Friday, July 27, 2007

DCPL Chooses Tenley Library Architectural Team

During a press conference today at the Anacostia Interim Library, Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper announced that Davis
Brody Bond Aedas and The Freelon Group, Inc., in partnership with local architect R. McGhee & Associates, have been selected to lead the architectural design teams for the new Anacostia, Benning, Tenley-Friendship and Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Libraries. Both teams include local firms as consultants for civil, landscaping, and mechanical, electrical, plumbing services, which comprise more than 40% of each design team. Construction on the combined $37 million library
project is scheduled to begin in mid summer 2008, with the libraries due to open in 2010.

The architectural teams were chosen because they exceeded standards set forth by the D.C. Public Library and the District's Office of Contracts and Procurement (OCP). The standards included having experience in designing modern libraries, experience with sustainable design and could meet the city's new LEED standards, creating spaces that inspire human interaction, having effectively worked with community groups to develop design, and having a sizeable portion of the design
team include local LSDBE firms. The teams were selected from more than 60 firms that are part of the Library and OCP's design firm database.

"With these great architects and engineers, we will design exceptional spaces for neighborhood libraries in the District of
Columbia. I am eager to begin the building process with these talented teams," said Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper. "The neighborhood libraries are so important. We are committed to opening wonderful libraries and to involving the neighbors the process."

The Freelon Group, Inc. and R. McGhee & Associates Team, which includes local consultants Delon Hampton, John J. Christie and Associates, and L.S. Caldwell & Associates, will design the Anacostia Neighborhood Library and Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library.

The new libraries will be designed as stand-alone buildings. They will be designed larger than the existing branch libraries and in the range of 18,000 – 20,000 square feet.

The Freelon Group, Inc., has been involved in a range of projects diverse in scale, building type and scope. The firm has specialized design expertise in the areas of Libraries, Science and Technology, and Museum/Cultural Center facilities. Some of their recent design work includes the Durham County Regional Library Prototype - East and North Branches, NC; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. R. McGhee & Associates, a local Washington, DC firm, has joined The Freelon Group, Inc., on the architectural design team.

Philip Freelon, President of The Freelon Group, said, "The community will play an integral part in the design phase – engaging the community is a needed hands-on part of the process. We really focus in on projects that have a tangible, positive impact on the community in which they are located."

Ronnie McGhee, Principal of R. McGhee & Associates, said, "We look forward to getting involved with community groups to find out what your needs are so that the new libraries are signature pieces within the neighborhoods."

Above and beyond the basic services of civil engineering, architectural design, structural engineering and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design, the teams also are required to provide eleven additional design services, eight of which are library-related. The additional design services include: site planning and urban design; interior design; landscape design; audio-visual and broadcast technology design; lighting design; communications/data systems; vertical transportation; code consulting; ADA consulting; security systems design; and cost estimating.

The team will be managed by the D.C. Public Library's Capital Construction department and contract specialists within OCP. The design and community input phase of the building project will begin on August 1 and will take approximately 10 months to complete.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vandals take to Stoddert

From ANC 3B:

There is a recurring problem at Stoddert Elementary School. It appears that either a gang (FMC) or some other group have taken up Stoddert as their evening home. Last week they threw a brick through a classroom window and this week they have placed graffiti on school property and have littered the garden and back area of the school with beer bottles. They are also burning pizza boxes and fireworks. Yesterday they left a hate message for the school kids. They set up chairs and couches each night which are removed each morning. The school system and the police have been alerted.

If anyone sees anything suspicious going on at the school, please report it to the police right away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Uptown Theater Expands Business

ANC 3C Commissioner Bruce Beckner posted posted potentially shattering news to the Cleveland Park Listserv:

It appears that our neighborhood theater will soon be no more. I just received a call from a City Paper reporter asking what I knew about the sale of the Uptown to the McLean Bible Church (nothing until he called). Here's a link to the church's website with information about their planned use:

Off the top of my head, I don't see much of a "regulatory hook" for this, other than the fact that the church will have to get Historic Preservation Review Board approval for any changes to the exterior. I believe the commercial zoning that applies to this area probably permits this use, whether it's considered "religious" or not.

Assuming this is true, it means that Cleveland Parkers will no longer have the pleasure of having a movie theater within walking distance.

My personal recollection of the first time I was at the Uptown was in 1963, when I saw "How the West was Won" there in "Cinerama" - a 3-projector system that used a semicircular movie screen. I think the Uptown was the only theater in the DC metro area that had that at the time. I also saw the Stanley Kubrick "2001 - A Space Odyssey" there in 1967, also in "Cinerama."

I'll keep folks posted of any further developments that I learn.

Bruce Beckner
Commissioner ANC3C05

According to the Church's website:

MBC Uptown is a Community Campus of McLean Bible Church. It will impact the District of Columbia and nearby communities in both Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Ministries at MBC Uptown will include:

Videocast messages by Lon Solomon and the MBC Teaching Team
Worship led by the MBC Worship Leaders and Bands
Localized ministry teams and outreach events
Opportunities to connect in biblical community with others who live in the DC metro area

Weekly services will start in January 2008.

In fact, the Uptown has not been sold. As featured on the DCDL website, an official response from the Church:

I am writing to clarify our, McLean Bible Church's, intended use for the Uptown Theater. We are not purchasing the theater. We are simply renting it on Sunday mornings. As such, our use will not limit public use of the theater. We realize the place that the Uptown holds in the heart of the community and are committed to developing services and ministries that are
fitting for the Uptown and for Cleveland Park.

Mike Hurt
McLean Bible Church
Director of Community Campus Development

UPDATE: Here is Washington Post coverage.

Cheh Cleared of Wrongdoing by OCF

Yolanda Woodlee of the Washington Post reports that the allegations brought by former Ward 3 Candidate Jonathan R. Rees against Councilmember Mary Cheh have been dismissed. The report can be accessed via the OCF website.

Rees filed the complaint in February alleging then Candidate Cheh received preferential rent on campaign office space from a local developer, and further that an unregistered Political Action Committee illegally benefitted the Cheh campaign.

The Office of Campaign Finance report summarizes:

To highlight the issue of the existence of a political committee, during the 2006 elections in the District of Columbia, a group of Ward 3 residents, friends and neighbors, came together to interview the candidates seeking election to the Ward 3 Council seat to determine the best qualified candidate to represent their Ward, because the field was so crowded. These individuals held meetings, contacted the candidates to schedule interviews, prepared questions for the interviews to glean the candidates’ positions on issues of interest to the group; and ultimately decided to support Mary Cheh.

D.C. Official Code §1-1101.01(5) defines the term “political committee” to mean any proposer, individual, committee (including a principal campaign committee) club, association, organization, or other group of individuals organized for the purpose of or engaged in: promoting or opposing a political party, promoting or opposing the nomination or election of an individual to office, or promoting or opposing any initiative, referendum, or recall”. The group identified as “Ward 3 Action” did not engage in activity that falls within the above referenced definition. While it may be viewed that “Ward 3 Action” formed to determine the best qualified candidate to represent their Ward, these neighbors and friends did not engage in any activity that clearly extends beyond arriving at a determination of who was the “best qualified” candidate. The group did not solicit contributions or make expenditures to promote the nomination of any one candidate to office.

After Cheh became the group’s choice, the group dispersed prior to the conduct of the Primary Election. Individuals associated with the group then proceeded to promote her candidacy in their individual capacity by contributing financially to the Cheh Principal Campaign Committee. In addition, a number of the members of the group were employed and paid by the Cheh Campaign to perform services...

When the group selected Cheh as their candidate and thereafter dispersed, these residents expressed their selection of Cheh and their commitment to support her candidacy in the handbill entitled, “Why We Support Mary Cheh For Ward 3 Council”. The goal of Ward 3 Action was accomplished.

WHEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED this matter be dismissed in its totality; and IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the fine in this matter is hereby suspended.

This Order may be appealed to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics within 15 days from the date of issuance.

The Washington Post quoted Mr. Rees as having no intention of filing an appeal. According to DCist that statement pertained to the OCF. He has not ruled out an appeal to the judicial system.

How many taxpayer funded hours were (and will be) wasted on this effort?

Ward 3 Man Suffers Environmental Hate Crime

Allison Klein of The Washington Post reports a hate crime not seen in Ward 3 before.

A resident in a "liberal" part of Brandywine Street had his Hummer vandalized be so-called eco-terrorists.

There are many more productive ways to express frustration over consumptive excess.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tribute to a local Firefighter.

The Tenleytown firefighter who died in the line of duty will be buried on Saturday, July 14. At approximately 2:05 pm, the traditional firefighter funeral procession will pass the quarters of Engine 20 where James McRae served.

McRae passed away on July 7th. He was the tillerman for Tenleytown's Truck 12 and was on duty when he suffered chest pains and was subsequently pronounced at the Washington Hostpital Center.

The procession starts at the convention center, proceeding out Massachusettes Avenue, turning north onto Wisconsin Avenue to pass the Tenley Firehouse. It will then turn right on Tenley Circle to Nebraska Avenue, right on Connecticut Avenue returning downtown and from there to the cemetery.

Viewing the procession is an opportunity for the neighbors to participate in a solemn tribute to our lost firefighter.

Courtesy ANC 3E Commissioner Amy McVey

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Express: The Russian Embassy's New Colorful Wall

Courtesy of Michael Grass, The Washington Post/Express:

THE RUSSIANS' ICONIC WHITE MARBLE embassy complex in Glover Park has acquired some color: yellow.
The new hue is featured on the massive wall protecting the giant campus' backside along Tunlaw Road. The change is worth noting, since the embassy complex — whose main building is similar to the Russian parliament house in Moscow — has long been known for its drab, almost prison-like look, at least from the Tunlaw side. (We'll see if China's new compound under construction on Van Ness Street NW will snatch the prize for looking most like a lockup when it's done.)
A neighborhood source tells us that the wall was painted by hand — no power painting tools were used. Try doing that in last week's heat.

Who knows, the change could have unintended effects. Neighbors have complained about speeding along that stretch of Tunlaw Road. Maybe the yellow wall will draw the attention of drivers and get them to slow down, if just for a moment.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Examiner reports on Cleveland Park Vacancies

Michael Nelbauer wrote a nice article published in the Examiner today about the ongoing struggle between vacant store fronts and opposition to new food establishments in Cleveland Park. Opposition may be strong word, perhaps 'enforcement of zoning restrictions' might be more appropriate.

Of particular note to me was the verification of the rumor about a mattress store coming to the neighborhood:

For now, he said, Federal Realty has stopped marketing the strip to boutique coffee and sandwich shops. It is, however, being pursued by a mattress store.

I suppose the discussion about development in the Tenley to Friendship Height corridor has come full circle.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Palisades Parade turns 41

The Washington Post July 4th insert has a nice review of this DC and Ward 3 staple.