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MPCA Minutes 3 April 2018

Michigan Park Citizens Association
April 4, 2018
Turkey Thicket Recreational Center

President David Conrad opened the meeting at 6:37 PM. Paul Wood led members in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ms. Beulah Sutherland read the treasurer’s report.

D.C. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. David reviewed ongoing MPCA responses to the draft D.C. Comprehensive Plan (CP). These actions included 1) a letter emphasizing the improvement of public open spaces, 2) endorsement of ANC 5B05 John Feeley’s comments and 3) co-signatory of a letter authorized by the Brookland Civic Association.  The D.C. Council is aware of the public’s scrutiny. Ms. Elizabeth McGowan attends meeting of the D.C. Federation of Citizens Association on behalf of Michigan Park Citizens Association. The CP is a constant topic at the Federation’s meetings.

 D.C. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS. Ms. Darlett Salley, Solid Waste Inspector, discussed solid waste disposal and made the following points.

1. The city is receiving many calls about trash and recycle receptacles left curbside for lengthy periods. Beginning in November, 2018, DC Public Works will enforce curbside and alley restrictions on receptacles. The hours allowed for display of trash and recyclables are 6:30 pm the day before scheduled pick-up and 8:00 pm the day of pick-up. Residents will receive a one time notification of violations and a $75.00 ticket for second violation.

2. Leaves are only picked up in season.  Outside of the Fall scheduled pick-ups, residents may call 311. In both cases, leaves should be left in the tree boxes or stored in approved leaf bags curbside. Leaves are not collected from the alleys.

3. Bulk Pickups. Residents may call 311 to schedule a bulk pick-up for no more than seven items.

4. Complaints. Should trash or recyclables not be picked up during their scheduled time, residents should call 311 and report it to 202-576-9004. Ask for Mr. Earl Simpson or Administrator David Harrison.

5. Hardship Collection. Elderly residents may apply for their trash and recycling containers to be picked up from their property, to alleviate them bringing the containers to the curb or alley.

6. Electronic Disposal. Beginning January 1, 2018, all electronics will be banned from the trash. They may be dropped off at the Fort Totten Transfer Station the first Monday of every month.

WARD 5 COUNCILMEMBER MCDUFFIE.  Mr. Kenyan McDuffie visited the association. The D.C. budget process has begun. The budget is 14.5 billion dollars, of which 7.8 billion is raised locally. The reminder is received from the Federal Government. The budget is one of the council members top three priorities, the other two being affordability and development. I response to members’ questions.

1. The D.C. Zoning Board is separate from the Comprehensive Plan, and the council may not pass legislation guiding the board, which is included in the Congressional Charter. The CP does inform the Zoning Commission.

2. The council member is pursuing legislation called the District Opportunity to Purchase Act (DOPA). This would allow the city first rights to purchase land for the city’s benefit, i.e. open spaces.

3. The council member will look into the loss of the $3,000 Senior Citizen deduction.

4. The council member committed himself to assist the association procure water access at the neighborhood triangle park, 12th/Michigan/Shepherd.

The Nomination Committee was formed with members Paul Wood, Ralph  Bucksell, and Karen Bernola.

ANNUAL PARK CLEANUP. The annual park cleanup at 12th/Michigan/Shepherd is Saturday, 28 April 2018, at 9:00 am.

The meeting closed at 8:05 pm.

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Federation Resolution on Comp Plan

Michigan Park Citizens Association
Turkey Thicket Recreational Center
March 27, 2018

RESOLUTION on the proposed Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan DC Council Bill B22-663:

After an Assembly Meeting of the Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia on Feb. 27, 2018 the following Resolution was adopted by the Board of Directors based upon the discussion with the members:

Whereas in January 2018 the Office of Planning sent the District Council amendments to the Framework Element of the Comprehensive Plan, which were introduced as Bill B22-663; Whereas the Council has scheduled a March 20 hearing on these amendments;

Whereas The Plan, which has the force of law, should be clear, rather than filled with vague definitions and descriptions that are meaningless and can be interpreted as anything a developer wants the zoning commission to do;

Whereas The maps, including the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) remove the predictability that residents and purchasers need for their decision-making by calling zones “broad guidelines” “not intended to be strictly followed”; People making huge financial decisions should not be subject to such uncertainty;

Whereas the plan ignores affordable housing criteria that work, like using the DC AMI rather than the SMSA number which is twice as high, meaning that DC’s low income residents are effectively blocked out from affordable housing programs;

