BOWIE –– The Mayor and City Council are getting help from a former Maryland governor on strategies for the best way to develop their city. 

Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening, who is now the president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, encouraged embracing smart growth in the form of mixed-use development and bringing that vision for community to the city June 15.

Glendening gave council a 40-minute presentation titled “Smart Growth America: Making Neighborhoods Great Together.”

He encouraged the council to re-imagine community.

“Do you really want another 30 acres of asphalt and a big box, or would you prefer to have something that has much better structure, walkability and a mixed-use to it?” he asked council. “Silver Spring and Hyattsville, the whole arts district, those used to be used car lots along US-1. Today they’re now townhouses with businesses and retail. It’s changed dramatically and much of that is because as I said, we don’t want a stand-alone fast food or large box operation. We want a place where it’s a community.”

The traditional way of building office parks and retail property is “going the way of the dinosaur,” Glendening said. 

 “I thought it was very interesting and educational,” said Councilwoman Diane Polangin. “As I had said before, we need to properly educate our residents to know that mixed-use is a really valuable way to develop because your tax base is better and you’re not using as much land. It is the wave of the future.”

Polangin is on board with Glendening’s vision for community.  

“I think mixed-use is wonderful,” she said. “Look at what’s going on up the street at Waugh Chapel. They have senior housing, restaurants and lots of space. It’s a beautiful example of the mixed-use project.”

Polangin said mixed use development makes “perfect sense” because people want to be able to walk to work if they can and pick up refreshments or visit retail on their route.

Polangin is pleased the city is in a “huge redevelopment phase.”

“So as we redevelop, we have to think what it is going to be twenty years down the road and we want to be able to build toward that,” she said. “We need a really strong tax base and mixed use development will really help our tax base. I’ve been in Bowie 53 years and I will stay in Bowie 53 more years. I want to see Bowie be competitive. I want to see more people be happy to work and live here.”

Glendening envisions smart growth and mixed use development as key to enhancing Prince George’s County and vital to retaining residents.

“With the massive growth of the millennial generation, they want to know where they want to live and we have to have the type of communities that will try to retain them so instead of moving to other locations,” he said. “It used to be a business would relocate and then the employees would follow where the business goes, but not any longer. If we’re going to be economically competitive, we need to make sure that we have the communities where these 18-35 age people want to live.”

Aaron Bradley who works as a computer specialist, attended the meeting with his family.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Bradley said. “It’s good to plan for your future. It’s not a big bang kind of thing; it’s something that’s phased in over the years so it makes sense.”

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