Fort Stevens Recreation Center, Van Buren and 13th Streets, N.W., Washington, DC
Commissioner Whatley called the meeting to order at 7:24pm.
Roll Call: Commissioners Kimberly Boyd, Dave Wilson, Marian Bennett, Dwayne Toliver, Gale Black, Habieba Israel, Karl Kennedy and Stephen Whatley were present.
1. ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS:
a. Minutes: ANC 4A unanimously voted to table the minutes for April 2011.
b. Treasurer’s Report: Commissioner Black submitted the April 2011 Treasurer’s Report, without objection. Motion by Commissioner Black to approve the Treasurer’s Report; seconded by Commissioner Bennett. ANC 4A unanimously approved the Treasurer’s Report.
c. Modified Budget: Resolution to modify the budget to establish a petty cash fund, not to exceed $250 per month. Motion by Commissioner Whatley to approve the Treasurer’s Report; seconded by Commissioner Wilson. ANC 4A unanimously approved the Modified Budget.
d. Relocation of our current savings account to an institution that pays more and that would not require federal tax withholding.
a. Walter Reed Army Medical Center: No one appeared or delivered a report.
b. Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser (see Community Concerns, Section 5, Page 4).
c. The Office of the Mayor: Brandon Starkes (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ward 4 Outreach & Service Specialist, appeared, but had no report.
d.i. April robberies in Brightwood occurred at following locations: 1400 block of Underwood Street NW, 6100 block of Georgia Avenue NW, 6500 block of 14th Street, 5900 block of Georgia Avenue NW, and 6200 block of Georgia Avenue NW.
d.ii. Earlier this evening, a suspicious vehicle attempted to enter the MPD 4th District parking lot. Due to heightened security, canines were used to perform extensive search of vehicle. All was clear.
d.iii. Littering Enforcement Pilot Project began May 1, 2011. Throughout May, MPD will issue warnings to violators. Beginning June 1, 2011, anyone violating the city’s littering law may be issued an actual ticket in the amount of $75. The fine increases to $100 for littering out of a vehicle.
d.iv. MPD would like to raise public awareness about gas station safety. There has been an increase in thefts from autos at gas stations. MPD warned to lock doors and remove all valuables and keys from vehicle while pumping gas. The Shell gas station located at New Hampshire and Eastern (across from McDonalds) is not cooperating with police in sharing video footage, etc.
d.v. Upcoming Events – “Beat the Street” was cancelled due to rain. “Spring into Summer” on 100 block of Kennedy Street scheduled for June 4, 2011 from 12-3pm. Question from Commissioner Toliver – Is there a way to have patrols at 14th and Eastern? Traffic has been a problem. Officer Straker will look into it.
e. The District of Columbia Fire Department: No one appeared or delivered a report.
a. Colon Cancer Prevention Program: Stacy Bradner (Tel: 202: 865-7741; email: email@example.com) and Dr. Chukwuma Umunakwe from the Howard University Cancer Center delivered presentation on the benefits of early screening for colon cancer. Through a grant funded by the DC Cancer Consortium, all DC residents between the ages of 50-64 qualify for a free colonoscopy. However, if you’re not over 50 but having symptoms, they can get you approved for treatment. This grant also provides free transportation, preparation, and anything else needed for diagnosis. African Americans should begin screening at the age of 45. Commissioner Israel raised a concern about the insured having to travel outside of the city for these tests because even if you have an HMO plan you cannot be tested in DC unless you’re uninsured. Davis Kennedy (firstname.lastname@example.org) of The Current Newspapers inquired about the out-of-pocket costs to self-pay for a colonoscopy. The answer is $1200 - $1500. Question from Commissioner Whatley – how do we get this information electronically to get it out on our list serves? Stacy Bradner will see that information is forwarded to our office for dissemination to constituents. Grant expires on September 31, 2011. Will continue scoping and providing the service until the money runs out.
b. Mrs. Rosa Lee on the 5 cents bag tax in DC did not appear or deliver a report.
