ANC 6D Report - April 2016

At its meeting on April 11, ANC 6D discussed the proposed Delaware Avenue Family Shelter and the delay in Jefferson Middle School’s modernization; as well as hosting Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. Issues involving public art and alcohol licensing rounded out the agenda.

Commissioners Marjorie Lightman (6D01), Stacy Braverman Cloyd (6D02), Roger Moffatt (6D05), Meredith Fascett (6D07) and Vice Chair Rachel Reilly Carroll (6D03) were in attendance. Rhonda N. Hamilton (6D06) was present for part of the meeting. Chair Andy Litsky (6D04) was absent.

Charles Allen Visits 6D

The commission invited Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) to make a presentation on his achievements during his first year in office. Allen outlined the following accomplishments:

Allen stated that “Books from Birth” law has mailed monthly more than 10,000 kids between the ages of birth and 5 an age appropriate book by the DC Public Library (DPL).

Allen has secured $18 million for the new Southwest Library. Planning starts this October. Construction will follow in early 2017.

After the 2015 spike in crime, Allen secured more resources for PSAs 105 and 106. In particular, he got PSA 106 added as a priority area for the Security Camera Rebate Law. In addition, Allen expressed his confidence in the new First District Commander Robert Contee, who he characterized as a “strategic thinker.”

In 2016, Allen promised to prioritize planning for the emergency needs of ANC 6D given its tremendous economic growth. In particular, he pointed out the need for additional safety resources, especially a new fireboat, to keep up with development.

There is work to do on the Buzzard Point Visioning Framework, stated Allen. He is concerned about the stadium design’s absence of north-south transportation connections.

Allen recognized the strong advocacy of Vice Chair Reilly Carroll in support of a Build First approach to renovating Greenleaf Gardens public housing. The conversation about the project has certainly shifted in favor of this approach, Allen said.

Allen expressed cautious support for the Southwest Shelter at 700 Delaware Avenue SW. He promised that council would engage the administration in a vigorous discussion about the proposal’s details. He stated that the administration had received a “litany” of questions from legislatures, many of which remain to be answered.

After making his presentation, Allen took questions from the commissioners and the audience. Commissioner Hamilton urged him to coordinate a comprehensive traffic plan for Southwest that would take into account both events, construction and the coming development. Allen agreed.

Vice Chair Reilly Carroll requested that Allen reach out to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and ask her to work with him to get land under the Unity Clinic transferred to the District.

Commissioner Lightman raised concerns about the delay in the modernization of Jefferson Middle School. Allen acknowledged that the Mayor’s recent budget moved Jefferson’s modernization out two more years. He expressed his disappointment with the decision. However, he stated he was unable to promise a restoration of funds given his limitations as a freshman lawmaker.

Commissioner Lightman than raised the lack of a Southwest Circulator connection to Capitol Hill. The routes require more buses, stated Allen. No additional buses have been purchased; only replacements. Allen stated that the council had put money in the last budget for additional buses. During the Department of Transportation (DDOT) performance hearings, he had asked about the situation. There were no plans for a Southwest expansion of the Circulator, stated agency representatives.

Allen expressed frustration with the inability of DDOT and other city agencies to recognize the scope of the economic development taking place in ANC 6D. He pointed to the city’s lack of forethought in NOMA, where no public parks had been planned during its formative stages. Now, the city is trying to shoehorn in a park system. “It costs more and is harder to do when you don’t do it on the front end,” stated Allen.

In Southwest, particularly on Buzzard Point, Allen is trying to work directly with developers given the enormous amount of land in private hands. Creating an active waterfront that knits together the river and neighborhood is his most important priority, he stated.

Southwest Shelter Redux

The commission again passed a resolution similar to the previous month’s questioning the city’s plan for a Southwest Shelter at 700 Delaware Ave. SW. Commissioner Cloyd stated that the commitment to Build First at Greenleaf must be made before the commission could support the shelter. In particular, she stated the District needed to identify a site for the initial new public housing. This needs to be a consolidated process between the mayor and the District Housing Authority, she stated.

An audience member echoed Cloyd’s concerns pointing out that building the shelter on public land would be cheaper.

Cloyd reiterated the commission’s demand for a hearing on the shelter to be held in Southwest. The commission passed another resolution questioning the city plan for the shelter unanimously.

Jefferson Delayed

As mentioned above in Councilmember Allen’s remarks, Jefferson Middle School’s modernization has been delayed in the mayor’s new budget an additional two years to FYI 2022. Students currently in pre-K will benefit. Commissioners collectively expressed their concerns that the delay will impact the budding renaissance at Amidon-Bowen Elementary.

Jefferson is the second largest middle school in Ward 6. Its modernization has been repeatedly delayed.

