ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION 3E
TENLEYTOWN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PARK
c/o Lisner Home 5425 Western Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20015
Minutes of ANC 3E February 20, 2014 Meeting
The meeting convened at 7:31pm. Commissioners Bender, Frumin, and Serebin were present. Commissioner Quinn arrived at 7:33pm. Commissioner Tinker arrived at 7:40pm.
Announcements / Open Forum – opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
Presentation by 2nd District Police
PSA 202 Lieutenant Alan Hill said that there have been no reports of homicides or sexual crimes in PSA 202 within the last 30 days. As compared to the same 30-day period last year, there have been 4 robberies, one more than the previous year, and two reported burglaries, the same as the previous year. Property crime has decreased by 23 percent, thefts have decreased by 29 percent, and thefts from autos have decreased by 32 percent, as compared to the previous year, said Lt. Hill.
Lt. Hill encouraged residents to install security systems in their homes, noting that a burglar on 44th Street, NW dropped the television he was stealing when the alarm was activated. He also advised resident to remove all valuable items from their cars.
Residents should call 911 with any suspicions or concerns. Lt. Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consideration of public space application for 4650 Warren Street, NW
Commissioner Serebin introduced this resolution, explaining that the owners of 4650 Warren Street, NW are seeking permission from DDOT’s Public Space Committee to replace their driveway and correct drainage problems. In addition, they would replace both driveway retaining walls and widen their driveway by 3 feet, from 9’ 4” to 12’ 4”, most of which is in public space. An agreement has been reached between the applicant and commissioners that specifies a series of steps to mitigate environmental harm, including storm water management and tree planting. With those steps taken, Commissioners believe that is likely more stormwater will be retained on the property than before the renovations.
The Commissioners voted unanimously (4-0) to approve the resolution.
Presentation on Age-Friendly City Block-by-Block Walk Through Project
Gail Kohn, Coordinator for the Age-Friendly DC Initiative, gave a presentation about the District’s Block-By-Block walk, an effort to make the District an age-friendly city for residents 60 and older, an increasingly larger demographic. From March 20 to April 15, 2014 small groups of volunteers will inspect every block in the District, gathering data for a strategic plan and identifying such issues as cracks in the sidewalks, the timing of walk signals, places to sit, resources for public gatherings, and where to build more pharmacies and grocery stores, she said. They will also report immediate problems using the 311 system. Ms. Kohn said the goal is to bring the District into alignment with the World Health Organization’s recommendations for “age-friendly” cities by 2017 and earn the WHO “age-friendly” certification. New York City is the only age friendly-designated U.S. city to date, she noted. The plan is to repeat the project the following year and track progress. She invited residents to sign up as volunteers or help the effort at http://agefriendly.dc.gov/page/get-involved.
Commissioners discussed the project, exploring such issues as funding; how this project is different from previous studies with similar goals, which have seen few of their recommendations actually implemented; whether previous studies of commercial corridors will be considered; and the need to tackle larger issues, such as affordable housing, that confront the District.
Consideration of Renewal of Friends of Friendship Park Charter and Update on Park Renovation Process
Lucy Cummings, President of Friends of Friendship Park, gave a presentation about Friendship Park’s contributions to the community and summarized the plans for the renovation of the park. The group is seeking the ANC 3E’s support for the continuation of the group’s status as Friends of Friendship Park.
Extensive renovation of park facilities is planned, a process that began 5 to 7 years ago, Ms. Cummings said. The community building as well as the park itself, excluding the baseball field, will be updated. They now have a budget and have been working with the city to develop the conceptual plans, she said. The group will present more detailed plans before the ANC 3E in March or April 2014.
Jennifer Battle, project manager with the Department of General Services, and Stacie West of the Department of Parks and Recreation, also made brief presentations. Ms. Battle said DGS had presented two concepts in December 2013 to the community to gather feedback. The renovation is scheduled to begin in the fall 2014 and completed by the fall 2015, she said.
In response to an attendee’s question, the representatives said that an outdoor swimming pool is currently not being considered as part of the renovation.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a letter of support to renew the Friends of Friendship Park Charter.
Presentation of grant request by IONA Senior Services
Iona Senior Services director Sally White gave a presentation describing Iona Senior Services, located at 4125 Albemarle St. NW, and outlined their goals for the grant request. Iona offers an adult day program, consultations with older adults and their families, exercise classes, help line, and home delivered meals, among other services.
Ms. White explained that the group is seeking a $2,077 grant from the ANC 3E in collaboration with the Northwest Neighbors Village, to help promote new developments in the upper Northwest area friendly to all ages, including older adults. Working with developers building along the Wisconsin Ave. NW corridor, the group aims to encourage appropriate housing opportunities for older adults and other amenities to attract and serve older residents.
