Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Friends of McMillan Park: "ANC Commissioner Sought $8 Million More for McMillan Project without Consent of Full ANC"

See this 09-30-2015 message from the Friends of McMillan Park:

ANC Commissioner Sought $8m More for McMillan Dev Project without Consent of Full

ANC Commissioner Sought $8 Million More for McMillan Project without Consent of Full ANC

Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that Commissioner Dianne Barnes, then Chair of DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 5E, asked the District Government to give $8 million more to Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), a consortium seeking to commercially develop historic landmark McMillan Park, for construction of an apartment building intended for senior citizens. Commissioner Barnes made the request on behalf of ANC 5E although there is no record that the full ANC voted to make or approve such a request. ANC Chairs have no power to pretend to speak on behalf of a full ANC without specific authority to do so approved by a majority vote of a given Commission.
The District Government, at least as far as is known to the public, has yet to provide the additional funds requested.  VMP has set aside some of the housing included in its development proposal specifically for senior citizens.
On September 26, 2013, Commissioner Barnes sent an email to Marchim Williams, Ward 5 Liaison in the DC Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs, requesting that the District Government give an additional $8 million to VMP to cover overlooked costs of including a seniors-only apartment building in VMP’s plan for mixed-use development at McMillan Park. Barnes told Williams, “Regarding the request for the Senior Building, Ms. Corbett, the Project Director, informed me that they made the Senior Building fit physically, but it does not yet fit financially. VMP will need additional subsidy of about $8M to make the 80-90 unit senior building affordable to households at 50-60% of Area Median Income.”
Commissioner Barnes did not indicate why VMP did not request the additional money directly.
Commissioner Barnes also sent the email to the offices of DC Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie, Anita Bonds, Muriel Bowser, David Grosso, and Vincent Orange.
The only apparent response that Commissioner Barnes received to her request for additional funds was from Councilmember Anita Bonds who expressed her support for VMP’s project centered around a one-million square-foot medical office tower.  Councilmember Bonds asked Commissioner Barnes what she could do to help make the project a reality. On the same day, Councilmember Bonds emailed Commissioner Barnes and said, “Can we talk about how I can help make this development a reality. Many months ago I understood that the community had settle on many of the items you mentioned herein as components of the McMillan project. Has there been a change? Let me know when you are available to talk about the project.”  Although Councilmember Bonds and Commissioner Barnes agreed to meet to discuss senior housing, the content of their subsequent discussion was not revealed in this correspondence.
It remains unclear who authored the email request for an additional $8 million sent by Commissioner Barnes.  The font, grammar, tone, and vocabulary included in the email differ substantially from that of other Barnes letters reviewed as part of this FOIA request.  Records obtained through the FOIA process reveal that Commissioner Barnes maintains extraordinarily close relationships with VMP employees and with key District Government officials pushing to develop McMillan Park.  For example, the records reveal that the ANC 5E resolution of support for the McMillan project was written for Commissioner Barnes by VMP’s public relations contractor, Tania Jackson.  It is possible that the Barnes request for the additional $8 million was also ghost-written by VMP or by an associated organization.
The District Government fought the disclosure of Commissioner Barnes’ emails and other public records related to the McMillan Park project for over one-and-a-half years.  Judge Nash of DC Superior Court ordered the District Government to turn over the last records in July 2015.  Kirby Vining was represented by Don Padou in the FOIA suit to obtain the hidden records.
The article above is based on documents 005761, 009506, and 009510 available in the “Barnes FOIA Documents” folder at the following location:


  1. Who cares what Barnes asked for. DC needs that senior housing. FOM has lost all the battles so far and will lose any remaining onw they dream up! Let's get on with the development and let's shut down FOM and the crasy people associated with FOM! They are nuts and selfish tree huggers who care nothing about jobs, homeless, seniors etc

    1. Parks are development, that reduce stress, and increase public health, do you care Commmish? Parks provide revenue to the govt.(though DC govt. has already wasted over $40 million on fencing out the community from their own public park) Check out Central Park in NY, as McMillan is our Central Park, the top revenue provided NYC by vendor in Central Park Zoo, is a hot dog vendor who pays NYC $280,000 a year. The next twenty highest vendors pay in tax revenue and fees, $100,000 each per year. Add it up idiot!

