Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brookland resident Daniel Wolkoff's testimony to the HPRB on McMillan

Here's one very innovative conceptual proposal for the site by CUA professor of architecture and planning Miriam Gusevich from her presentation to the US Commission of Fine Arts. Note especially the Community Goals identified on slide 9.

[Click "Download" and then "Download Anyway" to see the document]

See my testimony below for the HPRB to consider July 12.

Daniel Goldon Wolkoff
1231 Randolph Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017

Testimony to HPRB on the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant
by Daniel Goldon Wolkoff

McMillan Park and City Market

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., McMillan, is a gem in the Emerald Necklace of parks planned by Sen. McMillan's Senate Parks Commission in 1906. Parks the DC govt. does not think this section of the city deserves.

This issue is difficult to understand. Why are the residents of this city confronted with wrestling our own resources back from a government and development community, obsessed with huge new construction (over $60 billion in 67 DC govt. development projects). The simple recognition of the limits of nature, energy and land need to be recognized. This tunnel vision would not have allowed NY Central Park or Rock Creek Park to exist unless built over.

We need to emulate Manhattan's Central Park, one of the world's "greatest places".  Over 500 acres, declining in the 1970s, where a conservancy joined with the City of New York for a 26-year public-private partnership to restore,  manage, and enhance the magnificent park.

It is hard to accept the District closing off our Olmsted park, wasting this "Great Place" and over $9 million for 25 years, then spending over $250,000 annually, to mow a lawn no one could ever sit on!

In any city, with proper planning, the millions of dollars would have supported a McMillan Park Conservancy, and funded the restoration of the park and all its activities for our city, years ago.

The complete waste of McMillan Park demonstrates the neglect and contempt the DC government has for DC's eastern section, under-served for generations with one fifth the park space as NW.  The Vision McMillan Partners development which destroys most of the historic landmark continues this unacceptable imbalance.

I encourage the HPRB to reject the city's development plans.  The McMillan Site is protected under the Landmark and Historic District Act of 1978, DC Law 2-144, the entire site and its context "Protected!"  VMP itself commissioned the Historic Preservation Report by EHT Traceries, Inc. which states "this level of development, is inconsistent with historic preservation of the site," and that is self-evident!  We need all of this park space, our land, an expanded system, for critical community activities and recreation. We need the vision of Sen. McMillan to restore and complete "The Emerald Necklace" of green space, woods, and trails for the health of our central city. For a higher quality of life, like the upper income areas of DC, have enjoyed since Olmsted designed Rock Creek Park in 1890.

Our wasteful city govt. sucks every dollar it can out of the tax paying residents, talks about increasing its revenue from McMillan but the richest government in the world can increase its tax revenue as the parkside property values rise and the concessions, performances, and art classes and City Market generate tax revenue and fees in McMillan Park. Revenue and benefits to our city will also come from the new residents not buying EYA condos, but who buy and rent in alternative locations and renovate derelict properties and add them to the tax rolls. Medical offices can be built across the street at Washington Hospital Center where they belong. While patients from all the hospitals, and Children's National Medical Center, and their families get some fresh air, take a nice walk, and help their recovery in a "Healing Garden" at McMillan. The city population needs parks, "great places" and the real McMillan (Senator from Michigan) had that vision over 100 years ago. What about the miserable failure of the DC govt. recommends them to develop, pave over, and sell out our park?

I support the sustainable community design by CUA Professor Miriam Gusevich, a design which restores the park, sunlights the underground creek creating a sand beach, offers us urban agriculture and forestry, and brilliantly creates a world-class City Market in adaptive-reuse of existing under-surface masonry galleries.  Even the "so dangerous manhole covers" can be converted to skylights for natural light as people buy their fresh local farmed ingredients for dinner in the City Market.

The restoration of McMillan is an incredible opportunity a vision-less govt. is destroying. The reservoir in New York's Central Park serves thousands of joggers, and people meet and walk for good exercise and camaraderie, a center, a

social gathering. As First Lady Michelle Obama promotes exercise, urban gardening and good nutrition, we need our jogging paths, our reservoir and our urban farming system. This is really a last chance, as all remaining available

land is being over-developed in an anti-environmental onslaught by the DC government and the big developers they serve at our expense.

We need space where youth and under-employed can train in masonry, carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, and so much more.

The restoration of McMillan will be a wellspring for the whole city, training programs spin off into urban conservation corps, to help seniors fix up and insulate their houses. We need sustainable energy, and we can preserve a

functioning sand filtration cell to demonstrate the legacy of McMillan. And even more so, it is critical we preserve all of McMillan, as a back-up emergency clean water system. Just as the fence went up in World War II to protect McMillan, this in a world of terrorism and sabotage, how irresponsible to demolish this critical clean water infrastructure.

Glen Echo in Montgomery County benefits all ages with a myriad of art education, dance, theater, and festivals 365 days a year.  Why did Montgomery County and the Maryland Park System join with conservancy and do the most spectacular historic renovation?  They considered a mixed use development at Glen Echo too, but have the foresight and show they value the population, the young people and provide such wonderful services and recreation. It is very sad how mindless the DC govt. is. It is no surprise we suffer crime and disrespect in return form our urban youth.

At McMillan, the community is ready to support our Glen Echo, as a place to develop DC youth in health, character, and respect.  Every city official campaigns on supporting our young people, and all continue to fail them, our

homes and neighborhood security suffers the result.  We need this "great place" to help our youth and under-employed to succeed.  We can teach masonry, window repair,  electrical, woodworking, landscaping, forestry, agriculture and gardening, pottery, theater--useful trades for becoming a responsible, productive adult.

McMillan is a protected landmark.  The entire site is protected by our law -- all of it, not to be demolished, paved, sectioned off with 50 buildings and strips of green space. We need to restore our Olmsted Park.  I encourage the HPRB to preserve McMillan for its historic preservation and so many excellent reasons, for its value to the environment, to our city, to our young people.


Daniel Goldon Wolkoff

1 comment:

  1. This guy is a nut job. Where is the transportation study, where is the storm water study, where is the financial feasibility study, where is the economic impact study? Oh that's right they don't exist...why?? Because Prof. Gusevich is living in a dream world with no creditably, no studies, and most important no money to even think of a way to get this off the ground never mind to get it built! This is why none of the 5 firms that bid to design this site put in a plan like her pipe dream plan! Stick to teaching Prof. Gusevich, because those who can do those who can't teach!