This project is in 5C02.
On May 8th, FEMS indicated to Councilmember Parker that the Model Cities site was no longer being considered for the Engine 26 relocation. This was formally and officially announced on the record by FEMS at the 5/17 ANC 5C meeting, citing issues with the cost-sharing with Department of Aging as well as not wanting a political fight. This page will remain for historical context, but check the new pages on Engine 26 and the Paper Street Forest Patch for further discussion.
- The Model Cities building is a government-owned facility at 1901 Evarts St. NE leased to service providers for senior residents’ needs
- There are plans to expand this facility to increase services offered
- The Engine Company 26 building (1340 Rhode Island Ave NE) is planned for retirement; it’s no longer the appropriate size or located far east enough to accomodate current population size/distribution
- There are multiple options for replacing the firehouse; including placing a new one in Fort Lincoln, or colocating one with Model Cities
- The notional Model Cities/FEMS plan would pave over a considerable amount of forested area in our neighborhood and create a lot of emergency vehicle traffic on our streets, presumably making traffic safety mitigations more difficult
- Site selection remains in progress with a two heavily forested DC-owned parcels under consideration and FY24 funding being critical to the trajectory of the project
- You can write a letter to the relevant Council Committee and Councilmember Parker to advocate that funding go towards sites that don’t result in loss of tree canopy or otherwise jeopardize safety in the community.
- This topic was discussed heavily in the Council committee hearing on the FEMS budget; the Mayor’s budget proposal contains $3.5M for Engine 26 site selection and acquisition, a price likely too low for what many would consider an acceptable site that does not do inadvertent harm to public safety
- Allison Clausen of the Langdon Park Tree Stewards testified verbally (and written) primarily on the ecological impacts and was the only public witness testifying verbally at this hearing; I submitted written testimony primarily on the traffic safety impacts.
This building houses services for seniors.
- official page at Seabury Resources website
- Wikipedia article on the Great Society/War on Poverty program that bears the same name; possibly this building’s genesis is related to that federal program?
Model Cities Senior Wellness Center offers a variety of comprehensive programs, classes and activities designed to educate and promote active and healthy aging for older adults in DC. Free for DC residents 60 years of age and older. Come join us to learn, socialize, and engage in some fun healthy activities!
Engine Company 26
- Wikipedia article on Engine Company 26 (interchangeably refers to the FEMS company and the historically preserved building it currently occupies)
- DGS project page containing various RFP elements related to building a new Engine Company 26 facility in Fort Lincoln (though there are also references to Brentwood)
Current need to relocate
The current E26 building is not large enough to support current population needs. It’s also not centrally located enough for the service area, which now includes many new residents/buildings in Fort Lincoln (around the Costco).
In the above map, you can see the service area extending through Fort Lincoln, with the station (the west-most pin in the region) all the way to the west side. The other two pins are FEMS warehouse and fleet facilities, not dispatch facilities.
Langdon/Woodridge E26 Plans
At the 8/3/2022 5C07 SMD meeting, Commissioner Montague discussed receiving a very preliminary plan for a possible DC FEMS station in 5C02, just across Evarts from Langdon Elementary School.
These particular plans would include:
- razing the existing Model Cities building at 1901 Evarts St NE, and replacing it with a new two-story complex with similarly-sized surface parking lot, accessed by one curb cut on Evarts St.
- paving over a large portion of forest patch, similar to the officially designated Langdon Park Forest Patch.
- possibly intruding on two paper streets, notional portions of 20th St NE between Evarts and Channing, and Douglas St NE between Queens Chapel Rd and 20th, that were never built (this might require Council action to allow)
- building a FEMS station there, with a large surface parking lot in back, accessed by a second curb cut on Evarts
- building a vehicle bay on the east side of the FEMS station, with emergency vehicles accessing from a third curb cut on Queens Chapel Rd
switching from facts to opinion
I have some major concerns with this, including:
- putting a loud emergency vehicle dispatch right outside Langdon Elementary School, which would disrupt the learning environment
- putting a loud emergency vehicle dispatch adjacent to a senior living facility and family shelter, which would also be disruptive
- having emergency vehicles use 20th, Queens Chapel, and/or Franklin for egress; Commissioner Montague mentioned a community benefit of this would be more aggressive snow removal on the roads here, which I’m not compelled by at all. We need traffic calming where 20th St. cuts between Langdon Park’s playground and rec center (and everywhere else), and I’d worry that additional emergency vehicles would be used by DDOT to justify not acting on that.
- having additional curb cuts on a sidewalk where children are likely to be walking; I’m not sure why the two parking facilities couldn’t share a curb cut or be consolidated entirely
- removing parts of the forest patch, which would be problematic enough, but also primarily to add surface parking lots, which is an inherently poor use of the land. If this much parking is really necessary, this might be a candidate for a second underground parking garage in the neighborhood, after the one at 2026 Jackson
We should monitor this situation closely. These are DC Government buildings replacing a DC Government building, which allows both more flexibility in use, but also ideally a little more community control. We should work to make sure new construction there is community-serving and pedestrian/transit-oriented, and these plans are neither.
end of opinion block
Allison Clausen of Langdon Park Neighbors and I drafted this letter; feel free to adapt it or send it as is if you’d like to help preserve our forests.
The Mayor released her proposed budget for the fiscal year starting October 2023 and it includes Engine 26 site relocation funding. Additional work on this budget item will now occur in the Council’s Committee of the Judiciary and Public Safety, as well as the Council itself. This letter is directed towards the Committee, but can be CCed to our own Ward 5 representative on the Council, Councilmember Zachary Parker and his staff.
|To||Councilmember Brooke Pinto||Committee Chairpersonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|To||Councilmember Charles Allen||Committee Memberemail@example.com|
|To||Councilmember Anita Bonds||Committee Memberfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|To||Councilmember Vincent Gray||Committee Memberemail@example.com|
|To||Councilmember Christina Henderson||Committee Memberfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|To||Committee staff||Committee general email@example.com|
|To||Michael Porcello||Committee Directorfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|To||Aukima Benjamin||Committee and Constituent Services Manageremail@example.com|
|CC||Councilmember Zachary Parker||Ward 5 Councilmemberfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|CC||CM Parker staff||CM Parker’s Constituent Servicesemail@example.com|
Dear Chairperson Pinto and Members/Staff of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety,
I am writing in regard to the development of a new DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services (DC FEMS) Engine 26 facility in Ward 5. DC FEMS is considering two locations, one in Langdon (at the junction of 20th St, Evarts St, and Queens Chapel Rd NE) and another in Fort Lincoln (adjacent to the Theodore Hagans pool). These sites were chosen following a feasibility study based on improved response time and service. I appreciate FEMS’ commitment to improving emergency services in our community. Unfortunately, both of the proposed locations pose health risks to the same community members Engine 26 seeks to serve.
The two locations are on District-owned land that include forested natural areas. These forests provide a myriad of public health services including: filtering air, water, and noise pollution, lowering air temperature, and absorbing stormwater. Research also shows they can increase learning outcomes at nearby schools, improve community mental health, and motivate physical exercise. As the ward with the highest heat island effect, the most industrial zones, and the most canopy loss, Ward 5’s forested areas play an outsized role. We cannot afford to lose any more forested land in Ward 5.
In addition, the Langdon site is adjacent to an elementary school and senior living facilities; placing a DC FEMS station here would pose a disruption to the peace and a traffic safety hazard in our neighborhood. Emergency vehicle routing is a commonly cited reason by DDOT for not installing traffic calming mitigations, and the stretch of 20th St. adjacent to the proposed site was just subject to a high-speed fatal crash on February 3rd, 2023.
While I do hope the Committee and the Council fund the important work of providing adequate facilities for Engine 26, I ask that:
- funding for FEMS Engine 26 site selection, design, and construction be provisioned with conditions that existing forest canopy will be preserved
- If needed, additional allowances and funding be made to facilitate site selection on land not already owned by DC, to secure adequate facilities without compromising public health and safety
Very respectfully, (your name)
8/25/2022 Public Space Committee hearing
Some plans related to this project and driveways were summarily approved by the DC Public Space Committee on 8/25/2022, but it’s not clear what.
The agenda item reads as follows:
7) - EVARTS STREET NE AND QUEENS CHAPEL ROAD NE - Permittee: DC Department of General Services c/o Emeka Nwabunwanne - Owner: DC Department of General Services c/o Emeka Nwabunwanne - Paving: Driveway(s) Close Existing, Driveway(s) New- Commercial # 395238
While the Public Space Committee hearing concerned all three curb cuts in the notional plans, it would appear only one is being built out at this time, as part of an expansion of the Model Cities parking lot. Future use of this authorization will depend on site selection and funding of the Engine 26 relocation project, which remains in progress.
The Forest Patch
Thanks to Allison Clausen and Delores Bushong, Langdon Park Forest Patch volunteers, for helping with the below.
The E26 plans would disrupt a forest patch that currently sits in the area.
Unlike the Langdon Park Forest Patch, which is officially designated and already protected as part of Langdon Park, the patch of forest that these plans would disrupt does not have a name. For now, I’ll be using the shorthand Paper Street Patch, after the paper streets it covers.
The Paper Street Patch covers the entirety of two undeveloped DC-owned plots, part of the plot containing the Model Cities and Office of Aging facilities, and four paper street segments (20th, Douglas, Channing, and Park Ave). The Model Cities building and Office of Aging facilities are to the west, with a shuttle parking facility nestled in the middle of the forest patch. Langdon Elementary School is across Evarts to the north, and The Ionia Whipper Home (a shelter for families experiencing homelessness) and a few detached houses are around Park Ave to the south.
The forest patch is currently the site of frequent dumping, is minimally maintained, and is surrounded by uninviting No Trespassing/Dumping signs.
The forest patch sits on a slope and absorbs/filters stormwater that would otherwise flow to the PDR Zones at the bottom of the hill, ultimately reaching Hickey Run and then the Anacostia. It absorbs particulate matter and noise pollution from the PDR zones and nightlife establishments to the south (that would otherwise affect the seniors and students). It cools the air, offsetting the area’s extreme heat island effect. It helps towards DC’s 40% canopy goal and plays a part in slowing climate change. It also provides habitat for migratory species and supports DC’s ecosystem. Research also shows living near trees makes people happier and healthier.
All of this is particularly important here in Ward 5, which has outsized share of DC’s PDR zones and has experienced dramatic canopy loss in recent years.
Efforts could conceivably be made to clean up, nurture, and protect this forest patch, while making it available to visitors as with the recently built 680-foot Langdon Park Forest Patch trail.