Though it started off on an ominous note, the much-touted community discussion of a proposal to reserve one side of every street in Georgetown for resident parking was lively and civil at the Dec. 4 meeting of the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
The loud clatter of a police helicopter in se arch of three alleged robbers could be heard over nearby Volta Park. Neighbors walking to the meeting at Visitation School didn’t know whether to run, hide or stay at home, they told police at the meeting. The police were there to give the monthly crime report (100 incidents, down from 110 in November 2016).
But attention quickly turned to Georgetown’s m ost s tubborn and perennial problem: what to do about parking as residents with children and SUVs increase in number, along with workers, shoppers and other visitors.
Commissioners Joe Gibbons and Jim Wilcox are members of the Department of Transportation’s Georgetown Parking Working Group. Until Dec. 1, they had planned to present the one-side, resident-only parking proposal for a vote. The plan would allow residents to park on both sides of the street while out-of-zone parkers could only park on one designated side for two hours. No changes would be made to the current, more loosely regulated Sunday parking.
“But the DDOT requested that the commissioners hold off a vote until the proposals could be fully examined at three more scheduled meetings,” said Gibbons.
The Georgetown residents and small business owners packed into the school auditorium were knowledgeable and passionate. They all seemed to recognize that competition for permanent street parking as close to residents’ home s as possible is as important as flexible parking for the customers of the many stores, restaurants, services and other businesses in Georgetown’s commercial areas.
They talked about the need for everyone to understand all sides. Small business owners expressed concern that w ith the loss of one side of the street to resident parking — plus subtractions of metered street parking due to bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, construction sites a nd months’-long dumpster filling — would make some customers already teetering about the parking situation to give up on the destination altogether.
For some residents and business owners who had been in Georgetown for several decades, the discussions and issues were familiar. Maybe it was Trump fatigue, déjà vu or the general comity engendered by the beautiful Christmas decorations at the school. But during the 40 minutes or so of discussion, most of the residents and commissioners who spoke out urged compromise.
“There is compromise here somewhere,” said Billy Martin, long time owner of Martin’s Tavern. “We’ll just have to work together to find it.” Commissioner Zachary Schoepfer suggested that the issue be decided by consensus.
There is time. Commissioners did not expect any new parking proposal to come to an ANC vote before early March.
Georgetown to Glow Starting Dec. 8
Georgetown will glow every evening from Friday, Dec. 8, through Sunday, Jan. 7, thanks to the outdoor festival of light art called “Georgetown Glow.” The fourth annual “Glow” will include a number of special events, including a silent disco on Dec. 9 at the Washington Harbour and an extended evening of shopping on Dec. 14.
Nine unique interactive light installations by artists from around the world — some from light-art shows in Holland, Lebanon and India — will be featured in the 2017 edition of “Glow.” They are being placed throughout Georgetown, from the waterfront to the heart of the commercial district on M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, up to P Street and Reservoir Road. The displays will be illuminated nightly between 5 and 10 p.m.
Art works include “Horizontal Interference” at the Washington Harbour, a collection of colorful cords connecting trees and light poles by Polish artists Joachim Slugocki and Katarzyna Malejka. “Aqueous,” 62 illuminated platforms by Brooklyn-based artist Jen Lewin, is set up at Georgetown Waterfront Park near the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and K Street.
Other displays include a 15-minute video at the old Georgetown Theatre at 1351 Wisconsin Ave. NW, a series of three works that can be seen through the office atrium of LSM Architects at 3333 M St. NW, a sculpture of illuminated figure outlines depicting refugees at Grace Episcopal Church at 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW and a piece featuring large bands of looping lights called “Bands of Friendship” at Dean & DeLuca at 3276 M St. NW.
Sponsored by the Georgetown Business Improvement District, “Glow” is also partly funded by a $150,000 grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
New West End Library Opens Dec. 9
Forty thousand books, 40 desk-top computers and thousands of DVDs, CDs, audio books and publications have been moved into 21,000 square feet of sun-filled, spacious and airy library rooms in preparation for the grand opening of the brand-new West End Library at 2301 L St. NW at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9.
The library includes quiet study rooms, conference rooms for meetings of from eight to 12 people and a large meeting room with an assistive listening system. A winding panorama in muted colors threads its way over the bright-colored bookcases and library furniture. Titled “Paragons of the West End,” the artwork features the names of notable West End residents, including Duke Ellington.
The West End Library is the first new library project in Washington, D.C., to involve a mixed-use building, a partnership of District government, East Banc, JBG Smith and Clark Enterprises. It offers more than 7,300 square feet of space for retail businesses and eight stories of apartments above. Bluestone Lane, an Australian-style coffee shop, is scheduled to open next door.
The project, which took about two years to complete, was designed by architect Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos , known for its glass-encased libraries and public buildings in Mexico City, Los Angeles and New York City. The library interior was designed by CORE Architects. Thanks to the public-private partnership, the new library was provided at no out-of-pocket cost to taxpayers, according to District of Columbia Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan.
$90 Million Secured to Rehab Memorial Bridge
Under the FASTLANE grant program, $90 million of the estimated $227 million needed to rehabilitate the Arlington Memorial Bridge has been secured, according to a Dec. 1 press release from Mayor Muriel Bowser. The District and Virginia are contributing some $30 million toward the bridge’s rehabilitation.
Built in 1932, the bridge currently carries almost 70,000 vehicles a day. But it has deteriorated significantly and, without extensive repairs, was on track to be closed to automobile traffic by 2021. Over the past six years, a series of temporary emergency repairs have been made. But this year, its total rehabilitation became a top priority for Bowser, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Virginia congressional delegation.
The bridge is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The NPS rehabilitation plan includes the repair of the concrete arches and stone facades on the 10 approach spans, the replacement of the bascule span’s steel superstructure, the reconstruction of the bridge deck and side walks and the resurfacing of all travel lan es. The one-phase rebuild will begin in 2018, with completion by 2021.
Renamed Plaza Would Take a Poke at Putin
The District Council is considering taking a political poke at Russian President Vladimir Putin by renaming the block of Wisconsin Avenue that passes in front of the Russian Embassy “Boris Nemtsov Plaza,” in honor of an assassinated dissident who opposed the current Russian administration .
Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh introduced legislation on Nov. 21 to rename the block of Wisconsin between Edmonds and Davis Streets, just north of Glover Park. “Nemtsov is a hero who fought for democracy, but is not being treated as one in Russia,” Cheh remarked. “The new street name would serve as a reminder of America’s democratic values .”
The Russian Embassy would have no say over the name change. If approved, the new name would be posted un der an existing street sign. But no addresses would change and the new name would have to pass a Congressional vote and avoid a presidential veto. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Delaware) are among the nine U.S. senators backing the new plaza proposal.
Street name changes often have been suggested in Washington, D.C., usually to honor a historic figure or advance a political agenda. In 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tried to rename the street outside the Chinese Embassy after Liu Xiaobo, a pro-democracy dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner who died in a Chinese prison that year. In 2014, the entire Council signed a proposal to change the names of the streets surrounding the U.S. Capitol to “D.C. No Taxation Without Representation Way.”
Cheh said she expects a hearing on her legislation early next year.