ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION 3E
TENLEYTOWN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PARK
c/o Lisner Home 5425 Western Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20015
Minutes of ANC 3E March 13, 2014 Meeting
The meeting convened at 7:34pm. Commissioners Bender, Frumin, Quinn, and Serebin were present. Commissioner Tinker was absent.
Announcements / Open Forum – opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
An attendee asked for an update about the District’s school boundary review process, which was discussed at a public meeting at Deal Middle School with Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith on March 12, 2104. Commissioner Frumin said that the committee is working on different approaches to school boundaries, feeder patterns and student assignment and will present scenarios for consideration and feedback in community working groups in April and then use that feedback to generate preliminary recommendations in May 2014. There will then be community meetings at which the public will comment on the preliminary recommendations in June and July. The committee will then make a final recommendation. The mayor will issue a decision in September 2014.
More than 300 D.C. residents have signed up to participate in working groups that will evaluate the different initial scenarios as presented by the committee. The first working group meets April 5, 2014. The working groups are open to the public. Residents can find information and sign up for the working groups online.
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. Burglaries continue a slow but steady pattern, he said, with burglaries reported on the 5100 block of Belt Road, NW, 4400 block of 47th Street, NW, and the 4400 block of Jenifer Street, NW. One robbery without a gun was reported (he said details were not available tonight as the police reporting system is not working properly) as well as an assault with a deadly weapon in the Chipotle restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue, NW.
Theft from autos has decreased from 31 incidents during this 30-day period last year to 23 this year, said Lt. Hill. He added that police are no longer processing vehicles for latent fingerprints because of the low conviction rate for theft from auto. However, an exception can be made in certain circumstances. He added that there have been two reports of stolen autos, but the lack of broken glass indicates that the cars had been left unlocked.
A small chemical leak was reported at Wilson Aquatic Center yesterday, which is not unusual for pools, he said. There have been two or three fights involving juveniles in the Wilson vicinity; a juvenile assaulted an officer during one of the incidents.
Lt. Hill reported that a car hit a pedestrian on the 4400 block of Wisconsin Avenue, NW, when it proceeded through the crosswalk despite another car stopped in the adjoining lane. Lt. Hill recommended that pedestrians always go to the nearest signal-controlled intersections to cross the street safely. Officer Sanchez continues to patrol troublesome intersections, he added.
In response to an attendee’s question, Lt. Hill said that the police have received numerous emails from neighbors concerned about suspicious activity related to a drug dealer who lives on their block, and are monitoring the situation.
In response to another attendee’s question, Lt. Hill noted that if a resident reports loitering or suspicious activity in an alley there should be no need to interview the resident to begin police action.
Lt. Hill said there is no update about the reported rape on Nov. 26, 2013 in the alley near Rodman’s on Garrison Street, NW.
PEPCO presentation on work in the area
Representatives from PEPCO, including Mark Battle, Regional Vice President for the District, and Robert Andrukaitis, manager, special projects, gave an update on infrastructure upgrades in the Northwest D.C. area. Mr. Andrukaitis said that the project is currently 6 months behind schedule due to the addition of more extensive retrofitting. He estimated that the work would be completed by mid-2014.
Mr. Andrukaitis said that work in this area has been ongoing for one year and showed a map of work completed, in progress, and future projects. He explained that this is a three-phase project and that work will begin soon on Phase 2 of the project, which will replace three 4 kilovolt (kV) primary distribution lines with 13 kV lines. After the lines are activated Pepco will remove the existing 4 kV infrastructure. The 13 kV lines will be connected to the 13 kV underground feeder that was extended from the Van Ness substation.
Remaining overhead work include localized switching activities and line transfers from the old poles to the new poles by the cable and telephone companies, and once completed, Pepco will remove the old poles.
