ANC 6B Report - May 2016

Lead in the Water at Payne Elementary School

The Washington Post reported in April that unhealthy amounts of lead had been found in the water at Payne Elementary School and also at Miner Elementary and Capitol Hill Montessori. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B sent a letter to DC’s Department of General Services (DGS) expressing alarm and asking questions about the lead testing process. “Many ANC 6B families send their children to Payne Elementary and the Commission was saddened to learn that Payne students were exposed to lead via a school water fountain and possibly other water sources,” read the letter. “We were further dismayed to learn that neither the principal nor parents were notified of this contamination until five months after the water was tested.”

The letter asked about testing methods, noting that the number and location of places tested has varied over the last few years, and about protocol for sharing findings with the public. Other questions included who is in charge of testing at Payne, when exactly DGS learned of the problem at Payne, and whether water sources will be tested at charter schools. The commissioners asked for answers by June 1.

6B Opposes Residential Center for Former Federal Prisoners

A residential reentry center for former federal prisoners, similar to a halfway house, has been proposed for 810 Potomac Ave. SE, near Virginia Avenue Park and the Blue Castle. The Federal Bureau of Prisons requested proposals for such a facility last October, and a group called Core DC created one, calling it “Potomac House.” It would have 300 beds.

The commissioners sent a letter to the Bureau of Prisons opposing the facility at this particular site, on the heels of a similar letter from Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. Allen's letter mentioned the site's location next to the Richard Wright Public Charter School, unclear zoning regulations, and “a lack of supportive resources in the neighborhood” as reasons the center shouldn't go there.

The commissioners’ letter added concerns that the center could hurt ongoing attempts to revive the Navy Yard neighborhood and that residents could endanger patrons of two nearby bars. “We are concerned about the addition of the RRC's residents in this scenario and the resulting impact on both populations,” the letter read. It added that the charter school also shares a building with PSI, an adult daycare facility with another type of vulnerable residents, and that nearby public transportation is limited.

“Perhaps the most inexplicable aspect of this proposal is its large size,” the letter continued. “DC is in the midst of a difficult process of trying to close down the DC General homeless shelter in favor of small temporary residential facilities scattered around the city. DC General has been an abject failure in its ability to serve its large population. This proposal plans to establish a ‘half way house’ of the same general size in a neighborhood that ... lacks easily accessible support resources just like DC General.”

Expanded Sidewalk Cafe at Medium Rare on Barracks Row

Medium Rare (515 Eighth St. SE) wants to expand its sidewalk cafe to the north, along the front of the Shakespeare Theater Company’s rehearsal space at 507 Eighth. The commissioners sent a letter supporting Medium Rare's application to the DC Department of Transportation’s Public Space Committee, but with conditions. One is Medium Rare’s proving that it is legally allowed to use the space and that the Shakespeare Company has signed off on the use. Another is getting clarity over what happens if either building owner sells the property, which is particularly relevant since the owners of the Shakespeare building plan to do just that, redeveloping the building for mixed-use retail, office, and residential space. When a new tenant moves in, can Medium Rare continue using the space?

Other conditions are related to the amount of space maintained for pedestrians. The commissioners want to be sure there is six feet of space for walking between the edge of the sidewalk cafe and any street lights, parking meters, bike racks, or tree boxes, and also that the sidewalk cafe be enclosed by fixed rails or planters that are not on rollers.

Liquor License Renewals

Every liquor license in the city is up for renewal with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board this year, and each ANC has an opportunity to support or protest each application filed within its jurisdiction. The commissioners handled about 40 cases in May, approving the vast majority either through reaching a new settlement agreement with the establishment or renewing an existing one. The commissioners protested renewals for Hank's Oyster Bar (633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) and Tortilla Coast (400 First St. SE), after protesting renewals for We the Pizza, Goose Stuff, and Bearnaise (all on the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE) in April.

The commissioners will consider Ambar (523 8th St. SE) in June and Tandoor (419 8th St. SE) in October. Tandoor plans to totally overhaul its menu and operations.


ANC 6B’s next full meeting will be on Tuesday, July 12, at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.