ANC2E: Cannabis, Vandalism, Fire, Traffic Study, TJ St. Project                                 

The Georgetown-Burleith-Hillandale Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s June 29 meeting for July started with a grateful goodbye to ANC2E Chair Elizabeth Miller. Her family’s downsizing move from Q Street to O Street puts her two blocks out of her single-member district, and therefore she had to resign. “I’ll still be around though,” Miller said. The full agenda of the five-hour meeting proved there was a lot to be around for!

The crime report from two Metropolitan Police Department officers focused on a new campaign to close down large illegal marijuana retailers and distributers in D.C. “There are only a few authorized medical marijuana shops in D.C. – fewer than ten. Gifting marijuana legally is allowed for a home grower to a friend in need, perhaps. But people taking out business licenses to distribute large amounts of marijuana as gifts, that is not allowed, according to the officers, who added they will be closing those shops down.

As for the fire at the gravesite of seven-year-old Nannie at Mt. Zion Cemetery at 27th and Q Streets, both MPD and a D.C. arson investigator announced that “a person of interest” had been identified and is being questioned. The person is homeless, frequents the cemetery and is known as a “mental illness services consumer,” as one of the officers put it. No charges have been made as yet. There is no known motivation, police told commissioners.

“There is also no indication at all of any accelerant that was used in the fire,” added the investigator. “Most of the items burned were toys made of light plastic that easily catch fire in an open flame.”

Black Georgetown Chairman Neville Waters and former advisory neighborhood commissioner Monica Roche, who each have family members buried at the historic Black cemetery, expressed concerns about a possible hate crime.

Investigators of the two-alarm fire at Ristorante Piccolo at 1068 31st St. NW, early in the afternoon on June 29, was trying to determine the cause and damage — mainly from heavy water usage — the DC Fire & EMS spokesperson reported to the ANC.

Liaison aides to Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto announced that the D.C. 2023-4 budget was completed and contained “lots of wins for Georgetown,” including authorizations for projects at Duke Ellington Field, Volta Park and Jelleff Recreation Center and pool. Town meetings — virtual as well as in-person — with city officials and contractors were announced for the Ellington Field project on July 18 and Jelleff on July 11, with details to follow. “There are still lots of issues to be addressed,” said commissioner Kishan Putta.

Details of a holistic transportation study exclusively for Georgetown were laid out by DDOT project director Ted Van Houten. Beginning in March of 2023 with a public meeting, there are two more town meetings scheduled along with report draft reviews. A fund of $75,000 has been activated to pay for any recommendations that may need implementing in the near future, such as a speed bump during the study period. About $3 million has been allotted for future projects identified by the study. Those can include new parking signs, areas, and the like. An interactive project map will be maintained by the agencies involved. The study and final recommendations are scheduled to be completed by March 2024.

Commissioner Putta announced that the new principal for Hardy Middle School is Maurine Westover.

The all student-volunteer emergency services response program out of Georgetown University called GERMS reported that they had served almost 1,000 patients last year – both students and Georgetown residents – with emergency procedures and transportation help. All the volunteers are trained and certified and are available at night. To access them call 202-687-4337.

New outdoor street furniture for Georgetown – some of it from Vienna, Austria – was discussed at length following a Georgetown Business Improvement District proposal to replace the multicolored but tired-looking metal bistro furniture found throughout Georgetown’s outdoor parks and miniparks up and down Wisconsin Avenue and M Street and at Georgetown Waterfront Park. Bold-color, minimalist plastic settees, chairs and tables — as seen in Vienna, Austria — was included in a BID proposal. But there were criticism of the Enzi-style pieces. Former advisory neighborhood commissioner Tom Birch, who is on the board of the Friends of  Georgetown Waterfront Park strongly objected to the design as “inappropriate” to the natural environmental mission of the waterfront park.

“Maybe we could just try some of the pieces in the park for a month or so,” suggested commissioner Topher Mathews. “No!” said Birch. “That’s a camel’s nose under the tent.”

What the commissioners did approve unanimously were the reconstruction plans for two Georgetown houses of worship.

The Georgetown Lutheran Church — the town’s oldest congregation — at 1556 Wisconsin Ave. NW will restore its bell tower, including replacing steps, reopening louvres and doing roof repairs, along with other restoration work supported by grants. An addition to the Jewish orthodox synagogue, Kesher Israel, at 2801 N St. NW will also involve some renovation work. That project will be done in two phases.

Well over an hour was spent discussing the preliminary plans of a huge project along Thomas Jefferson Street — the complete reconfiguration of the two large office buildings, from K Street to almost mid-block — that calls for 300 apartments (with some 300 parking places supposedly) and some ground floor retail. The buildings will be redesigned with serrated floors and spaces and includes an alleyway that connects 31st and Thomas Jefferson Streets.

However, there are significant objections from owners of apartments in the adjacent Wadsworth House with 32 condominiums on 31st Street. Resident and former advisory neighborhood commissioner Bill Starrels (who is a photographer for The Georgetowner) pointed out that there will be serious and documented impacts on the owners, pedestrians and many visitors to that section of Georgetown. “We are all for converting office buildings to needed apartments and used spaces,” Starrels told the commissioners, “but this is a larger scale project than even Washington Harbour. The proposed massing and height alone must be considered carefully.”

“I don’t expect to get it through the first review of the architectural review board,” said the architect. The ANC approved a resolution of general support.

The next ANC2E meeting is scheduled for Sept. 5.




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