Posted tagged ‘Columbia Heights’

Community Discusses Future of 11th and Park Rd Dog Park

February 1, 2018

Commissioner Angelica Castañon getting the meeting started. Seated l. to r. John Henderson, Lori Robertson, and Eric Gronning.

Last night supporters of keeping the WMATA property as a permanent dog park met at Raymond Recreation Center to discuss recent news that Metro is considering selling the property and what that may mean for the community. The meeting was organized by newly elected ANC1A06 Commissioner Angelica Castañon. ANC1A Chair and Ward 1 Council candidate Kent Boese and ANC1A Secretary Zach Rybarczyk also attended.

Commissioner Castañon made opening remarks and introduced Councilmember Nadeau as the first speaker. Nadeau stated that she has been working with the residents and 11th and Bark to improve the site over the years, and that she met with the Mayor and has asked for funds to be included in the budget. She stated that she “wants to help, is helping” and has met with Councilmember and Metro Board member Jack Evans, who thinks that purchasing the property is doable. Nadeau was unable to stay for the entire meeting, but noted that John Hillegass from her office was in attendance and could answer any additional questions.

John Henderson of Green Spaces DC was the next to speak, gave an overview of what role Green Spaces DC plays in the community, and emphasized the importance of green spaces in Columbia Heights in particular. Using the boundaries of Spring Rd. (north), New Hampshire and Sherman aves. (east), Harvard (south), and 16th Street (west), Henderson noted the neighborhood only has 2.75 acres of green space, including the civic plaza. He also noted that the DPR master plan calls for 12.9 acres of green space per 1,000 people. This illustrated how important the dog park property is for the growing Columbia Heights community.

Patrick Flynn of Patrick’s Pet Care was the next speaker.  He related his experiences, beginning on 2010 when he moved to the neighborhood. As a former ANC1A Commissioner, he shared his efforts with Councilmember Jim Graham — who originally helped open the property to the community when he was on the WMATA Board — and the red tape and challenges that exist with WMATA’s ownership. He even offered to lease the property from WMATA for $5,000, which ultimately didn’t come to fruition.

Wrapping up the presentations were 11th and Bark Board Members Lori Robertson and Eric Gronning. They also shared their experiences with forming a non-profit and efforts to lease the property from WMATA. They began with DPR to see if the city could gain control and allow them to raise money for maintaining the property as a Park Partner, but this route closed when the Department of General Services balked as there was no precedent for the arrangement under consideration. They next focused on negotiating directly with WMATA, with discussion progressing to the point where drawings of what an official dog park would look like (see below).

(11th and Barks concept of what an improved dog park could look like.)

11th and Bark learned in December that WMATA was no longer interested in leasing the property, as they had an unsolicited offer to purchase the property. This is the event that lead to the current situation and meeting as residents are concerned about what this could mean for the community.

In a communication WMATA sent to Councilmember Nadeau and shared with ANC1A and 11th and Bark members just prior to the meeting, they had the following to say, in part:

When Metro receives an unsolicited offer for a property, it first determines if the offer is reasonable and also if the Authority has a long-term operating need for the property.  If there is no long-term operating need for the property and WMATA desires to sell the property, the next step is for Metro to send a letter of notification to the jurisdiction in which the property is located (in this case, the District of Columbia) to first give the local jurisdiction an opportunity to purchase the property at fair market value.  Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations require Metro to receive fair market value for any disposition of properties such as the one at 11th & Park.  If an offer is accepted by Metro, FTA must also concur with the disposition of the property.

During the community discussion following the overview presentation, Lori Robertson shared that they had met with Jack Evans in the past, and indicated that the property could be valued at $1M. Commissioner Boese shared that the property could be as much as $2M based on experts he had consulted — but that this shouldn’t be considered a lot of money when who looks at how much the District invests in other parks and green spaces in the District — especially if the 11th and Bark group is planning to take on the costs of improving and maintaining the site.

Boese also shared his advice on who the budget process works and the importance of testifying before the relevant Council budget oversight hearings. While it would be helpful to have funding identified in the Mayor’s budget, due to the nature of budget oversight hearings it will be important for the community to be involved and advocate for this cause regardless of whether funding is in the budget or not.

Boese and Castañon also plan to draft a resolution supporting the purchase of the property which will be considered at the February 14, 2018, meeting of ANC1A.

