More Information on the DC Olympic Bid

December 14, 2014

On Dec. 16, Washington 2024, the organization leading the city’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, will make their final presentation to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Washington 2024 is competing against Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco to be the U.S. bid city for the 2024 Games.

So far, Washington 2024 has refused to share their plans with the public. In attempt to learn more about the bid’s potential impact on Hill East, ANC 6B sent a letter (pdf) last month to Washington 2024 requesting a community meeting prior to the USOC’s final decision on a U.S. bid city. Unfortunately, Washington 2024 declined ANC 6B’s meeting request (pdf). They plan to start their community engagement process when/if Washington, DC is selected as the U.S. bid city.

While Washington 2024 declined ANC 6B’s invitation for a meeting, the organization did accept an invitation to speak at Councilmember Vincent Orange’s Small Business and Economic Development Summit held on Fri., Dec. 12. Since we can’t get a meeting with Washington 2024 in Hill East, I decided to attend the summit to learn more about the bid. Here is what I heard:

  • The USOC’s decision on a U.S. bid city could come as early as next week or as late as next January. If Washington, DC is selected, the USOC and city will have until Sept. 2015 to formally apply to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2024 games. The IOC will make its final decision on a host city in Sept. 2017.
  • Not surprisingly, Washington 2024 did not share the specific plans they will be presenting to the USOC. I’m not sure if the decision to keep the public in the dark about the plans is being made by Washington 2024 or the USOC but it is a bad decision. Putting on an Olympics requires a multi-billion dollar public investment. The secretive nature of the process has helped fuel skepticism about the bids in Washington and the other three potential bid cities.
  • RFK Stadium and Reservation 13 are under consideration for a new Olympic Stadium and Olympic Village respectively, though other sites are also being considered for these venues.
  • Robert Sweeney, senior advisor to Washington 2024, noted that the Olympics could be a catalyst to develop sites like Reservation 13 where redevelopment plans largely have failed to take off. I responded that the city is largely to blame for the state of Reservation 13 today and that it shouldn’t take the Olympics to develop a waterfront site sitting on top of a Metro station.
  • Sweeney did mention the Reservation 13 master plan and said that Washington 2024 would follow the plan in developing an Olympic Village if the site is chosen for such a use. I was pleasantly surprised that the organization was aware of the master plan and had thought about how to incorporate it. However, using the site for an Olympic Village would mean the city wouldn’t see the housing and retail slated for Reservation 13 until 2025 at the earliest.
  • Sweeney reaffirmed that Washington 2024 would begin an “extensive” community outreach campaign beginning in Jan./Feb. 2015 if the city is chosen as the U.S. bid city. Community briefings would be held in all eight wards and he recommitted to holding a community meeting in Hill East.
  • There was a lot of focus on the legacy of an Olympic Games. Andrew Altman, former head of the legacy corporation created for the London 2012 games (and former head of the DC Office of Planning) talked about how London began their Olympic planning by envisioning what the Olympic park and venues would look like in 2030. Washington 2024 is modeling their effort after the London games.
  • In addition to Councilmember Orange, Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser spoke at the Summit in support of the Olympic bid and will be attending the Dec.16 USOC presentation. It appears that the Mayor, Mayor-Elect and DC Council are all behind the bid though they haven’t held a single hearing on the subject nor officially voted to support the bid. If Washington, DC is awarded the games, the city will have to sign a financial guarantee to fully fund the games and any cost overruns.

Community engagement should be the centerpiece – not an afterthought – of an Olympic bid. Residents shouldn’t have to attend business roundtables and summits to learn basic details. I plan to continue pushing city leaders and Washington 2024 to share more information about the bid.


Attend the Dec. 11 Barney Circle-SE Boulevard Planning Study Community Meeting

December 10, 2014

On Thursday, Dec. 11, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells will host a community meeting to discuss the Office of Planning’s final concepts for the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Project Planning Study. The meeting will be from 7-9pm at Friendship Charter School Chamberlain Campus (1345 Potomac Ave SE, across from Harris Teeter).