“We are losing ground every single year in getting this done,” stated Commissioner Cloyd. “It is disgraceful that we are in this situation,” stated Commissioner Fascett.

Commissioners unanimously resolved to send a letter to the mayor and the council’s Education Committee expressing their dissatisfaction.

The Rats on Buzzard Point

Gerard Brown, program manager of the DC Department of Health’s Rodent & Vector Control, a.k.a. “The Rat Guy,” visited the commission to talk about the rodent control plans for the DC United Soccer Stadium on Buzzard’s Point. Commissioner Hamilton expressed community concerns about that the explosion of the rat population would be exacerbated by the demolition making way for the stadium. Even the cats in her neighborhood were intimidated by the local rats, she stated.

“We believe that rats are worse today than they have ever were,” stated Brown. He attributed the explosion in their population to climate change. The rat inspection for the stadium site would take place the next day, he said. The city has planned frequent subsequent inspections of the site’s perimeter. He asked community members to call 311 report infestations.

Public Safety Report

Sergeant Architzel (PSA 105) reported on crime in both PSA 105 and 106. In PSA 105, there was one sexual assault. There was one aggravated assault and five robberies. There were a number of reports of stolen cars that may have been towed. There was one burglary and 10 thefts.

PSA 106 had four robberies and one aggravated assault. One car was stolen and there were 17 thefts.

Architzel promised commissioners that he would eliminate the city vehicles parking illegally on the 1100 block of Fourth Street SW and around the SW Library. He promised to ticket them if nothing else worked.

Architzel mentioned that his officers were working diligently to clear the food trucks blocking 14th Street SW near the Holocaust Museum. They block an entire lane during evening rush hour.

Public Art

A representative of W.C. Smith asked the commission for a letter of support for an application the company is submitting to the DC Arts Commission seeking funding to place a piece of public art at the intersection of H Street and New Jersey Avenue SE. Commissioner Lightman objected to a private company employing public funds to pay for the installation. It should be paid for by Smith and Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (The Riverfront BID), she stated.

The representative for Smith stated that the company was spending $300,000 on fixing the parcel including the creation of a new dog park. The Riverfront BID has pledged $100,000 for the improvement of the neighboring underpasses, she added. Commissioner Fascett stated that the BID would not agree to pay for the art installation.

The commission voted four to one in favor of sending a letter of support.

Miscellaneous Matters

The Commission voted to author a letter of support for the DC Bike Ride on May 22. Three commissioners voted in favor. Two voted against. Two abstained. A representative from police promise there would be no towing of resident cars on the 700 block of Seventh Street SW. Police officers supervising the intersection would make themselves available if the a resident needed to free a car blocked by the race.

Representatives of the DC Board of Elections demonstrated one of their new voting machines. Early voting in the Democratic Primary will begin on May 31 and continue until June 11. Precinct 131 will be moving to its new location at the Arthur Capper Community Center at 1005 Fifth St. SE. The election will be held on June 15.

The commission unanimously voted to send a letter to the council protesting that the $18 million allocated for the construction of a new Southwest Library is insufficient. A realistic figure would be $23 million, they stated. They authorized Chair Andy Litsky to testify on their behalf at the public hearing.

The Commission voted unanimously to:

  • approve the agenda and the March minutes;

  • approve an amended voluntary agreement with the Big Stick, 20 M St. SE, (There was a minor change in hours.) as well as the restaurant’s application for a liquor license renewal;

  • approve a voluntary agreement with Whaley’s, 301 Water St. SE, support the restaurant’s application for a  stipulated license for its May opening;

  • send a letter supporting the public space changes planned for 1277 First St. SE including bike parking, trash receptacles and the closure of an existing curb cut;

  • send a letter supporting the Hampton Inn’s, First St. SE, public space application for a sidewalk café that insists the hotel adhere to the 14-seat limit set out in its voluntary agreement.

ABC Chair Dr. Coral Farlee reported that Bardot may attempt to secure a manufacturing alcohol license despite the denial of its recent application. Commissioners requested to be kept informed.

Commissioner Cloyd announced that Jair Lynch had applied to increase the size of the penthouse for residential use at its building at Half and N Streets SE. This is being done as a matter or right. The company will be making a payment to the Housing Trust Fund as part of its application.

Representatives of the Wharf brief commissioners on new traffic patterns and their application to improve access to the Benneker Park Overlook at 10th Street SE. An open house was held. There are currently two designs under environmental review. They plan a public meeting for August 11.

Commissioner Hamilton commended Community Liaison Naomi Mitchell of Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen’s office for her untiring work for the Southwest community.

ANC 6D will meet next at 7 p.m. on May 9 at 1100 Fourth St. SW, Second Floor. For more information, visit www.anc6d.org.