Friday, April 06, 2012

Stronghold Civic Assn's McMillan concerns; ANC 5C Chair Edwards' response

From ANC 5C07 Commissioner James Fournier:

I`d like to forward for community input the attached letter from the Stronghold Civic Association concerning the proposed McMillan development plans and ANC 5C Chairman Ronnie Edwards` incredible response.

As we all know, there is an important public McMillan Advisory Group meeting this Saturday at The Summit from 2pm-5pm. Commissioner Edwards` response to Stronghold`s concerns, attached below, highlights the importance of attending this meeting.

Without putting too fine a point on it, ANC 5C`s response to the Stronghold Civic Association`s concerns are dismissive and purposefully coerce a ``get in line for your medicine`` response. Yet none - none - of the constituents with whom I`ve spoken support the current proposed development. As the Commissioner in charge of the McMillan site, I have always thought of myself, along with the other Bloomingdale ANC Commissioners, as merely an emissary of constituents` concerns. To be told by the Chair of our ANC that the ANC will vote on development plans regardless of the deep seated concerns of those most affected by the development is very troubling - from both a neighborhood and District-wide perspective. I cannot agree with it.

This Saturday`s meeting at the Summit will discuss some of the first principle problems with the current development plans, including:

(i) the lack of any credible transportation plan to accommodate the high density traffic associated with high rise medical offices, residential properties, and above ground retail malls;

(ii) that the sole stormwater run-off plan solicited by the District states that the well-known flooding occurring throughout Bloomingdale since the 19301s will not worsen under the District`s current plan to pave over McMillan - although DC Water has already conceded that Bloomingdale`s current flooding problems will not diminish for approximately 20 years;

(iii) that there has never been an RFP for the vertical development of McMillan;

(iv) that the current proposed ``developers`` of McMillan are only consultants desperate to become the actual developers following transactions under former Councilman Harry Thomas, Jr.;

Nobody needs to be an engineer to understand that proposing massive, high density development on a 25 acre vacant lot will so increase traffic and flooding throughout Bloomingdale so that the current, non-competiveltle bid plan is unworkable.

Let`s talk at the Summit on Saturday.

LETTER FROM STRONGHOLD CIVIC ASSOCIATION TO ANC 5C

From: Stronghold Civic Association
To: ANC 5C Chairman
April 2 2012
Subj: Stronghold Community Association does not support the currently proposed Vision McMillan

Partners plan for development of McMillan Park

The Stronghold Civic Association (SCA) earlier respectfully requested your assistance to delay the March 22 2012 scheduled presentation by the firm Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) to the DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) of their master development plan, for reasons stated in that letter to you (a copy of which is attached). We thank you for doing so. We understand that the VMP presentation to the HPRB is now scheduled for April 26 2012.

We understand that ANC 5C will meet again to discuss community support (or lack thereof) for the VMP development plan on April 17th. The Stronghold Community Association does not support the current VMP development plan, based on our knowledge of it, or the undue haste or rather irregular procedures used in promotion of this plan. Proposed ten-story buildings in one corner of the site and destruction of much of the park are two particularly strongly felt issues.

The Stronghold Civic Association still feels that we are being pushed to make a decision on a development plan that we do not support, and question the need for such an urgent decision.We have no sitting Ward 5 Councilmember to appeal to, and while we have conferred closely with our own ANC 5C07, who supports our position, there is no sitting ANC 5C04 representing most of our Bloomingdale neighbors.We are aware that neighboring ANCs 5C03, 5C05, and 1B10 share our position on these matters.

We understand that ANC 5C will meet to gather community input on the proposed McMillan development on April 17 2012.The Stronghold community position on this matter remains unchanged from our previous correspondence with you: there is no support for the current VMP plan in the SCA.

In view of the above, SCA cannot support the currently proposed VMP plan for the development of McMillan Park as it is understood, and respectfully requests that you acknowledge this as the Stronghold Community Association position. We would consider further review of this proposed development and process, but the SCA will not meet again until May 7, after the April 17 2012 ANC 5C meeting.

Thank you.

RESPONSE FROM ANC 5C CHAIRMAN RONNIE EDWARDS,

Good Morning,

Thanks very much for your email/letter. I look forward to recieving it once you have accurate information from which to respond. Please know that I appreciate your candor and really look forward to working with you guys to develop a reasonable approach to dealing with the proposed development at McMillan.

Also, please note that - once again - the City has moved the HPRB Hearing Date to May 24, 2012 - which gives us a little more time to consider the application. This was discussed at the MAG meeting last week - unfortunately those in attendance chose not to inform you.