Commissioners discussed the project with Pepco representatives, covering such topics as the impact on ratepayers and power outages; modernizing the Harrison substation; undergrounding feeder lines; the project’s budget; and repaving Western Avenue, NW. Commissioners discussed concerns about moving the substation to commercially-zoned property next to a Metro station and the need for Pepco to reach out to the community to discuss alternative sites.
Commissioners discussed at length with Pepco representatives the impact of Pepco’s upgrades on the tree canopy, including whether Pepco could insulate wires to protect trees and if Pepco had any financial incentives to protect trees instead of aggressively trimming or removing them. Commissioners also asked about ways to speed up the removal of the old utility poles by encouraging other users to switch over their lines to the new poles expeditiously. Pepco region president Donna Cooper said that they would reach out to Comcast to try to resolve the issue.
An attendee asked about removing construction signs when work is completed so residents do not get ticketed for parking illegally.
Commissioners asked Pepco representatives to involve the community on proposals to move the substation; press Comcast to transfer their lines from the old poles; and continue to explore ways to better protect the tree canopy.
DC Water presentation on stormwater management proposals and recent boil water alert
John Cassidy of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority presented the agency’s plans to implement green infrastructure to help meet the federal mandate that the agency reduce pollution flowing into Rock Creek, Anacostia and Potomac rivers.
The agency is seeking support to explore a green infrastructure option to augment the current plan approved by the U.S. EPA, said Mr. Cassidy. The EPA plan relies largely on the construction of large tunnels by Georgetown and Rock Creek (also known as “gray” infrastructure) designed to capture Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO’s) during heavy rains and transport it to the Blue Plains Advanced Water Treatment Plant for treatment. He explained that green infrastructure would comprise a series of small-scale projects using rain gardens, porous pavements, green roofs and other measures to absorb rainwater before it enters the sewer system. Green infrastructure measures would have environmental and economic benefits, he said.
The green infrastructure plan is a long-term project, with targeted completion dates from 2028 to 2032, Mr. Cassidy said. Phased-in construction of the green infrastructure plan should help reduce pollution as soon as 2015, as compared to the tunnel infrastructure, which has a due date of 2025, he said. Implementation of the green infrastructure plan would require a modification of the 2005 Consent Decree among D.C. Water, EPA and the District, including an extension of the time frame.
Commissioners and attendees discussed the project, including such topics as whether D.C. Water is targeting public, private or commercial land; how residents can become engaged; the effect of salt on roads entering the sewer system; the schedule for the plan; if the tunnels would help with rising sea levels; and rate changes and charges on residential water bills.
A commissioner noted that the northwest D.C. area is not subject to the consent decree because this area has separate sewers systems, but that stormwater here flows to the Potomac without being treated. Green infrastructure would thus be valuable in this area, as well, the commissioner said.
Emanuel Briggs, manager of community outreach for D.C Water and Sewer Authority, gave a brief presentation about the recent boil water advisory issued from March 5 to March 7, 2014. He explained that the advisory was issued out of an abundance of caution and that there had been no danger to residents. He said that aging infrastructure at the Fort Reno Pumping Station contributed to the pump failure at Fort Reno that caused the boil advisory. D.C. Water is in the process of upgrading the Fort Reno Pumping Station; estimated completion date is August 2015.
Commissioners discussed whether D.C. Water’s notification procedure for the boil advisory was carried out in an effective manner and agreed that a review of the notification procedure would be beneficial.
Discussion and possible vote on a resolution regarding installation of a “green alley” behind Harrison Street NW between 44th and 45th
Commissioner Bender introduced this topic, explaining that several months ago he received calls from concerned residents living near the alley behind Garrison Street, NW between 44th and 45th Streets because they had received only two days notice from DDOT before the alley was paved over from gravel. DDOT has subsequently been contacted to request that residents be given adequate notice to allow the community and ANC 3E to weigh in.
DDOT has subsequently received a request from a resident to pave the alley behind Harrison Street between 44th and 45th Streets, which is in need of repair. Commissioner Bender encouraged residents near the Harrison Alley to attend the ANC 3E meeting to discuss their preferences for repairing the alley, including leaving it as is; repairing the alley with pavement; or creating a green or permeable alley (the drawback of which is that it may take longer to get implemented).
