This blog post is from the May 2020 newsletter created by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Evan Yeats, who serves ANC 4B01 in the northern part of the Takoma neighborhood. If you live within the 4B01 boundary, you can contact Evan about community issues at email@example.com.
We’re All in This Together
As I reflect on the past few months, it’s really remarkable how our community and our lives have changed. I know that all the things that are now a daily part of our family’s existence are not what I would have predicted in my New Year’s resolutions. As we adapt to our new circumstances, we’re all learning how to make things work in new and different ways – but one thing hasn’t changed. You can always reach me on my cell at (319)-310-5716 or by emailing me by replying to this email or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The April meeting also marked a new beginning for the Commission as we took advantage of changes in District law to meet virtually for the first time. While we miss seeing everyone in person, we’re grateful to be able to serve our community through these new technologies.
Also, it now means that we have a video recording of our meeting available if you weren’t able to join us that night along with the meeting materials you need to follow along from home.
Remember, you can always keep up to date on upcoming meetings, agendas, and materials through the Commission website. This meeting is not only a result of a lot of effort on the part of our Commission, especially our Secretary, Commissioner Erin Palmer, 4B02, to move to a virtual model but the end result of a considerable amount of effort by all of the Commission to bring ANC 4B into a functioning, productive place. We now have a modern, mobile-friendly website that can host meeting materials. All Commissioners routinely upload every resolution passed to the District’s centralized portal for public review and response. We have transparent, sound financials thanks in part to a lot of hard work by our Treasurer Commissioners Geoff Bromaghim, 4B07. All that has continued to pay off as we continue to be able to advocate for our neighborhood and community in these unusual and difficult times.
Updates from the Neighborhood
Takoma Education Campus Parent Teacher Organization has been working hard to support families that have been affected by the pandemic and I know first-hand that the needs are both real and on-going. I encourage you to join me in supporting their efforts by donating here.
Additionally, the PTO’s online auction will run from May 10 to May 24 (ending at 10 p.m.), with all auction proceeds this year supporting TEC families in need due to the coronavirus pandemic. The TEC PTO recognizes that the coronavirus has touched our community in many ways, from individuals to businesses, and appreciates all donors who contributed wonderful items to this auction or participated as sponsors. As the pandemic continues to affect our community, the TEC PTO asks that bidders be mindful of these changing circumstances, both when bidding and when redeeming any items won. Please check out the more than 50 items and consider bidding to support these TEC families.
Takoma Transportation News
There’s actually a lot of exciting transportation news in and around ANC 4B01 to report and I’m excited to have been a part of a lot of it.
New bike storage facility proposed for the Takoma Metro Station. WMATA applied to the Historic Preservation Review Board to construct a beautiful, modern bike storage facility at the Takoma Metro Station.
This proposed facility would replace the dated (and in my opinion, ugly) plastic bike storage bike boxes that are currently in front of the station and would provide an attractive asset to our neighborhood. ANC 4B expressed unanimous support of the plan to HPRB and HPRB unanimously approved the concept design. However, WMATA has not funded the construction of the project yet and capital projects face an uncertain future currently. In addition to supporting the HPRB approval, my resolution calls on WMATA to fund and construct the project as soon as possible and if and when I have an update, I will share it here.
The reconstruction of the Cedar, Blair, and Fourth Street, N.W. has taken shape. This includes the physically protected bike lane pictured here along with many improvements for pedestrians and autos.
Unfortunately, as DDOT proceeded with construction of the intersection they reconstructed the North crosswalk across Blair Road in the exact same position it currently exists due to utility issues at the originally proposed spot. However, the relocation of this important crosswalk that connects the Metro station to the neighborhood to the West (including the library and the school) to the corner to ensure pedestrians could be seen as a key pedestrian improvement in this project.
Working together with DDOT, they have promised to fix this oversight. Above are modified plans based on resolving my concerns which allow for a visible crosswalk, as well as some more space for pedestrians at that intersection.
Metropolitan Branch Trail update
While construction is continuing apace on the section to the South of us, I’m excited to report news on the section that will eventually serve our neighborhood. First, the final design is underway for the segment of the trail from Fort Totten to Takoma, and construction is expected to begin next summer. I’m grateful for all the hard work that previous Commissions have put in to make that plan a reality.
Due to the public health emergency, many of DC’s regulatory agencies delayed or cancelled meetings. Now, legislative changes have begun to allow those agencies to meet virtually. However, both the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Historic Preservation Review Board have begun meeting again. Historic Preservation cases in the Takoma Park Historic District for the April 30th HPRB meeting were:
- HPA 20-221, 327 Cedar Street NW, the request by WMATA to build the bike storage station above. ANC 4B approved my support resolution unanimously and concept design was approved unanimously by HPRB.
- HPA 20-223, 600 Cedar Street NW, Demolition of Two-Story Sleeping Porch and Construction of Open Deck and Replacement of Roof and Windows. ANC 4B approved my support resolution unanimously and concept design was unanimously approved by HPRB.
- HPA 19-549, 300-308 Carroll Street NW, 325 Vine Street NW, new construction ANC 4B approved a resolution in support of this concept design authored by Commissioner Bromaghim, 4B07. The concept design was unanimously approved by HPRB.
We also considered one request for Special Exception at our April meeting.
- BZA #20209, 7521 9th Street NW, requesting a special exception to the lot occupancy requirements to allow for the construction of an ADA-accessible Accessory Dwelling Unit for occupancy by a multi-generational family unit. ANC 4B unanimously approved my resolution in support of the project.
Watching the Wilson Building
Coronavirus Emergency Bills. The Council of the District of Columbia has rushed to respond to the coronavirus crisis with a series of unprecedented omnibus bills. Unfortunately, the process has allowed for limited public feedback or formal feedback by Commissions. In lieu of that, Commissioner Palmer, 4B02, and I have teamed up to offer feedback and suggestions to the Council in the hopes of improving each bill. You can read our feedback and suggestions in our letters from March, April and May.
Ensuring School Safety. After reported safety incidents at Rocketship Public Charter School, community members approached ANC 4B with concerns about their expansion into the neighborhood and their procedures to ensure the safety of the children in our community. Commissioner LaRoya A. Huff, 4B09, and I invited the school the appear at the February ANC meeting. Unfortunately, concerns have persisted about the oversight process for the school and ANC 4B voted unanimously to send a letter of concern I authored to the Public Charter School Board about Rocketship’s failure to ensure the safety of students and engage in a transparent process around their expansion into our portion of the District.
Supporting Head Start Students. After the shocking news that District of Columbia Public Schools was voluntarily giving up millions of dollars in federal Head Start funding, I partnered with elected officials, PTAs, unions and education advocacy organizations from across the District to express our concerns about the future of DC’s public Head Start program. You can read the Chancellor’s response to our letter and his further clarification here. Regrettably, he doesn’t commit to uphold the same high health and safety standards for our youngest students or to reapply for the federal grant funds next year.