President Tom Lavash opened the meeting at 7:20 pm; 16 members attended.
At the meeting’s conclusion, Treasurer Beulah Sutherland provided an abbreviated Treasurer’s Report, noting that MPCA did not receive or spend any funds between August and October.
She noted that there is $0 in the Christmas Fund, and $7.33 in nominal contributions have been received for the Capital Area Food Bank. We will need to seek additional donations before the holidays, or reallocate funds from the General Fund, to ensure that we are able to sponsor a family from Bunker Hill School again this holiday season.
Ward 5 Councilmember Representative: Mr. Corey Griffin
The Chief of Staff to Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Mr. Corey Arnez Griffin, made an unannounced visit; given other community meetings on his schedule later that evening, he was provided an opportunity to open our November meeting with a summary of current initiatives.
WMATA Bus Barn
Mr. Griffin discussed the recent proposal by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) to construct a large bus parking/storage and maintenance/mechanics training facility (a “bus barn”) on approximately 19 acres of land alongside North Capitol Street on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (the “Soldiers Home”).
As illustrated in the preliminary concept plan below, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which owns the Soldiers Home, is seeking another real estate partner to build a mixed-use development on the site. (A previous attempt resulted in the selection of Charlotte, NC-based Crescent Resources in 2007; their approved plan included 1.4 million sq. ft. of office space, retail, a 125-room hotel and 2,500 residential units. However, the 2008-09 downturn led to Crescent’s withdrawal from the project).
The GSA is again seeking a development partner as a means of ensuring a reliable, long-term revenue stream to finance operations and maintenance of the Soldiers Home facilites.
The WMATA proposal would relocate the functions of two existing bus barns elsewhere in the city: from 14th Street NW in Petworth and from Western Avenue in Upper NW/Friendship Heights. There is significant pressure to redevelop these facilities, particularly the one located on Western Avenue, which would generate additional revenue for WMATA. If WMATA is allowed to build this facility on North Capitol Street, it would mean that two large bus maintenance and operations facilities would be located in Ward 5 (the other on Bladensburg Road NE).
Mr. Griffin noted that Ward 5 is already home to 75% of the city’s industrial uses. Given the preponderance of these, and other, noxious uses in Ward 5 (strip clubs, medical marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities, etc.), Councilmember McDuffie is adamantly opposed to the WMATA proposal. He has received support in opposition from both At-Large Councilmember Orange (a resident of Michigan Park) as well as At-Large Councilmember-elect David Grosso (a resident of Brookland). In addition, ANC 5B has passed a unanimous resolution in opposition to the proposal, and Councilmember McDuffie has asked that ANCs 5A and 5C also oppose the WMATA proposal.
Tom Lavash asked Mr. Griffin how MPCA could assist. Mr. Griffin responded that a letter in opposition would be appreciated. A motion was made, and passed unanimously, for the Michigan Park Citizens Association to oppose the WMATA facility. Tom Lavash will craft MPCA’s letter in opposition upon receipt of the Resolution.
IN OPPOSITION TO THE LOCATION OF WMATA BUSES AT THE ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT HOME
WHEREAS, the Armed Forces Retirement Home (the “Old Soldiers’ Home”) in Ward 5 was established in 1851 as an “asylum for old and disabled veterans”;
WHEREAS, the Old Soldiers’ Home is the site of four buildings listed as National Historic Landmarks; WHEREAS, two of the buildings at the Old Soldiers’ Home served as the summer White House for U.S. presidents Chester Arthur, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln;
WHEREAS, the Old Soldiers’ Home is on a verdant 272 acre campus of manicured landscaping;
WHEREAS, the Old Soldiers’ Home continues to serve as a retirement community for veterans of the armed forces;
WHEREAS, the administrator of the Old Soldiers’ Home is proposing to redevelop 77 acres of the campus;
WHEREAS, the administrator of the Old Soldiers’ Home is considering a proposal from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to relocate a bus parking facility, the Northern Bus Garage from 14th Street, NW, to a 16.5 acre parcel on the Old Soldiers’ Home campus;
WHEREAS, the administrator of the Old Soldiers’ Home is also considering a proposal from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to build a mechanics’ training facility on a 2.5 acre parcel on the Old Soldiers’ Home campus;
WHEREAS, Ward 5 is already the location of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority bus parking facility on Bladensburg Road, NE.
