Last week the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District (MVTCID) held its annual meeting on the rooftop of the Lyric Apartments at 440K. The meeting had a great turnout including an appearance by Mayor Vincent Gray. Gina Schaefer, owner of 5th Street Ace Hardware, was bestowed the FY 2013 Public Service Award for Outstanding Leadership and Dedication to the Community. For more details visit the MVTCID press release for contents of the powerpoint presentation click [here].
We’ve had some great discussion in the comments section on the four 5th & I RFP finalists since my last posting on the subject on January 8th. Many of you cast your support for the Peebles proposal for the Standard Hotel. In fact one reader started an iPetition titled “Bring Standard Hotel to 5th & I Street NW” in favor of the Peebles proposal that has collected 35 signatures.
Per the suggestion of one commenter I watched a video (Youtube, beginning 13 minutes into the segment) of the January 8th ANC6E meeting that covered the topic of the 5th & I RFP proposals. I would disagree with the characterization that the ANC mostly read comments that opposed the Standard Hotel proposal. Point of views that were both for and against elements of each proposal were orated. Putting the affordable housing from the Peebles proposal in Anacostia rather than MVT did garner slightly stronger words but I think everyone should be prepared for that as it was the most controversial aspect of any of the proposals. Unfortunately it was not a fair characterization as Peebles pledged to put the units in a mixed-income building, not a low income building. However affordable housing is an emotionally charged issue and supporters sometimes get tunnel vision and only see the negatives and disregard other details that don’t support their narrative.
After watching the video I agree with ANC6E’s overall approach. Commissioner Marge Maceda, who represents the impacted Single Member District (6E05), feels the MOST consistent feedback she has received over many months is that residents want a park. The ANC recognizes that this is the last parcel of land in the Mount Vernon Triangle that is not privately owned. This parcel is our last real bargaining chip for community amenities in MVT. ANC6E has recommended that each of the four finalists commit to putting $2.5 million into an escrow for the Seaton and Milian park improvements in their BAFOs (Best & Final Offers). I would infer that level of commitment would put a proposal on excellent footing to receive the support of the ANC.
The potential developers for the 5th and I St. NW RFP will be presenting plans to the community on Thursday, December 19th at 6:30pm. The meeting will be held at the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District office at 901 4th St. NW. The meeting will be videotaped.
The following developers were selected as finalists for the project:
- Akridge, Jefferson Apartment Group, Jarvis Company, Escoff and Associates
- JBG, Moddie Turay Company, Morris Adjmi Architects, Eric Colbert and Associates
- Trammell Crow, CSG Urban Partners, Leo A Daly
- Peebles Corporation, Walker Group, WDG Architects
A reader from The Sonata shared highlights on the meeting minutes from the recent public meeting on August 19th regarding the issues surrounding the park at 2nd/Mass & H. This is the park that recently has been referred to as Cobbs Park…
Members of the Mt Vernon Triangle met earlier this week to discuss the safety/sanitation/crime/homelessness issues at the park located at 2nd & Mass NW (sometimes referred to as Cobb Park). Elected Officials included representatives from CM Wells’s office, the Deputy Mayor’s office, and ANCs 6E04, 6E05 and 2C02. ANC 6E07 Alfreda Judd (who represents the neighborhood in question) did not attend.
All invited city agencies sent representatives (DPR, DHS, DGS, DMH, MPD). The television station WJLA, which has been following the story, sent a reporter to cover the meeting.
Residents complained about the increasing (and well publicized) incidents of public urination, defecation, sexual intercourse, prostitution, and general harassment in the area. Some residents also expressed concern about the negative tone of email listservs / blogs regarding the homeless and reminded everyone in attendance that the neighborhood should not be trying to criminalize homelessness.
Commander Hickson of MPD-1D talked at length about the homelessness issue and the fact that 50+ arrests have been made in 30 days (most for minor offenses open containers of alcohol).
Key points from MPD:
- He assured the neighborhood that no hard drugs are present – MPD is using undercover officers, surveillance. The packets that are being exchanged are synthetic marijuana, which is a major problem in the city at the moment.
- If an individual or a group is blocking the entrance of the building the Code states that officers have to give them the opportunity to come into compliance by issuing a verbal warning. If subjects then move along, there are no arrests made.
- Prostitution is a misdemeanor, but it has to be witnessed by the officer or an undercover officer. DC does not designate “prostitution-free” zones with signs anymore because the Supreme Court ruled against NYC on a similar issue, costing the city millions.
