Adopted Minutes - Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

September 25, 2008 Public Meeting - Adopted on October 23, 2008


The meeting started at 6:52 p.m. at Emery Community Center, 5701 Georgia Ave., NW, Chairman Douglass Sloan (4B09) presiding.  Also present were Commissioners Sara Green (ANC 4B01), Faith Wheeler (4B02), Frederick Grant (4B03), Blondine Hughes (4B05), and Judi Jones (4B07).  A quorum was present for all votes.



1.  Without objection, the agenda was adopted, with one addition.  The proposed designation of part of the Sheridan Shopping Center as a historic site will be Item Number 9.


2.  Without objection, the minutes for the August 14 public meeting were adopted, with one correction.  On page two, the first and second sentence of the fourth paragraph will read, "Other residents who spoke included Marlena Edwards, who opposed both the Georgia Avenue sites, and Andre Carley, of 9th St., NW.  Ms. Regina Page, said she would like to see a new station built to serve this part of Ward 4."


3.  In a 4-2-0 roll-call vote, the Commission adopted Commissioner Green's resolution to include ANC 4B residents in the DC Neighborhood Circulation Study. Voting "yes" were Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Grant, and Sloan. Commissioners Jones and Hughes voted "no."


Adopted Resolution


"Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B) calls on the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to add our neighborhoods to their current DC Neighborhood Circulation Study. These communities include, but are not limited to Takoma, North Takoma, Manor Park, Riggs Park, and Lamond-Riggs. 


The study's goal of improving connectivity and accessibility and reducing travel times and other impediments to bus use is important to our residents.  For example, it takes about one and one-half hours for a North Takoma resident to travel by bus and rail from 9th Street, NW to Georgetown during rush hour periods, an unacceptably long commuting time for a distance of only 6.65 miles. 


In addition, better bus service will help reduce congestion at five out of nine ANC 4B intersections near the Takoma Metro Station that the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has already rated "F," or failing, during the evening rush hour.  By 2012, all nine, including Eastern and New Hampshire, Blair and Aspen, and Piney Branch and Blair are projected to fail, according to the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT). 


Inaccurate and out-of-date data about our communities' new and projected development, population, and our increasing demand for bus service in the face of rising gasoline prices prevent WMATA and city agencies from correctly evaluating our need for transit services.  For example, WMATA's 2003 Regional Bus Study did not consider the likely conversion of the Walter Reed Medical Center into a higher-density office complex, the over 2,000 new housing units anticipated for South Silver Spring, Maryland, the 169 new housing units slated for New Hampshire Avenue, NE  (near Peabody Street), and the hundreds of housing units (along with retail) set to be built at South Dakota and Riggs Road, NE. 


Better bus service is an investment that will make ANC 4B neighborhoods more attractive for residents, employers, and developers.  These communities should not be ignored.


We therefore call upon WMATA and DDOT to:


      a)   Update the 2003 Regional Bus Study;


b)         Include the ANC 4B neighborhoods in this study for the purpose of improving public transportation for our residents, employees and employers;


c)    Pay special attention to the coordination between bus and rail service."


Commissioner Green explained that WMATA and DDOT officials have concluded that ANC 4B communities now have good bus connectivity, and accessibility, and acceptable travel times, and do not need to be part of the study.  Conversations with some constituents contradict this, she said.


Commissioner Wheeler noted that the 2003 Takoma Transportation Study concluded that only one new bus bay will be needed at the Takoma Metro Station, supporting a proposal to build townhouses on much of the remaining open space. The study was based on out of date and incomplete data, which means that the resulting recommendations are less likely to generate effective solutions and residents will be shut out of additional bus service there, she said.


4.  In a 5-1-0 show-of-hands vote, the Commission adopted Commissioner Grant's motion on the Sheridan Shopping Center, 6201-6221 Georgia Ave., NW. 


Adopted Motion


 "ANC 4B asks that the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) delay their hearing on this issue [the Sheridan Theatre] until after ANC 4B's October 23, 2008 public meeting to give the Commissioners an opportunity to discuss the issue with their constituents."


Mr. James Ortega, representing the Shopping Center's owners, said the D.C. Historic Preservation Society, which placed the Sheridan Theatre (part of the Shopping Center) on its list of "Endangered Sites," requested that the city designate the building as a historic site.  There are no plans to demolish it, but there are plans to renovate the existing facade, which covers up the theatre, he said, explaining that the owner needs the freedom to redesign the facade according to the requirements of its businesses. That freedom could be limited if the HPRB designates the site as historic, he said.


Commissioner Wheeler said that the historic architecture can be a positive addition to the Center.  Commissioner Green said that historic designation is an advantage to the community because the design must be approved by HPRB, with community input.