  • Relying on current affordable housing requirements for new development does not work; Inclusionary Zoning does not provide family units which are defined as    3 BRs by the industry; for example, there are 6000 units planned for Union Market, although 10% are supposedly affordable (using an artificially high AMI), only 10 (ten) units are 3 BRs – this does not provide family housing  IZ allows developers to decide what type of housing units they will build rather than requiring them to provide what we need.  When they build studios that means that singles with incomes up to $46,350 are eligible for the affordable housing (60%of AMI);
  • The large majority of the City is built to less density than the current zoning would allow, yet the new plan says the description for any block’s density is only general, and any block can be suitable for any other density; you could have a 10 story building next door to your row house;
  • The Plan expands the size of the “downtown” zoning area by 3 times, but exempts it from even our inadequate Inclusionary Zoning; this means more development is exempt from proving affordable housing  Zoning Commission expanded downtown during ZRR.  The new plan does not address affordable housing at all, let alone whether downtown should be exempt from IZ;
  • The plan allows the Zoning Commission to ignore it when it wants to; this violates the Home Rule Act which provides that Zoning Commission decisions be “not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan”. Allowing the Zoning Commission to ignore the Comp Plan would also overrule two recent Court of Appeals decisions which citizens won; developers are desperate to have these decisions overruled;

Whereas the proposed changes to the Comp Plan would encourage and facilitate displacement of current residents from their neighborhoods by allowing the current housing stock to be replaced with bigger and denser buildings and this could further decrease the amount of affordable housing as rent controlled buildings and other moderately priced housing residential buildings are torn down and redeveloped.

Therefore be it resolved that the Citizens Federation hereby requests that the DC Council postpone further consideration of the amendments to the Comprehensive Plan until the District residents have been given the opportunity to propose ones that will better protect them.

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MPCA Minutes March 2018

Michigan Park Citizens Association
March 6, 2018
Turkey Thicket Recreational Center

President David Conrad opened the meeting at 6:33 PM. Paul Wood led members in the Pledge of Allegiance.

D.C. BOARD OF ETHICS AND ACCOUNTABILITY.  Attorney Advisor Ashley Cooks of the D.C. Board of Ethics and Accountability (BEGA) spoke at length about the responsibilities of the organization. She was later joined by Attorney Brian Flowers, who also answered questions, and Traci L. Hughes, Director of Office of Open Government. Ms. Hughes spoke and answered questions separately.

BEGA comprises five members selected by the Mayor and approved by the Council who serve for a six year term.  BEGA includes the Office of Open Government and the Office of Government Ethics. They are comprised of two main efforts – the Office of Open Government and Office of Government Ethics.

The Office of Government Ethics has jurisdiction over all 33,000 District Government employees but is restricted to a five year statue of limitations. It may impose up to $5,000 per violation.  Violations are adjudicated in an open adversarial meeting, Many violations result in a negotiated result. The only D.C. ethics law which applies to Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANCs) relates to conflicts of interest. BEGA is also responsible for Financial Disclosure Filings and Lobbyist Registration and Activity Reports. BEGA published an Ethics Manual and an Annual Best Practices Report.

Ms. Hughes described a recent example of the work of the Office of Open Government. It forced the release of audio recordings of a December 13, 2017 closed-door meeting of the United Medical Center’s board to shut down its obstetrics unit.  The D.C. Office for Open Government ruled that the closed-door meeting was a violation of the Open Meetings Act and forced the board to make its recording public.

TREASURER’S REPORT. Ms. Beulah Sutherland read the treasurer’s report.

D.C. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. The Comprehensive Plan is published by the Office of Zoning and the Zoning Commission. It guides decisions on zoning proposals. Ms. Elizabeth McGowan, MPCA Delegate to the D.C. Federation of Citizens Association, described recent efforts of the Federation to address the proposed changes in the comprehensive plan.  Ms. McGowan provided both a link to the draft plan and documents relating Federation concerns to the MPCA Secretary for posting on the MPCA website, www.michgianparkdc.org. She also noted an opportunity for residents to testify in person or in writing at an at-large forum on April 11, 2018.

Neighbors raised various concerns related to development. The proposed comprehensive plan eliminates the current requirement for the city to place “great emphasis” on input from ANCs.  The city relies on traffic studies commissioned by developers for development decisions.

