WARD 7 NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS by robbiecokkin


									                                   neighborhood news | ward 7 & 8 news

                                                             mission 7D, LoPiano shared that East River Park’s              their ideal public library. It also was announced that
WARD 7                                                       zoning classification makes their redevelopment plans           the architecture firm Davis Brody Bond and Aedas
                                                             “matter-of-right” with no need to take plans before the        was retained for the library.
NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS                                            DC Office of Zoning. However, the company is com-
                                                             mitted to building and strengthening relationships with
                                                                                                                                At a design meeting Oct. 23, Peter Cook, rep-
                                                                                                                            resenting the architects, presented a general design
                                                             the community as indicated by meeting with ANC 7D              of the library noting rooms for meetings, children
by Sylvia Brown                                              and 7A commissioners and neighborhood associations.            and general reading. Resident reaction varied. Com-
                                                             David Belt, who lives across the street from East Riv-         missioner Douglas requested that Chief Librarian
East River Park Shopping Center Sold, New                    er Park, believes that plan is working so far. Belt said,      Ginnie Cooper make sure that the ANC’s receive
Owner Promises Better Offerings and New Vision               “They haven’t been secretive.”                                 notice about meetings and copies of the design

     The newly-minted Jenkins Row, a mixed-use de-               The eight-acre site which extends to a portion             plans. Douglas also mentioned environmental con-
velopment featuring condominiums and the much                of the parking lot of Stewart Funeral Home and in-             cerns caused by the old library’s demolition. Cooper
anticipated Harris Teeter grocery store, beckons             cludes the laundromat and Pizza Hut on Dix Street              pledged her commitment to ensuring open lines of
passersby with its curved, brick and glass front facing      does not include the Benning Road Library site or              communication and noted that hazardous material
“America’s Main Street” and across the street from           the Marshall Heights building. There had been ru-              in the building was abated before demolition began.
Potomac Avenue Metro station. Only 3.5 miles and             mors that City Interests and the DC Public Library             Still prickling from past DCPL transgressions, at-
two Metro stops away, but seemingly worlds apart,            were in talks to co-develop a new Benning library.             tendees began to grumble about the decisions on the
sits the East River Shopping Center at the busy in-          Both groups deny that rumor. Instead, they reiterate           library already being made.
tersections of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road             that the redevelopment of each is being done sepa-                 Brenda Richardson, a Ward 8 resident, advisor to
NE. In stark contrast to Jenkins Row, the center’s           rately and will reflect community interests.                    Councilmember Marion Barry (D) and a trustee of
stores are locked in with an island of parking in the            DCPL Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper states,                 the DC Public Library Board, addressed these con-
middle and limited entrances from the facing streets.        “We hope they will be good neighbors and we’ll be              cerns. She assured residents that as an East of the
The center boasts two anchor chains – CVS/phar-              good neighbors to them. We hope to be in touch                 River resident, she is monitoring the design and
macy and Safeway, but these stores and their retail          with them to coordinate schedules.”                            community input process to ensure libraries are con-
neighbors had uninviting store fronts and unkempt                                                                           structed on time and in accordance with the com-
appearance with trash strewn about.                          Gone Baby Gone: Benning Neighborhood Library                   munity’s needs and expectations. Richardson, who
     City Interests has set its sights on changing the                                                                      has been quite visible at the library meetings in East
                                                             Demolished                                                     Washington, set residents’ concerns at rest.
center to live up to its original plan as a regional shop-       Just like the weather in June and July, the rhetoric
ping hub zoned C-3-A allowing for major retail and                                                                              In further questioning, Willette Seaward, a mem-
                                                             was hot and heavy from the community about the                 ber of the newly-formed Benning Library Dynamo
office uses and residential. The real estate develop-          demolition of the Benning Neighborhood Library
ment company purchased East River Shopping Cen-                                                                             community group, brought up the funding levels for
                                                             when a temporary restraining order and injunction              construction and maintenance. Edith Hancock, also
ter, Fort Davis Shopping Center and BennCo nearly            was filed against DC Public Library Chief Librarian
four months ago from UrbanAmerica, the African-                                                                             from Ward 7, commented about the ability of the li-
                                                             Ginnie Cooper, Mayor Fenty, and DCPL Trustees to               brary to be self-sustaining because “public funding for
American owned real estate investment company that           stop the demolition. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit includ-
owned those sites for seven years. In the four months                                                                       libraries is abysmal. We need to think about a public-
                                                             ed Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Rick                    private model because the government model is not
since the purchase, City Interests has completed im-         Tingling-Clemmons (7D05) and Dorothy Douglas
provements, namely planting tree boxes, repainting                                                                          sustaining.” Nearly $18 million is set aside for the li-
                                                             (7D03 and chair) and library
the parking lot and buildings, upgrading lighting and        patrons Betty Diggs and Ed-
hiring a new property management company. To cel-                                                                        Rear and front views of the Benning Road Library’s demolition
                                                             die Rhodes among others. At                              taken from the East River Park Shopping Center’s parking lot and
ebrate the purchase and East River’s customers, City         the time, Tingling Clemmons                                                     Benning Road NE. Photo: Sylvia C. Brown
Interests partnered with Ward 7 Councilmember                commented, “This is ours, and
Yvette Alexander (D) to host a customer apprecia-            we want the library returned to
tion day with free barbeque, carnival rides for youth,       us.” DC Superior Court Senior
and high-end electronics giveaways.                          Judge Bruce Beaudin denied
     City Interests and owner, Jonathan Novak, are           the injunction at the July 20
no strangers to Ward 7. The company is a subsidiary          hearing, and at the beginning
of Lano International which is developing Parkside           of October DC Public Library
in the Mayfair community. A key employee, Chris              began tearing down the Ben-
LoPiano, worked at Ward 7 economic development               ning Neighborhood Library.
engine Marshall Heights Community Develop-                       In late July a “Hopes and
ment Organization and was involved in the deal that          Dreams” meeting was held at
brought Safeway to the shopping center in the late           the Benning Interim Library
1980s. With a growing footprint and investment in            two blocks east at Benning
Ward 7, City Interests/Lano International have a lot         Road NE and 41st Street NE.
at stake in the pace of community and economic de-           At that meeting, residents
velopment in East Washington.                                shared their thoughts about
     At a presentation to Advisory Neighborhood Com-

