ANC Tackles Parks, Public Spaces, Crime, Leaf Collection
By November 6, 2023 0 458•
She tried. She really did. Gwen Lohse, chair of ANC 2E, had timed each item of her lengthy November ANC meeting – held Oct. 29, all remote – to a reasonable time allotment. But the issues outran the schedule.
Of the nearly one-dozen reports by city officials and organizations, one particularly confusing issue – per last year – arose from an unsure report about when, where and how exactly the city’s fall leaf pick-up would begin and when or if residents should bag (plastic or paper?), free-throw into trash pails or free-style rake their leaves into tree boxes, curbs, streets or their neighbor’s yard (just kidding about the last option, though it was surely thought about). Commissioner Putta begged for “just a simple map” from the city of leaf pick-ups by date and zone.
Putta also dropped a “probably-won’t-happen-but-keep-your-eye-on-it” bombshell when he announced that Ward 3 City Council member Matthew Frumin had proposed stopping all further construction at the Georgetown/Palisades area’s new MacArthur High School at 4500 MacArthur Ave. and instead move the entire school to the now empty, 660,000 square-foot, modern building of the defunct Whittle School at 3400 International Dr. NW, in the former Intelsat building at Van Ness.
Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto’s spokesperson Brian Romanowski (202-724-8058) urged residents to be involved in the process of reforming crime response and enforcement measures as envisioned in Pinto’s latest “Secure DC” crime bill. Nov. 8 is a next-step target date of action, amendments and announcements on the D.C. Council.
The mayor’s office appealed similarly for resident input in reporting crime to help target recidivists for detention under Mayor Bowser’s latest emergency crime bill. A stricter new sexual harassment policy — prohibiting romantic relationships among government employees who work in the same chain of command —was announced for D.C. government workers as well.
Unfortunately, the meeting’s schedule began to fall apart when Tommie Jones, chief of external affairs for DC Parks and Recreation, took more than his allotted time to update the progress of the three major park projects in Georgetown: the refurbishment of Jelleff Recreation Center and pool at 3265 S St. NW; the rebuilding of the field houses and some track enhancements at Ellington Field on 3500 R St. NW; and, improvements to the baseball field at Volta Park.
All these projects have been undergoing years of studies, town hall meetings, concept designs and planning with constant postponements and rescheduling and changes of meetings to view the final plans and announce construction dates. Yet, once again, Jones announced the department is hard at work to schedule a town meeting. Most of the commissioners politely reminded Jones of hearing the same thing now as last Spring and even before. But new commissioner, Daniel Chao, could not hide his impatience. “Have you even read what we have sent you?,” he asked Jones pointedly.
NOTE: A few days after the ANC meeting, Jones announced a community meeting on Wednesday Nov. 8 from 6-7:30 p.m., virtual or in person, at the Georgetown Neighborhood Library at 3260 R. St. NW to “join the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the DC Department of General Services (DGS) to see the updated concept designs, hear about the scope of work and timeline for the Jelleff project and to also provide comments and feedback.” Everyone is invited.
But the ANC still had two sticky issues to get through. One was the public space project that had taken so much time at the last meeting. Mainly, it’s about a contract for the Georgetown BID to study and determine the fate of Georgetown’s popular streateries program and not-so-popular expanded sidewalks projects onto platforms covering mainly former parking places in front of stores and eateries on M St. and Wisconsin Ave. in Georgetown. The platforms had been designed and put up during the pandemic.
But there’s much concern about BID doing the expanded study and its cost as well as what and whom it will benefit, especially in light of complaints and petitioning from the newly-formed Georgetown Coalition for Public Spaces (GCPS). Commissioner Paul Maysak referred to a petition from GCPS in opposition that was first put together by five knowledgeable and highly respected former commissioners. “Are you aware that the petition now has over 1500 signatures?,” Maysak asked. There seemed to be agreement that many of the so-called Jersey barriers marking the streateries and platform were not being maintained and were unsightly. Again, the fate of the two-year-plus BID contract as well as pending purchases of publicly unvetted street furniture will be continued.
A detailed Georgetown traffic and transportation study being completed by DC DDOT was also discussed at length. Commissioners and residents who called in are anxious to see the results so far and make sure their input is included. Commissioner Daniel Chao and others again expressed concern about the transparency of these government studies.