The meeting closed with an overview on the ways neighbors can get involved and advocate for the park, as well as commitments to organized and Earth Day clean up of the dog park and a repeat of the Marty Paws event this year.

Meeting on Columbia Heights Dog Park Scheduled for Wednesday

January 29, 2018

Last week, it was learned that the Metro property at 11th and Park Rd, NW — which has been used as an unofficial dog park for years — was one of several properties WMATA would be considering to sell. This has caused great concern among neighbors who regularly use the site. In response to concerns expressed to WMATA and Councilmembers, Metro has postponed their discussion on the 11th and Park site, though still plans to consider it.

Newly elected ANC1A06 Commissioner Angelica Castañon has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday night beginning at 7 pm for the community to discuss the future of the property and potential solutions. The meeting will be at the Raymond Recreation Center.

Flyer with details below.

Images from DDOT’s Library & Archives

September 1, 2017

A friend recently reminded me about the photos on the DDOT Library and Archives tumblr page. Overall, I found many of the images interesting, but only found a few from our area. DDOT has other photo pages as well, including DDOT Back in Time which may be of interest.

Park Road view west toward 14th Street, dated March 20, 1967.

14th Street just north of Park Road with view toward south, dated March 20, 1967.

Back in 1911, Surveyor Proposed Widening Spring Road.

August 7, 2017

In looking through old newspaper articles, I found the following from the Evening Star (Oct. 28, 1911) of interest. The article discusses the recommendation to extend Spring Rd east of Rock Creek Church Rd to New Hampshire and Georgia as well as widening the road from 40 ft. to 90 ft.

The detail from the 1907 Baist’s real estate atlas of surveys of Washington shows where Spring Road’s eastern termination was at that time, so it shows that the extension was successfully completed.

Tubman Field Permitting Creates Conflict with Community Use: Meeting Seeks Solutions

July 20, 2017

Early this July, the Department of General Services (DGS) issued a permit to Zog Sports reserving the athletic field at Tubman Elementary School for an organized soccer league on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The permit runs through August 31st. A Bocce league currently has a permit to use the field on Tuesdays. The permits for these leagues have effectively closed use of the field to the neighborhood pick up soccer games that have occurred nightly at Tubman for many years.

This conflict of use was brought to the attention of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A on July 12th when an incident occurred on the field during their meeting. While most recreational areas are under the Department of Parks and Recreation, athletic fields on DC Public Schools property are part of DCPS and supervised by DGS.

Over the past week, I’ve been working in collaboration with DGS, the Mayor’s office, and the Office of Latino Affairs (OLA) to find both short- and long-term solutions to this issue. The community members organized a meeting on Wednesday, July 20, to continue the conversation with representatives of DGS, OLA, the ANC, and the Mayor’s office to follow up on where things currently stand.

(Commission Boese addressing the community at Tubman Elementary School with DGS’s Jackie Stanley (left) and OLA’s Eduardo Perdomo (right).)

DGS’s Jackie Stanley came prepared with an initial short-term solution that included reserving the field for the community on Friday evenings and Saturdays as well as before 6 pm on weeknights. Based on the community’s response, this proposal doesn’t meet the neighborhood needs, and Stanley listened to feedback from the residents so that she can continue to work from within DGS to find a solution.

I addressed the assembly stating that I believe there is both a quick fix to prevent this conflict occurring in the future and suggested a need to review the underlying cause that allows for school athletic fields to be permitted in the first place.

The simple solution moving forward would be to change DGS’s process to require that permit applications be reviewed by Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and have a letter of support from them as part of the application process. This is currently standard practice for DPR permit applications. When a permit application is reviewed by the local ANC the community is able to identify use conflicts before an application is approved. In short, this provides the necessary oversight to ensure that the community is not adversely impacted by the issuance of the permit.


(Commissioner Boese discussing the need for ANC review and letters of support for DGS/DCPS school field permits.)

The practice of issuing permits to use DCPS athletic fields dates back to 1982, with the establishment of the DCPS Realty Office as a result of D.C. Law 4-158, the District of Columbia Board of Education Leasing Authority Act of 1982. The purpose of this law was to grant permission to the Board of Education to enter into lease and other agreements for the use of DC Public Schools buildings and grounds, to defray costs associated with the operation and maintenance of public school buildings, and for other purposes.

I believe that this 35 year old law no longer adequately serves the best interests of the community or the District of Columbia as a whole. It was established during a period when the District population, and our tax revenue, was in decline. As the District has grown, so has its budget. This has resulted in many school fields being renovated for the benefit of the community. However, this also makes these athletic fields more desirable for organized sport clubs which are also looking for places to play.