The Office of Planning has circulated the following document with the final concepts:

In addition to OP, representatives from the District Department of Transportation will be on hand to gather feedback from the community on the concepts. I also plan to ask them for an update on their plans to temporarily reopen the Southeast Freeway.

Please bring your questions and comments to the meeting.


Mayor Submits Hill East/Res. 13 Legislation, Council Hearing Set for Tues., Dec. 9

December 7, 2014

Some good news on the long-stalled development plans at Reservation 13. Late last week, Mayor Gray submitted legislation to the DC Council related to the surplus declaration and disposition of Parcels F1 & G1 of the Hill East/Reservation 13 development. The two resolutions (listed below) have been added to the agenda of an already scheduled Committee on Economic Development/Committee on Government Operations Joint Public Roundtable (pdf) on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2:00 pm in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW).

If enacted, the city will formally transfer Parcels F1 & G1 to Donatelli Development and Blue Skye Development. The Donatelli/Blue Skye plans call for two mixed-use buildings with 354 apartments and around 20,000 square feet of retail space. Thirty percent (106) of the total units will be affordable housing units (53 at 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) and 53 at 60 percent AMI).

While the term sheet and land disposition agreement (LDA) have yet to be posted online, Michael Neibauer of the Washington Business Journal reports that the agreement prohibits “laundromats, check cashing establishments, adult entertainment, liquor stores and drive-thru services.”

I plan to testify in support of the legislation during Tuesday’s Joint Public Roundtable. ANC 6B will also consider the Disposition Approval Resolution during its Dec. 9 commission meeting (ANC 6B is already on record in support of declaring F-1 and G-1 surplus). If you would like to testify or submit written comments on the resolutions, send an e-mail to Tsega Bekele, Legislative Counsel to the Committee on Economic Development at tbekele@dccouncil.us.


Past Time for Details from Washington 2024

November 25, 2014

Two recent editorials – one from Washington Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Douglas Fruehling and the other from ANC 6B10 Commissioner-Elect Denise Krepp on The Hill is Home – call on Washington 2024 to start sharing the details of their bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. I agree with both Fruehling and Krepp that the decision to bid on an Olympics is a huge decision – one that should not be made behind closed doors. And given that RFK Stadium and Reservation 13 have been identified as potential sites for a new Olympic stadium and Olympic village respectively, Hill East residents deserve to know how an Olympic bid would affect the future of the neighborhood and waterfront.

Estimates put the potential cost of hosting an Olympic Games at $15-20 billion. DC residents deserve to know how Washington 2024 and the city plan to finance such a large investment, particularly when the city is already bumping up against its debt cap. Mayor Vince Gray has proposed using a land swap instead of borrowing to fund a new DC United Stadium. If the Mayor and Council are concerned about exceeding the debt cap on a roughly $150 million dollar investment, how are they going to find funding for a $15 billion dollar Olympics? Yet Mayor Gray, Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie have all signaled support for the bid.

And why hasn’t the DC Council held a hearing on the proposed bid? Earlier this year, the Council found time to examine a ridiculous and unrealistic RFK Stadium/hotel zone/waterpark/golf course bill but it can’t find the time to hold a hearing on Washington 2024?

It’s time for Washington 2024 and city leaders to share specific details about the Olympic bid. To that end, ANC 6B has sent the following letter to Washington 2024 inviting the organization to present their plans at a community meeting. We hope to work with our colleagues in ANCs 7D, 7F and 6A to find a meeting date and time that works for all commissions representing or adjacent to RFK Stadium and Reservation 13.

—-ANC 6B Letter to Washington 2024—-

November 13, 2014

Russ Ramsey
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Washington 2024
2200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
5th Floor East
Washington, DC 20037

Dear Chairman Ramsey,

We write to invite you to attend a community meeting in the next month to discuss specific details of the Washington 2024 Summer Olympic bid. At a properly noticed meeting with a quorum present on November 13, 2014, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B voted 8-0 to send this letter and invitation.

