Community Park Morton Redevelopment Meeting Well Attended

Neighbors filling in the gymnasium of the school auditorium.

Neighbors beginning to fill in the gymnasium of the school auditorium.

Last night’s community meeting focused on the redevelopment of Park Morton was well attended, with community members overflowing the gymnasium at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school. The meeting was set up into two parts. The first was an introduction by New Communities Director Angie Rodgers, who spent about 45 minutes bringing everyone up to date on the history and events leading up to the present discussions centered on redeveloping the Park Morton community. Some of the details were a refresher to those that have already attended previous meetings, but Rodgers stated that it was important for everyone to have the same information.

Among the details that were shared were the New Communities commitment to 1:1 replacement housing for Park Morton, the right of Park Morton residents to return and stay in their community, the commitment to creating a mixed income community, and the importance of building replacement housing first.

While there were outbursts from some residents from time to time, these were at a minimum and largely occurred when Rodgers was giving an overview on the history and selection of the former Bruce Monroe school site as the build first site. The history included the razing of the school, the city’s longstanding intent to develop the site, and the creation of the temporary park. There was also a brief outline of the commitment to achieve multiple community goals on the site and the entire redevelopment project, have a mix of retail, housing, and park space, and a commitment to develop the park space first so that the community would not be without a park during the entire process.

After the introduction, attendees engaged in a series of break out groups. There were eight groups in the gymnasium, and due to the number of engaged neighbors attending the event, two additional groups were formed and organized in the school’s auditorium. Each group focused on three questions — these being 1) What do you like about your neighborhood?, 2) What would you like to see in the future?, and 3) What is your biggest concern or area you’d like to focus on?

After each group discussed these questions, they reported out to the entire assembly. Several central themes emerged.

What do you like about your community?

Many of the groups reported that they liked the walkability of the neighborhood, its access to public transportation, its residential character while being close to other parts of the city, and its diversity of race, income, culture, and age. Other qualities that were mentioned were the neighborhood’s history and that the neighbors looked out for each other.

What would you like to see in the future?

Cleaner streets, lower crime, better schools, and improved parks were mentioned in response to this question, as were fewer vacant or blighted buildings and an increase in small businesses along Georgia Avenue.

What is your biggest concern or area you’d like to focus on?

It was not surprising that some of the concerns focused on a desire to see the development proposals that DMPED had received for the redevelopment of Park Morton, or that some residents continue to be concerned about the future of the temporary park at Georgia and Irving. There continued to be concerns related to the community engagement for the redevelopment process and some continued to advocate for the inclusion or use of different vacant parcels along Georgia Avenue. Residents of Park Morton expressed concerns with displacement or the possibility of having to move multiple times rather than once. There was also a concern voiced by some that there isn’t a more detailed plan to review.

The meeting ended with more questions than answers, though Director Rodgers stated that the goal of the meeting was to listen to the community and gather questions to be answered in future community meetings. To that end, she stated that the next community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 1st, at 6:30 pm and will be held at the school. There is also a community meeting scheduled for Saturday, December 12th, beginning at 10 am and also to be held at the school. The next Steering Committee meeting is scheduled for December 1oth and will be held at the Park View Rec Center.

Lastly, it was announced that a new Web site has been set up where neighbors can stay up to date on upcoming meetings and meeting minutes, which is and where more official notes from these meetings will eventually be posted.

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24 Comments on “Community Park Morton Redevelopment Meeting Well Attended”

  1. Curious George Says:

    Cleaner streets! Yes yes yes! Could the city employ some of the homeless to pick up trash? Park View (esp. Georga Ave) is always so covered in trash. Would be a great thing if we could employ some people to pick it up. (Would be even better if the culture of littering could end in the first place!)

  2. jcm Says:

    I’m going to keep attending these meetings, but I think they are a farce. It’s clear to me that they’ve decided what they are building, and that they aren’t interested in community input.

    Why haven’t they shown us a proposed site plan for Brucxe Monroe? Why haven’t they shown us the RFP responses at all, or the alternate build first sites? I think the answer is that they’re trying to steamroll us.