Finally - ANC 5C looks forward to and will acknowledge the position of any and all ANCs/Civic Associations with regards to McMillan. However - at the end of the day - the final decision will be made by a majority of the Commissioners and hopefully with the input of the constituents they represent.

As I discussed at the last MAG meeting - the decision on this will not be unanimous. We must all accept that. It is very unfortunate - and quite frankly - deceptive to try to insinuate that this process is being rushed. After 40 or more years of discussing and re-discussing the proposed development of McMillan - with the full support of our former Councilmember, who was pushing for development - the City has initiated the process to move forward by filing the HPRB Application. Once that happened, its normal that there is a timeline for responding. That's not unique or in anyway different. Its the process.

The fact that 1, 2 or 3 ANCs out of 12 oppose the process - again - nothing unique about that. At the end of the day - because of the process - we will all come together and vote on the application and the majority will prevail. What's unique is that those who are opposed are trying to intimidate everyone else from proceeding.

I am so sorry that you guys feel that way and want to play the game that way - but unless the City withdraws the application - as Chair of ANC 5C I must continue recieving full community input so that we can make an informed decision.

I know that there are those who just want a park over there. But unfortunately, many of us who have been around here for a long time - we want more. We would like to see the area developed and put to a better use for ALL OF US - NOT JUST SOME OF US. Don`t let those who are fighting for a park - with no money - hold you and the entire Ward hostage.

If you guys are really honest - we have a little more time (until May15/22) - and I trust that you will use it to sincerely critique the HPRB Application before us and offer some substantiave comments.

16 comments:

  1. The staff member from Chairman K. Brown's office seemed to, in my recollection, reassure the Bloomingdale CA meeting that McMillan would not proceed until there was more community input. I make the argument that if you decided to buy a cell phone when they first came out, and didn't, you would not purchase that same phone today - things change, and we need to make sure all info is current. I think there should be much more information provided about other projects in the area that will also (potentially, adversely) affect our neighborhood.

    Also, I would like to see the work that Traceries has done on the site.

    I hope many neighbors will attend the meeting on Saturday.

    In the meantime, as one of the contributors to the new history blog, I would like to share this 1905 article about runoff issues with the filtration plant.
    http://bloomingdalehistoryproject.blogspot.com/2012/04/1905-must-read-on-mcmillan-update.html

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  2. Ok Bloomingdale WAKE UP! For 30 years our neighborhood has attempted to get something done with this site. But now is the time! Mr. Fournier is far from representing 5C07. He talks about density, storm water, transpiration, etc, but in fact he knows very little about McMillan and these studies. But he likes to refute everything the experts say. Mr. Fournier is far from being able to even discuss density when he himself has be cited and fined for illegal construction on his own property. He has built a two story garage without permit or zoning. How are you able to trust him when he speaks of McMillan when he's broken the trust of the constituents he represents and exceeded the limits on his own property! Mr. Fournier is an attorney who should know about zoning, especially since zoning is really the only thing the ANC has any real power over. So I urge you to take his comments and opinions with very little creditably!
    He says he has spoke to constituents? Has he spoken to you? Has he had SMD meeting? NO! So all of this is pure smelly BULLSHIT coming from him! Yes I said BULLSHIT!
    Why, because as many of you know, I don't mess around, I tell it the way it is no sugar! Straight talk for all to understand clearly without any doubts about the truth! What Mr. Fournier is attempting to convey is that he spoke to all the conservationists, preservationists and tree huggers who want to turn McMillan into a park with a garden, a beach, farming it, and such. The cost will make it the most expensive park and farmland in the world costing you plenty of tax dollars with little benefit. His 4 principles are way off base. He states the studies are all wrong that have ever been done about the site. Really! I believe most people with an ounce of sense will see that is BULLSHIT! There was no RFP for vertical development? Oh please stop with the non-sense...of course there was an RFP for city services!
    Is this guy straight out of "Honey! I Shrunk the Kids!" or what? And finally the kicker to the whole plan… Harry Thomas set this up for EYA to be a huge winner and somehow Harry is the master mind! I highly doubt that Mr. Thomas could even pull off such a scam! I mean if he couldn’t get away with $300k I’d think that a $500mill scam would take a smarter man to accomplish! What Mr. Fournier would like to you think is a financial conspiracy is a foot with McMillan. OMG! Mr. Fournier has really lost his mind! He's said a ton of things that just aren't true. People in Bloomingdale want development both old residents and new ones. We need a dense plan for McMillan to help with affordable housing and to create a good urban plan for the site. To provide long lasting jobs both in the service sector and the professional sector which McMillan will do. So please show up on Saturday and hear and see for yourself what your ANC commissioner is saying! Judge for yourself whether or not this guy is right or is full of BULLSHIT! I vote BULLSHIT! And I’m confident that many of you will not forget his antics and actions come November and vote in true leadership for Bloomingdale, leadership who has a clue about development, jobs, economic freedom, and investments in our neighborhood and city that will create a better DC!

