- MPD’s 5th District has a new Inspector (rank between Captain and Commander); Inspector Sylvan Artieri. Captain Chris Moore has moved to a different District.
- DC Water will need to shut off water overnight one night in Gateway around 28th and Bladensburg Rds. NE in the next couple weeks to complete the last tie-in of a water main replacement project.
- The Northeast Boundary Tunnel project is continuing, but Commissioners are upset that it won’t solve various water-related issues in our neighborhoods.
- WMATA’s Bladensburg Bus Garage project is continuing; the fencing has a neighborhood-honoring wrap that Commissioner Montague helped design.
- BZA Case 20779 to create a four-unit residential building in Brentwood remains in limbo because the applicant has not been given an opportunity to present to an SMD meeting yet.
- There are many recreation/community center construction projects and DPR updates on each were read (eventually).
This was a regular monthly meeting of Commission 5C held on 9/21/2022 virtually over WebEx, running from roughly 6pm to 8:30pm EDT. The video and automated transcript are available here. The most recent previous meeting was held on 6/15/22. It was originally attended by all seven Commissioners, though at some point Commissioner Thomas (5C06) apparently departed without notice.
As conveyed by Commissioner Montague in a 9/19/2022 email reminder with annotations based on what happened:
- MPD reporting
- Quick Council staffer announcements
- DC Water - Emanuel Briggs
- discussion on Gateway water main replacement
- presentation on Northeast Boundary Tunnel project
- A lot of complaining and back-and-forth over water issues in the neighborhood, flooding, etc.
- WMATA - Bladensburg Bus Garage Replacement Update
BZA 20779 - 1224 Brentwood Road NE, Status Report
this was dropped due to not having had an SMD meeting
- BZA 20780 - Aaron and Lauren
tEastlack - Case Hearing Follow-up Report
- A lot of debate on whether or not to read an email received from DPR
- ANC 5C - Quarterly Report (quarter ending 6/30/2022)
- Secretary’s report on meeting minutes (debated but not given)
- Treasurer’s report on quarterly finances
- DPR - Recreation Center’s Status Update (reschedule to October 2022)
- Continuation of debate on whether or not to read an email received from DPR
- The email was eventually read covering status for many rec center improvement projects
- They may or may not still present at the October meeting
- Brief comments from Casey Trees on Langdon Park Forest patch projects and events
This started with the personnel announcement that Captain Chris Moore is no longer assigned to 5th District, and Inspector Altieri is there to brief. Commissioner/Chair Manning was not pleased about this surprise and Inspector Altieri apologized. Lieutenant Joseph Devlin was also present.
A few issues were discussed:
- updates on recent crimes such as thefts from vehicles and warnings not to leave valuable in vehicles
- mentioning MPD’s Crime Cards visualizer to check on some crime statistics
- discussion on a lack of School Resource Officers resulting in teens loitering and fighting in areas instead of being escorted to buses
- There was a community question about clubs having events; one of the officers detailed that clubs are required to have a security plan, and those involve hiring MPD officers to work club security (on duty with overtime reimbursed by the clubs; not paid for by taxpayers). There was an event at Echostage that night, and there would be six officers there for 6-7 hours.
- Commissioner Oliver asked about the Brentwood/Edgewood feud; Inspector Altieri said it’s mostly calmed down, though there was one incident attributable to a misunderstanding of sorts
Several personnel from DC Water were present at this meeting. This was summarily noted on DC Water’s calendar beforehand. This segment of the meeting had roughly three stages:
- Gateway water main replacement
- An attempt to brief on the Northeast Boundary Tunnel project
- A shouty back-and-forth on various issues with water backup and watershed issues in 5C
Gateway water main replacement
Emanuel Briggs (DC Water Office of Community Affairs) briefed on the water main replacement project in Gateway. There is one final tie-in remaining, and accomplishing it will require an overnight water shutoff in the Gateway neighborhood around 28th and Bladensburg Rds. NE. There will also be some late night traffic disruption. Commissioner/Chair Manning was very concerned about the localization and and timing of this event, and asked many follow-up questions. The exact timing was discussed at length, with Commissioner/Chair Manning requesting the shutoff occur no earlier than 11pm, and Mr. Briggs noting this might be too late to ensure the work was done by daybreak. The exact time was not decided on during the meeting.
