Posted tagged ‘Jim Graham’

Political Profile: Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham

May 13, 2010

Graham at the groundbreaking of the Georgia Ave. CVS, Nov. 12, 2009.

Incumbent Jim Graham has been a member on the DC Council since 1999, when he was first given the opportunity to represent the residents of Ward 1. When I approached him to talk about the upcoming election, he offered instead to give me a tour of Park View in general – and Georgia Avenue specifically – to point out his successes since taking office. According to Graham, when he came into office all that was happening on Georgia Avenue were studies, reports, and meetings. There had been very little physical progress.

“I’ve worked hard for this Ward,” states Graham. “When people vote this year, they’ll be looking at candidates’ track records,” he continues. With that we motored off in his iconic VW bug with his dog, Guapo, and started our tour of how Graham has delivered for Park View.

Our first stop is the Park Place development at the Georgia Ave/Petworth Metro. “I know we’re in Ward 4,” states Graham, “but this was a very important project to the community and it required a lot of work on my part in my capacity on the Metro Board.” People may not realize that the land belonged to WMATA and there was a lot involved in making it available for development. Getting this project off the ground was essential for the area. In a way, it’s a gateway into Ward 1 and will attract other development.

To this last point, one needs look no further than across the street into Ward 1 where a new CVS is nearing completion. “That was a complicated project,” states Graham. In fact, most of these projects are more involved that many realize. The CVS is located on a site that formerly supported a gas station. Because of this there were environmental issues requiring involvement from DCRA and the Department of Health. Graham also led the effort to incorporate a critical parcel of Metro land into the CVS project.

One of the early proposals for the site on the corner of Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues was to put another gas station there. “We were able to prevent that,” Graham continues, “and find a developer and a project that was better suited to the community.” (more…)

Initial Look at Bruce-Monroe Interim Use Proposal

April 1, 2010

Last night’s meeting on the interim use of the Bruce-Monroe site displayed an initial proposal based on community comment from previous meetings. While not complete, it provides a good peek at what will likely come to pass later this year for the 3 acre site.

The design concept was based on a dedicated budget of $500,000 from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. There is little hope for more money in FY10, but depending upon community needs, Councilmember Graham stated that more money might be possible in the FY11 budget.

There seems to be a tight window for this project largely because demolition will be  completed by the end of April and the community hopes the interim development will be in place by the beginning of summer. Considering that it is illegal for the City to hire a contractor without going through the RFP process, a plan needs to be agreed upon soon in order to meet the summer goal.

Rough sketch of proposed Bruce-Monroe site interim planning as of 3/31/10

Some expressed concern that spending $500,000 was a waste of money when a school needed to be built. It was pointed out that putting the money toward a new school would not be anywhere near enough to get a school project begun. Others inquired about a temporary playground and if that was possible. Again, it was pointed out that the goal of the site was for a 3-5 year use and it would be difficult to take a playground away from a community that had come to rely on it. As to any use of the site for education and placing trailers on the site, the budget for that would likely come from DPR and as such was not presented as part of the plan.

To understand why the sketch seems as sparse as it is one needs to keep in mind two things.

  1. This is a basic sketch to identify areas of use based on community input. Continued input would indicate how the green spaces could further be programmed as funds become available; and,
  2. The total budget is $500,000.

To help understand the budget’s limitations based on the sketch, the following cost estimates were shared:

  • Tennis Court: $100,000,
  • Basketball Court: $75,000,
  • Black iron fence securing the site, $200,000,
  • the remainder of the money would go toward compacting the soil and installing lighting.

There was a general opinion that there should be a less expensive fencing solution, and those options will be looked into. The plan as currently presented also includes a school bus loading and drop-off area on Irving street that would limit the ability of neighbors to park within the zone during hours of operation.

Lastly, the issue of educational programs and activities was also raised. Several people expressed concern about education and desired that associated programming and facilities issues around education be considered. It was noted that as things now stand, educational facilities or programming  are precluded by the costs of the planned courts and the fence.

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Metro’s Proposed Service Cuts to Yellow Line Opposed by CM Graham

March 30, 2010

As many of you may know by now, Metro is facing serious financial challenges and seeking ways to balance service with limited financial means. Among the proposed changes to face these challenges is to cut yellow line off peak service to Fort Totten. This is not supported by Councilmember Graham, who issued the following statement related Metro’s proposal.

