Rep. Norton, CM Allen, and SE Library Update – News You Might Have Missed Last Week

Last Tuesday, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton took over ANC6D’s presiding officer’s chair for her presentation and Q&A .

Ward 6 CM Charles Allen before ANC6D last Monday.

On Tuesday, Allen was before ANC6B.

Rep. Norton, CM Allen, and SE Library Update – News You Might Have Missed Last Week

by Larry Janezich

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton  came to last week’s meeting of ANC6D, touting her effectiveness as DC’s representative to Congress, and listing her accomplishments.  The desultory monologue was followed by a Q&A which featured questions on the future of RFK Stadium, affordable housing issues and transportation debacle in SW at The Wharf which overwhelmed enforcement efforts on the April 6 weekend featuring Petalpalooza.  On RFK, Norton cited her sponsorship of a bill working its way through Congress which would allow the District to buy it from the federal government, and then the city will decide what to do with it.  She said affordable housing was a problem in all big cites, and Congress has not been able to come up with a solution.  She said regarding developers, “You can’t tell them where to put housing in a market economy.”  Her response to the traffic issue was that she was holding a Congressional hearing the next day on traffic safety issues, without addressing specific concerns raised by the Commission.

Councilmember Charles Allen

CM Allen:  Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen was at ANC6D last Monday and at ANC6B the next day, Tuesday.

At both meetings, he announced that he would hold the Ward 6 Budget Town Hall on April 23 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at the Arthur Capper Community Center to hear from residents about what they want in the budget.

At ANC6D, Commissioner Andy Litsky raised the issue of the traffic issues at The Wharf on the weekend of April 6, calling it a “perfect storm” of a Nationals Park, DC United, and Petalpalooza traffic which created a traffic jam making it impossible for emergency vehicles to penetrate, and warning, “Someone’s going to die” if it’s not solved.  Allen said it sounded like a complete failure and said he would convene a group of DC agencies to follow through to strategize on preventing a recurrence.

At ANC6B, Allen addressed an April 30 incident when images of a ten year old boy in handcuffs flooded Twitter and FB after an armed robbery in the 200 block of Massachusetts Avenue, NW.  Attorney General Karl Racine later issued a rare statement saying the youth was totally innocent.  Allen called the video of the incident a “punch in the gut” and said that though MPD were following internal procedures, he would work with MPD to rethink about how to do it in a different way, holding out the possibility of legislative changes as well.  Allen chairs the City Council’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

Asked about the development of RFK, Allen cited the 5,000 signatures his petition to oppose a new stadium at RFK had gathered, and cited Representative Norton’s work on legislation allowing DC to buy the land.  Allen said, “We don’t need to bail out a billionaire with your tax dollars.  We need housing and recreation that will connect the community to the river.” Here’s Business Journal’s story which has a link to the petition.

When one commissioner asked about Allen’s degree of confidence that there will be money available to finish the redesign of Eastern market Metro Plaza beyond the initial $5.9 million launch effort, Allen said flatly, “I will find the money for this project.” The final price tag will be around $20 million.

Allen was far less positive about the possibility floated by the ANC’s Working Group on Barracks Row enthusiasm over establishment of an MPD substation on the raucous 400 block of Eighth Street.  He called the block a significant challenge.  He said he had walked to block with MPD, and they were opposed to a storefront substation since their station house was two blocks away and because “they were on the 400 block all the time.”  Allen said such a move was likely to result in what has happened in the Salt Lake City model – that the targeted activity was displaced a couple of blocks away.  He said a substation would not solve the underlying issue, and suggested pulling together Barracks Row Main Street, the ANC Working Group, MPD, and the Department of Behavioral Health to work on ways to address the issues. Allen said of the latter department that is was “floundering” and suffered “deep issues which prevent a rapid response.”  Last week, Mayor Bowser appointed DC mental health veteran Barbra Bazron to take of the directorship of the scandal plagued agency.  See Washington City Paper story here:

Southeast Library Renovation

In other news:  Last week, after a meeting with DC Library officials, Capitol Hill Community activists Pat Taylor and Jill Lawrence reported that DC Library is on the cusp of issuing a Request for Qualifications for renovation of Southeast Library.  The request anticipates responses from design/build firms expressing interest in the project which will allow the Library to determine a group of organizations deemed qualified to undertake the project.  A Request for Proposals will be issued to that group, and once a finalist is selected, that designer will conduct the due diligence on the site to determine suitability regarding subterranean conditions and existing underground infrastructure.  Once that is determined and a plan developed on how much space will be available, the community will be consulted regarding what the community wants in the renovation.

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One response to “Rep. Norton, CM Allen, and SE Library Update – News You Might Have Missed Last Week

  1. Wendy Blair

    We in SE are lucky that Pat Taylor and Jill Lawrence have worked hard to keep track of the renovation plan for the SE Library. So far Library Director Reyes-Gavilan has held two public meetings, one at Hill Center, one in the SE Library, at which he said he wanted to hear input from “the community” about what we want in our library. Although he did most of the talking at both meetings, the community told him the library space (8,000 useable square feet, not 10,000 as the Library says) was much too small. SE Library readership is equal to that of the NE Library, which now has 4-5 times as much space.
    At both meetings the Director also said that (a) the renovation “could not” expand either above or beneath the library, and that space at either side, the front or the rear was “extremely small”. Strangely, he added (b) that now is too soon in the RFP process for this community to give its input.
    When ANC6B05 representative Steve Holtzman commented to the Director that “When you say the first step is to hire a “design-build” team to see which firm can best do the construction; and the second step is to hire an architect, you seem to me to be putting the cart before the horse” — the Director said, opaquely, “You’ll see. We will give you an excellent library.”
    In the interim, the library Director’s unsubstantiated statements about what cannot be done in this renovation, and without any plan to explore possible alternatives to renovating such a too-small site — such as considering other sites, or other building plans (the budget is $23.5Million) has dejected some citizens. Pat Taylor and Jill Lawrence have stayed positive.