Wishing Everyone a Prosperous, Happy 2016 — Some Priorities for the New Year
With the start of a new year, its a time to both reflect on the past and prepare for the future. In doing so, I feel focused on where my energies will be concentrated over the coming year — and that is with Quality of Life issues. To me, everyone deserves to live in a safe, prosperous, and beautiful community. What that means may be slightly different from community to community, but overall I think there are more threads in common than those that differ.
Public Safety: While I don’t write much about public safety, it is actually among my top concerns. There are many ways to achieve safe communities, and while much of my most public work is intended to do this (in part) in the long run, the work I do behind the scenes often has more of an impact in the here and now. Safe communities are created and maintained by engaged residents. Knowing and building relationships with the police officers in our area, attending Police Service Area meetings when they are scheduled, and keeping MPD informed are critical. There have been many occasions when I’ve had to reach out to both MPD and DCRA based on information that has come to me so that vacant properties could be secured to prevent illegal activity. I will continue to do this in the new year.
Trees: Park View actually has a large tree desert in the center of the neighborhood. I’ve been working on solving this problem for a long time. Aside from restoring the tree canopy and beautifying the community, trees also make blocks more enjoyable to walk in the summer — and blocks with a lot of activity also tend to be safer as there are more eyes on the street. On December 4th, I joined Casey Trees on a walk through of much of the neighborhood. Beginning this month, I’ll be reengaging with Casey Trees to develop a strategy to tree-up the community. Stay tuned for more posts about this as we solidify a strategy.
DDOT, Parking, Bike Lanes: DDOT is in the final stages of their East-West traffic study (expect public engagement meetings in the coming months). The primary routes through the neighborhood in the study area are Harvard Street, Columbia Road, Irving Street, and Kenyon Street … and north/south roads that feed into them. I’ve already begun a dialogue with DDOT regarding some of the longstanding problems we have with traffic in Park View, including the need to address speeding on Park Place and ideas for improved and dedicated bike lanes. I also plan to dig deeper in the parking issues related to the Georgia Ave. Metro station.
Park View Rec Center: Continuing improvements of the Park View Rec Center is high on my list right now. Thus far, we’ve improve the fields and have just completed the restoration of the field house 2 1/2 years after I successfully advocated for funding. I believe there are still opportunities for improvement at the center and have begun those conversations. Figuring out long-term programming of the rec center is important, especially as the neighborhood considers planning and designing new permanent park space in the community.
Redeveloping Park Morton: This is the single most important issue before the community this year. While there are critics of the current efforts to redevelop Park Morton, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t support the proposal as it is very similar to a plan I first proposed in November 2013 — a position I came to support after several meetings with Landex and an acute understanding of the challenges preventing the project from moving forward at that time.
Redeveloping Park Morton as a mixed income community without displacing current residents improves the quality of life for every resident in the neighborhood. This furthers the city’s commitment to housing affordablity all along the affordability spectrum. Replacing the current Park Morton development with buildings that are more connected to the overall community will improve public safety by eliminating streets and alleys that dead end. Also, the redevelopment has a strong commitment to creating community park space which will enhance and expand the recreation space that currently exists in the neighborhood. For the community to achieve the best results in this effort we need solid, dedicated community engagement.
DCRA/Preservation: Finding a balanced path forward for new development opportunities in a century old neighborhood is important to me — and important to many neighbors I’ve talked with over the years. I do not believe that everything old deserves to be preserved. Nor do I believe that everything old is necessarily disposable or obsolete. The truth of the matter is often somewhere in between. Ideally, new construction would weave into the fabric of the neighborhood and make the neighborhood better. I do believe we have seen some of this … but we have also experienced much that has negatively impacted the community. This is why there must be continued and steadfast engagement with DCRA, and those who have oversight over DCRA, to ensure that new development is correctly permitted, complies with zoning laws and building codes, is safe, and doesn’t damage neighboring property.
There are many, many other important issues beyond the few I’ve listed … and I am just as committed to working on each and every issue as it arises.
With this, I thank you all for your community engagement and wish you all the very best of New Years!
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