The hearing for people to testify on the comp plan is Tuesday, March 20 at 2pm at the John Wilson Building/Room 500  (per the PDF I sent you regarding how to testify…via email, in person and who to call to get on the list); testifiers can call (202) 724-7130 to get on the list or email cow@dccouncil.us

The Federation has organized a forum for at-large council candidates for April 14th, details following:

The Citizens Federation is holding an At-Large Candidates and Chairman’s Forum on Saturday, April 14, 2018 in the Masonic Temple Ballroom, 1000 U Street NW. Doors will open at 10:00 am with the forum starting at 11:00 am. The building is located next to a metro. This is a totally member driven event.  Panelist will be chosen from member organizations and we want them to ask the questions that are important to you and your communities. Please send your questions to president@dccitizensfederation.org and spread the word in your associations and communities that your questions are welcomed.

The meeting ended just after 8 PM.

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Comprehensive Plan – Draft

Please see the following link to the Comprehensive Plan Framework Element (Draft), which you may cut and past into your browser.

https://plandc.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/Comprehensiveplan/direcletter.pdf

Two additional documents are attached outlines various concerns.

Comp Plan Fact Sheet Short 01-30-2018

Comp Plan C100 Fact Sheet 02-05-18

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MPCA Minutes February 2018

Michigan Park Citizens Association
February 6, 2018
Turkey Thicket Recreational Center

President David Conrad opened the meeting at 6:38 PM. Paul Wood led members in the Pledge of Allegiance.

PROVIDENCE HOSPITAL  Ms. Ruth Pollard, Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Providence Hospital, spoke about recent and planned changes at Providence Hospital, the longest operating hospital in D.C. Over the last two years Providence Hospital had major financial losses of more than 30 million dollars.  Recently, Providence closed its maternity ward and its extended stay residential mental health services.  Both of these services were major sources of loss as they required 24/7 services of specialists and staff for a relatively small number of patients.  For example, the hospital had a small 5 bed neonatal unit that required the same staffing requirements as Children’s Hospital.  Therefore, it made no sense for Providence to maintain its small unit when one of the country’s best children’s hospital was just a mile away.

Providence Hospital will refocus its services to being a wellness center with doctors and offices located at Providence who will send their patients for tests using the hospital’s equipment.  The hospital also hope to provide outpatient clinics that will help their doctor’s patients make the changes that will improve their health. 

The hospital will have in/out surgeries and will have beds available for those patients needing overnight monitoring.  However, the hospital will no longer have an emergency room but will become an acute care center seeing patients with non life-threatening emergencies. As with the patients having in/out surgeries, the hospital will have beds for these patients who may need additional monitoring after coming in as acute care patients. Patients coming to the hospital needing emergency room services will be stabilized and sent to another hospital for appropriate care.

TREASURER’S REPORT. Treasurer Beulah Sutherland read the treasurer’s report.  Membership fees of $10 is for the calendar year.

TRAFFIC. Much discussion focused on the newly renovated intersection at 10th and Michigan Avenue. The mixture of buses, commuter vans, illegal turns and pedestrians is dangerous. Mr. Ralph Bucksell noted that some photos of the situation may elicit attention from DDOT to this problem intersection. Kelley Cislo, Constituent Services for Council Member McDuffie can assist.

President Conrad envisions more collaboration with the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations (Michigan Park Citizens Association is a member of the D.C. Federation of Citizens Association).

Ms. Marita Riddick, representative to Council Member Kenyan R. McDuffie, discussed neighborhood issues and answer questions. Much discussion was focused on the need to attend public meetings despite demands on one’s time during the work day.

Mr. Lionel Gaines, representative to Mayor Muriel Bowser passed out literature and answered neighbor’s questions about the Mayor’s efforts to reduce homelessness. Residents noted that they would like to see more of the Mayor’s accomplishments to reduce homelessness reflected in the distributed literature.

Reducing homelessness is a major priority of the current city’s administration, and more details would be welcome.

The meeting ended at 08:10 PM.

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MPCA Minutes November 2017

Michigan Park Citizens Association
November 7, 2017
Turkey Thicket Recreational Center

President David Conrad opened the meeting at 7:42 PM with the pledge of allegiance.

Mr. Don Looney provided updates from the Federation of Citizens Association. The Federation will host a special meeting on November 15, 2017 to address the proposed comprehensive plan. Several knowledgeable citizen activists will speak.

Mr. Scott Einberger, Park Service employee and author of A History of Rock Creek Park: Wilderness and Washington D.C., 2014. spoke about the Fort Bunker Hill park and the circle parks in the district.  Mr. Einberger’s description of the Bunker Hill recalled to the minds of many residents the activities once held there. Catholic University’s theater group held plays in the park during the summer, and the top of the park was a favored picnic area.