    2. Daniel do I care yes, but in order to reduce stress for families in DC they need jobs and a rood over their heads. Let's start there! As for the $$$ you talk about give me a break you think tourists are coming to Bloomingdale to spend that $$$. they aren't leaving the mall. Get a gripe on reality and what is possible instead of the smoke screen and pipe dreams you have.

    3. Yes and currently you don't have a park at all. This development will provide that open space/park. The revenue you speak of would never happen in DC. your talking about tourist visiting Bloomingdale? Not going to happen! They won't leave the mall to come 1.5 miles to a park and generate that kind of income. That's why the museum proposal fell though. So again facts, studies and evidence is what is needed for sound decisions, something you and the Fom'ers fail to recognize. That's what community development is all about!

  2. I thought you moved back to Boston? Why don't you push your out-of-town developer agenda somewhere else?

  3. Well Paul it's cause of disinformed jerks like yourself that need my help in seeing what selfish FOM's want to do to the jobless, homeless and less fornuate, becausee of fools like yourself who don't face the reality of the world.

  4. So, you're saying that the Bethesda-based McMillan developer has included housing for the homeless in their plan?

    Please point out any evidence of me being "disinformed." My understanding is that somehow EYA has been able to get the historic board to approve of something that destroys the historic aspects. They've gotten the zoning board to agree to substantially increase traffic by allowing downtown-sized buildings in a residential neighborhood (with no metro alternative) and they've not included any housing for homeless people.

    EYA was caught giving tens of thousands to the shell organization from which Harry Thomas Jr took funds for his SUV's and golf vacations to Florida. So, he went to jail while EYA received the largest gift ever to be bestowed upon an out of town developer of its modest stature.

    I have two questions for you.

    1) Can you state unequivocally that you have had no conversations with developers on how you will profit should this project somehow survive legal battles in the courts?

    2) What conclusions do you think people draw from your need to demonize neighbors with whom you disagree?

    1. 1. I have had no conversations with any partners in this project or any other project in DC and I will no profit one bit. Although jerks from FOM have said that I am being paid off and will profit some how. What I can say to you all is that is 100% NOT TRUE!

      2. Yes Paul, I can conclude as many others in this community have… the FOM group has terrorized, mislead, misquoted and downright been nasty jerks to people who support this project, hence why I continue to call out this group over and over again. There are ways to disagree without being a jerk and most of the FOM's are complete idiots who are not seeing any of the benefits of this development Furthermore this whole historical thing is BULLSHIT! Thanks to a few tree huggers who frankly don’t know anything about historical.
      1. It's not the first slow water filtration site in the US.
      2. When it was built it never worked to begin with and they still had to add chemicals to clean the water.
      3. It was Olmstead’s son and illegitimate son who designed the walkway not OLMSTEAD! So what makes it historical? Really give me one good reason that makes this so historical that DC should keep the entire thing?
      4. It was never a park in terms people today think of a park. If you want to say you dressed in your suit and tie and Victorian dress and parasol and walked around the site on Sunday, then it’s a park.
      5. Senator McMillan wasn’t that great of a leader!

      So tell me what makes this so site so significant…NOTHING! I agree we should preserve some of the site, but your group has proposed such moronic uses as an urban farm which would be the most expensive farm land in the world. Sheep hearding, growing grapes… I mean really come on…GIVE ME A BREAK!

      As for the homeless comment….Yes the affordable housing that will be created are for homeless people. People who don’t own a home! It’s not a shelter. There are a lot of folks who are working poor who will qualify for these units. They are the homeless who will benefit from this development.

    2. So, it's quite a coincidence that Frederick Olmsted's "illegitimate son" is named Frederick Olmsted Jr.! According to Wikipedia, Freddie Jr. was one of two sons born to Freddie Sr and his wife, and they raised three other children from her first marriage.

      You know, when a judge instructs a jury, it is common to point out that if a witness bears false witness in one fact, it is reasonable to find that witness is bearing false witness in all of their testimony.

      Are you so bereft of arguments that you think it is OK to slander people (Olmsted, McMillan) who died so many years ago and can't defend themselves?