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  3. Mr. Daneker,

    I suggest that you reconsider running again. You got creamed as the incumbent, and surely you would be creamed again. Most folks I know would once again vote for a total stranger rather than you, a known quantity.

    More importantly, I don't think this can be good for your health. It's April and already your head appears ready to explode.

    Most neighbors, including Fournier, support responsible development but are opposed to this particular developer given the corrupt process used to select Bethesda-based EYA, and the unimaginative design driven by maximizing square footage and avoiding anything as expensive as a coherent park.

    I have news for you. A majority of residents, over whom you would like to rule, resent that the last step in the plan seems to be discussing community benefits (shouldn't that have been the first thing discussed about this public parcel of land?) Laughably, EYA is again going through the motions of including neighbors in the deliberations to talk about community benefits. In exchange for massive traffic increases on First Street and the loss of 25 acres in stormwater absorption, let's all get excited about whether that postage stamp of park space should be used for shuffle board or four squares.

    Mr. Daneker, you have been 100% in favor of every iteration of this criminally boring development project. The question is what is motivating you to take such an emotionally extreme position against the residents over whom you would like to rule?

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    1. Dear Mr. Kirk,

      You are wrong indeed Mr. Fournier doesn't support the development of McMillan, he support a park on the site. As for the corrupt process nothing could be farther from the truth something you have no interest in learning! There was a RFP and several firms submitted their proposals and EYA won!

      The site plan does max out on on square footage and if you knew anything about the zoning in Dc you would know that! Furthermore almost 9 acres of a 25 acres site for public/open/green/park space is quite generous for the PDU! On top of that you haven't spoken to residents in any official capacity and those that i have spoken to over the past 7 years are in favor of this development. As for the emenities package that is the process in DC talk to the council, HPRP, Zoning, etc on changing that but that is the process now so that's what you have to live with. But a lot of these community benefits have been addressed and spoken of over the past 7 years of this project, this is just the finalization of those discussions. But then again you wouldn't know about that because you're just on the sidelines of this project right!

      Stormwater is just in your head and studies that have been done address the issue but then again your an expert on that right? Again just an other uneducated ill informed opinion are you offering with no concrete facts!

      What motivated me is that we get a good development plan that is balanced and meets the needs of the city, residents, and investors so that a successful project can be achieve and will provide jobs, affordable housing and services for all!

      Again thanks for your ill informed opinion!

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    2. Actually, I have attended most McMillan meetings, including the dog and pony show at which they and others initially presented their teams for consideration. This meeting, at a church on North Capitol, was clearly a staged event, much like most other community meetings at which the city's preferred vendor went through the motions of some sort of process, while we neighbors were observers told to sit down and not ask questions.

      It is telling that the City at first chose to select EYA based on the strength of their team, and now continues to support the current "team" which looks nothing like the original "team". For a project this big, you don't choose the team first. What should have been done, as has been done routinely in cities less corrupt than DC, is a true RFP process with costs, benefits, and project details presented by competing teams. A true RFP process would have yielded a plethora of ideas and purposes, with meaningful cost/benefit information. Instead, we get the pre-selected team chosen by city officials choosing their cronies whose "vision" looks more like Shirlington than anything else.

      What makes this whole thing such a crime is that we aren't talking about a parking lot downtown where a developer wants to build another office building. This site, overlooking the reservoir and U.S. Capitol is TWENTY-FIVE acres! It is one of the COUNTRY'S most prized development sites. And, if Mr. Daneker has his way, it will be simply another office building/retail complex.

      There should be an international competition of ideas which should be judged on all fronts including the cost to taxpayers, the impact of traffic, the impact of stormwater, economic development, etc. For anyone to say there has been anything like an RFP process would be laughable if not so tragically deceptive. Anyone familiar with the term RFP (request for proposals) knows that the reason for putting out an RFP would be to provide taxpayers with options which can be evaluated on their merits. Instead what we have is a pre-selected developer who is being allowed to determine what to do with this nationally-unique site.

      Maybe this sounds like a wacky idea, but what do you expect? I have stormwater in my head!

