overturned that decision and selected Costello Construction to build the arena.

In the fall of 2019, the council approved a contract with Costello Construction and a municipal bond issuance to pay for the project.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in October 2019.

Final permits were issued in early 2020 after the city agreed to partially fund a new traffic light at the intersection of Church Road and Fairview Vista Drive.  County officials hoped that the traffic light would improve safety along that stretch of church road.  A 14-year-old boy was hit by a car and killed at that intersection in June 2019.

Construction on the new ice arena began in March 2020.

During a council meeting in early May, Councilmember Dufour Woolfley proposed a discussion about the future of the ice arena project.  He later explained in an email to constituents that this would give new members of the council a chance to voice their opinions on the project. Four new members joined the council last November, including Mayor Tim Adams, At-Large Councilmember Ingrid Harrison, District 3 Councilmember Adrian Boafo, and District 4 Councilmember Roxy Ndebumadu.

Last week, the Bowie Blade-News published an opinion piece by Mayor Tim Adams in which Adams said that the ice arena project must be stopped due to financial concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Adams piece lacked detail, and his points relied on his own analysis of financials and the Costello Construction contracts.

As of this writing, two councilmembers (Esteve and Gardner) have publicly voiced support for allowing the new ice arena project to continue, two councilmembers (Woolfley and Adams) have voiced support for canceling the project, and three councilmembers (Boafo, Harrison, and Ndebumadu) have not yet taken a public stance.

The next chapter to this story will be written during the council’s Monday, May 18th meeting.  Stay tuned.

Construction photos c/o Costello Construction:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

First bottle bill in the nation?

By Mike Rauck

In July 1970, three months after the first Earth Day celebration, the Bowie City Council passed an ordinance requiring all bottled beer and soda purchased in the city to be sold in returnable bottles. This was an attempt by city officials to address a growing litter problem in Bowie.

The city changed the ordinance in early 1971 to instead require refundable deposits on all beer and soda bottles and cans. The modified ordinance matched state legislation being considered in Annapolis at the time.

Bowie’s bottle bill was scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 1971, but area liquor dealers and soft drink bottlers challenged the city’s ordinance in court. The issue was finally settled in 1975 when the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that municipalities like Bowie can implement and enforce legislation requiring consumers to pay refundable deposits on beverage containers.

The Bowie City Council chose to delay implementation of the bottle bill in 1975. The thinking at the time was that the bill would not be as effective unless the county or other nearby jurisdictions implemented similar legislation. Former Bowie Mayor Leo Green and some of his fellow councilmembers who passed the legislation were no longer on the council in 1975.

Although bottle bill legislation was considered multiple times by Maryland lawmakers, bottle and can deposits have never been required in Bowie.

Oregon passed bottle bill legislation in May 1971. The Oregon bill is frequently cited as the first bottle bill in the nation, but it was passed after the Bowie City Council passed similar legislation. Bowie’s ordinance, of course, was never implemented.

Former Bowie Mayor Leo Green is pictured here in November 1970 giving the thumbs-down sign in response to the 10,000 cans and 800 bottles collected by Bowie High School students along city roadways over a two-day period. The students were members of an ecology group organized at the high school by Don Murphy, a government teacher at the school.

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, and the Bowie City Council has proclaimed 2020 to be Earth Year in Bowie.

To recognize the anniversary, check out the city's 100 Acts of Green and see what you can do to help the environment, your health, your neighbors, and to save a little money while at it. Many of the acts are perfect for social distancing because they involve actions in your own home or being outside away from crowded areas. Click here to see the city's 100 Acts of Green.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Bowie City Council to discuss alternate uses for portion of new IcePlex

By Mike Rauck

Alvin McNeal with the Maryland-National Capital Parks & Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) will present options to repurpose a portion of the new Bowie IcePlex for non-ice recreation uses during Monday’s Bowie City Council meeting.

According to an M-NCPPC proposal provided to the council, one sheet of ice at the new IcePlex would be maintained year-round, and a second sheet of ice would only be maintained from October to April each year.  Basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and indoor soccer are some of the sports that could be hosted on the “dry floor” at the facility from late spring to the end of the summer during a time of year that the proposal refers to as the “off-season.”

“There really is no off-season when it comes to skating,” local figure skating coach Abigail Snyder told Bowie Living.  “During the time when there are no competitions or hockey tournaments is when our skaters do their most intense training.”

“On the figure skating side, we have national competitions that continue into June,” Snyder explained. “Many of our skaters are looking forward to finally being able to do that training in Bowie rather than having to travel far to other rinks that offer more expensive ice times.”

“We also have very popular summer camp programs that take kids out of the heat to experience something new,” Snyder shared.  “Being able to have teams and skaters train on one sheet of ice while camps are running on the other sheet is a scheduling opportunity that we are eager to implement once we have availability.”