c. Shepherd Park Citizens Association Grant Request – Rosalyn Coates, President of SPCA appeared requesting a grant in the amount of $2000 to help fund the annual SPCA picnic on Sunday, June 26 from 2-5pm at the Lowell School. This is the 9th year the picnic will be held. The event typically draws residents from Shepherd Park, Colonial Village and North Portal Estates. It receives lots of support from area businesses including food donations from local restaurants. The picnic has become an activity the residents look forward to with entertainment from area musicians and magicians. The money requested will help to pay for some of the expenses. Total budget is around $6000 for the event. The $2000 will help pay for the prizes, games, children’s activities. The event will also recognize members of the police department and the community who have worked very hard to enhance the quality of life for area residents. Michael Sindram asked date, time and location of event. Commissioner Toliver wanted it to be clear that the grant is not going to be used for food, entertainment, etc. and moved to support the grant. Seconded by all. Commissioner Black says per auditor we should not approve a grant on the same day it is presented. Commissioner Toliver questioned the need for two votes on this matter and requested to see this from the auditor in writing. Commissioner Israel stated we should abide by policies and procedures to be in compliance. Commissioner Whatley recommended we vote to approve contingent upon the DC auditor saying we are in compliance of the vote. Commissioner Wilson wondered when the auditor became involved in our grant process and thought we controlled our own agenda and the way we vote. Commissioner Whatley ruled we take the vote tonight and let the chips fall where they may. All were in favor with the exception of Commissioner Black.
d. Office of Planning Project Manager, Gizachew Andargeh (email@example.com) and Ward 4 Neighborhood Planner, Malaika Abernathy (firstname.lastname@example.org) have been holding public meetings since the fall of last year about the 14th Street Corridor Vision Plan and Revitalization Strategy. To date there have been 4 public meetings. Plan is focused primarily on commercial revitalization. The effort will focus on three commercial nodes: Spring to Shepherd Streets NW, Webster to Decatur Streets NW, and Jefferson to Longfellow Streets NW. The final public meeting is scheduled for May 21 from 10am -1pm. The location has yet to be determined but will either be at the Kingsbury School or Powell Elementary. Commissioner Boyd – what types of shops will come to the node 3 commercial area? Answer – restaurants. Has a budget been developed at all for each of these nodes? Answer – no official budget has been created yet. Commissioner Whatley – what would you like for the Commission to do? Answer - get the information out to the community and come to final meeting.
4. COMMISSIONER DISCUSSIONS/PRESENTATIONS:
a. Wal-Mart Large Track Review. Commissioner Whatley felt that due to the recent communication from DDoT, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to vote on this tonight because we don’t have enough information on what the final large track review is going to look like. The DDoT letter summarized all of the problems they’ve had over several months and Wal-Mart has neglected to respond. Commissioner Wilson respectfully disagreed since we will not have another meeting prior to the May 25 deadline for filing comments. The Wal-Mart Large Track review is supposed to deal with the minimization of adverse impact on a neighborhood with traffic being one of the major issues. The question is has Wal-Mart studied/retained a group to do a traffic impact analysis? If so, what they have is inadequate. Commissioner Wilson feels important assertions are made in the study without supporting information….the review lacks data or working examples of how they plan to deal with traffic. Councilmember Bowser says Wal-Mart has the burden of proof and that they need to address DDots questions and other issues showing the inadequacy of the report. Commissioner Israel would have preferred all background information been provided physically to the commissioners and not via email the day of the meeting to properly evaluate all issues in their entirety. Commissioner Toliver responded with an acknowledgement that Commissioner Wilson received this assignment only last Thursday and that it is important to task commissioners with certain assignments and rely on them. Commissioner Toliver deferred to Commissioner Wilson’s comments because he agreed with what he was saying. Commissioner Whatley moved that the ANC 4A oppose approval of the Large Track Review concerning Wal-Mart with the stipulation that the opposition will be suspended if the extension of the comment period to June 30 is granted. Commissioner Wilson moved to oppose the approval of the Large Track Review. Commissioner Whatley suggested tabling the motion until the end of the meeting. Commissioner Toliver reported that DDoT appeared at main ANC meeting and suggested we send a letter. Commissioner Whatley will send letter after he receives/reviews copy of email to DDoT from Commissioner Toliver.
b. Coolidge/Roosevelt HS Proposed Merger. Urban myth. Not going to occur. Taken off the table.
c. Commissioner Black raised the following concerns:
c.i. Redistricting. Commissioner Black discussed the importance of keeping the Ward 4 boundaries as they are and not allowing Ward 3 to take part of Ward 4. The Ward 4 boundaries do not require change right now because we are at the requisite 75,000. Commissioner Black had a motion urging ANC 4A to send a letter to the Council Subcommittee on Redistricting recommending the Ward 4 boundaries remain the same. Commissioner Israel seconded the motion. Commissioner Black will draft the letter.
c.ii. Fort Stevens Senior Program. Commissioner Black’s constituents have voiced concern over recent changes to the Fort Stevens senior program. Various social activities at this center have been removed and transferred to Emory. Councilmember Bowser stated there have been staff changes but no program changes at Fort Stevens. Commissioner Black will follow up with Councilmember Bowser because she’s heard differently.
c.iii. Water Bill. Commissioner Black feels we need to get the word out on the increase in fees raised last October by DCWASA. People don’t understand why their bills are higher now. Commissioner Whatley suggested we invite WASA to the next meeting and reserve a space for them on the June agenda.
