The Week Ahead… And Updates on DC General, RFK, and Boys and Girls Club
by Larry Janezich
The Week Ahead…
Tuesday, June 30
- ANC6B Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the July 14 regular meeting of the Commission.
Saturday, July 4
- Fourth of July Parade on Barracks Row starts at 10:00am.
Last Thursday night, at a meeting of the ANC6B Hill East Task Force, chaired by resident member Brynn Barnett, city officials told the 40 or so Hill East Residents that there is no quick solution to closing DC General and the closing will depend on decentralizing care for the homeless to small neighborhood-based high quality shelters spread throughout the city. The Department of Human Services has not found sites for the smaller shelters in Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6; officials also mentioned that finding a home for all homeless who qualify for shelter will predate any closing of DC General.
Regarding the siting of new shelters, Brenda Donald, Deputy Mayor for HHS said, “There are going to be some unpopular decisions made,” adding, “this [closing DC General] is a commitment, and it will be done thoughtfully and respectfully.” Donald also said, “This is not going to work if it brings down a neighborhood.”
Last April, Mayor Bowser released a plan to close DC General in two years. It’s not clear from the remarks of officials briefing the community last night that that plan is a realistic one.
Councilmember Charles Allen also appeared at the Hill East meeting last Thursday to tell residents that he expects Events DC, a quasi-public body to recommend a new football stadium to replace RFK – this in light of Mayor Bowser’s hopes to return football to DC. Events DC oversees the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and manages the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. It also built and now serves as landlord for Nationals Park.
Allen said, “I told the mayor ‘We don’t want a football stadium there,’” He continued, “She wants one. “ He went on to say, “I don’t think it’s the best use for the site. I’ll keep pushing for the Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park.” (See here: http://www.capitolriverside.org/ ) ”If I can’t stop it, I can influence the final product.” Allen said, ”I don’t think I see how a football stadium works with its acres of asphalt.” He said the city needs input on RFK from the neighborhood – saying that the community input can be very powerful.
In response to questions, Allen refused to rule out a use as a professional football stadium, including one that would necessitate public funding, saying only, “I’m not sure public financing in necessary.”
Boys and Girls Club
In response to a question raised by CHC, Allen also addressed the pending award by the Department of General Services (DGS) of a contract to redevelop the Boys and Girls Club, saying “John Kayne [acting director of DGS] has been silent.” Allen replied that “the ultimate decision is within DGS, and they don’t want to reopen the process.” Allen said he had asked DGS if the lease terms (25 years which precludes private financing and makes viable only bids which rely on public financing – such as through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program) could be modified and was told DGS would stick with the current lease terms.
Allen noted that the “ANC and other folks were not thrilled with the proposal and that tells me they’re not ready to move on it.” Allen said he had tried to evaluate another 100% senior housing by the developer (Dantes Partners) – The Hodge – and found that the residents were “thrilled” with it. Hill East Task Force Pat Taylor pointed out that the Hodge part of a larger building complex with retail and parking – amenities which will be lacking at the Boys and Girls Club site. ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahave, has gone on record saying he thought that – given the controversial nature of the project – Kayne was waiting for a permanent director of DGS to be appointed and confirmed.