Because of this, we need to go back and review the 1982 law as well as the entire permitting process with the goal of amending both to ensure that we continue to have fair and balanced access to school fields for all who wish to use them.

 

ANCs Recommend Victory Housing as Top Pick for Hebrew Home Development

July 17, 2017

(Early rendering showing one potential design by Victory Housing.)

On July 12, at separate meetings, both Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 4C and 1A recommended Victory Housing & Brinshore Development as their primary choice for the development team to redevelop the former Hebrew Home property at 1125 Spring Road into a mixed income/multi-generational community. The two Commissions differed on their second choices.

Both Commissions felt that the Victory Housing proposal “meets the shared community priority of providing 88 units of dedicated, affordable senior housing in the former Hebrew Home. It also provides the largest number of affordable, family-sized units of any of the proposals as well with 29 three-bedroom rental units. In addition, it proposes home ownership opportunities along Spring Road NW. It also provides 75 underground parking spaces, with approximately 1.8 parking spaces for each 3 units of non-senior housing.”

The Commissions’ recommendations will be sent to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), where the final decision on selecting a development team will be determined.

The Commissions differed on their second choices. ANC4C’s second choice was the NHP Foundation, Fivesquares Development, and Warrenton Group. ANC 1A’s second choice, on the other hand, was the Bozzuto Homes proposal. ANC 1A further selected the Mission First proposal as its third choice. (read ANC 1A resolution at goo.gl/RChVH3 ).

DMPED is expected to select a development team prior to the July 27, 2017 public meeting scheduled to present the District’s intent to declare the Hebrew Home surplus. The meeting’s purpose is to receive comments on the proposed designation of 1125 Spring Road, NW, as surplus property. The surplus meeting is held in order to receive feedback from the community on the District’s finding that the property is no longer required for public purposes. Comments collected at the public meeting will be submitted to the Council of the District of Columbia for its review.

The date, time, and location of the surplus meeting is below:

Date: Thursday, July 27, 2017
Time: 7:00 pm-8:30 pm
Location: Raymond Recreation Center
3725 10th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010

The Good Silver Opens Tonight!

May 9, 2017

(The Good Silver, located at 3410 11th Street, NW)

I’m happy to report that Columbia Height’s newest 11th Street destination — The Good Silver — is opening tonight at 5 pm. I got a chance to check them out last week and liked what I saw. For those that haven’t been following this transformation, The Good Silver is the next chapter in the story from the group that brought us Kangaroo Boxing Club (aka KBC). Check out the new menu here.

For full details, below is their press announcement:

The Good Silver, from Ivy and Coney Team, Opening Tuesday, May 9th

The team behind Ivy and Coney (Josh Saltzman, Chris Powers, and Adam Fry) and new partner, Carrie Dzwil, are excited to announce The Good Silver, at 3410 11th St. NW in Columbia Heights, will open Tuesday, May 9th at 5pm.

Remember when you were a kid, and mom would break out the “good” plates? It pays homage to a time when the everyday was elevated, simply by caring a little bit more. Don’t expect the finest forks or vintage China, but instead, a focus on quality food and drink in a casual atmosphere.

On the drinks side, Dzwil has incorporated some of her favorite seasonal flavors into a variety of shrub-based cocktails which bring out the best of local produce for some refreshing, tart and not too sweet offerings. A spring highlight is her Lemongrass Ice Pick, which combines lemongrass-infused Civic Vodka from local distillery Republic Restoratives, honey-ginger syrup, iced tea and fresh sage. It has kept everyone sane and hydrated after (or during) long, hot days of construction. The drink menu also includes a sparkling shrub punch for four, and a concise but excellent liquor and craft beer list that includes local distilleries and breweries.

Rounding out the team is Remi Gottheil, a graduate of Dartmouth, who ran off to join the circus (seriously, he taught trapeze classes) and worked under chef Danny Boylen. Gottheil has created a highly seasonal menu combining the best currently available produce (from farms such as Pleitez Farms and 76 Acres) with pickles, preserves and locally sourced proteins. Guests can choose from a selection of “handhelds,” starters and charcuterie. Highlights include the organic buttermilk-brined fried chicken sandwiches and a half smoke burger with pickled radish and sweet, tangy tomato jam. (more…)


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