Notes from ANC 4D August meeting

Purple tables! There must have been some event at Truesdell EC earlier in the day, and the tables were covered in purple construction paper. I really wanted a box of crayons... Alas, I took notes from the meeting instead. 

There weren’t as many commissioners in attendance this evening, only Commissioners Sheon, Branton, Roth and Quirk were in attendance. Treasurer's report: $10,256.89 in the bank.

Caitlin Feehan presents, with Lilia Lebdezna and Bethany Bezak from DC Water

DC Water was the first to present. They gave an update on the DC Clean Rivers project with a focus on the Green Infrastructure Program. Caitlin Feehan presented, along with Lilia Lebdezna (Green Infrastructure Outreach Coordinator) and Bethany Bezak, (Assistant Director Green Infrastructure).

Ms. Feehan presented the DC Clean Rivers Project Green Infrastructure Program (a $2.6 Billion project), reviewing the background on why this project was under way (basically, to stop sewage and storm water runoff from mixing and polluting the rivers and waterways). This year, DC Water had three different machines underground working on tunnels. 

On May 20th there was an announcement by the DOJ, EPA and DC Water that the project would include green infrastructure plans. Green infrastructure are architectural, structural and plantings that are designed to reduce storm water runoff. It includes things like green roofs, permeable pavements, rain gardens, bioretention, and so on. 

By including green infrastructure in the plans in 2011, DC Water was able to reduce the length of the Potomac tunnel being drilled, removes a pumping station from being constructed, improves water retention across the system and increases jobs (51% of jobs for this project are local hires). 

For the local impact, the Streetscape Project will be included with DDOT’s Kennedy Street Improvements Project plans. Next Public Outreach meeting about the DC Clean Rivers Project is in December (exact date is TBD).

A resident asked about the volume of water in the Rock Creek, and asked if this project will reduce volume after storms. Ms. Feehan said the project was designed to remediate the combined storm water and sewer water mixing that occurs in the Rock Creek. However, other sources of water flow into the Rock Creek, especially during storms, so it won’t fully eliminate any all extra volume.

Another resident asked if developers will be required to incorporate green infrastructure elements into their plans? Ms. Feehan said that DC water doesn't regulate, so therefore doesn’t have oversight on this issue. She believes this is being regulated by DC’s Department of Energy and Environment.

Bethany Bezak from DC Water

Another resident asked how are jobs being tracked? Ms. Bezak responded that DC Water is incorporating this effort into their existing employment program and jobs will be tracked via existing system. “We report on a monthly basis to our board. They're goals, not requirements but we strongly urge our contractors to meet those criteria that we include in our contracts.”

If you have questions, you can email Caitlin Feehan.

Signal Financial Federal Credit Union was presented by Commissioner Nancy Roth. “Neighborhoods do better when they have the support of financial institutions that are interested and involved in the community,” Commissioner Roth said. Walter Sciolli (Branch Development Manager) and Dynita Taylor (Branch Manager) got up to talk about Signal Financial Federal Credit Union. They’re a non-profit; the only membership requirement is to be a District member. 

Dynita Taylor and Walter Sciolli from Signal Financial Credit Union

Mr. Sciolli talked about the difference between regular banks and credit unions being that credit unions are not for profit and have members, not clients. They believe that community outreach and engagement "knowledge is power, and because of that we are launching events with the goal of educating potential members." 

Then Commissioner Sheon talked about the AJ Cooper Day of Service events. They had a successful bbq on Kennedy St and Georgia Ave with a grill going on the corner on Sunday. All the leftover food and donations were sent to area shelters. 

Commissioner David Sheon

There was also an event on Monday evening: “Speak-Out on Affordable Housing.” There were 50+ people in attendance to discuss housing concerns, affordable housing and the "incredibly screwed up vacant property system in DC,” said Sheon.

In attendance at the housing event were Assistant Attorney General Michael Aniton, At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman and a few other DC government officials. Jason Washington from DCRA also attended, who agreed the system needs to be fixed. Commissioner Sheon said DC thinks there are around 3,000 vacant buildings in the city, but many think that number is too low, and that the city is missing out on tax from these properties. For example, Sheon said that “The Kennedy Street Dev Association has been tracking one particular building where the city had missed $1 million in taxes due to incorrectly classifying a vacant property.” He said there is a movement to update the vacant building code in DC, led by Aniton and Silverman. 