We are aware that Washington, DC is a finalist to be the United States bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. While few details have been released about your plans for venues, media reports suggest that a good portion of the eastern end of Capitol Hill, including RFK Stadium, the DC Armory and Reservation 13, are being discussed as sites for an Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village and other venues. Our commission represents the Hill East residents who live immediately to the west of these sites.

Before our commission can consider supporting your efforts, we need an opportunity to learn more about your plans and to ask you questions before the United States Olympic Committee selects a bid city in early 2015. Our questions include:

  • What venues are being planned for the land surrounding RFK Stadium, the DC Armory and Reservation 13 (site of the former DC General hospital)?
  • Given that most hotels are west of these sites, how will spectators travel to the various venues without further complicating the normal congestion along our roads?
  • Besides the site of RFK Stadium and Reservation 13, are there other potential Olympic Stadium or Village locations in mind?
  • How much will the District of Columbia have to invest in the Olympic bid? What will be the breakdown in public versus private dollars?
  • How do you plan to engage surrounding neighbors as the bid progresses? A community advisory committee? Monthly e-mail list?

In the next few days, I will follow-up with your staff to find a date/time and Hill East venue in the next month that works for a meeting. We will also coordinate this date and time with our colleague commissions who represent constituents on or surrounding the eastern end of Capitol Hill – ANC 7D (RFK Stadium and the Armory), ANC 7F (Reservation 13) and ANC 6A (residents immediately east and northeast of both sites).

In your June 2014 press release, Washington 2024’s Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis said that DC would host the “most transparent” games in history. It is in this spirit that we send this invitation. We look forward to learning more about the bid and how it will affect our constituents and city.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you,

Sincerely,

Brian Flahaven
Chair, ANC 6B


Key Transportation Project Updates: 17th Street, Barney Circle, Penn-Potomac

November 24, 2014

17th & 19th Streets Safety Improvement Project 

During a Nov. 18 community meeting, we learned that we will have to wait another 18 months for the already delayed construction and implementation of the 17th Street SE recommendations of the District Department of Transportation’s 17th & 19th Street Safety Improvement Project. The reason? DC Water needs to replace water mains from C Street NE to Potomac Avenue SE. DC Water contractors will begin the water main work in Jan. 2015 (weather permitting) at C Street NE and will proceed down 17th Street until they reach Potomac Ave SE. DDOT contractors will follow the DC Water crews down 17th Street until the safety improvements are complete, likely by May 2016.

While I’m still extremely frustrated about the additional delays and lack of communication between DDOT and DC Water, I am appreciative that both agencies came out to the neighborhood to explain the project timeline and answer questions. I also suggested that DDOT work to implement the 17th Street safety improvements between Potomac Ave SE and Barney Circle SE as soon as possible since this area will not experience water main construction.

Note that construction on the 19th Street portion of the project will begin soon and will be completed by March 2015 (again weather permitting).

If you could not attend the meeting, here are the handouts:

Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Project

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells is hosting a community meeting on Thursday, Dec. 11, 7:00 pm to share the Office of Planning’s final concepts for the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Planning Study. The meeting will be at Friendship Charter School Chamberlain Campus (1345 Potomac Ave SE).

Prior to the Dec. 11 meeting, OP has circulated the following document with updated concepts:

While all three concepts are much better than DDOT’s original concepts for the study, I’m curious to hear from residents. Feel free to post your comments below and/or attend the Dec. 11 meeting. In 2015, DDOT will be evaluating the final OP concepts and resuming the BC-SE Blvd. transportation planning study.

Pennsylvania-Potomac Avenues Intersection Study

DDOT has released three alternatives for the ongoing Pennsylvania-Potomac Avenue Intersection Pedestrian Safety Study. The three alternatives – Triangle Parks, Rectangular Park and Ellipse Park – are totally different from the concepts reviewed by the public and ANC 6B in May 2013. The T-intersection option – favored by ANC 6B – has been eliminated. Even more confusing is DDOT’s apparent decision to avoid scheduling another public meeting to review the new alternatives. The only opportunity for public input on the new alternatives was a DDOT “information booth” placed at the Potomac Avenue Metro station on Nov. 6 between 3 and 5 pm, a time when a majority of residents are at work.

