Council Approves $200K Each for Cemetery, Main Streets

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget  — $13.8 billion — has gotten to the District Council, which must approve it but can also make changes, some of which are worth noting for Georgetown.

As approved on the first pass by the Council, there is up to $200,000 in the budget for a program to assess the boundaries and condition — and thus jump-start the restoration — of the Mt. Zion Cemetery-the Female Union Band Society Cemetery, according to Council member Jack Evans.

The budget language reads: “In Fiscal Year 2018, the Commission on the Arts and Humanities shall award, on a competitive basis, grants to: Provide support to a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to preserving the history of African-American cemeteries and burial grounds located in Georgetown, to establish markings and boundaries for such cemeteries and burial grounds and to make visible and definite the locations of graves and the identity of those buried within, in an amount not to exceed $200,000.”

Mt. Zion United Methodist Church at 1334 29th St. NW owns the burial grounds, located just north of 27th and Q Streets. Founded in 1808, the cemetery was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975 but has fallen into disrepair. A spring cleanup occurred April 8, and things are looking up for the forlorn property.

On the commercial side, it looks like Georgetown will be getting — to the tune of $200,000 — a DC Main Streets program, thanks to a budget increase for the Department of Small and Local Business Development, which administers the programs.

Unlike business improvement districts, which are funded through a landlord tax for a specific area and have large budgets for cleanup and public safety, DC Main Streets nonprofits receive government grants to promote historic neighborhoods and market small businesses specifically.

In the 2018 budget, the Business and Economic Development Report reads: “DSLBD operating budget recommendation … directs CSG Program 4000 (Commercial Revitalization) Activity 4030 (Main Streets) by $200,000 to create a new Georgetown/Wisconsin Avenue Main Street.”

According to DSLBD, “DC Main Streets is a comprehensive program that promotes the revitalization of traditional business districts in the District of Columbia. Created in 2002 through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Main Streets serves as the citywide coordinating program that provides services and funding for the twelve Main Streets found in the District of Columbia. Main Streets mission is to support the traditional retail corridors in the District.”

Martin Smith of Barracks Row Main Street plans to advise the newly organized nonprofit this summer. It is expected that Georgetown Main Street will be up and working on Oct. 1, the first day of fiscal 2018.

Meanwhile, don’t hold your breath waiting for a streetcar to glide down K Street at the Georgetown waterfront. Flying cars will likely show up sooner in town.

The mayor’s proposed $160 million for the DC Streetcar project was cut by the Council to $100 million spread out over six years — with a 1.8-mile extension to the Benning Road Metro station. There’s already money for an environmental study this year. Any further construction will not happen until after 2020. The system, as originally proposed, was to run 37 miles.

A final vote on the budget by the Council is expected June 13.

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