5 Top Stories from the October ANC 4B Meeting

Here are the Top Five Stories from the October ANC 4B meeting

5) VIP Room Noise Complaints

The contentious relationship between the VIP Room, a social hall located on Third Street, NW and a group of its residential neighbors has continued for months after the establishment received its annually renewable liquor license from the city.  Two neighbors spoke during this meeting’s “Community Concerns” segment.  They say that there have been numerous times that they can hear music from the social hall from inside of their homes during events.  They have lodged complaints with ABRA, but nothing has been done about the issue to date.

In addition, they have shared their concerns with their ANC Commissioner Natalee Snider, who in turn sought a solution from Councilmember Todd’s office.

There was a lot of back and forth on the issue between Cmr. Snider and Dolly Turner, Councilmember Todd’s Deputy Chief of Staff. The result of that discussion was a promise to look into the issue further.

4) Art Place at Fort Totten Presentation

Art Place

Representatives from the Cafritz Foundation’s Art Place Planned Unit Development came to share some early renderings of their proposed mixed-use project on South Dakota.  The original master plan was approved years ago. They are now seeking to amend that approval to include a children’s museum, grocery store and housing.

The highlight of their drawings is the spectacular food hall which they nickname The FEZ (Family Entertainment Zone).  The proudly noted that the food hall concept is “more Union Market than Union Station”, meaning the public should expect some higher-end and culinary arts inspired vendors inside.

The building is truly unique and looks nothing like anything else in the city. The concept is very exciting.  The audience is eager to learn more as the development plans proceed to the next stages.

3) Report from Councilmember Todd’s Office by Dolly Turner

As mentioned previously, Dolly Turner presented the report from CM Todd’s office.  Some key points that she shared are:

  • The State of the Ward 4 Senior Address will take place this Thursday, October 25th from 10 am to 2 pm at the Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center.  Seniors from across the Ward will join in a day of fun, information sharing and food!  If you would like to volunteer to assist you can call the CM’s office at 202.724.8106
  • A new rental assistance program specifically for seniors has been funded in the FY19 budget.  This program will operate out of the DC Office on Aging.  Seniors in need of emergency rental assistance will be able to call on this program for help.  The program is in its startup phase now and you can call the office to learn more details about it.
  • The 18th Annual Ward 4 Holiday Party and New Coat Drive will take place on December 8th from 6pm to 8pm at Lafayette Elementary School.  Residents are asked to bring a new coat for a Ward 4 student in need. To RSVP, volunteer or join the planning committee, call Ms. Turner at (202) 654-6406.
  • The notorious intersection at 4th St, Blair & Cedar may FINALLY see a safety upgrade.  That area has been a dangerous bottleneck for years.  The neighborhood cannot wait to see shovels hitting the ground on that project in the hope of seeing some relief from that daily afternoon traffic nightmare.

2) Coolidge Modernization Update

Ms. Oni Hinton, a project coordinator for DCPS, was on hand to give the community an update on the Coolidge High School Modernization Project. As many of you know,  the physical plant of Coolidge languished for years. It was the last of the city’s comprehensive high schools to receive a modernization.  When completed, the building will host 670 high school students and 550 middle school students in a separate wing.  The renovation is on track for the school to open in August 2019.

DCPS is currently holding a survey to get feedback on the finalists for the name of the “New North” Middle school. The finalists are:

  • Ida B. Wells
  • Georgiana Simpson
  • Lawrence Graves
  • Alma Thomas
  • América Libertad Calderón
  • James Baldwin
  • Josephine Dorothy Butler
  • Paul A. Quander, Jr.
  • John Wesley Cromwell and Otelia Cromwell
  • Mary Ann Shadd

As you can see, they went “all-in” on the historical names, which wouldn’t have been my choice. But hey, I respect their commitment.

Visit DCPS’s feedback site  by October 30th to rank your choices for the school’s name.

Ms. Hinton notified the audience that Coolidge’s popular track and field would experience periodic closings due to construction activity over the next few months. Upon further questioning, she revealed that the Coolidge Stadium is being completely renovated, including adding new restrooms, tickets booths and a brand-new track and field. This is terrific news as there was some doubt about whether the track, which is a true community asset, would be renovated as a part of the school building renovation project.

1) The Return of 4B Drama

Finally, after several decent meetings, the notorious “4B Drama” returned in a big way. With the election just around the corner, a little extra feistiness was to be expected.  What we got was something closer to pettiness, which I’m sure was a disappointment to most who were in attendance.

First, we got a campaign-style stemwinder from one commissioner, even though they are not supposed to campaign at these meetings.  Later, the meeting bogged down for more than fifteen minutes over the most trivial correction to a resolution about a solar panel installation.  The neighbor who came to the ANC for help stood dumbfounded at the podium while bickering went back and forth. Lastly, the Commission voted on the issue without taking any questions or input from the public.  What is the purpose of having a public meeting if the Commission doesn’t hear from the public?  Especially on an issue where members of the public clearly had valuable expertise to share?

With Commissioner Snider’s withdrawal from the election, ANC 4B will definitely have a different composition next year, no matter the election results.  I sincerely hope that the new Commission can find a way to put the arguments of the past aside and find a way to work together to help solve some of the very serious challenges are that our area faces.

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