NOW THEREFORE, it is resolved that Advisory Neighborhood Commission ___, stands in opposition to: 1) the redevelopment of any portion of the Old Soldiers’ Home as a parking or training facility for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority vehicles; 2) the redevelopment of any portion of the Old Soldiers’ Home for industrial or light‐ industrial purposes, such as heavy equipment parking and storage; and 3) the redevelopment of any portion of the Old Soldiers’ Home for purposes that do not enhance and serve the local community.
And, further, we hereby urge the following action: 1) the administrator of the Old Soldiers’ Home to redevelop portions of the campus in a manner that is consistent with the integrity of the Old Soldiers’ Home and the surrounding neighborhood so as to enhance and serve the local community; 2) the administrator of the Old Soldiers’ Home to reject any proposal from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to construct a parking and training facility on its property; and 3) the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to find an alternative site, outside Ward 5, to host its Northern Bus Garage vehicles.
This Resolution was considered by ANC ___ at a duly noticed Advisory Neighborhood Commission ___ meeting in the presence of a quorum of Commissioners on November ___, 2012. The vote on the Resolution was _______________, and the Resolution was ________________.
Signed by ___________________________, Secretary, ANC ___ on November ____, 2012.
Retail Incentive Amendment Act of 2012
The Councilmember has introduced legislation known as the Retail Incentive Amendment Act of 2012. This bill, B19-0990, would designate Ward 5’s two “Great Streets”, North Capitol Street and Rhode Island Avenue NE, as “retail priority areas.” The City Council’s Committee on Economic Development & Housing recently held a public hearing on the act, which would provide funding for infrastructure improvements over an eight-year period. Mr. Griffin indicated that Mayor Gray will support the legislation.
Presuming that city funding is allocated, infrastructure improvements would be completed along North Capitol Street between New York and Rhode Island Avenues. Designated blocks on Rhode Island include 4th Street NE to Eastern Avenue NE.
While MPCA has not yet taken a position on this legislation, MPCA President Tom Lavash notes that this legislation would help to revitalize the Rhode Island and North Capitol corridors, which would have the overall positive effect of enhancing property values and marketability in nearby neighborhoods such as Brookland and Michigan Park.
Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Task Force Act of 2012
As noted previously, Ward 5 contains 75% of the city’s industrial land uses. As a result of numerous issues affecting this land use (e.g., uneven market demand, physical and functional obsolescence, significant economic pressures to redevelop, etc.), the City Council’s Committee on Libraries, Parks, Recreation & Planning hosted its first public hearing on November 15th on this legislation. According to the Councilmember’s office, the bill would establish the Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Task Force to develop a strategic plan for the modernization and adaptive reuse of industrial land throughout Ward 5. The Task Force, which would be convened and facilitated by Harriet Tregoning, the Director of the Office of Planning, would be required to submit a report to the Mayor and City Council by July 1, 2013.
Other Ward 5 Issues
The design of the proposed trolley barn for the H Street trolley line has been released for a site adjacent to Spingarn High School. A number of Ward 5 neighborhood groups are opposed to the facility being built in this location, and Mr. Griffin stated that the Kingman Park Civic Association has filed for historic preservation designation of the school.
Mr. Griffin noted that Councilmember McDuffie is working with the Ivy City neighborhood to oppose the construction of a “motor coach” parking lot at the historic Crummell School. As a result of the proposed construction of $7 billion in long-term “air rights” development behind Union Station (i.e., on a raised platform over the railroad tracks), tourist/visitor motor coaches that use the garage behind Union Station must be relocated. Mayor Gray’s office has negotiated a five-year lease with the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (the owners of Union Station) to locate this parking facility in Ivy City. Residents of the neighborhood are staunchly opposed, and have sued the city. A hearing was scheduled for November 19th.