24 ★ East of the River | November 2007
brary’s construction. At this point, the library is slated   mountain climber. “I wanted to make sure they had a           Hospital Corp. SHA is a New England-based com-
to be built in the footprint of the old library. Future      decent experience and saw a few more stars than they          pany recently formed that specializes in purchasing
resources for the library have not been confirmed. Ac-        usually do,” said Ware.                                       distressed health facilities and turning them around
cording to DCPL Public Affairs Specialist Moses                   Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner                 to be productive providers of quality health services.
Alexander Greene, the schedule for opening the new           and Ward 8 native Villareal Johnson was an addition-          Several East River Advisory Neighborhood Com-
permanent Benning Neighborhood Library is:                   al chaperone. The boys also got a chance to see police        missioners, particularly Sandra “SS” Seegers (8E02),
•    August 2007 - June 2008 Design (215-days)               in a positive light. Officer Heath Bowman from the              raised concerns that the hospital being sold to a com-
•    May 2008 - June 2008 Bidding and Permitting             Seventh District and working in police service area           pany headed by a real estate developer and no guar-
     (60-days)                                               704 was charged with staying at the site for his shift.       antee of a hospital operator.
•    July 2008 - Dec. 2009 Construction (515-days)           Ironically, before arriving he had just left a call involv-       James W. Rappaport, chairman of SHA, has over
                                                             ing a 15-year-old. Officer Bowman stressed, “This is            20 years of real estate investment experience and is
    For more information about DCPL plans for the            good. Start small, when they are young so that when           on the board of directors of a real estate investment
Benning Neighborhood Library and the Anacostia Li-           they get older you’ll have a better handle on them.”          management firm. Also of concern to the commu-
brary contact Archie Williams 202-727-1437 or archie.            Confirming nature throughout the evening, the              nity was SHA’s reported lack of experience in hos-
williams@dc.gov. To contact the Benning Library Dy-          renowned Willard Hotel provided a superb meal that            pital management or ownership. SHA, operating in
namo Group call 202-397-2277.                                included free-range grilled chicken, vegetables from          the District as Specialty Hospital of Washington,
                                                             local farms that use natural techniques, and a simple         provides long term critical care services and a skilled
                                                             low-sugar dessert. The meal was an aim by the chef            nursing facility at Specialty Hospital of Washington-
                                                             to provide natural, low preservative foods. The res-          Capitol Hill and Specialty Hospital of Washington-