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  4. I am out of words- I really am. I mean, every time you write, mr former-comiss (you should really change your name to ex or former), i want to stick my fingers through my eyes, deep into my brain, and twirl it around hoping that the pain of doing just that would overcome the pain of reading your an-alphabetic, childish, idiotic BULLSHIT (as you say) comments. Is that all you do? Go on blogs and just attack good, honest and caring people. Whether that may be Salatti, Fournier, Davenport, small businesses or even Dalai Lama himself. Get a life. You lost...no, actually you got your ass handed to you. That means that the MAJORITY doesn't give a crap about what you have to bark about. What are you trying to prove? Every time you go on these blogs everyone just looses a couple of years of their lives by just reading you dumb-ass comments. I have never, ever, ever seen anyone agree with you or at the very least somewhat respect your comments. Its always you against the world. Well, let me just grab a violin and provide some background music as you start bitching again. Oh i cant wait to read the response to this.

    I will not even try to write any factual response to your BULLSHIT comment. Not even reiterate the effects Macmillan Development may have on Bloomingdale. It is not worth it because you are that small that it would be a waste of my time.

    Just stop being a tumor to the neighborhood.

    p.s. Are you familiar with "The Three Stoogies"? That Curly character looks very familiar. Just saying.

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    1. I attack all those that have motives for personal gain! Mr. Fournier can not possibly speak about this project given his character and blunt disregard for zoning laws and expect constitutes believe a single word from his mouth. Mr Davenport was a out and out liar inn his ABRA application and now has taken the final step to open for the entire hours allowed, which he said he wouldn't do. SO LAIR! Mr Salatti has shown his colors on several occasions, and rightfully to give credit he has done a lot of good things, but he's no God to Bloomingdale trust me on that one!

      As for others agreeing they mostly do! I get consensus quite often as my record shows, what i get take is the whining and bull that most residents and voters put up with!
      As for again, those factual comments it's most likely that you don't have facts which is the usual case with those that oppose the development. Again listen to those naysayers and all you will get is ill informed opinions not facts!

      As for the other comments I'll leave the Stogies reference to you!

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  5. Ok, perhaps a return to saner commentary?

    Another problem here with the density of this plan is this: I love Bloomingdale as it is now...the mix of people, the interesting ides. This development probably doubles the population. And since it's a clone of Shirlington or Columbia Heights...that's what you're gonna get. You going to get legions of young kids buying up the condos...or perhaps those people looking for just the right suburb in the middle of the city. Not the people that I know in Bloomingdale...long time residents, artists, activists, the interesting mix that makes us who we are. How will having 50% of our population becoming suburbanites change our community? I'm afraid those that are here now won't want to live here any more. They'll move off to more interesting places...Maybe this is an unfounded worry, but I lived thru the gentrification of Mount pleasant and Columbia Heights in the early 90s to Mid 90s...and I'll tell you, it's not the same place it was and it isn't a place I would want to live now.

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  6. Todd

    if zoned in Dc under current zoning for such a lot the density by right would be twice as much as has been proposed. I agree with you that it will change Bloomingdale totally, but I don't think it will be as negative an impact to say Columbia Heights. In order to provide affordable housing, jobs, etc. and to subscribe to good urban development density need to be concentrated in one area and not in a sprawled out fashion. Allowing for walk able neighborhoods with services and public transporation.

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    1. I'm hoping Barrie Danneker's (The Commiss) responses are just heavy-handed attempts at satire and that irony is the intention with the application of the term "tree-hugger" and not formed out of ignorance of history and the new generation of development and sustainable thinking (Teddy Roosevelt - what a granola!)
      No development is better than bad development. We should be looking at how projects like Millenium Park in Chicago were funded. Keeping the green roof & developing McMillan's underbelly is a beautiful concept that is completely reachable without burdening the taxpayers. The alternative plans proposed by Marion and Mr. Fournier are just suggestions to the great potential of the site. There's no harm in taking a collective step back, being innovative, and rethinking everything. The idea that we must push bad development and accept higher levels of pollution in order to preserve American jobs is a good joke.

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    2. Dear Hilliday,

      Yes they are intended to spark thought and meaningful dialogue while discouraging the outrageous. We need to keep in mind that after 30 years of community input, experts, developers, preservationists, and urban planners that many ideas have been floated. However we still seem to have nothing on the site while we incur costs to keep the site maintained and secure. What needs to happen no is that compromise needs to be reached on a balanced plan that encompasses good urban development and not allow another group with pie in the sky dreams to attempt to stop the progress made so far. These folks...MR. Fournier and Marion and Mr. Norman and others are merely attempting to stop the inevitable development of the site. It's time we act on the best plan we have and move forward!