      Also, thank you for clarifying whom you refer to as homeless. Those who rent!

      The Howard fight song refers to the school by the lake. Folks used to picnic in the public spaces around the lake and Olmsted Walk. Regardless of what people wore back then, the point is they had a spot in their neighborhood where they could take the breeze, have their eyes focus on something miles away and enjoy the beautiful views of the sun setting each night over the reservoir. No other city would have allowed such a beautiful taxpayer-owned, in a residential neighborhood, to be stacked with office buildings and multi-unit housing that look remarkably like the pop-ups that are polluting the cityscape.

      You keep ridiculing those with whom you disagree. I don't agree that the property should be a farm, but the grotesque downtown-sized office buildings and condos will have a terrible impact on Bloomingdale's heart -- First Street. This kind of development is OK, but only in places served by Metro.

      I noticed you said you didn't speak to any "partners" in this project. Your passion only makes sense to me if you have something to gain personally. Have you spoken to any contractors or subcontractors? What is your motivation for denigrating the lives of respectable people, dead or alive?

  5. I'd like to know more about how and why this proposal for senior housing came about. Does it also include the pressing need for affordable, accessible housing for (young) people with physical disabilities (such as numerous wheelchair-using 30 year olds in the District of Columbia that no one pays any attention to but expects them to live in cramped, half-ramped houses) or who are trapped living in their parents' 19th century homes or in walk-up, elevator-less apartment buildings and carried up the stairs at danger to themselves and their caregivers? If there is to be some sop to the housing needs of the vulnerable in the District of Columbia in the McMillan development, it should be a full-blown approach, not a carve-out for one group of vulnerable people. I'm all for housing for seniors, but let's not forget that other hidden population. Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they don't exist. If McMillan Development people are serious about providing housing to the vulnerable, why aren't they talking to DC's Disabilities Administration about the need for wheelchair accessible affordable apartments? Or did I miss an announcement from VMP?

    1. Ms. Simpson,

      The senior housing building has been a part of the master plan since the beginning and it is a full blown approach…I can’t even begin to understand your rational for making such a statement.
      Also let me educated you a bit on senior and affordable housing. YES the DISABLED qualify! Under HUD rules
      On top of that all the apartment buildings and some of the Townhouse will be handicapped accessible as it is required under the law and zoning. There will obviously be elevators in the 8 story buildings, as required by law. I think you have missed a lot about this development. Also maybe a good neighbor and citizen you might along with the MAG group let DC’s Disabilities Admin know about these units coming on line once they start development. It’s not of the job of the developer and would potentially cause a conflict of interest if the developer approaches one group and not others. Everyone who qualifies has to take action to in order to obtain a unit at a reduce rate. Should we put the homeless ahead of the disabled who have a home although maybe not ideal; or ahead of a veteran or a senior. These are no decisions the developers should be deciding, but they should be making the units available which they are.
      So let’s…not again… put out sound bites that contain misinformation as guise to attempt to push a different agenda.

    2. Why isn't the entire "development" a Not -For -Profit like MANNA or Habitat for Humanity. The need is there, 70,000 on the waiting list, a little girl named Rashida Brown killed at DC General for lack of proper supervision. If we need our parks turned into housing for the homeless, DO IT! Affordable housing is just another VMP ploy to get 100's of units approved by this corrupt govt.
      700 condos will sell for over half a billion dollars for Trammel Crow, already doing $2 billion in DC, and Jair Lynch $1.5 billion.
      When a public green space is fenced off by racist DC officials for 28 years, wasting over $40 million to deliver the priceless community asset to mediocre developers, that is corruption Commish.
      I think it is easy to understand how "indoor vertical agriculture" makes a load of sense in adaptive re-use of the 20 acres underground galleries, slated for demolition. Commish, just shut up long enough to watch this video.The community struggle to Save McMillan Park, preserving the Olmsted designed surface-park and existing 20 acres underground, creates the exciting potential for Sustainable large scale "indoor agriculture" and Family Fish Network. With proven vertical indoor growing technology we could convert the McMillan/Olmsted Park caverns to a fully functional, local food production facility, making it a truly sustainable site. Imagine superior organic fresh fruit, vegetables and Family Farmed Fish freshly produced right here in DC , no longer trucked from California, Florida and Mexico. Thirty five percent of trucks on the road are transporting food!