Dear Friends:

I am opposed to the elimination of Metrorail Yellow Line service from the Convention Center through Ward 1 to Fort Totten. As a Metro Board member I voted against the proposal that includes this cut and I will do everything possible to keep the Yellow Line service.

I was the original author of this Yellow Line extension and led the successful effort to make it part of the permanent regional system.

This has been a tremendously successful service. As of February 2009, Columbia Heights had the fastest ridership growth of any Metro station, and U Street Cardozo was the 5th fastest. This is no time to cut service.

Make no mistake, Metro has a large budget gap and must consider some service adjustments and fare increases — but the proposals at public hearings this week include many options (such as the yellow line cut) that I do not support. I don’t see any reason for bringing options for public comment when I know, from years on the Metro Board, and from years as a Councilmember, that the DC residents stand firmly against these ideas. That is why I voted against the proposals being discussed at public hearings week.

You can find details about options for balancing metro’s budget here: http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=4368

I encourage you to attend the final DC public hearing this week at All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard Street NW, Thursday, April 1, beginning at 6:30 pm.

Bests,

Councilmember Jim Graham

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CM Graham Helps Rec Center Get Needed Supplies

March 30, 2010

Supplies purchased with funds provided by CM Graham

If there were one thing that anyone who’s become involved in the Rec Center would identify as a continuing frustration it would be the lack of supplies supporting the programs there.

So, imagine my surprise to find this table of supplies when I visited the center this past Saturday. From what I learned, all these supplies were purchased with funds made available through the efforts of Councilmember Jim Graham.

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Reminder — Georgia Avenue Development Meeting Tonight

February 24, 2010

Park View ElementaryI just wanted to remind folks that may have a free evening that there from 7-9 pm tonight Councilmember Jim Graham and representatives from the Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development will be at the Bruce-Monroe Elementary School @ Park View (3560 Warder Street) to discuss the current activities and priorities for Georgia Ave. The meeting will be in the auditorium which is accessable from the Warder Street entrance.

Update on Bruce-Monroe School Development

February 17, 2010

Bruce-Monroe school mid-demolition

Last night there was a meeting at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School focused on the development of the Bruce-Monroe school site. The chief moderator was Councilmember Jim Graham. There were also several representatives there from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

It was learned that one of the significant reasons the demolition stalled was because of the need to abate asbestos. After work had commenced last fall, the work site fell victim to vandalism which disturbed asbestos, triggering a 6 to 8 week abatement program required by the DDOE. The property has been given the green light to continue and work should commence next week.

Monroe School auditorium currently scheduled for demolition

The short term plan is to clear the entire property of all structures and asphalt. Unfortunately, this includes the extant auditorium of the original Monroe School. I had hoped that this structure would have been spared.

After the land has been cleared, development will fall into two phases — long-term and interim. What that development will be is still fluid and open to community input.

The long-term development will include a school, but could include other functions yet to be identified. This development likely would be 3-5 years down the road.

The majority of the meeting centered on the interim development, which is also still open for community input. While the suggestion of using the back half of the land as a revenue generating parking lot met with some strong opposition, there was general approval of  using the half along Georgia Avenue for a regulation sized basketball court and a tennis court.

The thought behind any short term plan is to find a cost effective solution that has the maximum benefit for the community until the new school can be built.

Interior of Monroe School auditorium, scheduled to be razed

Park View Athletic Field Still on Track

December 17, 2009

Future athletic field coming

Dispite the D.C. Council’s unanimous vote on Tuesday to strip Banneker Ventures of its contract to manage the construction of several parks and recreation centers, the Park View Athletic field project is still on track.

Councilmember Jim Graham sent out the following announcement today about the Ward 1 DPR projects that could have been impacted by the contracts issue:

Dear Friends,

After the D.C. Council’s vote on Tuesday, December 14, to rescind $83 million in Parks and Recreation Contracts many of you called and wrote to me asking what that meant for Justice Park, Park View and LeDroit Park.

I am happy to report that these parks construction projects are already “back on track.” The Deputy Mayor for Economic Development has assured me that the $750K Justice Park project and the $1.2 million Park View project will be overseen by Allen Lew − Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization − and will move forward. This is excellent news given the great speed and success with which Mr. Lew has handled school renovations and constructions.

