Monday, July 09, 2012

McDuffie Asks Mayor to Move the Car Barn

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie has written a letter asking the Mayor to consider relocating the proposed trolley car barn that is to be constructed adjacent to Spingarn HS. McDuffie's letter is a response to the concern of some Ward 5 residents that the location is inappropriate, and potentially unsafe. There were also issues raised regarding DDOT's failure to engage the community before selecting the site. You can read the complete text after the jump.

June 29, 2012

The Honorable Mayor Vincent C. Gray
Executive Office of the Mayor
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004 

Dear Mayor Gray,

I facilitated an emergency community meeting on Monday, June 25 to address my constituents’ discontent with the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) proposal to build the H Street/Benning Road streetcar maintenance facility, also known as a “car barn,” on the campus of Spingarn Senior High School.  An outpouring of community members attended the meeting to raise their concerns and objections to the placement of the car barn.  Also in attendance were ANC 5B Chair Jacqueline Manning and Commissioner Bernice Blacknell, who represent the residents of the affected area. Both commissioners voiced their disapproval of the proposed car bar location.

DDOT Director Terry Bellamy and his Chief Engineer, Nick Nicholson, gave presentations at the beginning of the meeting to explain the factors that ultimately led to the decision made by DDOT to place the car barn at Spingarn over one of the other proposed sites.  Many residents have indicated that they found the justification for the Spingarn site to be one of expedience, rather than necessity. 
Indeed, residents of Ward 5 expressed anger and frustration because they perceive that the decision to locate the car barn on the front yard of Spingarn High School was made without sufficient community input.  While DDOT participated in 16 community meetings to discuss the H Street/Benning Road streetcar project, only three meetings were held in Ward 5.  As such, many residents in the Ward 5 community feel that their input has been minimized.  They are dismayed that a major decision affecting our ward was made without the benefit of a Councilmember at the table to represent the community’s interests.  More broadly, many residents believe that the city uses Ward 5 as a “dumping ground” for undesirable facilities, the car barn being another example of such a practice. In short, many Ward 5 residents feel disrespected.

The residents present at the June 25 meeting made it abundantly clear that they are vehemently opposed to building the car barn on the grounds of one of our high schools.  In addition to the location of the car barn, the major and overlapping concerns we heard from numerous residents are:

·         Lack of material benefits to the Carver Langston neighborhood;
·         Safety of students during and after the construction phase;
·         Environmental impact;
·         Level of noise from repairs and maintenance;
·         Resources and job opportunities available at the training center for Spingarn students and Ward 5 residents.
Mr. Mayor, I support the streetcar program.  However, I request that you reconsider the decision to place the car barn at Spingarn Senior High School and that you offer an alternative site.  I, along with the residents of Ward 5, look for your leadership on this issue.  Thank you.


Kenyan R. McDuffie
Councilmember, Ward 5
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004


Dave B said...

Dear Mr. McDuffie,

I facilitated this blog comment to ask you to propose alternative site suggestions for the previously facilitated facility. Your inability to do so will make it vehemently abundantly clear that this location was (insert thesaurus word for "chosen") out of necessity not expedience.

p.s. the word "facilitated" was invented to be used on resumes only

Anonymous said...

While reading this letter I can actually see McDuffie winking and smirking while mouthing "it's all good, I'm only writing this because I have to appease these crazy people"

IMGoph said...

Anonymous: from your lips to god's ears...

Anonymous said...

Sooo... they want the carbarn moved because they don't think that DDOT respected them enough when they made the decision to place the carbarn there? So, if DDOT had issued engraved invitations to streetcar meetings and then served hors d'oeurves, then the carbarn location would be just skippy with them? I suspect those who pressured McDuffie to write this letter are the same people who complain that decisions get made without them but never bother to attend an ANC meeting. How many of the 16 (!) meetings prior to McDuffie's "emergency" meeting did any of these "concerned residents" bother to attend?

Tom A. said...

do these people just protest anything for which there is public comment? why didn't they protest the liquor stores or the new ugly 7 11 across from the car barn site? Or even the gay sex club in their ward. Do they only protest positive community things?

Anonymous said...

Ward 5 hates Ward 6 and they are opposed to any initiatives that mutually benefits both.

A lot of the commentary on Ward 5's listserv is extremely hostile to future progress and to the residents in the H St. area.

Quite disturbing.

inked said...

It's a lot more complicated that that. Let me assure you that Ward 5 does not "hate" Ward 6. This issue is more complex. I would also caution against the assumption that the Ward 5 listserv is in any way representative of the majority opinion of residents of Ward 5 (who are not, by the way a monolithic group). That listserv is frequently full of straight up crazy.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, some kind of progressive McDuffie is. Seems pretty kneejerk to me.

Anonymous said...

