Monthly Archives: September 2015

Alert Bike Owner and Passersby Foil Brazen Attempted Bike Thefts on Barracks Row Monday PM

Officer G.L. Brown listens as a Brookland resident describes the attempted bike theft. The bikes were leaning against the table in the photo while the owner sat at the table.

Officer G.L. Brown listens as a Brookland resident describes the attempted bike theft. The bikes (in the background) were leaning against the table in the photo while the owner sat at the table.

Alert Bike Owner and Passersby Foil Brazen Attempted Bike Thefts on Barracks Row Monday PM

by Larry Janezich

An alert mother and two passersby foiled the brazen attempt of two youths to steal two $750 bikes virtually from the grasp of the woman who was standing guard over the bikes while her son was inside a Barracks Row eatery ordering sandwiches.  The attempted theft occurred at about 5:00pm today, Labor Day, on the 500 block of Barracks Row, while the sidewalks were crowded with couples on their way to Barracks Row restaurants.

The woman and her son were biking back to Brookland having just left Nationals Park after watching the Nats vs Mets game.  While the woman was seated at an outside table with the bikes leaning against the same table, a youth ran up and snatched one bike, leaped astride and started pedaling furiously away.  The woman yelled, “Thief,” and pursued the youth.  Two passersby, returning from Nationals Park on foot, also yelled at the thief and immediately gave chase.  The woman, suddenly realizing the other unattended bike was at risk, turned and saw a second youth making off with the second bike.  The youth was trying to lift the bike onto 8th Street between two parked cars.  The woman grabbed the bike and wrested it from the thief’s hands, whereupon the youth ran to the corner of 8th and E Streets, following the path the first thief had taken.

Meanwhile, one of the assisting passersby continued pursuing the first youth while the second called 911.  The call was placed at 4:59pm.  After some confusion on the part of the 911 dispatcher as to the relationship between “Barracks Row” and 8th Street (telling the caller that her information showed Barracks Row was on 9th Street) the caller was told “Response in on the way.”

The first thief, seeing his partner running west on E Street bike-less, dropped the bike he was riding near the rear of the Barracks Row 711.  The pair fled on foot and were last seen on 7th Street, heading toward the freeway.  The first bike was returned to its owner.

At 5:10pm, MPD Officer G.L. Brown arrived to take a report on the incident.  Witnesses were able to provide a detailed description of one of the suspects.  Another witness to the attempted bike theft said that the pair of suspects had been hanging out near “bike depots” on Barracks Row for more than an hour.

Capitol Hill Corner has been advocating that the local ANCs strengthen relationships with MPD PSA officials in light of the recent increase in crime.  It would seem that the Barracks Row merchants and restaurateurs and their representative – Barracks Row Main Street – have a substantial interest in the reduction of crime on Barracks Row and would actively participate in the effort to strengthen community policing by reinvigorating the PSAs – or at the very least to demonstrate their interest to the MPD by attending PSA meetings.  To date, however, these entities – and other stakeholders in the Capitol Hill community such as the Capitol Hill BID – have been non-participants in the public undertakings to better community policing.

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The Week Ahead….Race Relations Forum in Hill East

Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE

Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE  Church Forum on Race Relations in Our Community.

The Week Ahead….Race Relations Forum in Hill East

by Larry Janezich

Race Relations Forum in Hill East

On Saturday, September 12, at 12:00 noon, Liberty Baptist Church will host a forum on race relations in our community.  According to the Rev. Anthony E. Owens, M.Div., Councilmember Charles Allen will attend, and panelists will include ANC6B10 Commissioner Denise Krepp; Professor F. Douglas Powe, Wesley Theological Seminary of Washington, DC; and Kelly Matthews, Capitol Hill business owner.  Rev. Owens requests those who wish to attend call or email the Church (202-543-7894 and libertybaptistchurchdc@verizon.net).  The Church is located at 527 Kentucky Avenue, S.E.

The Week Ahead….

Monday, September 7

Labor Day.  No trash/recycling pick up.  Pickups get bumped one day to Tuesday and Friday.