5. COMMUNITY CONCERNS:
a. Michael Sindram – Wants the ANC 4A to be in compliance with notices and feels the consumer protection component of DCRA needs to be reinstated. Commissioner Toliver shared that this function is now being handled by the Office of the Attorney General. Mr. Sindram also feels more can be done about recycling in Ward 4. Mentioned that our ward does not have blue recycling receptacles like in NOMA and China Town and says recycling is a “win-win” for everyone.
b. Councilmember Bowser addressed the following issues:
b.i. Councilmember Bowser thanked Commissioner Black for her testimony regarding redistricting and stated the Board of Elections would like for us to match SMDs with precincts. However, where there has been relatively small growth like we’ve had there may not be that opportunity.
b.ii. Councilmember Bowser recently co-hosted a meeting with Mayor Gray on attempts to close a $322 million dollar budget gap. Some of the biggest concerns surround the cessation of neighborhood services that we rely on. For example, 40 –73 of our sweep inspectors may be cut, the NIFF grant, façade improvement programs and green teams. Councilmember Bowser will continue working with committees to see if funds can be restored. Other issues affected are police/public safety and education. Councilmember Bowser does not feel we should be raising taxes on incomes in order to close the gap. Alternatives are extending liquor store sales hours for Sunday sales and up to midnight during the weekdays.
b.iii. DDoT projects. Toured Broad Branch road (two huge sinkholes) that rendered the road non-passable. Awaiting answer on how soon we can get this road reopened. Toured Kalmia between East Beach and West Beach which has a bigger sinkhole that opened during summer storm. DDoT has a plan for the repair of that road in the calendar year.
b.iv. Met with 300 Ward 4 seniors last week to talk about housing and dining and other things that will benefit seniors in the ward.
b.v. Met with ANC 4B regarding 6425 Georgia Avenue. The Mayor has pulled back the surplus and disposition of the property – DC reclaimed it and will get plans in motion.
b.vi. Blockbuster site – brainstorming ways to lease the site rather than sell.
b.vii. Asked Mayor to reconvene meeting of LRA relating to Walter Reed so we can continue to discuss the planning of the frontage of Georgia Avenue and making it accessible to District of Columbia residents.
b.viii. Wal-Mart. Councilmember Bowser is pleased that DDoT is doing exactly what they should do with Large Track Reviews. DDoT is using the tool to protect the community. DDoT has given comments and said the applicant has been nonresponsive. Councilmember Bowser recommended to ANC 4B that they not take any votes on it because the application is incomplete. No decisions should be rendered until there is a complete application.
b.ix. Plans for the redevelopment of the Petworth Safeway are moving forward. No specifics yet. Safeway has agreed to invest millions of dollars in improvements to the store to things such as lighting, coolers, flooring, and noise control around perimeter of facility.
b.x. Looks forward to being a sponsor (as she is every year) for Shepherd Park Day.
6. QUESTIONS/COMMENTS FOR COUNCILMEMBER BOWSER:
a. Commissioner Black asked a question about Klingle Road and the environmental issues in and around Ward 4. Is the council not going to do anything about the area deemed an environmental hazard years ago? Councilmember Bowser responded that all but 4 members of the Council voted to close it and Bowser was not part of that group. Based on studies conducted, it will be very costly (millions) to make it a bike trail and that’s what’s delaying the progress. Councilmember Bowser feels there are too few routes across the park that any of them can be restricted to only hikers and bikers.
b. Councilmember Bowser addressed Michael Sindram’s question about the consumer protection move to office of attorney general. Councilmember Bowser explained that they did not exact a lot of business for DC residents. She continued to say it was a fiscally sound idea and expects the effect and impact will be good. However, we have to make sure the Attorney General is going to be scrappy and a fighter for us.
c. Commissioner Kennedy inquired about Shepherd Field and when the work would commence. Councilmember Bowser said the Council approved the contract. It will cost$ 1.6M to complete the work. A contractor will be mobilized within 2-3 weeks so expect an end of May or early June start date. Commissioner Toliver questioned where the increase in budget/cost is coming from since the original budget (given to The Friends of Shepherd Park) was only $1.050M. Councilmember Bowser stated that $1.5m was originally secured, but somehow $500,000 was used in another project. Commissioner Toliver expressed concern about The Friends of Shepherd Park not being brought back into the discussion about the cost being $1.6M. Councilmember Bowser said in terms of the recreation investments in this community, it’s not a lot, but certainly wants to make sure what the Council came out with is totally transparent.