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  7. Barrie,

    It's Holliday, not Hilliday.

    And, I wish Todd was right that you are attempting satire or humor.

    The sad truth is that you and too many others are trying to create some all-or-nothing, us-against-them, drama regarding what is done with this site.

    This is consistent with the current situation of EYA and Jair Lynch (the gymnast) for whom speed is of the utmost priority. Daneker, like Harry Thomas, Jr., has been 100% supportive of every iteration of this plan, including the first plan which laid out a super-block with a cul-de-sac at the southern-most point with homes with their backs to Channing Street.

    We now know why the corrupt Harry Thomas, Jr., supported every plan. EYA gave him tens of thousands of dollars. I hope we will someday learn why Daneker, like Thomas, wants to shove the out-of-town developer's plan down our throats.

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  8. Well, I think we all want some amenities on this site... I'm not sure if anybody is advocating for a total park solution. I for one look forward to being able to walk a few blocks to get my groceries. However, at the same time, I agree with the comments above that no development is better than bad development. I wish it were concern for community that was pushing this (ie affordable housing, jobs) but I suspect that this is not the reality. In my mind, the thing that is pushing this current plan is profit. However, we should all profit and we will once we have an outstanding plan for the site. In the end what we want is a nicer place to live and not a less nice place to live. I'm concerned that what I see before me results in the later and not the former.

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    1. Todd,
      I agree, however let's just for one minute that in fact it is the community concern that is being looked at here. When you think of the current plan, you must concern the financials but if that were the case then it would be a huge development where developers would establish 10 story buildings on the entire site. Consider that if McMillan were built with the 1950's zoning in place it would be considered commercial or industrial. Now look at what the current plan offers and consider that in your thoughts. It might change your perspective a bit.

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    2. well, originally McMillan was supposed to be a part of the "green belt" of parks...the reason that Fredrick Law Olmstead was the designer. But then perhaps things changed...but I am primarily concerned with getting the best thing possible on that land...not thinking that i got a great deal because two decades ago it might have been a landfill. In any case, I want something fantastic for my kids and my neighbors and friends. I'm just not that excited with this current plan frankly.

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  9. @ Holliday please excuse the spelling mistake.

    Mr. Kirk,

    This has been your exact same attack and attempt with the MPC, Our McMillan, and the many other so called groups who have been alarmists over the past 30 years and with no results, no plans, no actions, no funding, no realistic proposal for anything!

    Furthermore, you are so far off the truth with your comments on EYA and Jair Lynch and they are not out of towers, as I believe Jair lives and has a business here in DC! I have no financial interest whatsoever in the site. Have take nothing of value from anyone including Harry Thomas. Enough said! I wasn't in the lime light when other commissioners where up HTJr's butt, like Mr. Salatti another one from your clan of protesters!

    Let's put the real issues on the table. We have no services in this area of DC. We have lost a commercial corridor that needs to be established to provide jobs. We are desperate for affordable housing in DC. We are set to be 78,000 housing units short by 2020. What does that do drives the price of living in DC up so high you won't be able to afford to live here. Furthermore DC is the 2nd greenest urban city in America and the only one that high on the list on the East Coast. We spend huge dollars maintaining these parks in DC.

    So when a good urban plan is put forth that encompasses a balanced approach that provides a services, amenities, affordable housing, jobs and good jobs, while still maintaining some public benefit like almost 9 acres of public space/park/green space that is proposed in the various concept plans that have been proposed. Good urban planning calls for dense centers close to transportation hubs. With the Street car proposal connecting Brookland to Columbia Heights going down Michigan and Irving Streets will support that foresight in planning.

    So while your minority group versus the majority of residents who believe in a balanced plan will not be silenced again! People know it take thought and a balanced approach not some Helter Skelter tactic that your group has consistently used based on no factual information whatsoever. With 30 years to organize a plan you still have nothing!

    so please Bloomingdale, think balanced, think good urban planning, think nice public spaces, think grocery store and nail salon, and sit down dinning in a nice space, think jobs, and affordable housing think of streetcars and accessibly to Metro making it more walk-able. These are the benefits that are needed from good economic development which will produce a positive impact for all of DC including Bloomingdale!

    So take note that the community has had input to these plans along with the city and planners, developers and financial experts along with development partners to determine what is possible. These meeting have occurred open and public for almost 5 years. It time that the process move forward with the PUD and let the council and agencies move it along the way! Is Bloomingdale prepared to wait another 30 years to be told that a more dense less, public benefit, more office and commercial space with total disregard for what residents need or want. Better to have a compromise that end up with a mandate!

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