Tuesday, September 8

  1. ANC6B meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

Barracks Row Main Street, Support for Public Art Building Communities Grant for two sculptures on Eastern Market Metro Plaza.  (Consent Calendar)

  1. PSA 104 meets at 7:00pm at Ludlow Taylor Elementary School, 659 7th Street, NE.

Agenda:

Introduction to PSA 104

PSA 104 Crime Statistician Mattioli’s Crime Report and Statistics

Presentation by Narcotics and Special Investigations Division and Prostitution Unit Commander

Open discussion with Police and Community

  1. Capitol Hill Restoration Society Historic Preservation Committee meets at 6:30pm, Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

Wednesday, September 10

  1. (ANC6C will meet on Thursday. See below.)

Thursday, September 10

  1. ANC6A meets at 7:00pm at Miner Elementary, 601 Fifteenth Street, NE

Among items on the agenda:

Update from Mayor Bowser’s Office

Education Forum – Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6 State Board of Education Member Joe Weedon and representatives from local public schools (principals and parent leaders from our community schools, including Eliot-Hine, Maury, Miner, SWS, Ludlow-Taylor, and Eastern) will be present to participate in this community conversation.

Also:

Recommendation: ANC 6A support the request by Kitty’s Saloon, 1208 H Street NE, to seek a summer garden and entertainment endorsement, provided the hours of operation end at 11:00 pm on weeknights, and 12:00 am on weekends.

Recommendation: ANC 6A send a letter of support for Vendetta’s public space application provided the owners agree to adhere to the following conditions: no changes to the hours when the front windows are open, no changes to the current settlement agreement, maintenance of the adjacent tree box, and no placement of an umbrella over the table’

Recommendation: ANC 6A support the plan to convert the parking area located in the middle of the square bound by Fifteenth Street NE, C Street NE, Sixteenth Street NE, and D Street NE, into a community garden.

  1. ANC6C meets at 7:00pm, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Presentation:  Planned Parenthood—Diane Conocchioli, community concerns

Presentation:  Mayor’s office, first six months—Frank Maduro

Also:

New Tavern liquor license for Sugar Factory, 50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.

New Restaurant liquor license for Alibi, 237 Second Street, NE.

  1. Capitol Hill Restoration Society Zoning Committee meets at 7:30pm, Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

Saturday, September 12

  1. Forum on Race Relations – Liberty Baptist Church (see above).

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Funds Sought for Eastern Market Plaza Sculptures

Preliminary Concept for Public Art Piece on Eastern Market Metro Plaza (1 of 2)

Preliminary Concept for Public Art Piece on Eastern Market Metro Plaza (1 of 2)

Preliminary Concept for Public Art Piece on Eastern Market Metro Plaza (2 of 2)

Preliminary Concept for Public Art Piece on Eastern Market Metro Plaza (2 of 2)

Funds Sought for Eastern Market Plaza Sculptures

Barracks Row Main Street Plans Marketing/Branding/Place-Making Element

by Larry Janezich

Last Tuesday night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee endorsed a request for support from Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS) for its application for a Public Art Building Communities Grant to create public art for Eastern Market Metro Plaza.

Martin Smith, Executive Director for BRMS (sort of a local Chamber of Commerce for Barracks Row) presented the concept to the committee in a bid for ANC and community support for the project.  He told the committee the current ideas on the drawing board (pictured above) would provide interim beautification of the Plaza pending its redevelopment (See here: http://bit.ly/1duqZJd) and would become part of the design following completion of that redevelopment.  As envisioned, the 36 inch-high letters comprising the pieces would be fabricated from polycarbonate, and would serve a marketing and branding purpose for both Barracks Row and Eastern Market.  Smith said the pieces would be interactive for both children and adults.  The grant requires matching funds, and BRMS would have to raise half the projected $200,000 cost of the project.

While the Committee seemed to be fully behind the idea of public art for the Plaza, the proposal that Smith presented was greeted with some skepticism.  Committee Resident Member Ivan Frishberg said he was “not thrilled with the design” and questioned whether the concept was primarily art or primarily marketing.  He said he was a “little skeptical” about the piecemeal adding of art to the overall concept for redevelopment of the Plaza and expressed concern that an ANC endorsement of the project might end up being represented before city agencies as an endorsement of the design.

