Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D
65 I St., SW
Washington, DC 20024
March 13, 2006
Chairman Andy Litsky called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.
Present: Commissioners Assalaam, Litsky, Skolnik, Sobelsohn and Williams. Absent: Commissioners Siegel and Moffatt.
Commissioner Williams asked to have the subject of tax assessments added to New Business. Commissioner Sobelsohn moved approval of the agenda. It was seconded by Commissioner Williams and passed by a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Assalaam voting in opposition.
2. Minutes of February 13th meeting
Discussion of the February minutes was tabled until the April meeting.
3. Community Comment
Gene Solon presented comments about the ANC report in the Hill Rag.
4. Public-safety report
Sergeant Talbert of the 1st District reported on the investigation into Commissioner Sobelsohn’s mugging, and reported that while they have an idea of who the perpetrators are; the police are still looking for more information. He reported that there was not an eyewitness, and, unfortunately, it seems to be part of a series of crimes perpetrated by the same people.
5. Proposed Alley Closing – Square 743N
Commissioner Litsky reviewed the situation with the proposed alley closings in Square743N: as a result of a vote by the ANC at the February meeting, the question of support for the two alley closings in the block between L and M Streets and 1st Street and New Jersey Avenue SE in exchange for a contribution to the community was referred to the Planning and Development Committee for its recommendation. Committee Chair Deb Moss reported that, after a meeting at which the developers had presented their offer to the committee—a contribution of $25,000 to the Housing Investment Trust, and $10,000 to a community group suggested by the ANC—the Committee voted at a subsequent meeting to support the alley closing contingent on the developer contributing the entire $35,000 to community groups suggested by the ANC. (Committee report and minority report attached).
Committee Secretary Burnetta Coles raised an objection to the committee action, saying that there had not been proper notification for the meeting, and that District regulations were not being followed. Motion: Commissioner Skolnik moved to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the closings of alleys in Square 743 N, contingent on a contribution by the developer of $35,000 to projects determined by ANC 6D that will benefit the Southwest/Near Southeast community. It was seconded by Commissioner Sobelsohn.
Commissioner Williams presented an analysis she had prepared of what the land containing the alleys was worth, saying that it was worth much more to the community than the $35,000 being offered. Commissioner Assalaam agreed, saying that DC law dictates that the city cannot sell land for less than its value, and it is a violation of the law to be giving someone all that land.
Commissioner Skolnik said he applauded the work of the Committee, and made the points that the ANC cannot accept money, and that the contribution, while made by the developer, should be directed by the Community Outreach Committee. He suggested that giving it to the local schools would be a great idea. He also said that the ANC’s by-laws have been followed in regard to the Committee’s actions, and they have acted correctly in passing their decision to the full ANC for action.
Commissioner Williams reiterated that the amount was too low, and the Committee did not address that. Commissioner Litsky responded that the process is to send the ANC’s recommendation to the Council, and it is up to the Council to decide what the land is worth. He suggested that the ANC should look at alley closings in other parts of the City, and see what the process was, and how the Council acted in other instances. In answer to a question, he reiterated that the amount of the developer’s contribution was not negotiated, but had been offered, unsolicited, to the community. He said that what is before the ANC is an opportunity to provide grants, not provide funds for the ANC treasury, and it would be up to the Community Outreach committee to look at schools, PTAs and other organizations to see what their needs were. Commissioner Assalaam reiterated his contention that were this measure approved, that it would might construed that the ANC might be accepting bribes.
Commissioner Williams mentioned that in the days of the Wiley Branton CDC, it negotiated money, and there should be a recipient organization for funds coming in. She said the Commission has always controlled funds given to it. She mentioned the proposal of the developers of the Mall to give $100,000 to the community. Commissioner Litsky reiterated that the money cannot go directly to the ANC. Commissioner Williams said she did not want any repeat of what happened with the Portals development, when the community never received any benefits. Commissioner Skolnik said he would like the schools to benefit, perhaps split between three or four schools in the area.
Commissioner Williams suggested deferring action on the issue. Commissioner Williams said she wanted a fair process and was not prepared to vote for it.
Commissioner Skolnik called the question. The motion passed 3-2, with Commissioners Assalaam and Williams voting in opposition.
6. Tabled Resolution—Child Development Facilities Regulations
Commissioner Skolnik reported that the District Department of Health has decided to review and rewrite the proposed regulations for child development facilities and he was withdrawing his resolution.
