Public Safety, RFK Meetings This Week

October 25, 2015
  • On Tues., Oct. 27, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen will host a Community Public Safety Meeting at 7 pm at Friendship Chamberlain Public Charter School (1345 Potomac Avenue SE – across from Harris Teeter). Councilmember Allen has invited Chief Cathy Lanier and First District Commander Jeff Brown to discuss how MPD is addressing the recent increase in violent crime on Capitol Hill.
  • On Wed., Oct. 28, ANC 6B’s Hill East Task Force will discuss the future of the RFK Stadium site from 7-8:30 pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave SE). Ed Lazere, executive director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, will present data on stadiums and cities. The task force will also discuss the recent community meetings on the Events DC RFK Study.
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Tuesday Quick Takes: ANC 6B, Playtime Project, Renovator’s House Tour, Congressional Cemetery

October 13, 2015
  • ANC 6B’s October meeting is tonight (10/13), 7 pm at the Hill Center. Meeting materials are available at www.anc6b.org. The commission will be considering raze permit requests for 1620-1622 E Street SE, a letter to Mayor Bowser on the Events DC RFK Stadium Redevelopment study and a resolution on homelessness.
  • The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, a great nonprofit organization that works to provide playtime and learning opportunities for children living in temporary housing, is currently constructing a new preteen and teen space at the DC General Family Shelter. While they have plenty of volunteers signed up to help with the construction, the Playtime Project is still raising funds for the new space. You can donate or learn about other volunteer opportunities on the Playtime Project’s website.
  • This Sat., Oct. 17 is the 15th Annual Renovators House Tour, an event that raises funds for the Capitol Hill Cluster School. The tour, which goes from 10 am – 4 pm, kicks off in my Single Member District (6B09) with stops along Kentucky Ave SE and E Street SE. You can purchase tickets for the tour at http://renovatorshousetour.org/.
  • In case you missed it, the Washington Post had a great feature article on Historic Congressional Cemetery!

WMATA Announces Service Cuts for Stadium-Armory Metro

September 28, 2015

Some important news for residents who use the Stadium-Armory Metro station. In the aftermath of last week’s substation fire, WMATA has announced that it will reduce service to the Stadium-Armory Metro station beginning on Tues., Sept. 29. During weekday rush hours (5-10 am, 2-7:30 pm), the Stadium-Armory Metro station will only be served by Blue Line trains. All Orange and Silver Line trains will pass through the station without stopping. Normal service to the station will resume once the substation is rebuilt and back online, a process that, according to WMATA,  is “estimated to take more than six months.”

On Sept. 28, Councilmembers Charles Allen (Ward 6) and Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) sent a letter to WMATA asking the agency to reconsider its decision to implement service cuts at Stadium-Armory. And Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) and I plan to ask ANC 6B’s Executive Committee to send a letter to WMATA asking the agency to reverse the cuts. Hopefully, WMATA will reverse this ill-advised decision.


Second RFK Study Meeting Set for Sept. 30

September 27, 2015

Events DC will host a second community meeting to seek feedback on its RFK Stadium Redevelopment Study this Wed., Sept. 30, 6-9 pm at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW). Note that the meeting will take place in the West Salon on the street level.

As I mentioned in my recap of the first community meeting, there is little support for a new NFL Stadium in the neighborhoods surrounding the RFK Stadium site. By dubbing this second meeting a “citywide” meeting and holding it downtown, Mayor Bowser and Events DC expects (or “hopes” may be the better term) to hear more support for a new NFL stadium.

We had a great turnout for the first meeting and need a similarly strong turnout for the downtown meeting. Please plan to attend all or a portion of the Sept. 30 meeting. Your participation will help ensure that DC residents have a say in the future of this valuable, waterfront site.