Commissioner Oldenburg said she fully supported the idea of sculpture for the Plaza on an interim basis, but that she, too, was “not crazy about the design.”  She said she would support BRMS going after the grant for some kind of sculpture for the Plaza.

Resident Member Ken Jarboe said he didn’t “love the concept”, but “It may be the only thing that gets done given the way things have been going – I hope that’s not the case.”

In response, Smith told the Committee that it would be a long process, that several agencies would have to pass on the project before final approval, and that the concept drawings presented Tuesday night might well bear no relationship to the final design.

The Committee voted to recommend that the full ANC support the grant application provided that if granted, the applicant returns to the ANC for further consultation.  The vote was 8 – 0 – 1 (Frishberg abstaining).

Subsequently, in an email to ANC Commissioners and Smith, Frishberg detailed his concerns about the project.  “As presented, the proposed installations are nowhere close to being a proposal that is ready for approval or consideration by the Commission or community…. I fear that a simple statement of support for public art, even with a request to be involved in the process down the road leaves too much opportunity for problems given the excessively vague nature of the proposal presented to the committee…. My concern is that BRM has not engaged artists or experts in this endeavor, and at present is not yet equipped to present real plans or manage a serious process….I applaud the efforts to do more for the Metro Plaza and to support public art.  However I think to serve both those goals fully the Commission needs to require a greater level of planning and engagement from the advocates of this proposal”

Asked for his reaction, Smith told CHC:  “I did not go into the technical details of the proposal during the Committee meeting given the limited time for presentation and the very full agenda that night, however the proposal is fully developed and I am happy to go over any of the technical elements of the proposal (budget, implementation plan, maintenance plan, etc.) in detail if anyone would like for me to do so….we have engaged an artist that CHAW recommended to us, Charles Bergen of Charles Bergen Studios LLC, who developed the proposals we presented. We are aware, though, that if we were to be selected as a funding recipient, this process is very fluid and the design will likely change over time.”

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Crime Concerns Prompt New Attendees at PSA 107 Meeting

Crime Concerns Prompt New Attendees at PSA 107 Meeting

by Larry Janezich

Half a dozen concerned Capitol Hill residents showed up at PSA 107 last night to express their concern about the ongoing increase in crime in the city.  “I’m here tonight because of the significant increase in robberies and muggings;” one resident told MPD Sgt. Strassman, “there’s something going on.” He continued, “These things have a momentum.  What is small today will be larger tomorrow.  At some point, we’re out of here.  We chose to live here, but we could choose elsewhere.”  Another said she was concerned about walking home from the meeting last night​ even though she ​lived only a few blocks away.

The attendees – an unusual number by ordinary, lackluster ​standards – expressed concern about hotspots in the community, including 8th and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Bank of America ATM on Barracks Row next to DC-3, and the part of Eastern Market Metro Plaza which comprises the park on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets.  In addition, residents cited several incidents involving the sound of gunshots in or near the Potomac Garden neighborhood and the fear brought to the community dirt bikes​ disobeying traffic laws on neighborhood streets.​

Strassman sympathized with residents and responded as follows:

8th and Pennsylvania Avenue – Strassman said there are lots of issues here, including Community Connections which services mental health consumers who may be self-medicating.  If residents see persons lying prone on the sidewalk and unresponsive, Strassman urged calling 911 – “The last thing we want to see is someone pass away from alcohol or drug intoxication.”  He said that a foot beat officer was assigned to the 400 block of Barracks Row and was required to be within a block of that location, either above or below on 8th Street.  That officer – who Strassman said was trained in crisis intervention to deal with substance abusers – is also responsible for the Metro Plaza park on the north side of Pennsylvania.

Eastern Market Metro Park – MPD is looking at more enforcement related activities but Strassman said he couldn’t say too much about that, other than he hopes MPD can start dealing with issues here and at 8th and Pennsylvania by targeting the source of the synthetic drug, K2.

