Lots of Voices at Long ANC Meeting: New Top Cop, Streets Market, Safeway, Transformers

Democracy and community and neighborhood meetings that give everyone a voice are the basis of our country’s government by-the-people. There was no better example of that than the April 3 meeting of the Georgetown-Burleith-Hillandale Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 2E). The virtual meeting started promptly at 6:30 p.m. and ended to cheers of relief at about 11:30 p.m. There was some news, but little action, on most of the well-known agenda items, but lots of voices were heard …  and heard and heard. 

Newswise first, the introduction of the new Metropolitan Police Department 2nd District Commander John Branch – who has a long D.C. resume – and two commission resolutions welcoming him and also commending the former commander Duncan Bedlion who has been moved up to a position in D.C.’s Homeland Security administration. “I’ll be walking often around the neighborhood,” Branch said. 

Foremost on stage for new businesses about to open in Georgetown was Campbell Burns, vice president of Streets Market, the fancy old grocery store moving into the shuttered 7-Eleven space on the northeast corner of P and 27th Streets. It will be the seventh Streets Market store in Washington, D.C. The biggest concern by some neighbors at the meeting was traffic dangers of making the door on the corner the front door to the store, as it was with the 7-Eleven. Of course, other concerns included trash and rodent control. (Burns said he would be meeting neighbors the next day at Apero’s on P Street.) 

Normally, ANC reports from city officials can elicit some worthy news — although not always specific to Georgetown. For instance, Mayor Bowser’s spokesperson Grace Reeder announced that street sweeping on certain days when parked vehicles must be removed, is back in D.C.”  But as most Georgetowners know, that doesn’t apply to Georgetown. Nevertheless, commissioners were still curious as to the specifics of the $3 million proposed for the Georgetown Safety and Mobility Project in the mayor’s budget. 

Ward 2 Council member Brook Pinto’s spokesperson Brian Romanowski again told commissioners that the proposed city budget of 2023 “The Recovery Act” was now awaiting community input before final decisions were made the end of April. Commissioner Kishan Putta again asked that the soon-to-be-at-maximum-capacity Hardy Middle School auditorium and sound system be added to the reconstruction budget along with the new cafeteria. 

The Department of Public Recreation’s Tommie Jones again addressed Georgetown’s three big significant park projects that are slowly moving through the permitting, bidding and vetting construction phases: reconstruction of the Jelleff recreation center and pool, of the baseball field and fencing at Volta Park and of the field houses and possibly parking at Duke Ellington Field. All have gone through a number of town meetings — though not nearly enough, according to commissioners, who are now into the second and third years of promises to show concrete construction plans and schedules. Jones apologized for the delays and reiterated again that the projects were ongoing but their estimated schedules and costs could likely be subject to change… with subsequent community meetings as part of the process. Discussion of lighting and parking concerns for collaborative events at the Ellington Field were a particular focus at the meeting. 

Safeway store manager Craig S. Gross made a presentation of the changes being implemented at the supermarket store at 1855 Wisconsin Ave. NW that include upgrades in products, services and the general aesthetics of the store, which has been undergoing a very slow reset over the past year. The flower, beer and wine, meat and fish departments are being improved or moved. There will be a taco and a sushi bar as well as quickly prepared pizza. There will be catering by Balducci’s. Gross expects a June 1 completion. He said the store employs 247 persons and hopes to hire 40 more. 

Also, Vivien Tsang, owner of Dent Place Market at 1643 34th St. NW, spoke of her business’s purchase and renovation of Sara’s Market at 3008 Q St. NW which closed last summer. While an opening date was not given, she did say, “We probably will continue the dry cleaning service there.” 

Then, commissioners John DiPierri and Joe Massaua, who represent Georgetown University, announced that students on Saturday awoke to the announcement that the Car Barn on Prospect Street would be converted into a four-story parking garage …. April Fools! They did, in truth, report that April 28 will be Georgetown Day and — no joke — that residents should expect traffic and partying, as the day celebrates the last day of classes. They also reported students were concerned about the gun shooting incident on Reservoir Road on March 25 and what seemed to them to be a too slow police response time. 

The latest presentation of Transformer statues at 3614 Prospect St. NW: Bumblebee is a larger version than two years ago. Georgetowner photo.

The latest presentation of Transformer statues at 3614 Prospect St. NW: A figure now looks down from the rooftop. Georgetowner photo.

The meeting came alive after 10 p.m. in discussion of the fate of the large Transformer statues — street art, public space incursions and neighborhood nuisances — at 3614 Prospect St. NW. Homeowner Newton Howard, a Georgetown University professor, had been given a temporary permit of six months in 2021 that he responded to by moving a smaller statue to his rooftop and replacing it with a much larger one …  and then ignoring completely the deadline of 16 months earlier. While no neighbor objected to the art itself, most had stories of blocked driveways, sidewalks, privacy incursions and obstruction of the street by sightseers and tourists with absolute impunity. Howard — who did not appear yet again at the meeting, much to almost everyone’s expressed disappointment — has filed another permit application with the Old Georgetown Board — with another awaited result. Some neighbors suggested the transformers be removed to an on-campus site university since the statues are quite innovative and fun in themselves. 

Despite the hour, neighbors spoke civilly and passionately about their frustrations until the meeting was adjourned about 11:30 p.m. 




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