Commissioner Jones said she is concerned that the designation proposal is being made after the owners have already invested effort in redesigning the facade. Mr. Calvin Gurley, who attended the meeting, said he is concerned that rents might go up.


5.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote, the Commission adopted Commissioner Wheeler's resolution on improving ANC 4B community centers.


Adopted Resolution


”Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B thanks DPR Director Clark Ray for his attendance at the ANC 4B02 and 4B03 Single Member District Community Meeting, held on September 16, 2008, and wishes to support him and his DPR staff in making all community centers in 4B outstanding facilities for our residents.  We recognize that improvements need to be made as noted below by residents at the September 25, 2008 ANC 4B meeting.


Residents in the community are concerned about the conditions in and around the Takoma Community Center, specifically maintenance of grounds, facilities and equipment; amplified music without a permit; truancy, drug dealing and using; and community access to use the Field House for programs.


We therefore urge Department of Parks and Recreation Director Clark Ray to:


a)     Place reminders in key places in the Takoma Community Center for people who use the Center’s facilities to notify staff of repairs that need to be made;


b)     Put up “Do not litter” signs on the grounds;


c)      Shorten the lag time between staff notification of needed repairs and the repair being made;


d)     Revise the Permit application form in order to highlight the requirement for a special permit for amplified music;


e)     Direct staff to be more alert to noticing truant students and notify the Truancy police unit right away;


f)        Direct staff to be more alert to drug dealing and using on the premises of the Takoma Community Center, both inside and outside, and notify the police right away;


g)     Move the DPR Aquatics staff out of the Takoma Community Center Field House to another location by the end of 2008 in order to make the Field House available for community use;


h)      Request sufficient money in the FY10 budget to renovate the Takoma Community Center Field House to a similar aesthetic quality and condition as the main building of the Takoma Community Center (i.e., the old “Pool House”) and the Aquatics Center.


      i)   Emery Field at Emery Community Center be completed by Spring 2009;


      j)   Request ANC 4B receive a timetable, plan of action, and milestones for

       scheduled repairs and maintenance for all recreation centers within ANC 4B."


The vote following a brief discussion on the problems facing the Emery, Takoma, and Lamond-Riggs Community Centers.  Commissioner Hughes said that despite many community meetings and requests over several years, the Department has still not finished work on Emery's ballfield and tennis court.  Commissioner Jones said that the floor on the inside basketball court at Lamond-Riggs is buckling.


6.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote, the Commission adopted Commissioner Green's resolution on Blair Road, NW traffic issues.


Adopted Resolution


"ANC 4B asks that the DC Department of Transportation install stop signs at Geranium and Blair Roads, NW, and also at 8th and Geranium, and at the three-way intersection of Juniper, Eastern and 8th Streets, NW. Consideration should also be given to restructuring the corner of Geranium and Blair to give cars a safer turning radius and facilitate the flow of traffic.


In addition, ANC 4B asks that the Department of Transportation staff work with the community to develop creative and effective ways to reduce the excessive automobile, truck and bus traffic on Blair Road, NW between Georgia Avenue and Butternut Streets, NW.  The high volume of traffic, estimated by Department staff as 12,000 vehicles per day, is a safety hazard for the pedestrians, including those who walk to the Takoma Metro Station via the very narrow and curved portions of the road.  That narrow and curved part of Blair Road only has a sidewalk on one side of the road, and that sidewalk is narrow and inadequate for safe passage."


Commissioner Green noted that the DDOT has refused to install the stop signs, despite many meetings and repeated community requests. Also, illegal truck traffic on Blair Road is increasing.  Police enforcement is inadequate, she added.


Blair Road Residents Ms.Joan and Mr. Mike Turner supported the resolution.  Commissioner Jones noted that drivers are forced to make a very sharp and dangerous right turn from Geranium to Blair Road.


7.  The Commission agreed to table a discussion and vote to send the problem of licensed group homes to an ANC 4B committee to the October public meeting.


Discussions, Presentations and Community Concerns

1.  Adrian Alhoff, of the Central American Resource Center, spoke about the Multi-Cultural Festival to be held on October 5, 1-6 pm, at Takoma Community Center, 300 Van Buren St., NW.


2.  Brother Francis Eells, FSC, the principal of San Miguel School, a middle school for Latino boys, spoke about the school's new facility, a former office building at 7715 Georgia Avenue, NW, now being renovated.


3.  Chair Sloan and Treasurer Grant said that the 1st and 2nd FY 2008 Quarterly Reports are now being reviewed by Mr. Gottlieb Simon, the Executive Director of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and will be submitted to the Commission for a vote in October. 


4.  Commissioner Hughes said that she was not notified that the meeting started at 6:30 p.m.


5.  Commissioner Jones said she was not notified of the meeting.


The meeting adjourned at about 9:00 p.m.


--- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary