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.

Working drawing showing restoration of Park View field house.

Working drawing showing restoration of Park View field house.

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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9 Comments on “Wishing Everyone a Prosperous, Happy 2016 — Some Priorities for the New Year”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I wish public safety was a priority for Brianne Nadeau. I see no leadership from her office on this issue yet it the top concern of myself and those I know. Efforts to engage her have been fruitless. Election can’t come soon enough.

  2. jcm Says:

    “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.”

    That’s an interesting description of a project which is going to destroy an existing park.

    • mbk Says:

      that site has never ever been a permanent park. It was always publicly stated that the park was an “interim” use until a suitable development partner was found. Its also a pretty lousy park. Using part of the space for development while keeping at least half of the space and truly designing a phenomenal park would be a could use. Better and more unique playground equipment (it looks like DPR just pulled some stuff out of storage), actual landscaping (think Yards Park or Canal Park, both designed by Nationally recognized landscpae architects) would truly create a real gem for the neighborhood..

      • jcm Says:

        I don’t care at all whether it was planned to be temporary or permanent. It’s a park, and it’s well used. I’d be happy to see it improved. I am not happy to see my council member and the head of ANC1A supporting a proposal to give it away to developer without having even seen the proposal, and without having done an RFP. And when that developer builds on the Georgia ave frontage and sticks a small playground in the back that isn’t visible from the street, the park will have been destroyed.

        Comparing what we’re going to get to Yards Park or Canal Park, both of which are bigger than the current Bruce Monroe Park is laughable.

    • K Says:

      “destroy an existing park” is somewhat inaccurate.

      It will hopefully better utilize the space which has been set as an ‘interim’ park. As mbk mentioned, the hope is that DPR will develop a quality park with a unique permanent feel that can be enjoyed by all. Plus it will be adding an additional park (current PM site) that will expand access to the entire community.

      • jcm Says:

        It’s literally accurate. There’s a park there now, which this plan will destroy. That’s the entirety of the concrete plans that have been presented. The rest is a bunch of unrealistic, hand wavy promises.

        As far as the interim/temporary nature of the BM park goes, that plan was put in place by Fenty. I can’t think of any reason that the plans of a one-term mayor who was voted out of office five years ago have to be treated as if they were the word of god, but if that’s the case, the the BM park should be redeveloped as a school, which is what Fenty’s promise actually was.

        I get why people in most of 1A and Park View would support this plan. You get to keep your neighborhood school and rec center, get rid of your terrible housing project, add a second neighborhood park, and preserve the defunct car lot for a future civic plaza. I don’t understand why Nadeau supports it, since she’s supposed to be looking out for the good of the whole ward, and this plan (such as it is)much worse for Ward 1 than the previous plan was. And I think it’s a shame that 1B doesn’t give a shit about anything that happens this far north and east.

        Speaking of public sentiment, I’d love to see the results of the BM survey ANC1A conducted. My understanding is that Howard finished the results at the end of November. A month later and I’m sure Kent has seen them. Why haven’t they been released?

      • Jim Slicio Says:

        jcm speaks the truth. We moved into the are knowing that from a the rubble of a demo’d school, broken promises, and community opposition to a parking lot came what we call a community park. Although it would be better if DPR cared for it a little, the existence of a lousy park is better than a quagmire construction site. Better than 6, 8, or 10 story buildings changing the architectural composition of the neighborhood to a degree incomparable to a few flipped houses on a block or even those feared pop-ups. It is better than forcing more people into an area with an already stained infrastructure (looking at you Pepco and DOT) before there is concrete plan how to deal with that added pressure.

        Our voices in opposition to the park have little weight in these proceedings. It is evident from what Kent wrote above that he sees any opposition to developing the park as “critics of Park Morton redevelopment.” Development is not something that happens overnight and requires buy-in from the community as a whole. I think this hasn’t happened because long-term residents of War 1 think we haven’t lived here long enough and as a result many of our arguments get misconstrued as racist or NIMBY. Our questions never get responses and as a result I think it is unwise that people are willing to talking about what size, shape, density the buildings should have prior to having all of the information.

        No impact studies pertaining to any type of construction on this site have been made public. It would be nice to know what impact 250 units will have on the dated infrastructure will have prior to talking about what type of balcony a building should have.

  3. Irving Street Says:

    “Redeveloping Park Morton as a mixed income community without displacing current residents improves the quality of life for every resident in the neighborhood.”

    It certainly won’t improve the quality of life for those in the vicinity of BMP. Yes, we are being promised a park, but I would never take my children there. Two of the area parks that are in close proximity to housing projects have had recent shootings when children were present. I know not all low income people are criminals, but that doesn’t stop the crime element from flourishing in the projects. What are the the plans to prevent this? A mixed income community? Why would anyone pay market rate rent to live in a low income housing development?

    And I’m black, so please don’t chalk this up as racist talk.

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