Key Takeaways from RFK Study Meeting

September 18, 2015

On Sept. 16, Events DC held the first of two community meetings to seek input for its RFK Stadium Redevelopment Study at St. Coletta of Greater Washington. More than 150 residents attended the meeting and had a chance to share their thoughts and ideas on how to the develop the roughly 180 acres that make up the RFK Stadium campus. Here are my key takeaways from the meeting:

  • There is little support for a new football stadium – Attendees voiced overwhelming opposition to a new NFL stadium on the site. Not one of the 8 breakout groups recommended a new football stadium at the site and many noted that such a use would provide little benefit to the city. And Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen made it clear that he believes there are better uses for site than a stadium.
  • Plenty of great non-stadium alternatives – From an amphitheater to youth athletic fields to museums to mixed-use development to waterfront park space, there was no shortage of great potential uses offered by attendees. One key message – we need to activate this site now, not wait on a plan that may never materialize.
  • Events DC has had no contact with the Washington NFL team – Representatives of Brailsford & Dunlavey, the consulting firm hired by Events DC to conduct the study, shared a list of all of the organizations/institutions they had interviewed so far. While most of the organizations were sports-related, one organization was missing – the Washington NFL team. Apparently, the team has chosen not to engage in the Events DC study which means…
  • The Mayor’s Office is leading negotiations with the Washington NFL Team – As I learned last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser wants a new football stadium at the RFK site and views the Events DC study as the back-up plan. And she has apparently cut Events DC out of her negotiations/communication with the Washington NFL team.
  • Setting up a City versus the Neighborhood Dynamic – While Events DC deserves credit for listening to the community at this meeting, it is clear that they support a stadium at the site. Events DC representatives parroted Mayor Bowser’s argument that the site was large enough to accommodate a stadium and numerous other uses. They also said that while the views of neighbors are important, they need to take a citywide and regional view of the site, noting that their second community meeting on Sept. 30 is designed for residents across the city. Their assumption (or hope) is that most city residents have vastly different views of a stadium at the site than neighbors.
  • The study results are important – Though Mayor Bowser and Events DC want a stadium, the study is still critical. When completed, it will present a number of alternatives, including feasible non-stadium alternatives that can be shared citywide and with the DC Council.
  • Residents are paying attention – It was fantastic to see such a strong turnout for this meeting. We recognize that the RFK Stadium site represents such a huge opportunity for both our neighborhood and the city and will fight hard to make sure it is not squandered.

If you attended the meeting, post your comments or reactions below. And mark your calendars for the citywide meeting on Wed., Sept. 30, 6-9 pm at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.


Attend RFK Study Meeting on Wed., Sept. 16

September 13, 2015

Events DC is hosting the first of two community meetings to discuss its study on the future of the RFK Stadium site this Wednesday. Here are the details:

RFK Stadium Redevelopment Community Meeting
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 6-9 pm
St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave SE)

As I detailed in a Sept. 11 post on Greater Greater Washington, it unfortunately appears that Mayor Muriel Bowser has already decided that a new football stadium should be built at the site and that the Events DC study is a “fallback plan.” It is critical that we have strong turnout from the neighborhood at Wednesday’s meeting – we need to make it clear to the Mayor and Events DC that DC residents deserve a say in the future of this valuable waterfront site. Please plan to join us for a portion or all of the meeting.


Testimony on Future of RFK Stadium Site

February 27, 2015

On Wed., Feb. 25, I testified on behalf of ANC 6B at the Committee on Finance and Revenue’s performance oversight hearing for Events DC. My testimony (below) focused on the future of the RFK Stadium site. 

Good morning Chairman Evans and members of the Committee on Finance and Revenue. My name is Brian Flahaven, and I serve as vice chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B. My single member district, 6B09, lies in Hill East and is located immediately west of the Hill East Waterfront, also known as Reservation 13. My district also includes Barney Circle, the Historic Congressional Cemetery, and the Eastern Branch Boys & Girls Club Building.

