This past week, Hill East lost a great friend and passionate advocate. Frank Zampatori, a longtime Hill East resident, passed away on Monday. A number of Hill East residents have posted great tributes to Frank on the newhilleast listserv:
No one — no one — could or will ever match Frank’s experience or his institutional memory on the subject of District politics or on the longstanding issues in our neighborhood.
It was important for Hill East that Frank kept a close eye on what was happening on the DC General / Hill East Waterfront…
From a neighborhood perspective, Frank helped our neighborhood immensely. He was an active citizen in Ward 6. Frank kept notes. When politicians lied, Frank remembered. (And he was not shy about telling people.) Frank protected our neighborhood. He tracked what was going on and got involved to protect us from dumb decisions.
His energy and supportive words and actions helped me know that I would be okay on my block – that I can help change what goes on by being active in my community.
I first met Frank during my 2010 ANC campaign. I’m not sure if he thought I could win, but I appreciated his willingness to answer my questions and provide advice, particularly since he didn’t live in my Single Member District (he ultimately did end up in my SMD after ANC redistricting).
Once I was elected, I soon realized Frank was one of, if not the most, knowledgeable residents about the neighborhood. I always looked forward to our conversations, particularly ones on Reservation 13. Frank played a key role in the community process that developed the Reservation 13 master plan and was extremely frustrated that city leaders had put development plans on the back burner. He constantly worked behind the scenes to try and move the development forward.
Frank was also very concerned with the city’s lack of transparency about the DC General homeless shelter, methadone clinic and other clinics on Reservation 13. During the redistricting and training facility battles, he gave me a “DC General 101” course on how many people were being housed on the site and in what buildings. At times, Frank knew more about what was happening at Reservation 13 and DC General than the city.
I was particularly appreciative that Frank accepted an invitation to participate in a panel discussion on the history of Reservation 13. The goal of this session was to provide Hill East residents with background on the Reservation 13 master plan in anticipation of Mayor Gray’s visit to the neighborhood to discuss efforts to bring a Washington Redskins training facility to the site. Frank was in his element during the panel discussion, which riveted the 130+ attendees at St. Coletta. Though he couldn’t attend the meeting at the Armory, he was extremely pleased that we all called out the Mayor and Councilmember Jack Evans on the false claim that the Res. 13 master plan included a baseball stadium. He called out city leaders all the time.
Frank and I agreed that city leaders would only pay attention to Reservation 13 if Hill East residents made them pay attention to Reservation 13. I’m sure Frank probably had the upcoming April 24 Reservation 13 meeting on his calendar. And I’m also sure he was skeptical that the meeting would result in anything more than continued delays and broken promises. But I can guarantee that he would have been there if he could.
I’m sure going to miss Frank…and so will our neighborhood.
Updated 4/23/13: A memorial service for Frank is being held this Thursday, April 25, 6:30 pm at Pope Funeral Home, 2617 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Following the memorial service, there will be a gathering at 8:30 pm at Trattoria Alberto (526 8th Street SE to celebrate Frank’s life.