In response to commissioners’ questions, Ms. White said the grant would help support staff time at Iona working on this project.
A commissioner said that Iona’s goals for the grant request would benefit the community, however, Ms. White needed to create a more specific grant request, with tangible products, and to clarify the steps Iona plans to take in working with developers. Ms. White agreed to refine the proposal, which will be considered again at a subsequent ANC 3E meeting.
Presentation by Car2Go
Adam Johnson, DC Manager for Car2Go, and Timothy Slayton, DC Sales and Marketing Supervisor for Car2Go, made a presentation about the car sharing company and its presence in the District. Car2Go was first introduced to the District in March 2012; it now has 450 cars and 30,000 active members District-wide. Car2Go offers point-to-point car sharing. The company has an agreement with the city that members can park at any legal parking space curbside without feeding meters. Reservations are not required. Using the Car2Go mobile application, members can locate cars and walk up to any car at any time and if it’s free, drive it away and use it for as long as needed. Members pay for the time the car is used rather than mileage, which facilitates quicker one-way trips that average 15 to 30 minutes. There is no annual fee and the sign-up charge is $35.
In response to Commissioners’ and attendees’ questions, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Slayton said that members could take cars anywhere but must begin and end their rentals in DC. The company is working on expanding their access to adjacent jurisdictions such as Virginia and Maryland but needs permission in order to do so. Cars cannot be equipped with bike racks due to liability issues; the company’s insurance liability is $5 million. Cars are not allowed to sit in one space for more than 24 hours. Cars are tracked and teams will remove cars from neighborhoods if they remain idle for too long. Cars cannot be parked on rush hour travel lanes or streets. The company is currently negotiating with owners and developers to secure public parking garage spaces downtown. Car2Go currently has no parking spaces in private buildings. 25% of the membership has either sold a car or made the decision not to buy a car after joining Car2Go, Mr. Johnson said.
WMATA Presentation Regarding Possible Plans for 40th Street and Fort Drive between Albemarle and Brandywine Streets, NW
Commissioner Frumin introduced this topic, explaining that city planners, working with DDOT and WMATA, are in the very early stages of exploring new design plans for the busy parallel roadways of 40th Street and Fort Drive between Albemarle and Brandywine Streets, NW, near the eastern entrance of the Tenleytown-American University Metro station. The intersection has a large impact on the neighborhood, he said, and planners have been consulting with different stakeholders to improve pedestrian, bus, bicycle, and auto traffic flow and safety.
R.J. Eldridge, Director of Toole Design, Emily Leckvarcik of Toole Design, and Tim Brulle, Project Manager with AECOM, presented three current options to redevelop the area. Mr. Eldridge said they are looking at solutions to a challenging area, from near term to much longer term, focused on the public right of way. This is the first of a multi-phase project, he said.
Mr. Brulle said the proposals are designed to improve WMATA-owned property. Planners have met with adjacent property owners along the block, including Whole Foods and Ward 3 Vision. Improvements are needed in pedestrian safety, bus layovers, transit user sitting areas, walkways and public space, and to reduce conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians. There is a great deal of bus activity in the area, he said: During peak hours a total of 34 transit services use Fort Drive and 40th Street, including public buses and shuttles operated by American University and Sibley Memorial Hospital. More transit shelters are needed and the current shelters are not big enough.
Ms. Leckvarcik noted that there are no stop signs or lights at the intersection of Albemarle Street and Fort Drive and the entire geometry of the intersection is unsafe and creates numerous conflict points. She outlined the three proposed plans: Concept A would be an estimated $2.4 million project with short term, low disturbance construction, she said. Among other improvements, the Albemarle Street sidewalk would be enhanced, it would add bike lanes, add 44 more bike parking spaces and reduce street parking by 5 spaces. Concept B is a longer term, medium disturbance plan, estimated at $4.6 million. Along with the features in Concept A, it would add mid-block crossings, landscaping and bus shelters, double bike parking spaces to 116 and decrease on-street auto parking by one third, or 31 spaces. Concept C would be a long term, high disturbance plan, estimated at $7.6 million. It would be a complete redesign of the entire block. The northeast curb along at Brandywine Street and Wisconsin Avenue would be altered to re-route buses that now use Fort Drive. Fort Drive would only allow cars; buses would access 40th Street from Wisconsin Avenue and Brandywine Street, and Brandywine would become one way eastbound. The plan would add 48 bike parking spaces, reduce car parking spots by 24, and add more landscaping and crosswalks.