I’m here today to provide testimony on our commission’s experience with Events DC and, in particular, our views about the future of a critical piece of land the authority oversees – the RFK Stadium site. I’m testifying on behalf of ANC 6B, which approved my testimony 9-0 during its February 10 meeting with a quorum present. We appreciate Events DC’s efforts to keep our commission and constituents informed about events happening at RFK Stadium, the Armory and the surrounding parking lots. As you know, the site is immediately adjacent to a residential rowhouse neighborhood. Events DC’s quarterly community outreach meetings and frequent event e-mails have been extremely helpful. We particularly want to acknowledge the efforts of Erik Moses, Events DC’s senior vice president and managing director, and Theresa DuBois, Events DC’s external affairs manager, to keep our constituents and the commission informed and engaged.

With DC United set to move out of RFK Stadium in the next couple of years, our focus is on potential uses for this valuable site – a waterfront site that sits on top of a Metro station. The redevelopment of the RFK site could be a potential boon to Hill East, the health of the Anacostia River, Capitol Hill, and the entire city if city leaders are open to some creative and imaginative thinking. But it appears that some city officials have determined that a new NFL football stadium is the obvious future and best use of the site. You’ve been quoted, Chairman Evans, as saying “There’s nothing else you can do there.”

We strongly disagree. While we understand the lure of the site’s tradition and history, a new football stadium at RFK will bring the city and the neighborhood very little. First, football stadiums are used 10 times a year for games, leaving an empty shell the remainder of the time. Second, since tailgating is part of the football experience, football stadiums are typically surrounded by empty parking lots. At RFK, that would mean the continued separation of the surrounding neighborhood from the Anacostia waterfront. Third, a football stadium will not attract new businesses nor help existing businesses in our neighborhood since NFL owners make money when fans buy their concessions in the stadium itself. If you need an example, when was the last time you went shopping or dining at a local business or restaurant next to FedEx Field?

Instead of solely pining for a new stadium that will bring little, city leaders should be open to other uses for the site. For example, a neighborhood-serving sports complex with recreational fields and/or an outdoor environmental education center that draws upon the waterfront location could be better potential uses for the site. Hill East is in desperate need of more playing fields for youth sports and activities and a sports complex would comply with the terms of the National Park Service lease. An environmental education center could provide youth a positive connection to the Anacostia River while providing the city with a destination for environmental education, sustainability and recreational fun.

Speaking of the NPS lease, why can’t it be changed? Why can’t the city develop a comprehensive plan similar to the National Capital Planning Commission’s 2006 plan that includes significant recreational use and some mixed-use development on portions of the site? Such a plan could be used to lobby Congress to amend the lease and/or transfer the land. That is exactly the strategy the city used 10 years ago to successfully obtain Reservation 13, the 67-acre site that sits immediately south of the RFK site, from the federal government.

We are committed to working with Events DC, city officials and our colleague commissions – ANCs 7D, 7F and 6A – to think creatively about the best future uses for the RFK Stadium site. We understand that Events DC has hired the consulting firm of Brailsford and Dunlavey to conduct a study of future uses of the site. While we would prefer that the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Office of Planning were leading this effort, we take Events DC at its word that the study will include robust neighborhood engagement and alternatives that do not include a stadium.

One final point. If the city decides to pursue a football stadium on the site once the study is completed, we should remember that the District has and should retain the upper hand in any negotiations. If media reports are correct that Mr. Snyder wants to build a new stadium at RFK, he should not only pay for the stadium but should also pay for the land, infrastructure and taxes associated with the site. He should also be required to build a stadium that is consistent with the city’s vision of the Anacostia waterfront – a waterfront connected to the surrounding neighborhoods (i.e. no surface parking lots). If Mr. Snyder wants taxpayer dollars to subsidize any of these costs or doesn’t agree with this vision, he can go look for a site in Maryland and Virginia, and the District can pursue alternative, better uses for the RFK Stadium land.

Thank you for your time and I’d be happy to answer any questions.