  3. cj Says:

    “the right of Park Morton residents to return and stay in their community”

    I did not know people had a RIGHT to live wherever they wanted.

    We should stop with the “affordable housing” narrative. If you cannot afford to live in Park View you should look into other options.

    • lmcniesh Says:

      From what I heard last night, the vast majority of community members DO think our neighbors in Park Morton have the right to remain in the community rather than being forced out. However, agreement on that fundamental right doesn’t mean we don’t also deserve a park.

      • K Says:

        What I heard last night was that there will be two parks as an outcome of this project:

        1. At the Bruce Monroe site, half of the current size, reconfigured to not lose any current amenities

        2. A new one weaved into the new development at the current Park Morton site

      • cj Says:

        To Imcniesh:

        Unless you own the property (eminent domain being an exception), you have no “fundamental right” to live wherever you want. It does not matter if the “vast majority” (anecdotal at best) of the people who attended the community meeting agree that it should be a right. That is not how fundamental rights in this country work. If you would like to change that I wish you good luck.

        As far as being “forced out,” look at the paragraph above. If you rent, you have no right to stay in a property forever.

        If all these facts bother you, you may want to reconsider whether living in the United States is the right option for you.

        Best wishes and good luck.

  4. TW Says:

    One HUGE recurring theme/concern you missed was density of buildings and people, and the affect on parking!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Did Councilmember Nadeau bother to show up? All of these issues could be addressed by her office yet she has done little to LEAD on anything effecting the community. fed up.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Definitely not leading – she seems to be somewhat surprised by the questions and opposition to the plan for Bruce Monroe. It’s as if she sincerely believes that affordable housing is the only concern that the residents of Ward 1 are concerned about and she hopes that we will all come around once we hear her reasoning and recitation of the ills of public housing in the United States.

    • jcm Says:

      Yes, she was there. We were broken into groups, and she didn’t speak to the whole gathering. No idea what she said within her group, since I was in a different one.

      If you have strong feelings about the issue you ought to come to the meetings.

      • Anonymous Says:

        I come to as many meetings as I can. Theoretically, we elect leaders to represent us on such matter. However, when you have leaders who don’t lead or solely focus on one issue; the community is forced to fill the leadership vacuum. Graham was corrupt so I voted for Nadeua. I sure as heck won’t be voting for her again! She is clueless. Ditch the social theories that look good in books and get out and talk to your constituents. Crime is the top concern!

  6. Derek Says:

    I was at the meeting and I thought the meeting itself was well run. Credit to the city for providing a way for everyone to participate and not descend into a shouting match.

    I was, however, a little disappointed in how many people from near Bruce Monroe park simply raised objections to building in that spot, or requested more studies and more delays. I was also frustrated at how many neighborhood residents spoke on behalf of their “break-out groups” and did not encourage the many Park Morton residents to be heard.

    This, sadly, also came across as a racial division, since many of the neighborhood residents are white, and most, if not all, Park Morton residents are people of color. (I say this as a white neighborhood resident.)

    I would encourage anyone who goes to these meetings to remember 3 things:

    1) This affects the residents of Park Morton far more than anyone else;

    2) Due to the nature of public housing, most of the Park Morton residents don’t have the privilege and education that many neighborhood residents have, and so those of us who have those advantages should make every effort to listen to and empower those residents to be heard;

    3) Finally, this process has now been going on for 8 – yes, 8! – years, so while the current proposal may not be ideal to everyone and the process has been troublesome (to say the least!), something needs to happen and we need to look at what’s best for the whole community, not just what’s best for the area that is currently Bruce Monroe park.

    • Lesley Says:

      This is buying hook, line, and sinker the official story, but it is our responsibility as citizens to hold officials accountable. And I have to say the way that this refers to Park Morton residents strikes me as a little condescending. While I certainly think we have a responsibility to all our neighbors and all of us need to act in good faith and not promote unnecessary delays, the Park Morton residents I’ve talked to are more savvy that most other neighbors about being cautious regarding what city officials say. Many Park Morton residents said they valued the park last night. You’re trusting what officials say who have an interest in the easy way out, not community members.