Bank of America ATM – Strassman said he would reach out to the Bank of America to see if they could provide security for the location.

Potomac Gardens – Two officers are assigned to Potomac Gardens in addition to District Housing Authority Police.  District bike patrol units are dispatched to police Potomac Gardens from the main station on an irregular basis in response to need.  Strassman advised contacting Lt. Durbin of PSA 106 and Commander Brown of the First District to request additional police resources.  He agreed with a suggestion from the audience that contacting Councilmember Allen and Mayor Bower’s office could be helpful.  He noted that resources would likely be devoted to areas where crime is occurring.

Dirt bikes – Most are illegal and most of the offenses committed by riders are misdemeanor traffic violations.  Strassman responded to a statement from an attendee who said that by not pursuing dirt bike riders, police sanction their activi​t​i​es.  Strassman said police don’t chase for misdemeanors and that their primary responsibility is preservation of life and property – both of which are put at risk during pursuit.  He said that police do pursue in cases of a felony – homicide, sexual offenses, and robberies.  He said MPD was looking at alternate means of enforcement against dirt bikes, including seizure, offering rewards, and tracking refueling and storage locations.

Strassman noted that the First District is large – and has the highest number of calls for service among the police district.  The reason for the increase in crime remains unexplainable.  Crime, he said, always goes up in the summer, and the Metro stations are nexus points.

Only one ANC Commissioner attended the meeting, and she left shortly after it began.  ​ ​Strassman was unable to provide attendees with the up-to-date crime statistics because the MPD is in the midst of a transition to a new police report and filing system.​

PSA 107 meets at 7:00pm the first Thursday of the month in Southeast Library, lower level.

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City Backs Off Take Over of Flea Markets at Eastern Market

The Flea Market Will Remain Under Control of Private Operators, DGS Announced Today

The Flea Markets Will Remain Under Control of Private Operators, DGS Announced Today

City Backs Off Take Over of Flea Markets at Eastern Market

by Larry Janezich

After the city announced its takeover of the Flea Markets at Eastern Market on August 12 (as first reported on CHC here:  http://bit.ly/1UJdifH ) city officials have decided to retain the status quo.

An email from Eastern Market Manager Barry Margeson today announced the decision as follows:  “DGS, in consultation with the Mayor’s Office, has determined that the District will re-sign license agreements with the two entities currently serving as Flea Market Managers for the 300 block flea markets at Eastern Market. Their current licenses expire this month.”

The reconsideration apparently came after the intervention of the Mayor’s office.

Diversified Market Management Director Mike Berman – operator of the Sunday Flea Market on the 300 block of 7th Street, SE, told CHC that he had learned of the city’s decision in a phone conversation this morning with representatives of the Department of General Services.  He said that he had been told that DGS had decided to grant a six month extension of the license, during which time a longer one year extension would be worked out.

Berman said that the agreement “doesn’t excuse their behavior.  We’ll take what we can get and get back to business as usual.  We collected more than five hundred signatures to oppose the city’s move.  I’m grateful that we did not have to go to the next (legal) level.”  He added, “I think this is a good first step.  I look forward to reviewing, with our counsel, attorney Donald Temple, the contract extension DGS has promised to us by September 14.”

On Friday, August 14, Mayor Bowser named Retired US Navy Rear Admiral Christopher E. Weaver new Director of the Department of General Services.  Interim Director Johathon Kayne, under whose watch the initial decision on taking over the flea markets was made, is transitioning to DGS Chief Operating Officer.

It was also under Kayne that DGS – apparently succumbing to substantial unhappiness in Hill East at DGS’ handling of the development of the Boys and Girls Club – withdrew the Request for Proposal for development of the site after the original RFP was written is a way that precluded financing by private equity firms, and the only bid which seemed to meet the RFP requirements was a proposal by Dante’s Partners for a Low Income Housing Tax Credit project which envisioned mini units for seniors.  The neighborhood had expressed a strong preference for a mixed income housing facility.

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