Mr. Ralph Bucksell spoke about the growing concerns of the damage to homes from heavy truck traffic. He noted that the 12th Street neighbors between Michigan Avenue and Shepherd hired a structural engineer to assess the impact of truck traffic on their homes. The engineer determined that trucks in excess of 1 1/4 tons are causing structural damage to the homes as they pass along 12th Street. 12th Street is not constructed for heavy vehicular traffic. Michigan Avenue and South Dakota are class A roads. South Dakota and Gallatin Streets are class B road. South Dakota, specifically, has a few feet of poured concrete which allows heavy trucks to pass over without causing damage to nearby structure.  Planned construction in the neighborhood will necessarily require heavy truck traffic along 12th and 13th Streets, among others, and may damage current structures at the expense of building new structures.

Members discussed the traffic congestion on Shepherd Street caused by parents driving their children to Brookland Middle School. Mr. Steve Lowe suggested that school staff be posted outside of the school to regulate the drop-off and pick-up of students by their parents. However, the members acknowledged the desire of many parents to see their kids enter the building before departing to ensure their safety

Ms Marita Riddick made several announcements on behalf of Councilmember McDuffie. Mr. McDuffie’s staff releases a monthly one sheet leaflet with calendar events in 5th District.

President Conrad led members in a review the MPCA’s handling of the proposed EYA development of the Saint Joseph’s Property. Several strengths and failures of the Association’s efforts were raised. On the plus side, MPCA gained a voice in the Comprehensive Plan and proposals for zoning.

Strengths:
– Gained a voice in the comprehension plan
– Effectively engaged ANC John Feeley
– Fostered reasonable conversation
– Identified alternative to development through purchase of property by city for use as a park

Weaknesses:
– Tone and tenor of public conversation sometimes became acrimonious
– Failed to coordinate with adjacent civic organizations, must create a coalition
– The developer (EYA) took MPCA’s opening position as our final position

 

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Michigan Park Weather Station

The term “Weather Underground” has taken a new meaning with the establishment of a weather monitoring system involving contributions by individuals who have been certified  with the appropriate instruments. One such contributor resides in Michigan Park. See current and past neighborhood weather data collected by “Michigan Park KDCWASHI194″ at the following URL

https://www.wunderground.com/personal-weather-station/dashboard?ID=KDCWASHI194&cm_ven=localwx_pwsdash#history

 

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From Forts to Forest: The Parks of Michigan Park

Article by Scott Einberger.

Out west, public lands come in massive size. The large state of Nevada, for instance, is mostly public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. In Michigan Park, public lands come in much smaller size. Nevertheless, they have significant stories. The neighborhood’s public lands include the square, city block-sized Fort Bunker Hill Park as well as the narrow green strip between Eastern Avenue NE and the Maryland boundary.

What is now known as Fort Bunker Hill Park was once an earthen fortress, built in the early years of the Civil War in order to defend Washington, DC from a Confederate attack. While the small, hilltop fort never saw action, it is safe to assume that many of its troops hotfooted it a couple of miles north to assist fellow soldiers during the Battle of Fort Stevens in July of 1864. Indeed, “Johnny Rebel” entered the District of Columbia, skirmishing and causing casualties during the Battle of Fort Stevens. After the war though, the majority of DC’s dozens of Civil War defenses were decommissioned, their materials going up for public auction, the land going fallow in most cases.

Figure One: Civil War Defenses of Washington, circa 1863. While many of the forts have been lost over the years, Fort Bunker Hill remains as a small park. Civil War Trust Photo.

Before, during, and directly after the Civil War, there was an increase in urban pollution nationwide. To combat this, certain landscape architects and public officials began calling for and designing parks. These parks were away from the city yet in the city. New York City’s Central Park was established in the 1850s and DC’s very own Rock Creek Park was established in 1890. In this same decade, in the beginning of what became known as the City Beautiful movement, some District leaders began calling for a scenic fort-to-fort drive that would link the national capital’s ring of forts together from the Palisades neighborhood clear over to the Anacostia River’s terminus into the Potomac. As such, over the next several decades, as much as appropriations allowed, Uncle Sam began buying back the fort properties as well as narrow corridors in between them.