7. COMMUNITY CONCERNS:
a. Dr. Frances Welsing of 6025 16th Street is concerned about playground noise. Commissioner Whatley will contact the school tomorrow and have the school contact Dr. Welsing directly to see if they can work out the issue.
b. Ms. Delores Bondurant asked if there has been any meeting to discuss the adverse impact of South Silver Spring development on Shepherd Park. Commissioner Toliver replied this topic was discussed in the last DDoT meeting. Ms. Bondurant is also concerned about dogs/dog walkers on the 7900-8000 block of 14th street close to eastern avenue. Ms. Bondurant claims the dog walkers have turned the side streets into a dog park and we should try to do something about it. Asked if we could reach out to Montgomery County asking them to establish a dog park for all apartment residents in the area. Counted 20-25 dogs on a single day. Getting out of hand. Concerned number will grow with development. Commissioner Whatley asked if the MPD Littering Program fine include dogs? Councilmember Bowser says no. Commissioner Toliver stated the area by Blair Apartments has those green canisters for owners to clean up after their dogs and that Shepherd Park didn’t want those for fear they would attract more dogs/dog walkers.
8. MOTION CONCERNING WAL-MART
a. Commissioner Wilson moved to file comments on the Wal-Mart Large Track Review stating that the traffic impact study is insufficient and incomplete as shown in the DDoT letter and that the Large Track Review be suspended unless and until it is completed and submitted. The above resolution shall itself be suspended if time for filing comments is extended to June 30.
b. Commissioner Whatley reviewed the Wal-Mart Community Benefits Package:
b.i. Priority hire of Ward 4 residents
b.ii. Replace resident employees that leave with other Ward 4 residents
b.iii. Competitive wages
b.iv. Establishment of a Wal-Mart – Community Residents Working Group
b.v. Establishment of a Wal-Mart – Community Business Working Group
b.vi. Traffic Control Officers during peak periods
b.vii. Establishment of set delivery periods
b.viii. Establishment of Stay-in-School Jobs (HS and College)
b.ix. Discount prices for school uniforms
b.x. Scholarships and Internships
b.xi. Wal-Mart signs the Community Benefits Agreement
b.xii. Commissioner Toliver added that they should use a portion of their foundation funds to support organizations that benefit 4A.
c. Commissioner Kennedy asked how all of this will this be enforced if they prove to be non-compliant? Commissioner Whatley’s answer was that they would have to follow the guidelines of First Source through the Office of Employment services.
d. Commissioner Toliver feels it’s important to claim a seat at the table during the community benefit discussions - fears that at some point the list will become unrealistic and lack credibility. Commissioner Whatley agreed that at some point in time we need to have one inclusive package.
e. Councilmember Bowser suggested segmenting our wish list into buckets, stressing the citywide implications of the workforce development component. Councilmember Bowser also raised the question of how we mitigate the impact of the development on traffic, parking, and small business owners. Bowser stated that whatever DDoT says is required has to be borne by the developer. Council is contemplating a program that will support the corridor (e.g., façade improvements) run through the Wal-Mart foundation.
f. Commissioner Israel asked if there is an enforcement component within the package. Councilmember Bowser answered that Wal-Mart has never entered into an enforceable agreement and that the area we’re entering in is largely unchartered.
g. Commissioner Wilson suggested having a Community Advisory Board.
h. Commissioner Black raised the concern about ANC Commissioner affiliation with non-profits and that if there is such an affiliation, money or gifts should not be exchanged.
i. Davis Kennedy of The Current Newspapers wondered if there was any possibility for having an agreement where there would be a major fine if Wal-Mart is not in compliance.
j. Commissioner Whatley moved to table the benefits package until the next meeting.
Commissioner Whatley moved to adjourn the meeting. Commissioner Toliver seconded adjournment.
Meeting adjourned at 9:15pm.
ANC 4A COMMISSIONERS
ANC 4A01 Commissioner Karl Kennedy North Portal Estates, Colonial Village, and portions of Shepherd Park
ANC 4A02 Commissioner Dwayne M. Toliver (Secretary) Shepherd Park
ANC 4A03 Commissioner Stephen A. Whatley (Chair) Portions of Shepherd Park and Brightwood
ANC 4A04 Commissioner Marian C. Bennett (Vice Chair) Brightwood
ANC 4A05 Commissioner Habieba Snow-Israel Fort Stevens and Brightwood
ANC 4A06 Commissioner Kimberly Boyd Brightwood
ANC 5A07 Commissioner Dave Wilson 16th Street Heights
ANC 4A08 Commissioner Gale Black (Treasurer) Crestwood, Crestwood North and portions of 16th Street Heights