WARD 8                                                       taurant provided the dessert for reprint below. The
                                                             Willard is a leader among hoteliers for its high envi-
                                                                                                                           Hadley. In a barrage of e-mails, Seegars and the oth-
                                                                                                                           ers commented that, “…residents in Ward 8 and east
NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS                                            ronmental standards.
                                                                 All levels of government stepped up and sup-
                                                                                                                           of the river deserve … a group that runs hospitals not
                                                                                                                           nursing homes or long term care homes.” A compet-
                                                             ported the idea. Locally the District’s Department of         ing group, Population Health Management Group,
Camping in the Park, We Got Soul                             Environment organized the government and private              made up of physicians had met with community
Ward 8 Boys Experience the Great Outdoors                    sector involvement. Cheryl E. Hayes, Environmental            leaders but, according to Council Chairman Gray,
     Twenty-five young boys ranging in ages 9 to 12           Program Specialist, at the agency, called on her col-         did not provide a full proposal.
participated in an outdoor camping experience in             leagues at the United States Department of the Inte-              Because accreditation for Greater Southeast is
their own backyard – Fort Stanton Park. At night, the        rior through the Wonderful Outdoor World program              shaky, the council moved swiftly to approve the $79
historic fort, just a block and a half from the troubled     to provide the tents, lanterns, sleeping bags and cook-       million package to SHA, which involves a $20 mil-
Woodland Terrace public housing complex, seems as            ware for free. Additionally, the National Park Service,       lion loan going toward operating costs, a $29 million
far removed from inner city living as camping in the         which generally does not allow overnight stays at its         loan to pay off the current outstanding debts and a
far reaches of Maryland or Virginia.                         District of Columbia parks, allowed the campers to            $30 million grant for capital upgrades and renova-
     Undertaken by Advisory Neighborhood Com-                stay at Fort Stanton, and the park ranger in charge of        tions, as well as certain equipment costs.
missioner Jackie Ward (8A06), the camping initiative         Fort Stanton portrayed Harriet Tubman, famed ex-                  To limit the District’s risk as much as possible,
sprung out of the Ward 8 Environmental Council.              slave born in Maryland who lead thousands out of              DC officials will have approval rights on most ma-
The Environmental Council is one of Councilmem-              slavery in the Underground Railroad. Hayes was de-            jor decisions and will be entitled to half the proceeds
ber Marion Barry’s community engagement efforts.              lighted to “help children appreciate nature and know          from any future sale of the hospital. It is unclear who
                                                             they make a difference.” In essence, this effort shows          will be the primary contact for managing the SHA

Just two months before the outing, the Environmen-
tal Council, which includes Sierra Club organizer Irv        the youth they are valued and valuable just like the          situation. Although the mayor’s general counsel, Pe-
Sheffey, began talking about connecting youth to the          environment.                                                  ter Nickles, will be instrumental because of his role
environment while at the same time exposing the                  The Ward 8 Environment Council is planning an             brokering the matter.
children to positive activities and people they may          outing for girls in the spring. To get involved in the En-        While the council ultimately approved the move,
not see regularly in their neighborhoods and ward.           vironment Council or camping contact Jackie Ward at           it was not without contention and apprehension, par-
At the onset the group was told no one in Southeast          202-359-2485.                                                 ticularly between Councilmembers David Catania
would care about camping.                                                                                                  (At-Large, I), who chairs the council’s Health Com-
                                                                                                                           mittee, and Marion Barry, Ward 8 representative. Key
     Targeting young, African American boys for this
first camping outing was deliberate. The excursion
                                                             A Pig in a Poke?                                              among Barry’s criticisms was the lack of involvement
was envisioned to be a rites of passage experience           Greater Southeast Community Hospital Moves to                 helping Maryland businessman Carl Jones when he
                                                                                                                           had the exclusive negotiating rights. Jones, an Afri-
with powerful, positive men playing integral roles.          New Ownership                                                 can American with business interests in asphalt and
To that end, Barry was on board and enlisted DCPS                A banner hangs above the Greater Southeast
Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee even before she                                                                           construction firms, met repeatedly with city officials
                                                             Community Hospital entrance, announcing the hos-
was confirmed by the council to co-host the outing                                                                          to no avail. Additionally, Barry raised concerns about
                                                             pital’s 40th anniversary – 1966-2006. The outdated
and come read to the students. Councilmember Barry                                                                         SHA’s ability to provide “culturally competent” care
                                                             banner and the nearly empty staff and visitor parking
also read several stories around the campfire. Com-                                                                         to East Washington residents. Barry offered several
                                                             lots reinforce the lack of confidence in the hospital
missioners Anthony Muhammad (8A01) and Paul                                                                                amendments requiring SHA to bring in a multi-
                                                             and its owners.
Kearney (8A05) also participated, setting up tents                                                                         discipline team with experience providing culturally
                                                                 In mid-September Mayor Fenty signed a letter
even as they were dressed in business suits. Keith                                                                         competent health care services. In the end Barry said
                                                             of intent with Specialty Hospitals of America LLC
Ware, local “greenie” and owner of Eco Green Living,                                                                       he would vote for the measure “because the lives of
                                                             to assist the company with its acquisition of Greater
led the boys in a discussion about his experiences as a                                                                    140,000 people are in jeopardy.”
                                                             Southeast Community Hospital from Envisions

