There are two main concerns expressed about DC Superior Courts taking ownership of the old Petworth post office at 4211 9th Street NW, specifically its location close to the burgeoning Upshur Street retail and restaurants, and the lack of communication with the community about the facility.
Related: The old Petworth post office has a new owner (April 06, 2017)
Feedback has been pretty positive overall, with the hope that serving pre-adjudacted youth in our neighborhood can be beneficial to both the youth and the community. To find out why this seemed to be the first time the community was hearing about the new facility, I reached out to Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd and ANC 4C07 Commissioner Karen Cooper to understand how they had been notified.
According to Councilmember Brandon Todd’s office, they were not informed about the renovation and use of the new facility, but they were told by the DC Superior Court that the Court had in fact reached out to the Ward 4 Councilmember's office six years ago (predating Todd in office)... and there hasn’t been any communication to the community or the Council since then.
ANC Commissioner Karen Cooper got the ball rolling on finding out what was happening at the post office after being asked at a recent meeting with local business owners.
“I was asked to find out what was going on with the location,” Commissioner Cooper said. “I was told that it was a District government agency was renovating the property.”
After reaching out to the DC Office of Planning, Cooper discovered that it was not a District government agency but the DC Superior Courts responsible for the building's renovations. She reached out to CM Todd's office to see if they could help get more information.
Councilmember Todd scheduled a meeting on Wednesday, April 12th with DC Courts to get more information, and provided Petworth News with a statement afterward:
“My office had an extensive conversation with representatives of the DC Courts. After thoroughly reviewing the activities that will take place at their planned youth rehabilitation facility, I am convinced that the office will be a positive presence in our community that will benefit the neighborhood and our city as a whole. Their fully staffed and supervised model provides restorative programming by supporting young people who deserve a second chance at a full life.
“The DC Courts have committed to increased outreach to neighbors. In that spirit, I will be convening a public meeting with ANC 4C where DC Courts will provide a full community briefing on their new facility, answer any questions, and receive input from neighbors. The details for this meeting will be finalized and released in the coming days.”
Commissioner Cooper said she likewise looks forward to a community meeting to ensure residents get a better idea about the facility and learn about ways to support it and participate, if possible. She does have concerns, however.
“I am concerned about the area businesses and how the facility will impact attracting new businesses,” Cooper said. “I am also concerned about the lack of community outreach and community input regarding the facility. The Petworth area is home to several government agencies including a Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. I don't understand why the DC Courts did not reach out to the community.”
Cooper said she also is concerned about local school children interacting with the youth from the facility. “The kids from E.L. Haynes and Roosevelt pass directly in front of this location and I'm concerned about their interaction with the youth reporting to the facility. I do not know if there will be security outside of the facility to ensure a peaceful environment.”
Hopefully a community meeting will address the questions from the community. When Petworth News hears about one, we’ll let you know.