- Police can work with communities to combat prostitution through traffic enforcement. For example, 2nd and K St. NE has no right turns after a certain time of day, which makes it harder for johns to circle the block.
- Police are patrolling the park every 2 hours during the day and squad cars are clearing people out at night because the signs state “Park Closes at Dusk.” Police cannot necessarily arrest people for being in the park at night; they must ask them to leave and can ban them from the park in the future.
Representatives from the Mayor’s office discussed long-term solutions to the homelessness crisis in DC (such as affordable housing initiatives), but none seemed to address the critical issue at hand (both for individuals in the park and residents in the area).
DPR wants MVT residents “to be present in our parks,” and “use them” to discourage undesirables. That message, while laudable, seemed to fall on deaf ears for residents who fear for their personal safety and have experienced loud & aggressive harassment while walking in the vicinity.
The idea of creating a playground in the park was discouraged by DPR and had previously been considered and rejected by a parent’s group in the area due to the busy and complicated intersection of H and Mass.
- Residents should continue to call 911 rather than 311; that is the only way the police can document actionable upticks and send the appropriate respons
- Mayor office to circle back to set up a progress report meeting, possibly by the September 17th MVSNA Meeting
- Commander Hickson wants residents to learn your Police Service Area (“PSA”), attend PSA meetings, get on listserve, get to know the Lt. responsible for our area
- Cdr Hickson offered the idea of a park clean-up; he will have officers on hand as escorts
- Create a “Friends of the Park” organization. Use the park- have movies, yoga, community nights, and anything that establishes a community base in the park.
- ANC member requested a walk-through with DPR to clean up the park, fix crumbling concrete, paint, cleaning, etc and find budget to support a clean-up effort.
Wednesday, March 14th, the Downtown DC Kids (website | facebook) playground group will meet at Calvary Baptist Church at 6 pm. The agenda includes updates, organizational planning for creating a new friends group and planning of their second pop-up play event on Saturday, April 21st at an outdoor location. Downtown DC Kids need lots of volunteers to help make the event a huge success, which they hope will draw a lot of attention from our public officials.
Children are welcome to play in the gym while during the meeting.
WHAT: Downtown DC Playground Group Meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 at 6 pm
WHERE: Calvary Baptist Church, Shallenberger Hall/Gym
For more information on the organizations playgrounds initiative read the op-ed that Downtown DC Kids founders Caroline Armijo and Danielle Pierce contributed to Greater Greater Washington yesterday.
Image Credit: Playground image is from flickr user xcode
Agenda from MVT CID Executive Director Bill McLeod:
- Welcome and introductions
- Mount Vernon Triangle Festival
- Time: 11:00-5:00 or 12:00-6:00
- Date: September 17 or October 1st
- Potential Sponsors
- Kids Area
- Durkl Stage
- Target Audience
The ANC 6C Alcohol Beverage and Licensing Committee will meet tonight (July 5th) at 7pm in the Banquet Room at the District Chophouse (509 7th Street NW).
The agenda includes a discussion and vote on the liquor license application for TEL’VEH – the new wine bar coming to 401 Massachusetts Ave NW. The meeting will also discuss violations of the voluntary agreement of Chinatown Market (519 H St NW).
This month’s Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association (MVSNA) membership meeting will be held on Tuesday May 17th at 7:30pm in the community room of the Yale Loft condominiums (437 New York Ave NW). A main topic of the meeting will be a discussion about the proposed downsizing Donohoe Development for The Arts at 5th & I project.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association is hosting a community meeting Tuesday June 14th at Calvary Baptist Church (755 8th St NW) from 6:30 to 8PM.
Howard Riker, Project Manager from Hines, will brief attendees on the City Center Project. We will have a usual activity report by the MPD on Police Service Area 101. We will be updated on crime and other issues affecting downtown residents and businesses. This is your opportunity to voice concerns, raise issues and ask questions of your MPD representative.
Next Thursday June 16th the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement (MVTCID) is holding a combined Annual Meeting and quarterly Board of Directors meeting. The meeting will start at 5pm and will take place on the upper level of Mandu (453 K Street NW).
The meeting will review the work plans, projects, and finances of Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District. The public is welcome to attend, and voting members may cast their vote for new board members.
The current board of directors includes members of the business community, churches as well as residents of several of the neighborhood’s condo buildings. It is possible the voting will need to elect a new chairman as current chair Jeff Miller has recently taken a job in government with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED).