Friday, September 28, 2007

Tenley Library Demolition

The District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) announced today that the demolition of the Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library has been scheduled for Monday, October 1, 2007 at 1 pm. Two days later on Wednesday, October 3 at 6 pm, DCPL will host a second round of community meetings at the Tenley Friendship Neighborhood Interim Library concerning the design and construction of a permanent library.

"I want to personally thank the Friends of Tenley-Friendship Library and this community for your continued patience with us since this library was initially closed," said Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian of the District of Columbia Public Library. "Over the next few weeks, those who work and reside in this area will see DCPL moving forward with the demolition process and in our commitment to hearing from the community regarding its desires in a new library."

Invited Guests include:

* Ginnie Cooper, DCPL Chief Librarian
* Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Councilmember
* Harry Thomas, Councilmember and Chairperson of the Committee on Libraries
* Scott Cartland, Principal of Janney Elementary School

A "Most Commonly Asked Questions" sheet concerning this demolition has been posted on the D.C. Public Library's website at and is also available at the Tenley-Friendship Interim Library, 4200 Wisconsin Avenue. NW.

WHAT: Media Briefing of Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library Demolition

WHEN: Monday, October 1, 2007

1:00 pm (Actual demolition with machines begins)

WHERE: Field of Janney Elementary School, 4130 Albemarle Street, NW

(The actual location of the Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library is 4450 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. Media check-in for pre-demolition tours is on the field of Janney Elementary School, adjacent to the library.)



What Should The Local Neighborhood Community Expect?

Residents, local business owners and patrons should keep in mind that Goel Services, the contractor for the demolition of this library, is razing a building made of metal, concrete, wood, and bricks. Diesel powered, heavy construction equipment will be used to take down the structure. Horn use will also be necessary on site.

As of press time, Goel Services had not applied for extended hour working permits; therefore, its working hours will be according to District of Columbia law. Also, no weekend work has been scheduled; however, if work falls behind schedule due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstance, the company may need to apply for extended or weekend hours.

What Will The Demolition Process Entail?

There are three phases to the demolition process:

Phase I The building will be demolished with machines.

Phase II Waste will be segregated into separate piles of concrete, metal, and wood and then disposed of accordingly (recycled or landfill).

Phase III Site restoration. The land will be backfilled and grated; seeding will eventually occur.

What is the estimated timetable for the demolition process?

Four (4) weeks are scheduled for demolition and removal of debris. Backfilling and seeding will come once the ground has been cleared.

What about Pedestrian Traffic?

All plans for demolition were reviewed by the District of Columbia Board of Condemnation before permits were issued. As long as all posted signs are abided by pedestrians, no problems should occur.

What About Child Safety?

DCPL and Goel Services are aware that there are several elementary schools in close proximity to the demolition site and every safety precaution has been considered to ensure child safety. All project team members are expected to work in a professional manner. The public should feel free to bring any issues concerning child safety to the attention of DCPL immediately.

What if members of the community want pieces of the building for memorabilia?

A preset number of bricks have been set aside for those who desire a keepsake from the former structure. Contact Nancy Davenport, interim director of library services, at (202) 727-1101 to reserve one of these bricks.

Cathedral Celebrates Centennial

The Washington National Cathedral celebrates its 100th year on Saturday the 29th. The day is full of activities including the ability to climb the central bell tower.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Design Forum for Tenley Library

DC Public Library is hosting a second community meeting on Wednesday, October 3, at 6:00 pm to work with the community in designing and constructing the new library. The Freelon Group, which has been retained as the architect to redesign the library, will present preliminary concepts to the community. The meeting will be held at the Tenley-Friendship Interim Library, 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pedestrian Accident in Cleveland Park

More as details come in, but there has been an accident in the vicinity of Newark and Wisconsin Ave this afternoon. It seems an MPD Cruiser struck a pedestrian. This from the Cleveland Park Listserv:

I have recently learned of a tragic accident in which a pedestrian was hit by a Metropolitan Police Department cruiser in the vicinity of Wisconsin Avenue and Newark Street. I have contacted MPD to gather whatever details I can, and am awaiting further information from Commander Solberg, information which I will then forward on to you. I can report that the pedestrian has been hospitalized in
intensive care.

I also intend to meet with both MPD and Department of Transportation officials to address this busy area and the lack of safe pedestrian crossings. In the meantime, please be safe while crossing the street, and I will be in touch as I learn more.

UPDATE This from Commander Solberg of MPD:
This accident is under investigation. At about noon today, a pedestrian struck the passenger side front door area of a police car that was traveling south on Wisconsin Avenue. The man lives nearby but we are not releasing his name at this time. He is currently in surgery at a nearby hospital and in serious condition.

Best wishes to the victim.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

CP Listserv Featured in The Express

The Cleveland park Listserv was featured in a recent story about Supercans. Read about it here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Smart Growth Revisited

Not normally or directly related to the purpose of the blog, but since a report was previously cited on the Tenleytown Listserv, the Congress of New Urbanism has released a report which questions the findings of the original author.

Debunking Cato: Why Planning in Portland Works Better Than the Analysis of Its Chief Neo-Libertarian Critic
Congress for the New Urbanism, 09/20/2007

When the Cato Institute published a report by Randal O'Toole this summer "debunking" planning efforts in Portland designed to promote compact, transit-oriented development and reduce sprawl and automobile dependency, CNU decided to take a closer look. Michael Lewyn, an assistant professor at Florida Coastal School of Law and veteran urbanist, agreed to check O'Toole's facts and analysis.

The result is the latest CNU fact-check, Debunking Cato: Why Portland Works Better Than the Analysis of Its Chief Neo-Libertarian Critic. In this detailed report, Lewyn says O'Toole raises a number of issues worth discussing, including whether improvements to Portland's transit system have failed to increase transit ridership; whether Portland's planning system has failed to attract popular support; and whether Portland's urban growth boundary has made Portland one of America's most expensive cities. Through detailed analysis, Lewyn concludes that O'Toole's attacks on Portland often miss the mark by distorting and misrepresenting data.

Among the findings in Debunking Cato:

* Lewyn rebuts O'Toole claims that hordes of people are escaping Portland and "moving to communities beyond the reach of Portland planners." In fact, the city of Portland's share of regional growth is far higher than that of other peer metro areas. Between 1980 and 2000, Portland grew as fast as its suburbs - about 43%. In Seattle during the same period, the city grew by 14% while suburbs grew by 46%. In Denver, the city grew 12% while suburbs grew 47%.

* Although O'Toole declares "Portland's transit numbers are little better than mediocre," Lewyn reports that transit use has doubled since the debut of Portland's first light rail in 1986, at a time when the population of Portland's urbanized area grew 50-60%.

* Despite O'Toole's claim that Orenco Station and other transit-oriented developments in Portland don't significantly change people's travel habits, a closer look at a study quoted by O'Toole shows that 69% of Orenco Station residents report using transit more than they did in their prior locations.

* Lewyn says O'Toole doesn't prove his claim that Portland planning is driving up housing prices. In fact, numerous cities (many of them in the West) without urban growth boundaries and with few planning policies encouraging compact neighborhoods have more expensive housing. In metro Los Angeles, the ratio of median home price to median family income is 9-to-1 compared to 4.3-to-1 in Portland. The median house price in sprawling Las Vegas is 4.8 times median income. In San Diego, the ratio is 6.7-to-1.

* Lewyn finds that O'Toole's claim that Portland's planning system is unpopular in Oregon is not supported by recent trends. Writes Lewyn, "A 2005 survey of Oregon voters showed that 69 percent believed that growth management made Oregon a more desirable place to live. An equally high percentage valued 'planning-based decisions for land use' over 'market-based decisions for land use.' Only 32% believed that current land use regulations were 'too strict'; an equal number said land-use regulations were 'about right', and 21% even believed that Oregon's land use regulations were 'not strict enough.'"

Read the full text of Debunking Cato.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Community United against Commerce Bank

Nothing like a good development project to divide a neighborhood, only in this case, there is a united front against a poorly thought out development proposal for a drive-through bank at the corner of Ellicot and Wisconsin.

TOD advocates argue that a such a development deadens what should be a lively urban corner, Others suggest that traffic and parking woes will burden the neighborhood. All agree that the "process" has at best been poorly managed, and at worst, has been malicious, misleading and disdainful.

Council Member Mary Cheh has submitted the following to DDOT and the Tenleytown Listserv:

I have followed the thread on the listserv concerning the Commerce Bank. I am posting now to tell you what I have been doing about the project. During the past couple of weeks, I have been pressing the Department of Transportation to keep both the ANC and my office informed about the status of any permits being issued for the bank.

I am very concerned, not only about the process but also about whether circumstances at the site could properly allow permits to be issued. Unfortunately, I have been frustrated—as has the ANC—in getting information and having an opportunity to express our shared concerns. Most recently, I have written to the Director of the Department of Transportation, the text of which is set out below:

Dear Director Moneme:

I am very concerned about the proposed Commerce Bank project located at 4849 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Both the community and my office have been circumvented throughout the entirety of this process, with troubling results. My office has received a number of complaints about this project, and I share many of the same concerns expressed by my constituents. Thus I would like to receive, in writing, an update on the Commerce Bank project, including which permits have been approved by your agency and the reasoning for their approval.

I do not believe that this matter has been properly handled, and I will object to any action that does not include our community's opportunity to state its objections.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Beautiful Day in AU Park

The afore mentioned Barbeque sponsored by Councilmember Mary Cheh and the DCFD was a great way to spend a stunning autumn day in the District. The Councilmember was joined by scores of residents from around the Ward and city to celebrate the beginning of fall as children explored the DCFD appartatus present, played on the Moonbouce, enjoyed Screetch (the Nationals mascot), and the ice cream, popcorn, sno-cones and cotton candy.

The event was attended by hundreds of city residents, who sampled some fine BBQ, great music and an overall festive day.

Hopefully this will become an annual event to bring residents of the Ward together.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Great "Smart Growth" Question

A well regarded contributor asked an interesting question on the Chevy Chase Listserv:

Why isn't that 6,000 SF home built on the 5,000 SF lot "smart growth"? In the burbs, such a house would be located on a lot at 2-3 times that size. Aren't we always being told that we need increased densification to prevent sprawl? Especially at sites, like this one, that are within easy walking distance of Metrorail stations?

For what it's worth, I agree that scale matters in terms of neighborhood liveability and have been critical of this "smart growth" logic. But it's worth pointing out the hypocrisy here. Somehow bigger is always better on or near Wisconsin Avenue and zoning restrictions are meant to be waived, but, a few blocks away, apparently some of the city's most restrictive zoning classifications just aren't restrictive enough to keep out the barbarians.

There have been at least two appropriate responses:

Smart growth concentrates DENSITY where infrastructure is already in place, such as along major roadways, near metro stations, and in areas where there is ample sewer and water capacity, etc.---not building an oversized single-family home. McMansionization does not add density and has nothing to do with the principles of smart growth.


I'm pretty certain that no Smart Growth proponent has ever espoused building larger single family homes as a means to increase density (since it doesn't). Bigger can be better along Wisconsin to the extent that "bigger" means an increase in people or dwelling units per acre where transit infrastructure exists. Claiming hypocrisy because the same person supports increased density along Wisconsin but opposes mansionization is a canard.

This doesn't seem to be a very difficult concept to grasp; that concentrating density along transit corridors to PROTECT residential neighborhoods at risk for redevelopment work hand in had with broader "Smart Growth" policies.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ANE 3E to hold Meeting on PPP RFP

The ANC 3E is hosting a community meeting to review and discuss the draft RFP (request for proposals) that the Office of Planning and Economic Development will release this week regarding the Tenley-Friendship Library and Janney Elementary School sites. The meeting will be held on Monday, September 17th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM in the Great Hall at St. Columba's Church at 42nd and Albemarle Streets, NW.

The meeting is open to the public.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Ward 3 BBQ at Turtle Park

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh is sponsoring her first-ever Ward-wide Back-to-School BBQ on Sept. 15 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Turtle Park.

The event is sponsored by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Department of Consumer and Regulator Affairs, Department of Health, D.C. Firefighters, Department of Park and Recreation, Department of the Environment, Energy Efficiency Workshop, Fire Truck, Friends of Friendship Park and Verizon

The day will feature a BBQ, with activties for the whole family including a Moon Bounce, Raffle, Free Food and Beverage, Softball Game, Skate Mobile, Screetch, the Nationals' Mascot, Music, Free Goodies from the Nationals, Cotton Candy, Snow Cones and Popcorn.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Church Threatens Community with Development

In the ongoing community discussion about the demolition of a house on Patterson Street, near the Blessed Sacrement Church/School, one neighborhood activist posted a letter on the Chevy Chase Listserve reiterating a request made of the Institution to withold the demolition of the house pending the outcome of a now scheduled BZA hearing in February, 2008.
According to the letter, the DC Committee of 100 has stated:

"We find that it would be precipitous to raze the house before the special exception has been granted. Were it not to be granted, the Chevy Chase community would find itself with a vacant lot, never an amenity in a residential neighborhood.

The letter also asks that if the house is to be demolished, that it at least be deconstructed (to the tune of an additional $20,000-40,000) so as to reuse historic details of the house and spare landfills of unnecessary tonnage. As it is, Blessed Sacrement wishes to have the house razed as soon as possible.

The theory behind the request to delay the raze is the seeming consensus behind the concept that there is either a historic house or a playspace for the institution on the site. However, very few wanted to see the property demolished simply to make room for a host of new development on the property. However, it appears that this is exactly the game being played by the Church. According to one contributor:

If by some chance there was an overwhelming shift in public sentiment and the BZA did not approve the plan, we would not end up with an empty lot but rather two or three new homes.

So even though the BZA rules based on law, not "public sentiment", it is clear that the church is basically saying that if the community doesn't support their plans, they will dispose of the property (sans nice old house) to a developer who will do exactly what nobody wanted.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cheh to Hold Community Meeting 9/6/07

Councilmember Mary Cheh is hosting a community meeting at Wilson High School's library, at 6pm, on Thursday September 6th, to discuss the Deal Junior High School modernization and the Wilson Pool construction projects. The purpose of this meeting is to update the community about the construction occurring in the neighborhood, and to answer any questions residents may have. Representatives from the two projects will be present.