Mr. Griffin also noted that the Councilmember is seeking to reinstate the temporary moratorium on both strip clubs and medical marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities in Ward 5. He also pointed out that temporary lighting has been installed along the path leading from the
Fort Totten Metro station, which necessitated working with Congresswoman Norton’s office, the National Park Service, WMATA, MPD and the U.S. Park Police.
Ward 5 School Board Member: Mr. Mark Jones
Both Mr. Griffin and Mr. Mark Jones, the Ward 5 School Board Member, addressed MPCA on the issue of school closings as proposed by DCPS and how they impact Ward 5 specifically. Overall, their perspective suggests that Ward 5 will fare relatively well as compared to other areas of the city, as only two schools are slated for closure. These include:
Thurgood Marshall Elementary School (in Fort Lincoln), which is severely under-enrolled. School Chancellor Henderson has assured Mr. Jones that this facility will remain in DCPS inventory, as the population in the Fort Lincoln neighborhood surrounding the school is growing, with the development of new townhouses.
Spingarn High School would be closed for modernization and re-opened in 2015 as a “transportation & technical training” facility.
Mr. Jones noted the reality that the city/DCPS cannot afford to keep schools open that are severely under-enrolled. Upon questioning from MPCA members, he noted that DCPS is expected to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to demolish the vacant and deteriorating Brookland Elementary School adjacent to Turkey Thicket Recreation Center and construct a new middle school on the site. Mr. Jones indicated that he would like the new facility to be an International Baccalaureate (IB) middle school.
MPCA Website: Mr. Seth Oldmixon
As noted in the October 2012 MPCA Newsletter, we have secured a domain name of www.michiganparkdc.org, Thanks to the significant efforts of MPCA member Seth Oldmixon (who moved to Michigan Park two years ago from Austin, TX) as well as contributions from several other residents, our website is now up and running!! This is a significant accomplishment for MPCA.
Seth spent time walking members through our new website, noting that it is a great way to market Michigan Park to prospective new residents and businesses; enhance avenues of communication; and allow members to voice opinions and seek assistance on a range of issues. The website has been designed to easily add content. Seth has paid for three years of hosting the domain name.
At the moment, the website’s homepage includes: MPCA’s monthly meeting schedule; the monthly newsletters (as well as archived newsletters); e-mail sign-ups; and, a MPCA boundary map. Members discussed adding other content, such as:
Photo Gallery of Michigan Park–as a means of illustrating/showcasing our neighborhood’s housing stock and wide variety of architectural styles; and neighborhood events, such as our Casey Trees tree planting projects and park clean-ups
Sponsor Search Advertising—with various real estate agencies (such as The Menkiti Group, Long & Foster, etc.) as well as existing and new businesses located in the area. This would be a way to introduce Michigan Park to people who aren’t familiar with our neighborhood.
Members discussed how best to maximize the value of our new website and ensure our understanding of how it works. We agreed that a “Technology Committee” comprised of three or so individuals be created to work with Seth on introductory training and to identify additional features and content to be added to the website.
Miscellaneous Notes & Announcements
Next MPCA Meeting Agenda:
To Be Announced
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Please make a donation toward the Michigan Park Garden Fund. The association is responsible for the upkeep of 2 Butterfly Gardens and one public space.
- The Michigan Park Citizens Association is also collecting monetary donations in order to provide Christmas gifts for a child or children at the Brookland Bunkerhill Educational Campus. If you are interested in making a donation please contact the Treasurer, Beulah Sutherland.
- Also please remember to invite someone to the Tuesday night Christmas Potluck. All are welcome.
- REMEMBER MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL WHICH IS DUE BY JANUARY 31ST FOR THE YEAR 2013.
HAVE A SAFE AND VERY HAPPY HOLIDAY, EVERYONE!!!