The final project, the LeDroit Park (former Gage school transformation) will remain in the Deputy Mayor’s portfolio and the contract for the reconstruction will be re-bid and move forward.

Bests Jim

You can read the related article on the D.C. Council vote in the Washington Post here>>

Campaign Season Starts Early

November 19, 2009

With just under a year before the 2010 elections, it seems that campaign season has started early. Already this week, Mayor Fenty’s been out in Park View going door to door seeking support, meeting neighbors, and offering yard signs for those interested. You can find out more at the Fenty’s Web site.

Similarly, Jim Graham has also launched his efforts by sending out an email listing his supporters, linking to the Graham campaign Web site, and giving folks the opportunity to volunteer or donate toward his reelection drive.

CVS Breaks Ground

November 12, 2009

CVS Ground BreakingStarting shortly before 11 a.m. this morning, Mayor Fenty, Council members Graham and Bowser, developer Rob LaKritz, representatives from CVS and other ANC and city officials met at the corner of Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues to official break ground for the new CVS. The project is estimated to be completed by late spring/early summer of 2010.

This project was a long time coming and the best possible outcome for the property. The last business to be located there had been a gas station, and when development was first planned a gas station was once again proposed. Through the efforts of many, and the commitment of LaKritz working with Graham, Fenty, and others, a much-needed CVS is being constructed on the site instead.

Councilmember Graham had the following to say about the groundbreaking which he distributed on area listservs:

November 12, 2009

Dear Friends:

Today we broke ground on another new development in Ward One – CVS Pharmacy at Georgia and Princeton. This one will service our neighbors in Park View on Georgia Avenue.

This is a wonderful achievement for us. It took four years to come up with just the right project – from a gas station (which we rejected) to an ice cream store to a doughnut shop. But now with the new Senior Wellness Center coming, a pharmacy is just what the doctor ordered.

CVS is scheduled to open in May or June of 2010. Our seniors won’t have to go far to get their checkups and prescriptions. And new residents at Park-Morton and all around Park View can get a little shopping done on the way too and from work.

Oh, I forgot to mention, this entire project was significantly helped by $2 million in city money to remediate the site. And a little help from me from my Metro Board seat. We included land previously owned by Metro to complete the CVS parcel. This newest development joins the Senior Wellness Center, new mixed retail/residential at 3512 Georgia Ave. and a New Community for Park-Morton.

We are really on the move on Georgia Avenue!

Bests,

Council Member Jim Graham

More photos after the jump (more…)

Mayor Fenty Visits Park Morton

November 3, 2009

Mayor Fenty and Jim GrahamYesterday, Mayor Fenty did his third walk-through of Park Morton. Even though the development is scheduled to be replaced during the next couple of years, this is not preventing Fenty from making positive changes in this section of the City.

This was Fenty’s third visit to Park Morton. Previous visits included the announcement of the developer to replace Park Morton and an assessment of what the community needed to support basic quality of life needs.

On this visit, the Mayor went down a list of 9 items that had been identified earlier as areas where the City needed to focus attention. Among the items on the list were band equipment, a refurbished basketball court, education, art, and craft activities for children, an education center for adult where basic business skills can be learned, and a food bank. The food bank will function with the Park View Rec Center being the staging area where food can be dropped off and distributed.

Basketball hoop supportAs the Mayor read the list and asked for status reports, most of the areas seemed to be well underway and nearing completion. The refurbished playground and basketball courts should be completed around December 8th. While the courts haven’t been resurfaced yet and the polls still do not have backboards or nets, (still being in setting concrete), there has been enough interest from the community that three teams have already formed.

Going under the name Park Morton Wild Katz, the teams break down by age into groups 13-15, 16-18, and 19 and above. The same name and categories are being applied to the forming football teams.

Among the other notables at the walk through were MPD Chief Lanier and Councilmember Graham. Lanier was happy to report that crime around Park Morton has seen a recent drop by about 50%.

Graham brought up the issue of bed bugs stating that he had recently attended a meeting where the issue was discussed. A resident of Park Morton said a couple of buildings are known to have problems and that the City is treating them. She also stated that as someone who personally has been dealing with them, that many may not speak up since the natural instinct is to feel shame. The conversation underscored that an infestation can occur in the cleanest of homes.

Fenty plans to visit Park Morton again in early December to once again assess the progress on the communities list.

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