Please e-mail DDOT at pennpotomac@prrbiz.com and tell them they need to schedule a public meeting on their alternatives. Comments are due Dec. 8.


ANC 6B November Meeting

November 16, 2014

Around 50 residents attended ANC 6B’s November 12 meeting at the Hill Center. Here is a recap of major actions:

  • The commission voted unanimously to send comments (pdf) to Mayor Gray on his plan to close the temporary emergency family homeless shelter at DC General. The comments, based on conversation and feedback from an Oct. 30 Hill East Task Force meeting, voiced support for the general thrust of the plan but also concerns about the plan’s lack of specificity and urgency.
  • After a lengthy discussion, ANC 6B voted 5-3 to support a new liquor license for Bayou Bakery, a restaurant that plans to open in the Hill Center carriage house. I voted with the majority. While I certainly understood concerns raised by nearby neighbors on trash, I felt that the applicant deserved an opportunity to demonstrate that his trash plan would work and not contribute to rat problems – particularly since the location is not on Barracks Row. I’m also convinced that the Hill Center will be extra vigilant in making sure trash doesn’t become an issue. If trash or noise do become issues, the commission can take it up with the applicant when his license is up for renewal in 2016.
  • The commission voted unanimously to send a letter (pdf) to the Washington 2024 Olympic bid committee inviting the committee to present their plans at a community meeting. Robert Sweeney, senior advisor to Washington 2024, was in attendance and said that the committee would be happy to hold such a meeting. He also confirmed that RFK Stadium and Hill East (Reservation 13) are being looked at for potential venues and the Olympic Village – though he was quick to point out that other locations are being considered as well. I hope to get this meeting on the calendar ASAP.
  • Commissioner Nichole Opkins (6B06) announced that the commission would consider the first-stage planned unit development application for 1333 M Street SE at a special call meeting on Wed., Nov. 19, 7:00 pm at Christ Church Washington Parish (620 G Street SE). This development will bring a large number of residents to the Anacostia waterfront between Barney Circle and 11th Street SE.
  • The commission decided to postpone consideration of a proposed resolution on the Exelon-Pepco merger until December. The resolution raises a number of concerns about the proposed merger and asks the Public Service Commission and DC Council to ensure that DC ratepayers are protected in the deal. A number of commissioners requested additional time to consider the merits of the merger and the proposed resolution.
  • The commission unanimously endorsed a new vending and soliciting policy (pdf) for Eastern Market, a policy that protects the rights of candidates and other individuals to seek petition signatures at the market.
  • Commissioner Brian Pate (6B05), chair of the ANC 6B Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force, shared an updated list of high priority vacant and blighted properties in ANC 6B. The commission voted unanimously to submit the list to the Vacant Building Enforcement unit at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and to send letters to the homeowners on file.
  • Steve Ricks, chairman of the Historic Anacostia Boating Association, shared a presentation on the association’s plans to redevelop the Boathouse Row area south of the freeway between Barney Circle and 11th Street SE.
  • I reminded attendees about a Tues., Nov. 18 community meeting on the status of the District Department of Transportation’s 17th and 19th Street Safety Improvement Project. The meeting will be at 6:30 pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave SE).
  • ANC 6B’s December meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 7 pm at the Hill Center.

Attend Nov. 18 Community Meeting on 17th Street SE Safety Improvements

November 14, 2014

On Tuesday, Nov. 18, I’m convening a community meeting to discuss the status of the 17th & 19th Street Safety Improvement Project. The meeting is from 6:30-8 pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave SE). Representatives of the District Department of Transportation and DC Water will be in attendance to explain why the improvements are being delayed and to provide an updated timeline. Attendees will also get an update on the status of the reopening of the Southeast Freeway between Barney Circle SE and the 11th Street SE.

I encourage residents who live on or near 17th Street SE to attend the meeting.


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