Tuesday, July 10, 2012

pssst .... DC Historic Preservation Review Board hearing on McMillan this Thursday, 7-12-2012

See this text prepared by John Salatti and others:
To anyone interested in the future development of the McMillan Sand Filtration Site (part of the McMillan Park), please consider testifying at this week`s hearing of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) submitted by the city before the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Details about the hearing and its location are below.

Be aware that although this is the first official opportunity to offer your views and desires about the development, it won`t be your last. The HPRB is just the first step and it will take several months before the HPRB is finished with this PUD. Then the PUD moves to the Zoning Commission, which will be interested in a wider array of concerns than the HPRB can cover. Finally, the PUD would have to go to the Council for approval because this is public land that will be used for this project and significant amounts of public money are required to help the developers out.

That said, testifying this week is important to steering the development in the direction most beneficial to the residents of Bloomingdale and Stronghold (as opposed to benefiting primarily the developers` profit margin and the city`s coffers). Any testimony before the HPRB should focus solely on historic preservation concerns. Thus, testimony can talk about the historic landscape that once was on the site designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the above- and the below-ground structures and the extent to which they should be preserved and reused, the amount of park space on the site because that plays directly into the historic landscape that was once there and the preservation and reuse of the sand filtration chambers, etc. Testimony should avoid issues such as the design of the buildings or traffic or storm water concerns; those issues are not within the mandate of the HPRB (unless you can figure out how to connect them directly to some preservation issue; otherwise, save this testimony for the Zoning Commission).

A smart approach for developing testimony is to outline why the proposed PUD fails to align with the District`s 2006 Comprehensive Plan guidelines and/or the Historic Preservation Office`s (HPO) preservation principles.
Here`s a summary of these guidelines that are in the HPO Report:
  1. Policy MC-2.6.1: ``substantial contiguous portion of the site for recreation and open space`` ... ``connectivity to nearby open spaces such as the Armed Forces Retirement Home, should be achieved through site design``
  2. Policy MC-2.6.2: ``explore the adaptive reuse of some of the underground cells`` ... ``Consideration should be given to monuments, memorials, and museums as part of the site design.``
  3. Policy MC-2.6.3: ``reduce parking, traffic, and noise impacts on the community`` ... ``improve transportation options to the site and surrounding neighborhood`` ... ``increase connectivity between Northwest and Northeast neighborhoods``
  4. Policy MC-2.6.4: ``Be responsive to community needs and concerns in reuse planning``
  5. Policy MC-2.6.5: ``maintain viewsheds and vistas and be situated in a way that minimizes impacts on historic resources``
  6. Preservation Principle 2: ``strong sense of the property`s park-like character (which is distinctly different from its surroundings) should be maintained``
  7. Preservation Principle 4: ``The North Capitol frontage of the park should include a substantially scaled public entrance.``
For example, Policy 2.6.2 makes clear that the underground filtration chambers should be seriously considered for creative reuse. Thus, preservation of the underground cells comprises a paramount historic preservation concern. However, the city through its development consultants asserts that it`s too expensive to preserve and reuse the underground caverns (without offering studies or evidence). Counter-testimony could assert that preserving the cells is indeed economically viable by providing, for example, cost estimates for the work and/or suggestions for economic activity that could thrive in the existing structures once they were preserved and restored to a certain degree.
Testimony can be oral, written, or both, but the HPRB does not require written testimony (more on written testimony below). Offering in-person, oral testimony will have a bigger impact on the HPRB, although submitting written testimony is a big help in ``building the record`` that the Mayor`s Agent will eventually evaluate in a more court-like hearing sometime this fall or later.
To clear the HPRB hurdle, the city must first address all the HPRB concerns (and the people's concerns that we get onto the HPRB`s radar/record via testimony). We expect that the hearing on the 12th will result in the Board issuing a laundry list of concerns for the city to take to the woodshed and work on for a month or so and then return for a follow-on hearing to present their proposed responses to the stated concerns.

Part of the importance of your testimony (oral or written) is that the city`s developers offered the staff of the Historic Preservation Office misinformation about the community`s view of the PUD. Although the developers told HPO staff that the community was completely on board with the proposed plan, in fact, the HPRB learned to its surprise at the 24 May HPRB hearing that no community organization around the McMillan Site supports the plan. We need to deliver as much testimony as possible to build a voluminous record of community concern to underscore the resolutions of opposition placed onto the record by the Bloomingdale and Stronghold Civic Associations, ANC 1B, and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
Thank you for your interest in McMillan Park. Your help is needed to speak out for this historic area. Here are the details about the hearing:

Please attend and/or testify at the Government of the
District of Columbia Historic Preservation Board hearing on Thursday, July 12 at 10:00 a.m. where the proposed master plan for McMillan Park will be reviewed. This is a very important hearing for the future of McMillan and we need your support.

The location of the meeting is at: 441 4
th Street NW, Room 220 South, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Just above the Judiciary Square Metro Stop)
Hearing topic: Consideration of McMillan Redevelopment.

The preservation review process ENCOURAGES PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND COMMENT on projects that impact historic property or the surrounding neighborhood. Following the applicants` presentation, the Board will ask for testimony from the affected ANC, any organizations or individuals in support, and organizations or individuals in opposition. Do you feel that the current plans reflect good preservation
of this historic resource? What do you want to see preserved at McMillan and why?

The HPRB is extremely interested in hearing the views of the public. WRITTEN TESTIMONY received electronically by the Historic Preservation Office by 12:00 noon on Wednesday, July 11th, will be forwarded to the HPRB members in advance of the meeting. Written testimony can also be presented at the meeting to the Board; 12 copies should be provided. If you provide written testimony in advance and also intend to testify in person, the Board will ask that you summarize your testimony. All correspondence should be addressed to the Chairman, Historic Preservation Review
Board, Historic Preservation Office, 1100 4th Street, S.W., Room 650, Washington, DC 20024 or sent c/o Steve Callcott at steve.calcott @ dc.gov .


This is a critical juncture in the process of deciding what should happen at McMillan. Although we as citizens rarely have a chance to directly affect a project like this, this hearing on the 12th is one of those rare opportunities. Please consider supporting a positive future for the McMillan Sand Filtration Site.

Other ways to get involved:

- Join the Friends of McMillan Facebook page and group:


- Follow @McMillanPark on Twitter:

Visit our Website: http://friendsofmcmillan.org/

- Contact D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (202) 724-8064, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20004 < pmendelson @ ddcouncil.us
>) and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (< eom @ dc.gov or vincent.gray @ dc.gov >, 202 727-6300, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 316, Washington, DC 20004) and tell them that you want any development plans made more open, with community input.
- Please sign our petition: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RG8TZH8

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