      Please see this fascinating video:
      The potential of this park has been so wasted and mismanaged by Mendelson, and successive DC administrations, IT IS CRIMINAL!
      This special site needs to be preserved for public use. The declaration by Mayor Gray that “there is no longer any public use for the land”, is an insulting lie and abuse of power. This tiny group of arrogant, self important, barely elected Dc officials must not be in charge of $18 billion in development investment. We have no checks or balances! The "surplus and disposition" over $300 million of corporate welfare abuse,
      Who is minding the fox!

    3. Oh Daneil again you're off the beaten path. Of course this will provide affordable housing, but if you wnat it all to be affordable you'll be creating public housing which was never a good housing policy for the US. Remeber what you and other in the community said about St. Martn's project in Edgewood. So if that's what your looking for then you won't mind if DC raises your property taxes by 1090% and the income tax rate to 20% to pay for it right???
      This was never public green space ever! an you want to create the most expensive farm land in the world, that makes no sense whatsoever! PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK! You think the world is laugh at DC now! Image a super market, medical jobs paying a good salary, and housing in an are that has a huge need. That's Reality! It's not a special site, it's an outdated, never worked to clean water industrial site that DC in 1986 planned to develop. PERIOD!

  6. If there were any real substantive concessions for homeless/handicapped/disadvantaged, where they may have thrown a few scraps to the less fortunate in DC, that would be one thing. But, if you are the golden pre-chosen design/architect/general contractor, pre-chosen by your buddies in city hall, you don't want to waste any profitable square footage on the poor/needy. (They don't have as much money as hospitals, office building and retail tenants and millionaires looking for brand new condos that overlook the reservoir.) Like the neighbors who will be in bumper-to-bumper traffic breathing in twice the normal level of carbon monoxide fumes, we are are treated with contempt by EYA, Jair Lynch who have an excellent business plan of building out and owning taxpayer-owned properties.

    1. Wrong again. They were not pre-chosen and where chosen based on an RFP and btw the MAG group agreed with choosing VMP for this project! Wow how misinformation you jerks spread!

    2. Wow. Now you're really out to sea. There was no RFP. There was no competition. Both an RFP and a competition are things that have legal definitions. This is one of many facts that will come up during litigation.

    3. Well you are mistaken as usual. Why then were there 5 developers who submitted plans, 3 made the required submission and one was chosen! FACTS BABY!!! good luck with that litigation...once again your crew will lose.



    6. Here is the media showing what happen! But then again Paul you and the FOM's live "Under the Dome". Facts are facts and you can use your smear tactics all you want. FACT ARE FACTS!!! So take a few ginkgo pills get get those brains cells to activate!

    7. That was a dog and pony show.

      I was there.

      Surprise surprise, the City chose the group with the former city official!

      A real RFP would have had, for one thing, a legally-enforcable scope and cost details. The dog and pony show was nothing like a legal RFP process.

    8. So once again you FOM'ers twist the facts to meet your own personal hateful and selfish agenda...

    9. It's a fact that there was no formal RFP process. Other facts are:

      1) the team pre-selected by the City included a prestigious historic development group from the Chicago area that immediately left the group as soon as they realized the level of corruption as their recommendations were completely ignored. In this whole sad affair, I did gain some respect for them anyway.

      2) Another fact is that there are new members of the cabal who were never part of the original group, and

      3) While EYA and Jair Lynch should be ashamed of how they hired an out-of-town group to fight the neighborhood that will have to live with thousands of more cars on First Street, they should also be thankful that in the case this is blocked by the courts, they have already collected millions in taxpayer dollars and no one has laughed them off the planet for suggesting that, in addition, they should get these 20 acres for free because the 20 acres are worth a negative $30 mil. (This is an example of a deal that is only possible when people are negotiating with themselves)

      I don't expect any evidence to refute any of these facts. But, I am expecting more name-calling!

