Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met on June 11. Commissioners Meredith Fascett (6D07, chair), Gail Fast (6D01, secretary), Ronald Collins (6D03, treasurer), Andy Litsky (6D04, vice chair) and Roger Moffatt (6D05) and Rhonda N. Hamilton (6D06) were on the dais. Cara Shockley (6D02) was absent.
Toussaint Webster, who works for DC Public Schools (DCPS) facility planning and design team provided the commission with an update on Jefferson Middle School’s modernization. The objective of the work is to gut, remediate and rebuild the building, he stated.
All asbestos will be removed. Classrooms will be resized to a standard 900 square feet. The heating and air-conditioning systems will be replaced. The building will be rewired, and the plumbing will be upgraded to meet current building codes. The roof will be replaced.
Two transparent entryways will be added on the southside and westsides of the building. These are the only actual additions to the structure, which will 109,000 square feet. In answer to concerns of the commissioners that DCPS may be under-sizing the new facility, Webster stated that the building is being built to accommodate 540 students, but is capable of expanding.
The newly modernized Jefferson will have both indoor bike storage and outdoor racks. Questions regarding Jefferson’s modernization can emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jefferson Dropoff / Pickup Zones
While Jefferson modernization was underway, DCPS requested that the DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) reserve the curbside on the west side of the 700th block of Seventh St. SW for curbside drop off and pickup during weekdays between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. No other cars would be permitted to park there during this time. Just before the commission meeting, DDOT placed new signs restricting parking during the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. weekdays for student drop offs and pickups.
Jim Sebastian, DDOT associate director for Planning and Sustainability, briefed the commission on the agency’s plans for the block. First, the Resident Only Parking (ROP) signs on the west side of the block would be swapped with the Resident Permit Parking (RRP) signs on the eastern side. The bus stops on the western side of the block, now located in front of the school and north of G Street, would be consolidated and relocated to the southwest corner of the intersection of G and Seventh Streets SW.
Commissioners were very skeptical of DDOT’s plan. Led by Commissioner Fast, they closely questioned Sebastian. Why would a middle school, whose students largely walk or take the bus, need their own dedicated drop off and pickup zone, Fast asked? The plan would remove nearly 22 spaces from weekday use, she observed. Why designate such a large amount of curbside? Does DDOT have a formula for determining the size of such zones?
Separate pickup and drop-off zones for Appletree and Jefferson had been requested by DCPS, Sebastian stated. DDOT does not have a formula for determining their size, he added. He also would not commit to removing the pickup and drop off zones once Jefferson modernization was completed in two years.
Sebastian defended the DDOT plan. No residential parking would be lost, he stated. There would still be plenty of parking when residents drove back in the evening from work.
Commissioners strongly objected to DDOT’s plan to consolidate and move the existing bus stops. Seniors at Town Square Towers, 700 Seventh St. SW, who use the Circulator to get to Capitol Hill, would be tremendously inconvenienced, stated Fast. The bus stop in front of Jefferson is heavily used by students, Commissioner Hamilton pointed out. Moving it a block away would complicate arrangements for school security staff, who closely monitor the release of students. “We just moved all these bus stops,” Hamilton observed pointedly. Fast asked DDOT to consider eliminating the abandoned bus stop at Seventh Street and Maine Avenue, and consolidate the remaining two stops in front of Jefferson.
Fast, Hamilton and Commissioner Collins also strongly objected to the plan to remove the median from the section of Seventh Street between Maine Avenue and I Street SW to accommodate a two-way bike lane. DDOT agreed as part of the Planned Unit Development for Riverside Church to put the bike lanes on both sides of the road, leaving the median intact. Sebastian stated that he did not think removing it would create risk for pedestrians, and said that he was willing to discuss the plan.
Did DDOT know that the recreational field north of Jefferson was not part of the school campus, asked an irate community resident of Town Square Towers? “We probably got it wrong,” Sebastian replied. This should make that curbside ineligible to be used for drop-off and pickup, the resident continued.