      I think we’re seeing such an outpouring from the community because people are rejecting this either/or mentality. As a community, we deserve public housing and public parks.

      I don’t think the meeting last night did anything to restore public trust. It was well run if the developer’s goal is to be able to say later they allowed public input, without having to answer hard questions or get into specifics. The fact that it seems like all of the break-out groups were facilitated by the developers was a clear conflict of interest.

    • jcm Says:

      I guess you can see racial divisions if you want, but my group had a whole lot of black folks who have serious concerns about this plan. Seems to me the real division is between people who live near and value the park, and people who don’t. And that doesn’t break neatly along racial or economic lines. Go down to the park, take a look around, and see who’s using it.

      The fact that New Communities has proven unable to develop anything at all, anywhere in the city, isn’t a reason to destroy a community amenity to try to hurry. It’s a good reason to take a hard look at New Communities and their flawed methodology.

    • Jim Slicio Says:

      Although I understand the need to listen to folks from Park Morton, they are not the only residents of our neighborhood whose lives will change as a result of developing Bruce Monroe Community Park. One person’s vote should not carry any more weight than anyone else’s in our community. We live in a democracy. We are not in Animal Farm and we should not abide by the ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS mantra the government feeds to sheep like Derek to promote.

      • Derek Says:

        Come on, do we need name-calling? Some people will be more affected than others in this development. Let’s be good citizens and think about who will be most impacted, not how we each can get our own.

    • OnIrving Says:

      I don’t see how one could come to the conclusion that the proposed development of Bruce Monroe park affects Park Morton more than anyone else. I would argue that those who live in close proximity to the park, myself included, are the most affected, and adversely. We did not buy our homes with the knowledge that a “housing project” would be built across the street or right up the street from us. This will affect our home values regardless of how well the project is designed. On the other hand, the Park Morton residents are getting brand new homes, and those that live in close proximity to Park Morton will see an improvement in their home values with the development.

      So, some will win and some will lose.

  7. Derek Says:

    My 2 points are:

    1) This is a community development project (not just a development of Bruce Monroe Park) and I’d encourage everyone to look at what’s best for the community as a whole, not just what you individually would prefer. Opposition to the existing plan means certain delay; if you feel that’s worthwhile, that’s up to you, but don’t pretend that this won’t have real impact on other people’s lives. There is no magic wand here.

    2) Some of the least politically powerful people will be the ones most impacted by these decisions. This does not mean that those with more political access/education should speak for them (which, like it or not, did happen at the meeting); it means we should be listening to them and helping to make their voices heard.

    I’m really just encouraging everyone to think before they speak, and think about how what they want may have adverse impacts and might impact their neighbors’ lives.

    And finally, if we demand perfection or nothing from the DC government, I think we all know what we’ll get; so consider getting on board with good enough.

    • OnIrving Says:

      To me, the only solution in which there would be no losers would be to develop Park Morton in the current location only. I’m sure the city could get creative and figure out some temporary housing for the Park Morton residents while the development takes place. It doesn’t even seem like the residents would have to all be moved as the development could be done in phases. I agree that the development is absolutely needed, but not at the expense of homeowners who have paid a significant amount for their homes. And, we homeowners have a right to be selfish.

      • K Says:

        That won’t happen with the “build first” premise under the New Communities Initiative so there will need to compromise in the neighborhood. All new homeowners in the area have paid significant amounts for their homes, not just you who are near Bruce Monroe

  8. raninicole Says:

    Those that bought near Park Morton, bought with the knowledge that they were buying next to a housing project, and I suspect the housing prices reflected that. Those who bought near Bruce Monroe did not have this knowledge. I, for one, would never have purchased a home right next to Park Morton. I just hope the new development doesn’t end up as Park Morton II.

  9. […] As exciting and important as this is, it got off to a somewhat tenuous start. Despite the large turnout for the November 16th community meeting, only about 50 community members attended last night’s […]

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