                                                                                                                                                       capitalcommunitynews.com ★ 25
                                              Further muddying the waters was        er. Already online is the Boulevard at
                                         the last minute delivery of the finan-       the Capital Centre with its more than
                                         cial impact statement from DC Chief         70 retail options including the Magic
                                         Financial Officer Natwar Ghandi, ex-          Johnson Theatres. Next in the pipeline
                                         pressing no confidence in SHA’s ability      is the $2 billion National Harbor, “the
                                         to sustain itself and pay back DC. Nick-    place that changes everything,” rising
                                         les commented he was surprised by the       out of the banks of the Potomac River
                                         determination because “at least three       in Prince George’s County. The center-
                                         members of the CFO’s team [was] on          piece of the National Harbor, the Gay-
                                         our team at all times, and [I] provided     lord Resort, which expects to open its
                                         them with every piece of information        hotel in March 2008, is already proving
                                         that I had. I don’t think there can be      to be a drain on the District’s travel and
                                         any claim that the office was not fully       entertainment industry having booked
                                         informed.”                                  almost 600,000 room nights.
                                              Most members, while also express-          MacFarlane’s Poplar Point proposal
                                         ing apprehension about the deal, agreed     offered a soccer stadium, mixed income
                                         to support it. The purchase of the 17-      housing, a hotel, and retail all paid for
                                         acre Greater Southeast campus is set to     by him in exchange for full develop-
                                         close Nov. 7.                               ment rights and the city shouldering
                                                                                     infrastructure costs.
                                                                                         At a community roundtable held in
                                         Poplar Point:                               the heart of Ward 8 and a few blocks
                                                                                     from the site, the room was packed
                                         Not So Popular Decision                     with supporters for retracting the RFEI
                                         Mayor Reopens Request for Expres-           and proceeding with developing Poplar
                                         sions of Interest in Site’s Development     Point with a soccer stadium provided
                                              After years of community meetings      by McFarlane and DC United. The
                                         and building good will, Victor Mac-         roundtable, sponsored by the Econom-
                                         Farlane, the DC United organization,        ic Development Committee chaired by
                                         and community members were thrown           Councilmember Kwame Brown (At-
                                         for a loop when Mayor Adrian Fenty          Large), was centered on community
                                         issued a Request for Expressions of         support for having a soccer stadium as
                                         Interest to develop the environmen-         part of the point’s development. Seem-
                                         tally delicate 110-acre Poplar Point site   ingly off-script, Commissioner Cardell
                                         directly across from the new Nationals      Shelton (8C-07) was irate, noting that
                                         baseball stadium. The mayor indicated       the development would not benefit
                                         he wanted to ensure best practices and      Ward 8 residents and bluntly saying
                                         competition for realizing the tremen-       Barry does not have the best interests
                                         dous opportunity the site has to offer       of his constituents in mind.
                                         to Ward 8 and the District. The initial         However, community leaders re-
                                         RFEI was for a master developer. A few      peatedly compared the potential de-
                                         months later the RFEI was amended           velopment of Poplar Point to the
                                         to allow for joint ventures. The RFEI       turnaround at the Verizon Center in
                                         closed Nov. 2.                              downtown DC. Without a soccer sta-
                                              Ward 8 Councilmember Marion            dium, the housing, the retail, and other
                                         Barry, ANCs and residents were in           amenities will not come according to
                                         an uproar at the unannounced deci-          panelists. After the hearing, Brown,
                                         sion. In an interesting cross-ward ef-      who initially supported the RFEI in
                                         fort Barry and Ward 7 Councilmember         July, was moved to announce, “I think
                                         Yvette Alexander joined forces to enlist    development of Poplar Point should
                                         community members of both wards             include … a soccer stadium.”
                                         in a strategy that promotes the devel-
                                         opment of Poplar Point as a regional        Sylvia C. Brown is president of the Dean-
                                         community economic development              wood Citizens Association and owns Cap-
                                         project impacting all of East Wash-         itol Solutions Group LLC, a government
                                         ington. Competition for East River          affairs and business development strategy
                                         residents’ dollars are all around and       consulting firm. For news and leads send
                                         only promise to get bigger and tight-       an e-mail to ward7@hillrag.com. ■

26 ★ East of the River | November 2007
capitalcommunitynews.com ★ 27

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