More importantly, DDOT fundamentally misunderstands how residents use their cars, the resident stated. “We don’t use them to commute to work. We leave them parked all day. So, your statement makes no sense, because we need a place to leave our cars during the day,” he added.
Commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter opposing the DDOT plan, with the exception of the swapping of RPP and ROP signs; and asking the agency to incorporate Commissioner Fast’s suggestions.
DHA Property Maintenance
Larry Williams, DC Housing Authority (DHA) director of resident services, briefed commissioners on the maintenance situation at DHA properties. Commissioner Collins accused the agency of rank malfeasance in its management of public housing units at Greenleaf Gardens, which have significantly deteriorated due to lack of maintenance and are filled with rodents.
The new DHA director, Tyrone Garrett, Williams stated, has made maintenance the agency’s top priority. Collins was skeptical. The director, he pointed out, had already broken a number of promises to the commission regarding public engagement in the planning for Greenleaf Gardens redevelopment. The management company at nearby Arthur Capper public housing residences can barely manage rent collection, Chair Fascett added. “We need better communication with residents,” Commissioner Hamilton added joining in.
Commissioners were extremely frustrated that Williams could not provide information on Greenleaf’s redevelopment, which he said fell outside his jurisdiction. “We want to see your director,” Collins demanded.
A community member complained about the organization of the elections for the public housing resident councils. She also asked for better communications with holders of housing vouchers.
DC Water gave a presentation on its multiple plans for water main repair in Capitol Riverfront section of the commission. This includes the replacement of over 50 manholes and over two and a half miles of water mains. Residents were warned to expect a banana-like odor from the resins used in the reconstruction process.
Cecily Mendie, the new director of the Randall Recreation Center introduced herself. The center will be offering programs aided primarily at tots and seniors, she said.
Rikki Kramer gave an update on the community benefits agreement (CBA) between the Near SE/SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) and DC United. There were 16 benefits specified in the CBA, but many remain unfulfilled, she stated. In particular, she faulted the team for not having run promised ads in the Southwester. Nor has scheduled the promised community days at the new stadium. She requested the commission to support the CBCC’s effort to enforce the agreement. Commissioner Hamilton suggested Kramer ask for help from the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development as well.
The Stadium District Scholarship Fund awarded students Danielle Crushfield $1,000 and Tatiana Brown $3,000. Brown’s mother accepted a check on her behalf.
The organizers of the DC State Fair made a brief presentation on their event scheduled for Sept. 15.
The commissioner unanimously supported:
- All Purpose Pizza’s, 79 Potomac Ave. SE, plan to add seats to its summer garden and revise its community agreement (CA) on a stipulated basis;
- an application for Class A license with tasting by Hill Spirits, 1015 Half St. SE;
- authorized Chair Fascett to negotiate a CA with Whole Foods, 101 H S. SE, for its application for a Class B license with tastings.
- approve their July minutes and the September agenda;
- support the So Others Might Eat Trot for Hunger the National Race to End Women’s Cancer and the Race for the Child;
- oppose the redesign of the development of 1900 Half St. SW;
- support the redesign of the development at 2100 Second Street SW;
- support the second phase of the 100 percent affordable development at 1530 First St. SW which has requested relief from several zoning requirements;
- send DDOT a letter requesting the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of I Street and New Jersey Avenue SE;
- support the expansion of the pickup and drop off zone in front of Van Ness Elementary School, 1150 Fifth St. SE.
The commission voted to protest the application for a liquor license by Circa at Navy Yard, 99 M St. SE. It then voted to oppose the corner restaurant’s place to locate a sidewalk café on Van Street SE, while supporting plans for a café on N Street SE. The commission later voted to protest the restaurant’s liquor application as well.
The commission voted with two abstentions to oppose the location of an AT&T temporary cellular antenna on Buzzard Point unless concerns about its safety and health impact on residents were satisfied.
There were no treasurer’s or chair reports given. ANC 6D’s next meeting will be held on Oct 15 at 7 p.m. at 1100 Fourth St. SW. Visit www.anc6d.org/ for more information.