7. Closing of Van Ness Elementary School
Marge Maceda, a special education administrator at Van Ness Elementary School representing the teachers and parents at the school, requested that the ANC support keeping the school open. The school, which is on the DC Schools Department school closure list has been made a special education center. She urged that it be kept open during the reconstruction of the Capper/Carrollsburg development. The teachers and parents are concerned that if the school is closed now that it will not be re-opened when construction is completed on the new housing units in the area.
Commissioner Williams said that the ANC should reserve action until the school consolidation plan is published, because there is a limited pool of money for a large number of schools. She said it would premature for the ANC to take action, without the expertise. Some schools will have to be closed. Commissioner Assalaam suggested sending a blanket statement that no schools in the area should be closed.
In answer to a question from Commissioner Litsky, Ms. Maceda said that there is a rumor that the school would be turned into administrative offices until people move back into Capper/Carrollsburg. She said that it would be difficult to re-open the school once it is closed, and the Commission should let DCPS know that they’ve heard it would be converted to offices.
Commissioner Williams reiterated that it is necessary to make responsible decisions about the schools. The proposed consolidations and closings could spark some action. The ANC, she said, should be looking at the state of education in its area.
Commissioner Assalaam said the discussion should be scheduled for the April ANC meeting with representatives of the schools being present.
8. Real Estate Tax Assessments
Commissioner Williams raised the issue of a 110 -120 percent increase in tax assessments for residents in the 1200 block of Carrollsburg Place and Half Street, SW. The increase in assessed valuations for homes has happened because of the baseball stadium, and the residents are planning to appeal.
9. 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Study
A presentation on the proposals to redesign and rebuild the bridges across the Anacostia at 11th Street was made. There are four proposals, all of which will separate local traffic from through traffic, dealing with different approaches to the neighborhoods on both sides of the river. Members of the ANC and the community were urged to be involved in the series of planning meetings and hearings being held by the District’s consultants.
Committee Chair Naomi Monk announced the committee’s next meeting on March 26th at 4 pm at the Thelma Martin Party Room at 240 M Street SW. She said that they were ready to request Requests for Proposals for $500 grants, which will be given until they deplete the $6000 that was available. She said there will be an ad in the Southwester, and she is looking forward to receiving applications. The committee has established a review procedure for the grants. Commissioner Skolnik said that there was $10,000 available for grants.
11.Millennium Arts Center
Commissioner Williams reiterated her view that the building was a hazard and should be shut down. Commissioner Assalaam added that the building is toxic, with lead and asbestos problems.
12. Treasurer’s Report
Commissioner Skolnik gave the treasurer's report for February 13 – March 13, 2006. A copy of his report is attached to these minutes. ANC 6D has $40,614.25 in current funds. The savings account has $5,099.75. The report includes expenses submitted for approval of staff salary $554.10 (Check #254), and telephone of $90.06 (Check #255). Motion: Commissioner Skolnik made/Commissioner Sobelsohn seconded a motion to approve the December-January report and to authorize payment of the expenses. The motion passed 4-1, with Commissioner Assalaam voting in opposition.
Commissioner Litsky announced that representatives of the DC Preservation League and the Washington Sports and Entertainment Commission who were on the agenda to make presentations had not come to the meeting.
13. Peace Garden
Commissioner Williams said that she has spoken with the owners of the property at South Capitol and M Streets where the garden is, and she plans to replace the sign that has been vandalized. She plans on presenting a proposal to the Community Outreach Committee for funds to maintain the garden.
14. Councilmember Phil Mendelson
At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson presented some of the issues he working on, including the budget, where he is concerned about the lack off additional resources for the police. He is also trying to eliminate guns in the District. On housing, he said that tax assessments are up, but that taxes are down. He said the average increase is 20 percent. He’s working toward increasing the homestead payments, and lowering the eligibility caps, and is sponsoring workshops. On the issue of school closures, he is waiting to see what DCPS proposes. He wants a Master Facilities Plan on which there can be hearings.
15. Audience Comment
Irv Gamza urged Commissioners to attend CACC meetings; Gene Solon spoke about the South Capitol Street Corridor Study.
Commissioner Skolnik made/Commissioner Moffatt seconded a motion to adjourn. The motion passed 7-0. The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.