There will be 48 hours notice given to affected residences via doorhangers.
The Commission voted 7-0 in favor of giving a sign-off letter for work effort.
Northeast Boundary Tunnel project
This work continues along Rhode Island Ave NE. Some information (available on the DC Water website) was briefed.
Commissioner Oliver asked about trees removed along W St. NE during the tunnel-boring effort; Moussa Wone (of the Clean Rivers program) stated any tree removed by the efforts would be replaced. Commissioner Oliver clarified that this was a whole line of trees along W St., and asked for specifics on when they would be replaced. She mentioned concerns about falcons that lived among those trees. Mr. Wone stated he could give a specific timeline if she emails him.
General Water Issues
- Commissioner Montague is very displeased with DC Water PR about the Northeast Boundary Tunnel when other issues in our neighborhood will remain
- Underground conduits installed in the 1800s contain streams in the Hickey Run Watershed (covering much of 5C).
- Corruption of these conduits coupled with rising water tables is causing flooding in the neighborhood.
- DC Water and DOEE are actively setting up organizational elements to register and address these problems.
- DC Water’s COO is willing to come for a walkthrough and subsequently brief on specific issues in 5C.
- Catch basins might be necessary around 20th and Bryant Sts as a result of new development, but these are DDOT’s responsibility.
the dramatic play-by-play
I.. did the best I could here.
There was already some talk from Commissioner Montague related to water issues on September’s 5C07 SMD meeting. The context might have been a little clearer that time around.
Commissioner/Chair Manning started by expressing there are many issues regarding standing water in the neighborhood and with determining what DC Water’s responsibility is in these areas. She mentioned several issues, including:
- trees falling down because of standing water
- mosquitos/wildlife being drawn by the standing water
- how nasty the standing water is
- issues related to pipe corrosion (likely referring to conduits containing now-buried water streams)
In response, Mr. Wone asked if this is related to the recent storm. Manning condescendingly remarked that it’s an ongoing problem.
Commissioner Montague takes the floor and tells Mr. Wone not to leave; says it’s problematic that he doesn’t know about the water issues and “not just that damn tunnel”; notes that he isn’t running for office again so he needs everyone to “strap in their seatbelts” because “the ride is starting.”
He then talked about the District Dogs flooding incident. He discussed some gripes related to the Councilmembers’ and Mayor’s outreach afterwards, but stated that his real issue is with DC Water. Commissioner Montague ultimately expressed concern that DC Water emphasizes the benefits of the tunnel project and ignores our neighborhoods’ problems. He then challenged DC Water personnel to respond by asking “What say ye?”.
At this point, Salil Kharkar (DC Water Senior Vice President of Operations and Engineering) speaks to reassure Commissioner Montague that he does not believe the tunnel will fix everything, though it will accomplish a lot. He emphasizes that the particular issues being raised fall under the purview of the DC Flood Task Force, and that DOEE is currently working on an integrated flood map/model.
Commissioner Montague responds that Woodridge, Langdon, Gateway, and Arboretum weren’t in the model last he looked at it. He then goes on to discuss some history of two branches of stream in Langdon Park and East Langdon that meet at 24th and Franklin Sts NE. These are now contained by conduits, and the conduit that runs between Thayer St and Mills Ave has been corrupted/clogged. He provided additional details later in the conversation: these conduits route these naturally occuring streams into the Hickey Run Watershed, where water tables have risen.
An aside: This DCist piece explains the history of the many streams in DC that have been developed over. It also provides a good introduction to this DC-funded project to map the streams, which is where I grabbed the above visual from.
The point laced in with the history was that corruption of these conduits has resulted in flooding on residents’ property. Commissioner Montague stated he has sent many emails, and that neither DC nor DC Water take responsibility on the grounds that it occurs on private property. However, Commissioner Montague believes this shouldn’t be resident responsibility, as they aren’t the ones who placed the conduit there. He emphasized that he’s not asking for schematics on these conduits to be nosy, but because these issues need to be fixed and are causing damage to constituents’ property.