Inked, 5:15 here,

I apologize for the harsh language and I didn't mean to characterize Ward 5 entirely. And You are right, at times, that listserv is crazy.

My frustration got the best of me. I read some of those comments and they all seem to me as an "Us v. Them" issue when all we want to see in this city is continued progress. It is beyond me how some don't see this as a net positive.

Anonymous said...

plain and simple nimby.
really, what are they going to attract that's any better than the crappy lot there now?

Dave B said...

just give them each a turkey like marion barry does. it has amazing placative power.

Anonymous said...

This is BS! Mcduffie needs to go!stom

Anonymous said...

"only 3 community meetings were held in Ward 3" about the carbarn site.... Would 5 be enough 10? 50? These objections seem pretty weak to me. -Rick

let the streetcar roll said...

The ironic thing is, if there was a streetcar, they could have taken it to some of the 13 meetings that weren't in Ward 5.

Just get out of the way and let this thing roll. The kids at Springarn are going to get training on trolley maintenance that could actually land them a job at said carbarn. What's their issue, that they'd have to occasionally look across six lanes of traffic and see an additional structure on Springarn's grounds? SMH.

Unknown said...

I guess, feel compelled to say they are some of us. They are your neighbors. They often frequent H and there's a lot of them that are pro street car. They don't oppose everything. But some of them question the choice of that location. DDOT has yet to provide evidence of any real analysis beside their slide show, DDOT provided very sparse information to the public about the location selection save for generalities.

Perhaps we need to realize that we are in this together and stop looking at this and other issues at them vs us. We need to find win/win solutions. We need to build community and communities of communities.

Ward 5 loves to look a gift horse in the mouth said...

I wish they'd protest the intersection of Mt. Olivet and West Virginia. That's some hood they got right there.

Unknown said...

Sigh, and it only took a little more than an hour.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Springharn a Tier 4 school that Kathy Henderson says that's going to be closed? Should the school itself be repurposed into the car barn? I know that DC loves to keep deadend vacant schools around forever, but really it is time to move on. Lots of people living on Benning Road will be taking that street car, despite the H Street moniker on it.

Anonymous said...

Residents are concerned about the level of noise and safety? Give me a break. As someone who lives close to the proposed site, the only thing that causes an inordinate amount of noise and safety concerns is the teenagers that have overrun the neighborhood.

It's really baffling how people are so against this project when they're the ones who stand to benefit from it the most. I was kind of hoping McDuffie wouldn't pander to these alarmists, but I guess it will be business as usual...

Anonymous said...

Agreed, we expect better from our Councilman than to cater to the whims of people who can't see what's best for the whole city. If he keeps this up, his tenure has one-term written all over it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, same-old same-old from our Ward 5 councilman. It's like they lose their integrity as soon as we elect them!

H Man said...

I sent him an email voicing my displeasure with his letter. I'd encourage folks to do the same.

Anonymous said...

@ robby mann-thompson -

Your 10:40pm comment has a nice sentiment to it, but --and forgive me, I'm not trying to flame you-- what's the bottom line? "We need to build community and communities of communities?" What does that mean? We need a "win/win?" Ok, great. We also need a carbarn.

I've seen DDOT's presentations and I can understand why they chose the site they did; it was the best given all of the alternatives. So if not at Springarn, then where? Anyone oppose to Springarn can do the basic research, find one of the alternate sites, and state why that site is better than Springarn. Absent that, I have zero sympathy for those who oppose the current site.

What upsets me is that there were sixteen meetings on this, why is it a problem NOW? Sure, only three were held in Ward 5, but Ward 5 and Ward 6 are not miles apart. Those who live closets to Springarn are a short walk or bus ride away from the meetings' sites.

I may have more sympathy if there were legitimate arguments or concerns raised; but none presented in CM McDuffie's letter are even remotely close to that very basic criteria. It all stinks of NIMBYism and people complaining for complaining's sake.

pat b said...

I live on Benning in the 2500 Block, so I would be across from the Carbarn. I selected my house knowing the Trolley was coming but before the carbarn site had been selected.

I am a huge fan of the trolley but I believe the carbarn is a mistake. Here are my reasons

1) Benning frontage is very valuable just like 18th st, Georgia Ave or CT or Wisconsin, you want to maximize this street frontage for Human use (retail, commercial, residential, Governmental) you don't want to make it a sterile deadzone

2) The Trolley is a potential cross city line, it should be connected at Union Station and at the Orange Line at Minnesotta ave.

3) The city owns a recycling station now closed on the northeast edge of the PEPCO if they stretch the tracks down another half mile they could put the Trolley to end across from the Orange line and serve to bring people from the orangle line to H St.

I want the trolley to happen, but, seriously there are much better long term slots and if we pick the springarn road, we just make it harder to redevelope Benning Road.