“I’m anxious to hear the proposal because it may address some of our recreation capacity issues, but there are a lot of unanswered questions,” District 3 Councilmember Adrian Boafo explained to Bowie Living.  “We need to understand the cost to implement, the impact to the construction schedule, as well as changes to the anticipated annual operating cost and revenue for the new facility.  We also need to determine if the change in use is permitted under the terms of the bonds that were issued to pay for construction of the IcePlex.”

Many Bowie residents have expressed concern about traffic and safety along Church Road and the potential impact that projects like the IcePlex will have on traffic.

“Church Road runs through and along portions of District 3,” Boafo said.  “My constituents are going to want to know if the proposed changes will create more traffic.”  

The fact that M-NCPPC is presenting the proposal is significant.  The city has relied on outside vendors in the past to study options and costs for recreational facilities, but M-NCPPC became involved because of possible partnership opportunities with the city over the management of the new facility.

“We have to figure out how costs, revenue, and responsibilities are split in a partnership,” Boafo explained.  “One opportunity I would like to explore is whether or not a partnership with the county might help bring additional road improvements to Church Road.  That would be great for District 3 residents.”

Construction of the Bowie IcePlex is expected to be complete by the fall of 2021.

Monday’s meeting will be hosted virtually for councilmembers and other participants.  Residents can see the meeting live online, on Verizon Channel 10, and on Comcast Channels 71 and 996.  Video of the meeting will be posted on YouTube (most likely by Tuesday).

Testimony for public hearings or comments for the Citizen Participation portion of the meeting will be accepted via email at or via text at 240-335-3282.  Comments must be received by 7 p.m. Monday to be included in the meeting.

Click here to see the M-NCPPC presentation.

Click here to see the agenda for Monday’s Bowie City Council meeting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

500+ volunteers create cloth face masks for local organizations

By Mike Rauck

A group of volunteers calling themselves Sew Face Masks Maryland have created and delivered more than 2,400 cloth face masks to more than 40 area organizations including food banks, police departments, and hospice centers in Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County.  Volunteers coordinate their efforts using a Facebook group, Google Docs, and SignUpGenius.

Are you interested in helping?  Patterns are available for those willing to sew, drivers are needed for contactless pickups and deliveries of masks, and supplies are needed (100% cotton woven fabrics - like quilters cotton and especially 1/8"-1/4" elastic).  Click here to request to join the Facebook group to become a volunteer, and read the post at the top of the page for instructions.

Representatives from organizations interested in requesting masks can click here to fill out a request form.

Sew Face Masks Maryland only makes masks for organizations in Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County, and the group does not make or sell masks to individuals.

The group has strict rules for members that include no promotion of products, services, or political agendas, no hate speech, and no bullying.  Members are expected to be kind, courteous, and respectful of the privacy of all members.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Local church donates money in wake of food pantry theft

By Mike Rauck

During a week where the news is trending more negative than positive, members of our community continue to fight the trend.  Senior Pastor Dione Bowlding from Bowie City Church announced in a weekly recorded message on YouTube Sunday that the church donated $1,000 to the Bowie Interfaith Food Pantry in response to a theft that occurred at the pantry early Friday evening. 

According to Bowlding, the church has a program to assist the Bowie Interfaith Food Pantry in every calendar month that has five Sundays.  On the fifth Sunday of those months, the church budgets about $4,000 to give to church families to shop and deliver goods to the pantry.

This month has five Sundays, but due to a scheduling conflict, the church donated to the food pantry on the first Sunday of the month.  Bowlding said that the church happened to have $1,000 remaining in this month’s donation budget, and that money was delivered to Bowie Interfaith Food Pantry Director Debbie Langdon over the weekend.

"The pantry is so fortunate to have such generous support from the community,” Langdon shared with Bowie Living.  “We are overwhelmed by their kindness and compassion.   These last few days have seen an increase in donations - some due to the pandemic and some due to the break in."

The pantry has had to make slight changes to their operations due to the temporary closure of city buildings where some of the pantry’s drop-off sites are located, but donations are still being accepted in the back of the Kenhill Center.  Visit the Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Aid Fund Facebook page for the drop off hours and list of items needed.

Monetary donations can be made via the pantry’s web site by clicking here.

The mandatory shutdown of some businesses due to concern about the Coronavirus will create a greater need for the pantry's services.

The Bowie Police Department identified 57-year-old Michael James Treyfry this afternoon as a suspect in the pantry theft.  Anyone with information about the theft or the whereabouts of Treyfry is encouraged to contact Detective Booth, Bowie Police Department Criminal Investigations Section at (240) 544-5700.  Callers can leave anonymous tips by calling (240) 544-5770.

Have you supported the pantry in the past?  Are you part of an organization that supports the pantry?  Share your stories in the comments.