While acknowledging that the recent work on an integrated flood map is a good step, Commissioner Montague continually remarks that it’s of no help to residents experiencing these issues, and that DC Water’s PR is not helping: “It may not be your intent, but what comes across to the general public is you really don’t give a frack. I know you’re doing some things, and people have to hear these things, but they aren’t over here helping mid-income folks worrying about their homes being washed away.” He ends the soliloquy with “and I’ll say it again; come January 2nd, if you think I’m being loud and noisy right now; just wait until what’s coming.”
Mr. Kharkar responds: The DC Flood Task Force consists of 26 DC agencies including DCRA. This input is very important for the Task Force to follow up on similar issues.
Commissioner/Chair Manning further chastises DC Water on their lack of focus addressing these issues, ending with: “I hate to talk to you like you’re ddot, because ddot is an agency that waits until there is a catastrophe and somebody dies before they fix the street.”
At this point, Kishia Powell (DC Water COO) speaks to thank everyone for their comments and state that they understand the concerns being raised. She points out that there’s a Watershed Department that was just created to provide resources for stormwater-related issues. They just had a meeting with DDOT to discuss issues/responsibilities. They’re having monthly meetings, reinstituting drainage committee meetings chaired by DOEE (addressing specific escalated issues, assessing how best to address them).
She offers to do a walkthrough to see the specific areas, and commits to coming back with an actual presentation once they have information pulled together.
flooding on the 3000 blk of Clinton St
In the chat during this conversation, a resident made comments regarding flooding in front of 3029 and 3040 Clinton St NE. The same resident also mentioned water rising under their own basement, causing their four sump pumps to run continuously, as well as having had to waterproof their basement and install a french drain at high cost. The resident expressed concern their home would someday be uninhabitable.
catch basins at 20th/Bryant
As a final component of the long back-and-forth, Commissioner Montague brought up a need for catch basins as a result of the development at 20th between Channing and Bryant (presumably referring to 2425 20th St NE). He also invoked the potential FEMS station development as another reason for these to be installed. Somebody from DC Water responded that this would be a DDOT responsibility, to which Commissioner Montague remarked how difficult that would make it, but accepted this as the case.
Bladensburg Bus Garage
This was an update on WMATA’s Bladensburg Bus Garage project, which will rebuild the existing bus facilities between the B&O Railroad tracks and Bladensburg Rd. NE (along 26th St. NE). The new bus facilities will improve accomodations, capacity, and infrastructure for future improvements such as electric buses. Until complete, buses are being kept on part of the NewCityDC development site.
Donzell Robinson of Justice and Sustainability Associates briefed this project.
There was a lot of discussion on the construction fence wrap that Commissioner Montague helped design. Commissioner Montague remarked that it would be nice if there were more wrap around more fencing. He also mentioned there was one missing year on one part of the wrap; “1834” to note when the railroad came to the neighborhood. Commissioner Montague also remarked that it was more impactful if one walks by it than if they drive by it. Commissioner/Chair Manning pushed on both issues; more wrapping and fixing the missing year. Mr. Robinson said he would pass this on to the WMATA Art in Transit folks, so the fix would be in subsequent printings (as the wrap will likely need to be replaced in part over time anyway).
There was also a lot of discussion about trash; Mr. Robinson and Commissioner Montague scheduled a 6am Friday walkabout to inspect for trash. Commissioner/Chair Manning also remarked putting in two requests for cleanup around the temporary bus storage site at Montana Ave. NE. Commissioner Montague also remarked that he may walk by there anytime to audit these issues.
BZA 20780 - Eastlack residence
Commissioner Montague briefly walked the Commission through this case, but there was no action necessary as it was already approved.
This is a small BZA case to repair/replace an old porch in kind, necessitated by poor DCRA recordkeeping. The new porch would be within the same footprint as the old one and similar to adjacent existing porches.
This case was also heard by the BZA on 9/14/22; Commissioner Montague testified to his support, but expressed concern that the case was not heard by the whole ANC. The board did not think it was necessary for this to occur, and the board approved the application.
ANC 5C - Quarterly Report
There were briefings from both Secretary (Commissioner Brevard) and Treasurer (Commissioner Oliver); neither meeting minutes nor treasurer’s report were really presented or accepted as presented. Both reports devolved into Commissioner Montague admonishing the officers for insufficiency.
The one thing of value revealed during all of this was ANC 5C’s bank balance; 5C has nearly $90k in the bank, accumulating around $15k since the last publicly posted financial report from FY21 Q4. 5C receives an annual allocation from the Council budget of around $19k, so most of this is being saved. I hope, next term, that we can start putting this money to good community use, particularly in the form of grants or community events.
DPR - Recreation Center’s Status Update
There were multiple rounds of debate and dysfunction on whether to read an email from Tommie Jones (Chief of External Affairs, DPR) that was sent to the Commissioners around 30 minutes before the meeting. Commissioner/Chair Manning had not read the email and therefore did not consider it appropriate to have it read. Commissioner Hicks Delgado raised motions to have it read into the record due to it pertaining to her constituents’ concerns about Community Center renovations, and she was eventually successful in getting it read. Commissioner Montague read the update, which included the following status updates on 5C-wide capital projects:
- Arboretum Community Center: DPR continues to work on final inspections and punchlist items; the faclity should be open to the public this fall
- Fort Lincoln Park Community Center: DGS working on awarding contract for new facility. There will be a community kickoff event for construction after the contractor is selected; that should be this fall
- Theodore Hagans Cultural Center: because of ongoing pandemic and correlated construction costs, this was removed from the scope of the Fort Lincoln Park project. The hope is that this concession can focus resources on the park itself. As such, the Theodore Hagans Cultural Center will continue being open to the public for the foreseeable future in its current state
- Funding for the Langdon Park Recreation Center does not kick in until FY23. We anticipate Spring 2023 as the likely timeline for the start of the project.
- Dakota Playground was resurfaced in Winter 2021; DPR has no funding for any work on that at this time (this was presumably in response to a request for work to be done on resurfacing the playground)
There was some discussion on whether to invite DPR for the 10/5 meeting. Commissioner Hicks Delgado wants them to be there, but Commissioner/Chair Manning says they have to discuss offline.
Casey Trees and the Langdon Park Forest Patch
Hailey Alemán (Casey Trees Community Outreach Coordinator) briefly spoke about the Langdon Park Forest Patch trail and upcoming events.
The Langdon Park Forest Patch trail is over 680 feet of trail through the forest patch that can be explored right now. There are a couple events planned:
- Saturday 10/1, 9a-12p: Langdon Volunteer event to beautify Langdon Park
- Saturday 10/29, 1p-3p: Langdon Community Day featuring various vendors, games, events, and information sessions on the park and forest patch
BZA 20779 - 1224 Brentwood Road NE
This case was originally on the agenda and Rich Markus (the architect on the project) was at this Whole-Commission meeting to present. Mr. Markus asked in the chat during the DPR email kerfuffle whether he was still going to be allowed to present, and Commissioner/Chair Manning finally read this message at the end of the meeting. Because a 5C05 SMD meeting on the project had not yet occurred, she said they wouldn’t be hearing the case and apologized for it being on the agenda in error. The Commission gave Commissioner Oliver a deadline to hear the cases in time for it to be considered at the 10/5 meeting.
This case is for a new four-unit residential building on the site of an existing detached house within an RA-1 zone. Relief is sought to increase density within the RA-1 zone, as well as allow a continuous parking bay in back (without any screening to reduce individual openings to less than 20 feet wide).
The case had a BZA hearing on 9/14/2022, where the applicant expressed difficulty getting on the agenda for meetings of either SMD 5C05 or ANC 5C, and presented a timeline of attempts. The Board expressed reticence to approve without some comment from the ANC and more outreach to a nearby church regarding parking.
Commissioner Montague, there for the subsequent case (the Eastlack case above) expressed that some turnover in the Commission’s officers resulted in the difficulty with scheduling and consideration. The case was scheduled for another hearing on 10/19/2022, with an extra two weeks to allow time for the outreach and briefing the ANC.
- Declan Falls of Chair Mendelson’s office noted that Council email addresses are moving from
dccouncil.gov; emails should forward but it’s best to update your contact lists now.
- Commissioner Montague mentioned that Chairman Mendelson proposed a new OANC executive director, Kent Boese after the previous one abruptly resigned nearly a year ago.
- Commissioner/Chair Manning briefly mentioned the New York Avenue Vision Framework.