Steve Strauss of DDOT said that the project’s costs would be shared by WMATA and DDOT.
Attendees asked questions and offered comments, covering such issues as the need for families to park near Wilson Aquatic Center; American University’s impact on the area (as 1/3 of the bus traffic in the intersection are AU buses); WMATA’s interest in the project; and plans to make bike track connections to surrounding neighborhoods.
Commissioners discussed whether the plans might exacerbate existing traffic problems on Wisconsin Avenue near the Whole Food entrance as well as near Janney Elementary School; the need to simplify parking garage entrances and exits and reduce bus congestion and queuing; whether the new crosswalks will help stop jaywalking; and if the planners are in discussion with AU and whether AU could do their own transportation study. Commissioners agreed that fixing the intersection is important but that the broad impacts and spillover issues created by the proposed changes need to be carefully considered. A commissioner expressed the view that the proposals do not adequately address the long-term problems of the area and that wholesale redevelopment is needed.
Presentation by Safeway on plans for the site at 42nd, Ellicott and Davenport Streets, NW
Steve Strazzella, President of Bozzuto Development Company, gave a presentation about their current proposal for the redevelopment of Safeway at 42nd, Ellicott and Davenport Streets, NW.
The PUD will be filed within the next 30 to 60 days and they are seeking feedback from the community and ANC 3E commissioners. Architect Maurice Walters and numerous other representatives from Bozzuto and Safeway were present.
The new plans call for a two-acre, 220,000 square foot mixed-use development with approximately 200 residential units on four floors above the 65,000 square foot grocery store. The underground parking lot would have 165 to170 spaces for the grocery store and a lower level for residential parking. The main entrance to the Safeway store would be located on the corner of Ellicott and 42nd Streets, with the second entrance lower on 42nd Street. The main residential entrance and truck loading area would be located on Davenport Street. Outdoor café seating would face 42nd Street.
The proposal would close the 42nd Street section of slip lane and lift the road, creating a landscaped and usable public plaza and facilitate better pedestrian flow. Mr. Strazzella said is it their goal to build the plaza but Buzzuto and the ANC 3E would need to work with DDOT and perhaps others to secure the necessary approvals. The loading area to the grocery store would also serve the apartment building in a closed environment, with a height of 28 feet at its tallest point. The 65-foot tall four-story apartment building would have decreasing massing or height, pulled back like a wedding cake, to help balance the building and its sight lines within the existing neighborhood. The plan calls for four stories of apartments in the front of the building along 42nd Street that taper down to three floors in the back and nearer the immediate neighbors. A masonry band or skin on the Safeway store is intended to give scale and help blend in to the neighborhood. A 4,000 square foot community building would be built on Ellicott Street as a neighborhood amenity.
Attendees and commissioners discussed the proposal at length. In response to questions, Mr. Strazzella and project representatives said that they plan to design a green building but may not seek LEED certification; would consider a restricted RPP requirement or ineligibility for residential tenants; will be doing further traffic studies to help minimize traffic impact on the neighborhood; and that the alley entrance to Safeway is owned by the District and not the store. Safeway representative Avis Black said the grocery store would be seeking a beer and wine license. Mr. Strazzella said they would consider undergrounding utilities. He said they hope groundbreaking would take place in two years, if possible.
Several attendees said the new development proposal was a welcome improvement over previous plans. One attendee recommended that a stop sign be installed on the Ellicott Street entrance to increase safety. Some attendees said that the neighborhood did not need a community building and that it would not blend in to the existing neighborhood.
Commissioners generally agreed that the new proposal for the redevelopment represented significant progress. Various commissioners also expressed views that the amount of planned parking would create increased traffic and congestion in the neighborhood; the plan should more specifically pinpoint green elements; and an outdoor pool would be better use of the available space than a community building. A commissioner said that RPP restrictions are sine qua non for support of the project. The commissioner also expressed interest in additional affordable housing and the possibility of limiting residential entry and exit to Davenport Street (as currently envisioned residents could use either Davenport or Ellicott). The commissioner noted further that the scope of the project merited significant amenities, and that vagueness about the scope amenities as proffered made it difficult to say whether that commissioner could support the project.
- Approval of January 15, 2013 regular and January 30, 2013 special meeting minutes
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the January 15, 2013 meeting minutes, as revised. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the January 30, 2013 special meeting minutes.
- Approval of expenditures
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve expenditures: $1,168.75 to Loren Stein for administrative services; $14.00 to Loren Stein for expenses; and $85.06 to FedEx for copying services.
The commission adjourned at 11:10pm.
Matt Frumin, Chair