Glendening hometown: 300 acres, plus affluence


Second of two articles on the neighborhoods of the two candidates for governor of Maryland.

University Park -- Tucked among the mass of bustling suburbs that surround Washington is a piece of small-town America often ignored or unknown by surrounding communities.

At just 300 acres, with no business district, no main street and just five stoplights, it might be mistaken for a mere neighborhood, rather than an independent municipality with more than 2,000 residents.

University Park residents are proud of what they describe as their quaint, peaceful and affluent home.

The local elementary school serves as the center of town and the site for social functions, rather than a downtown area. The town has its own mayor, park and police force. It is also where Democratic gubernatorial nominee Parris N. Glendening lives.

Mr. Glendening moved to University Park in November 1976, after marrying Frances Anne Hughes. The couple liked the neighborhood so much that when they wanted a bigger house eight years ago they moved down the street.

"There's a sense of community. The good old family values from back in the 1950s are alive in the community," he says.

Everybody knows each other in the town, he says, recalling an evening when he was looking for his 14-year-old son, Raymond. "I began looking for my son and a neighbor said he just saw him at the park," the candidate says. "When I went to the park, another neighbor said he just went to the tennis courts. Sure enough, when I got to the courts, he was there."

University Park residents tend to stay for years, and generations of families are often found living in the neighborhood, says Howard Simons, a broker for Century 21 Diplomat in neighboring Hyattesville. "It's a very stable neighborhood; there's not a whole lot of turnover," he says.

The Glendenings have known some friends in University Park for 20 years. Raymond has friends with whom he attended preschool.

In a neighborhood with homes ranging from old-fashioned wooden structures with high attic windows to a small section of extravagant mansions, Mr. Glendening's two-story house is modern with a bit of country flavor.

White columns support a rounded balcony over a maroon front door. Gray-blue shutters with cutout moons in the corners rest against a redbrick background. A basketball hoop with "Glendening for Governor" bumper stickers is in the driveway.

But most distinctive about the Glendening home, and others in the neighborhood, is the plant life. Two trees rise into the sky, creating a peaceful, shady atmosphere on a bright fall day. Ivy spills over the ground and crawls up their thick trunks.

University Park, with its manicured lawns and canopy of trees, is a nature lover's dream. An array of flowers -- including orange and gold marigolds, pink roses and lavender impatiens -- decorates every yard. Squirrels seem to outnumber people, sitting on the sidewalks, nibbling on acorns or running through the leaves.

The natural setting attracted 25-year University Park resident Marilyn Church, a retired professor.

"It's peaceful and very pretty," she says, "particularly in the spring when the dogwoods and azaleas bloom. Many people drive by just to see them."

The oldest home in University Park dates to the 1800s. But the town did not officially become a municipality until 1936.

It has always attracted high-income residents, and in the 1960s had the highest income per wage-earner of any town in Maryland.

The town is quiet during the day, when its lawyers, doctors and professors from the nearby University of Maryland campus are at work. But by late afternoon, runners, joggers and dog walkers emerge.

Taking a break from their afternoon walk, Felicia and William Savage remember first seeing University Park 45 years ago at Christmas time.

"We were just driving through. . . . Every home was so beautifully decorated. I knew I wanted to live here," says Mrs. Savage.

The proximity of the university has drawn professors to the town. Church, who once taught early childhood education, remembers walking to class. Mr. Glendening, a part-time government and politics teacher, also enjoys walking to campus, especially on warm, sunny days. His son attends sports events and tailgate parties at the university. College Park is his downtown.

But it's not just professors who like living next to the campus.

"It's stimulating for adults and children," says 40-year-old Nancy Nagel, a nurse. "I can take classes, but then there are also programs for children during the summer."

Town Hall Secretary Joy Lobban has a different reason for liking the campus: "It keeps you young. You walk down the street and see all the young people walking around and riding their bikes. It's great."

Blocks of shops, restaurants and bars line downtown College Park. Students are often seen dining in the outdoor area of Santa Fe, a popular restaurant and bar. On weekend nights, lines of college students wait outside the Paragon and Rendezvous Inn, two thriving nightclubs.

Cheap restaurants are popular with college students. Pizza places, hamburger joints and Chinese restaurants jam U.S. 1, the main artery through town.

Even with all this nearby, some still prefer big cities -- and they are convenient. Washington, with cultural events at the Kennedy Center, is a short drive away. So is the USAir Arena, in Landover. Baltimore is within an hour's reach.

"Culturally, you can go almost anywhere," says Colen Kennell, an engineer. "You can go to a University of Maryland football game, an Orioles baseball game, a Redskins football game or to the beaches in Ocean City."

Population: 2,200 (University Park Town Hall estimate for 1994)

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 50 minutes

Commuting time to Washington: 10 minutes

Public schools: University Park Elementary, Hyattsville Middle, Eleanor Roosevelt High, Northwestern High

Shopping mall: Prince George's Plaza with Hecht's and Woodward & Lothrop, Beltway Plaza with Giant and other smaller shops Nearest mall: Landover Mall, 7 miles southeast; Laurel Centre Mall, 10 miles north

Points of interest: USAir Arena in Landover, University of Maryland adjacent to community, College Park Airport Museum

ZIP code: 20782

Average price of a single-family home*: $146,252 (detached), $74,737 (condominiums).

* Home sold through September, according to Prince George's County Association of Realtors

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