Some of the historic forts were enhanced during the Great Depression. FDR’s New Deal programs brought some relief to millions of unemployed citizens, and the Civilian Conservation Corps actually formalized Fort Bunker Hill into a park in the 1930s. They planted trees and flowers, laid out a system of trails, created picnicking grounds on the park’s highest promenade, installed water fountains, and perhaps most significantly, created a 250-seat outdoor amphitheater.[i]

Indeed, from the late 1930s to the late 1970s, Fort Bunker Hill Park was utilized during the summer seasons as a concert and theatrical venue. National Park Service rangers regularly conducted nature programs and youth camps in the park, while Catholic University’s drama department regularly performed plays. The music group Earth Wind and Fire, created in the early 1970s, also performed at the park.[ii]

Figure Two: Fort Bunker Hill Park amphitheater, circa 1960. The 250-seat amphitheater was a popular spot for ranger-naturalist programs and drama performances put on by Catholic University. National Park Service Photo.

As a child, Ralph Bucksell, a lifelong resident of Michigan Park, remembers attending summer camps at the park in the 1950s. “The majority of DC was segregated at the time, but the camps were integrated,” he notes. When segregation finally ended, Bucksell remembers the feeling of anger with certain businesses in the neighborhood that had excluded him due to his black skin tone. However, the small Fort Bunker Hill Park has remained a happy memory for him to this day.[iii]

While the park was thriving, the Fort Circle Drive plan ultimately faltered. Over-eagerly perhaps, the Washington Post wrote in 1937 that only one more mile was needed and the city would have a drive linking the forts that would be “one of the nation’s most scenic and historic.”[iv] But essentially only a couple miles of the road were ever built. Perhaps part of the Fort Circle Drive failure was due to the larger capital beltway construction.

Removing the roadway from its plans, in 1968, the National Park Service, as the caretakers of the properties, proposed for and began planning a 24-mile paved multi-use trail. A small section in Rock Creek Park paralleling Military Road was actually built as part of this plan. Unfortunately for bicycle lovers today however, just like the Fort Circle Drive, a Fort Circle Trail ringing around the capital was never really built.[v]

To this day, the green spaces that were initially purchased for the Fort Circle Drive remain partially forested and partially grass fields that seem to go largely unutilized. Should playgrounds be interspersed in these public spaces to invite more recreation? Should hundreds of additional trees be planted to create an open forest in order to beautify the areas and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? Should a trail of sorts be constructed? Should the landscape be left as is? I’ve heard friends and bloggers propose some of these ideas.[1]

Regarding Bunker Hill Park, the amphitheater and programming days are long gone. According to one local resident, the day the drama department pulled out of the park in the late 1970s, the park began a “long, slow process of deterioration.”[vi] With National Park Service staffing levels and appropriations decreasing, the decline perhaps continues to this day. Indeed, while mature trees now stand sentinel over the square park, invasive plant groundcover rules supreme in the understory, especially English ivy. Two dilapidating streetlights, water fountain remains, an earthen stage and a couple of stone steps leading up to it are remnants of Fort Bunker Hill Park’s heyday.

Figure Three: Civil War memorial stone in the park with both native and invasive plants behind. Such is the nature of the park today. Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association Photo.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. A small, resilient family of white-tailed deer now actually live in this formal park-turned somewhat wild nature park. And a Student Conservation Association crew removed some invasive plants and improved trail conditions in the park a few summers ago.[vii]

Scott Einberger is an environmental historian, author, and former U.S. National Park Service interpretive park ranger. Learn more at www.publiclandslover.weebly.com.

 

[i] Lisa Pfueller Davidson and James A. Jacobs, Civilian Conservation Corps Activities in the National Capital Region of the National Park Service Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS DC-858) (Washington, DC: National Park Service, n.d.), 39, 41, 96-97; Brent McKee, “Fort Bunker Hill Park: Washington, DC,” Living New Deal, May 24, 2013, www.livingnewdeal.org.

[ii] National Park Service, Rapid Ethnographic Assessment of Park Users and Neighbors, Civil War Defenses of Washington (Washington, DC: Juarez and Associates, Inc., 1997), Rock Creek Park Interpretive Resource Files, 153.

[iii] Interview with Author, November 7, 2017.

[iv] October 10, 1937. Washington Post Online Archives.

[v] See “The Fort Park System,” Chapter 3, in National Park Service, A Historic Resource Study: The Civil War Defenses of Washington, Part II;“Big Idea Intro and Fort Circle Parks,” CapitalSpace, http://docs.google.com/a/nps.gov.

[vi] Rapid Ethnographic Assessment.

[vii]  See photos at “SCA DC & Baltimore” Facebook page.

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Providence Health Village

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