A resident said that after consulting with neighbors the consensus is to request that DDOT install a green alley and in the interim some repair work should be done. Other neighbors present agreed. The neighbors do not want to remove foliage or trees along the fence, she said. She emphasized that residents live next to a retail corridor and that the alley provides a green buffer between their homes and the Lord & Taylor parking lot.
Commissioners and attendees discussed the topic, including problems relates to water runoff and drainage; disruption involved with repaving the alley; the short notice and lack of notification by DDOT; and whether speed bumps, one-way, or private traffic only sign could be installed in the alley given its attractiveness as a cut-through to avoid the diverter at 44th and Harrison Streets.
A commissioner said that DDOT has a backlog of requests for green alleys throughout the District. The commissioners agreed that Commissioner Bender would write a letter to DDOT requesting a green alley and will circulate it to commissioners and residents.
Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize a letter to DDOT to request the building of a green alley behind Harrison Street, NW between 44th and 45th Streets.
Consideration of a resolution on the modernization of Murch Elementary School
Commissioner Quinn introduced the resolution, which joins the ANC 3F in calling for a renovation of Murch Elementary School. Murch was built in 1929 and has never had a full renovation or substantial modernization since that time. The resolution requests that the City Council appropriate at least $3.062 million budgeted for Murch renovations in FY2016 to FY2015 to make up for lost time due to the failure to appropriate promised funding in FY2014.
ANC 3F Commissioner Manolis Priniotakis addressed the commission, saying that the ANC 3F had passed a similar resolution two weeks ago and ANC 3/4G will be considering the resolution at their next meeting. He said that Murch is the second largest elementary school in the District (tied with Janney Elementary) and the ratio of square footage to enrolled students makes it the most overcrowded school in the District. The baseline capacity of the school is 488 including 20-year old portables, however current enrollment is 626, with 680 students projected for next year. He added that student overcrowding is a safety concern.
Commissioner Priniotakis argued that targeted funding for the renovation should be reprogrammed to FY2015 to allow for renovation planning as soon as possible.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolution to accelerate appropriations for the Murch renovation.
Discussion of plans under consideration for Public Tenley and resolution seeking a stay of Public Tenley’s ABRA license change application
Commissioner Frumin introduced this resolution, which asks that ABRA postpone a hearing on Public Tenley’s request to change its restaurant license to a tavern license until July 2014, at the earliest. Commissioners and the owner of Public Tenley, Edwin Villegas, agreed that the March 31, 2014 hearing is premature. The protest date would also be stayed until July 17, 2014. The change would lift current requirements that 45 percent of sales come from food.
Mr. Villegas described the previous renovation and showed the current plans for Public Tenley, located at 4611 41St Street, NW, to create a rooftop patio on top of the existing building. No new construction would be needed except for infill, he said. He said the restaurant is not operating at capacity.
Commissioners discussed the topic, including how to improve the menu and quality of food at Public Tenley to bring in more business; using greenery and screens on the rooftop garden; the opportunity for streetscape improvements in partnership with neighboring developers; and whether locally brewed beers could be served.
Commissioners and Mr. Villegas agreed that plans for the rooftop patio should be addressed at the same time as changing the liquor license. Commissioners will draft a voluntary agreement regarding the rooftop garden as well as issues over noise. Mr. Villegas will present the agreement and more fully formed plans at the May 2014 ANC 3E meeting for review and seek the new alcohol license in July.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolution to stay Public Tenley’s ABRA license change application.
Approval of February 2014 Meeting Minutes
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the February 2014 meeting minutes.
Approval of expenditures
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve expenditures: $700.00 to Loren Stein for administrative services; $36.73 to FedEx for copying services.
The commission adjourned at 10:45pm.
Matthew Frumin, Chair