Commissioner Bill Quirk

Commissioner Quirk spoke about the upcoming ANC 4D Day festival. He said the ANC was working with neighbors to close the streets for the festival (800-900 Gallatin, 9th St between Gallatin and Hamilton). They need 51% of the residents of those streets to consent. 

Commissioner Nancy Roth

Commissioner Roth spoke about the Office of Planning retail improvement project on Kennedy Street. The Office is going to provide a mini-market assessment as well as an architectural assessment of up to 5 buildings. “More to come,” she said. 

During Community Comments, Ashley Weyenberg, the treasure of a condo association at 9th & Jefferson, asked for advice from the ANC and the community regarding loitering, littering and trash issues on the block, along with drug activity and people feeling threatened. The condo association has been fined by city for the trash (30 citations in the past year), feeling a heavy financial impact. There’s been considerable dumping in back alley, which connects to Jefferson and Kennedy between 8th & 9th. There’s an abandoned vacant home with broken locks, with what appears to be considerable activity in the home. MPD moves the people, they leave, people come back.

Resident Ashley Weyenberg

Commissioner Sheon said “The amount of citations seem really high. I can't get various buildings cited that need it." He suggested the condo ask for a meeting with DPW with Councilmember Brandon Todd and Commissioner Roth (it’s in her SMD). Dolly Turner, deputy chief of staff from CM Todd’s office was there and gave her card to Ms Weyenberg. “When there’s that many repeated citations over a short amount of time,” Ms Turner said, “it sounds like there's someone else in the neighborhood that is calling in on you."

Commissioner Roth wanted to make a minor funding request $250, but Commissioner Quirk had to leave early, meaning there was no longer a quorum so they couldn’t vote. Commissioner Roth mentioned that there are DC Great Street grant funding opportunities, $50,000 grants available. “It’s a really elaborate proposal system,” she said, and advised interested businesses to contact the ANC for help. “There are organizations that can help file the grants,” she said.

One of the Mayor’s Ward 4 liaisons, Jasmin Benab, quickly presented on some items, such as upcoming Slow Down initiative to get drivers to slow down near schools.

Dolly Turner, Deputy Chief of Staff for Brandon Todd's office

Dolly Turner then gave a quick update on CM Todd's events. He’s been active in the community, visiting schools and recreation centers and doing walk-throughs. He remains focused on Kennedy Street issues. Ms Turner said that 4D Commander Manlapaz said no other Councilmember has called him as much as Todd to get updates. She said that they are looking for Block Captains who have a focus on community action and community clean-up. She mentioned that public safety initiatives are being led by Jackson Carnes, the Ward 4 constituent serviced director. Email Jackson if interested in being a block captain. 

Commissioner Krystal Branton talked about an upcoming “Back to School Festival” on August 22 at Barnard Elementary School (11-3pm). There will be school supplies, a moon bounce, food, activities for adults, HIV testing, massage for adults, etc. 

Commissioner Branton also mentioned that Eleanor Holmes Norton is having a Job Fair this Friday, August 21st, at the convention center from 10am-3pm.

Commissioner Krystal Branton

Commissioner Branton is also holding her next Single Member District meeting on September 1st at Barnard Elementary.

Lastly, Commissioner Sheon talked about a personal project that he was working on separate from the ANC (as there’s private funds involved). He was talking one day with Truesdell Principial Stinson about the school’s new library and wondered about people being able to donate books to the school. The principal said that all books have to go through DCPS, but teachers can give books to students that people donate. That got Sheon thinking about the little borrowing library boxes people have been putting up around the country (and around DC). He said he’s looking to fund little libraries outside of three schools in the area. Principal Stinson said she would be interested in the "little library" outside Truesdell. The kits are $200 each, so he’s asking people to donate to help build all three. You can either donate money via a “” campaign, or donate time and help build the kits. You can contact him for more info.

And that’s it for August’s meeting!

Jasmin Benab poses for a selfie with Drew.

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

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