Minutes – Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

June 4, 2012 Special Public Meeting                Approved 6/25/12

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:10 PM, Sara Green, Chair (and ANC 4B01) presiding.  It was held at the Shepherd Park Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW.  Also present were Commissioners. 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B03 Fred Grant, 4B04 Rebecca Mills, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B08 Yvonne Jefferson, and 4B09 Douglass Sloan.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions:

 

1)         The agenda was adopted in a 5-0 show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Grant.

 

2)         Ms. Martine Combal, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and Ms. Malika Abernathy, of the Office of Planning, presented information on the proposed development of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the proposed legislation to be considered by the City Council.  Following questions from the Commission and the public, and an extended discussion of the proposal, Commissioner Wheeler noted that she had a resolution for consideration.  Commissioner Speaks objected to the inclusion of her name in the resolution since she had not given approval for her name to be used.  Without objection, Commissioner Speaks’ name was removed.

 

Commissioner Wheeler moved the adoption of a resolution supporting, with conditions, B19-729:  “Walter Reed Army Medical Center Base Realignment and Closure Homeless Assistance Submission Approval Act of 2012. Following extended discussion and numerous friendly amendments accepted by Commissioner Wheeler, the revised resolution was adopted by a show-of-hands vote, 5 yes, 1 no, 1 abstain.

The adopted resolution:

 

WHEREAS the Department of the Army has offered 67.5 acres of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the District of Columbia under its Base Realignment and Closure authority, and the site borders on Single Member Districts 4B02 and 4B01.  In addition, its development will have a substantial impact on all of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B); 

WHEREAS the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole will hold a hearing on B19-729:  “Walter Reed Army Medical Center Base Realignment and Closure Homeless Assistance Submission Approval Act of 2012” (the Submission) on Tuesday, June 12, 2012;

WHEREAS Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (ANC 4B) supports the goals detailed in the Local Redevelopment Authority’s (LRA) Re-Use Plan to provide compatible, diverse, quality development that invigorates the site and the community and generates additional tax revenues;

WHEREAS in 2011 the DC Council issued an emergency declaration (PR19-0231) and enacted emergency (B19-0385) and permanent (D.C. Law 19-50) legislation (Building 18 legislation) that exempted the “procurement of services for the demolition of an existing facility and the design, development, and construction of a facility comprised of a fire station and office space for the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department on real property located at Butternut Street and Georgia Avenue, N.W., at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center”  (within ANC 4B) from District procurement laws;

WHEREAS the Building 18 legislation was based on a misunderstanding of the legal status of  Building 18 which misled the Office of the Mayor and Council to conclude that  “[a] private third-party developer holds the development rights for a portion of Walter Reed, including rights to Building 18, through an enhanced use lease executed with the Army.”  (Reference:  PR19-0321);

WHEREAS in a letter dated May 1, 2012, the Department of the Army notified the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development that no such private property right existed in Building 18;

WHEREAS the Building 18 site has been identified by City planners as a site for a long-needed Fire and EMS facility;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT ANC 4B supports the enactment of B19-729: “Walter Reed Army Medical Center Base Realignment and Closure Homeless Assistance Submission Approval Act of 2012” with the changes and amendments detailed below.  We ask that the Council:

a) Amend B19-729 prior to its enactment, to include a provision to repeal Paragraph 15 of  Section 2-351.05(c), Chapter 3A of the Government Procurement provisions of the District of Columbia, which states:

“The procurement of services for the demolition of an existing facility and the design, development, and construction of a facility comprised of a fire station and office space for the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department on real property located at Butternut Street and Georgia Avenue, NW, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.”

b) Urge the City to enter into an interim lease with the Department of the Army for the Building 18 site as soon as possible and prior to the acquisition of the entire 67.5 acres, and immediately redevelop the site as a Fire and EMS facility; and it has been documented by Fire and EMS and other City agencies that a fire station in this area has been direly needed for many years to protect the safety of the citizens in this fire zone.

c) Require that all of the green space, including the green space on the Georgia Avenue side of the site, appear on every map created and used to depict the redevelopment of the property.  We also ask that more green space be added to the southwest corner of the site.                 

d)  Require that the Walter Reed redevelopment be as walkable/bikeable/transit-oriented, environmentally green/energy-conserving, aesthetically inviting and economically viable as possible.

e)  Require a detailed mass transit plan that includes a review of all mass transit services along with the potential demand under different circumstances.  The plan should provide a transportation implementation schedule that details how the City and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority will pay for needed operating expenditures and capital improvements.

f)  Reject an implementation program for a Master Developer unless there are requirements for significant transparency and continuous public participation in the decision-making process. 

The authors of the document detailing the Master Developer option argue that its advantages are “greater speed of internal decision-making outside of public decision-making process“ and that “decisions [would  be] based on financial advantage.” [emphasis added]

We need to be sure that decisions should be based primarily on the public interest.  The Master Developer option appears to have few safeguards to ensure that the public interest is served and that there is a fair and equitable sale of what is essentially public land located on one of the most desirable development sites in the city.

g) Hold another public hearing on the implementation program, including the Master Developer option, before authorizing it.

h)  Require that the Implementation Plan provide more details about what constitutes the “quality” development promised.  Does “quality” mean a Wegmans food store, or will a Shoppers Food Warehouse qualify?  Will “quality” be delivered through design standards or through other requirements?

i)  Help the Georgia Avenue businesses now suffering from the decrease in pedestrian and vehicular traffic by insisting that the Executive Branch work harder to bring interim, short-term uses to the site, particularly on the Georgia Avenue side.  It should also make opening up the Georgia Avenue gates a priority.

j)  Ensure that the site is excluded from any new zoning regulations that would permit increases in building height, density, parking and other requirements that would change the Re-Use Plan now before the Council.  The Council should require that separate zoning regulations be adopted for this site to match the Re-use Plan.  We are concerned about the height and the setback for buildings fronting Georgia Avenue and at 16th and Aspen Streets, and ask that those maximum heights be reduced.

k) Ensure that an adequate security plan and system for the site and existing structures be provided for the duration of the project.

l)  Provide copies of the leases for Buildings 8 and 9 to the public and develop a contingency plan for these buildings and any and all others that are encumbered.  Resolve and ensure the use of these buildings for the city.

We authorize Commissioner Faith Wheeler to represent this resolution on behalf of ANC 4B before the DC City Council.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 PM.