Sunday, July 25, 2010

LeDroit Park's Jeff Herron responds to Kathryn Pearson-West's questions about CM Barry's Gage-Eckington Park funding disapproval resolution

One of the active Ward 5 Yahoogroups list members – Kathryn Pearson-West, who does not live in Bloomingdale – posted a series of questions on the Ward 5 list about Councilmember Barry`s Gage-Eckington Park funding disapproval resolution. I posted her questions on the LeDroit Park list.

Former LeDroit Park Civic Association President Jeff Herron provided a swift and comprehensive response yesterday. The top-most Email below is from Kathryn Pearson-West, which she posted on the Ward 5 list.

Thanks for your quick response, Jeff! I want to give credit where credit is due.

++ Also note that Valerie Santos, Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development, sent an Email on 7/24/2010 to Councilmember Barry "urging him to immediately withdraw the disapproval resolution (PR 18-1094) and allow this invaluable community project to move forward.'' Ms. Santos' Email is not provided here.

From: On Behalf Of
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2010 3:00 PM
Subject: [ward5] Re: [LeDroitPark] Barry/park funding issue

Thank you. I didn't want to make it a federal crime to ask questions but some of us that actually read what is posted on websites and listserves want to know all the details. Thanks for sharing so that the rest of us know what is going on. That was interesting that my name was put on blast, but that is OK. Information is power.


-----Original Message-----
From: Herron, Jeff
Sent: Sat, Jul 24, 2010 2:53 pm
Subject: RE: [LeDroitPark] Ward 5's Kathryn Pearson-West's comment on the Barry/park funding issue

I read your posting of a series of questions about the latest issue with the park in LeDroit Park. While I appreciate your questions, residents who have been engaged in this issue for the past two+ years don’t have questions about the process, the funding or the legitimacy of the project. These questions have been asked and answered for months. Just a few resources that you may want to review that may answer some of your questions. -this page lists some key developments and milestones on the journey to get this park completed. / This entry covers information about CM Thomas’ concerns about the funding which were resolved in March. The council actually voted to approve the funding explicitly in this session, making CM Barry’s latest efforts that much more incomprehensible. Perhaps he didn’t recall as it was the same day he was censured and stripped of his committee chairmanship.

As for some questions:

ANC support: There is large ANC Support for this initiative: Myla Moss in ANC 1-B; John Salatti ANC 5C04

Council Support: CM Thomas ward 5 and CM Graham ward 1 are on board with this project with Graham leading this from the beginning. Others including Kwame Brown, Catania and Mendelson have been supportive in the past.

Process: the process is for the contract to be submitted to Council for approval. If the council doesn’t act, it is automatically approved. CM has exercised his right to object, but hasn’t given any reasons. He says the funds aren’t there, but this was settled in March. Unless there is something wrong with the contract, he should let this go forward.

• Barry doesn’t do frivolous stuff: putting aside his actions that led to censure and other run ins with the law, CM Barry has also ‘disapproved several other actions’ recently that also don’t seem to have any merit. He has disapproved the move of DDOT’s offices for one. I’m not sure you want to be defending CM Barry’s actions and I certainly don’t feel he has earned the benefit of the doubt.

• Listserv readers need to do more research: I’d submit that the public record on this project is pretty clean and there are no issues with this park. As the information and the links above show, this park has been down this road before and things were resolved.

Hopefully this helps provide some background on the latest issue and reveals them to be nothing but unethical and brazen attempt at political deal making.

As for the rest of the history, it is long and detailed:

The community organized to protest the closing of Gage Eckington school in early 2008. We demanded a plan for the use of the school. June 2008 the city proposed relocating the District Dept of Environment to this location along with a senior wellness center. Planning continued through fall 2008 to resolve issues of parking, density and funding. Early 2009, these plans fell through when it was determined that the costs to renovate the building were too high. By April 2009 the community and mayor’s office were working on the plan to demolish the school building and place a park in the location. The building was demolished in August 2009. Construction planning was set to begin in Fall 2009 but got held up when all parks and recs contracts were put under review, even though this project wasn’t part of the contracts that were misappropriated or no bid contracted. Design work ultimately began in Spring 2010. Construction was to begin in June 2010 but there were hold ups with CM Thomas’s disapproval in march (ultimately resolved). Throughout, there was massive community involvement including meetings all summer of 2008 and in the fall of 2008 for the DDOE project, spring of 2009, summer of 2009 and again in spring of 2010 for designing the park.

Please let me know if you have other questions as I’d be happy to share what I know about them.


From: On Behalf Of scot t@
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2010 1:26 PM
Subject: [LeDroitPark] Ward 5's Kathryn Pearson-West's comment on the Barry/park funding issue

LeDroit Park list members:

The current Email thread about Councilmember Barry's disapproval resolution for the planned Gage-Eckington Park in Ward 1 has been posted at the Ward 5 list at Yahoogroups. There have been many Email posted on this topic on the Ward 5 list.

I have copied in below an Email from Ward 5 resident (non-Bloomingdale) Kathryn Pearson-West, whose Email address is

F Y I .

From: ward5 @ On Behalf Of
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2010 12:18 PM
To: ward5 @
Subject: Barry on Gage-Eckington Park: “I Have the Responsibility to Protect the Taxpayers’ Money” Re: [ward5] Re: TO ARMS! TO ARMS: CM Barry Putting Gage-Eckington Park Funding at Risk -- Contact Him

And the bigger picture. What is really up? What are the real concerns and ramifications? What is the exact process to be followed? Are there any shenanigans going on at all? That should be simple to find out and correct by September. Is a hearing or investigation in order? Some elected officials can do anything they want. Let's take a minute to see what is going on and not dismiss matters simply because there is a resolution presented by a sometimes controversial councilmember.

Maybe there is a good reason CM Barry is following through with this and maybe he should be heard and the matter reviewed. Barry doesn't usually do frivolous stuff, especially when he, like many institutional government workers, may know where the bodies are buried and may be able to help find waste and abuse or prevent something unwise from taking place. How long would the delay be before the park can move forward or will the delay prevent the park from ever becoming a reality? Frankly, I'd like to read more about the plans for the park that are subject to taxpayer money. What were the original objections and concerns and what approval, financial, approval process did the park go through? Or is the problem somewhere else. The readers on the listserv probably need to do some more research to see what this is all about.

What is on record with the ANCs?


On Jul 24, 2010 11:10 AM, wrote:

So, if this is a park and not a life saving entity, can the park wait until a vote in September to make sure the money is there and to ensure that the process is followed correctly?


Randolph Rez said...

I LOVE this: "Barry doesn't usually do frivolous stuff, especially when he, like many institutional government workers, may know where the bodies are buried and may be able to help find waste and abuse or prevent something unwise from taking place." 'Help find...'? Yeah, look in the mirror. And I actually believe Marion Barry literally does know where some bodies are buried.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

School > Park.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
School > Park.
i'll finish what you were unable to:
school > Park > unused and shuttered school

Anonymous said...

Nah, I'd rather have an unused and shuttered building than a park that will, without a doubt, be mainly white gentrifiers claiming even more space.

cindy said...

I've always been in total support of the park, but jeff herron's response comes off ugly and meanspirited. It would be much more compelling if representatives/advocates for an issues (Gigi Ransom, Jeff, etc) stuck to the facts without the nastiness. Tedd McGinn's email about Gigi Ransom's comments is a good example of how to present your point in a clear, but professional (and more credible) manner.