    10. Paul once again you prove to be a dumb ass. Read the facts your FOM'ers are putting out and you will see that you are again telling lies and bullshit. I think someone should take you straight to court so a judge can tell you that not only are you wrong, but your stupid because you can't read! All the lies you people tell it's as bad as the water this plant produced... Further more Paul just move cause it's coming and your losing so if you hate to give up an old industrial site to provide jobs, housing and services for area that has long been neglected. Then it just proves my point that you are all selfish rich white people who care nothing about the residents of DC who are less fortunate than fat cats like yourself. You're just another hater and liar.

    11. Mr. Danekar, could you please stop causing strife between actual residents of dc and Bloomingdale neighbors and go terrorize your own Rhode Island neighborhood blog and leave this one alone?

    12. Mr. Danekar, could you please stop causing strife between actual residents of dc and Bloomingdale neighbors and go terrorize your own Rhode Island neighborhood blog and leave this one alone?

    13. Well Citisenalpha, maybe you should come out of the shadows and let residents know just who you are so that they too can use the same tactics that supporters have had to deal with over the past 10 years on this project! i have a vested interest in what happens to the "real residents of DC".

    14. Yeah, Citisenalpha. You should give your name so EYA and Jair Lynch can pass it on to Fontaine so you can be neutralized!

    15. Well again Paul your all wet! Fountaine was hired because neighbors how supported the development need help to voice there opinions because they were frankly intimidated, harassed and spit on by FOM'ers. That's the true story behind Fontiane and I wish I was at the hearing to tell Mendelson and the Cm's why they came on board. But as usual FOM'ers with their personal selfish agenda twisted it to fit their narrow minded ways.

  7. They don't care. The green spaces in Bethesda are numerous and beautiful, with plenty of mature protected parks to walk your pedigree dogs. Once they finish, they can take their tens of millions of dollars and they will never have to live in our bumper-to-bumper traffic. The interesting thing to me is how many new folks have never experienced what the traffic was like BEFORE adding thousands of cars to First Street in Bloomingdale because First Street has been closed for so long. Wait until they re-open it and the ambulances/sirens/speedsters start jamming up and down First Street again.

    1. Paul, if you like Bethesda so much then move there! You chose to live in a major metro city on the east coast. You haven’t walked on this site the entire time you have lived here. It's not a park; it's not real green space, but a beatification project for a terrible eyesore of an industrial site. If you don't like the traffic then do your part and start walking it might do you some good both mind and soul. It seems you have hated this neighborhood and the hospital forever. Where were all these complaints when the hospital has asked over and over to expand? Not one word out of your trap!
      So I highly doubt that this development will change what you dislike already. Maybe if you are so concerned about the traffic you would be pushing the city on the expanded street car line that is to connect Brookland to Columbia Heights to the Calvert/Zoo stops. Creating a link for most of the Colleges and creating better transit to the Hospital. Otherwise your just whining about a development that will be built despite you and your FOM’s effort to derail it.


    2. Thanks to John Salatti and Tony Norman (and Hugh Youngblood), I've walked around quite a bit on the McMillan Park site.

      I love this neighborhood.

      My biggest beef with the current plan is that it is simply way too big. When DC decided to use the bottom quadrant for flood control, the Bethesda-based developer simply took all the square footage they had already decided they needed to hit their profit target, and they stacked that on top of the original plan, which was considerably lower because they thought the zoning might perform its function of not allowing new construction of downtown-sized office buildings in a residential neighborhood with no metro. In addition to block the views of the folks in Stronghold, the massive buildings bring thousands of new cars to First Street and serve to make the historic towers disappear in the shadows of the new buildings.

    3. It's too's medium density which is smart urban planning in an area that has a huge housing need. As for the flood control...what a waster of $150 million for some new property owners who didn't do their due diligence and DC taxpayers have picked up the bill for them. It would have been cheaper to buy those house then to spend $150 million on an temp solution. that money should have been spent an on addition boring machine instead of what was done. So you keep pedaling...against the tide. Create McMillan! No matter what you'll never get on board and the DC council knows this and they don't care about your thoughts as is obvious. So spent your money on lawyers and fighting it but this will happen and you and your FOM's will loose. Think about other instead of yourself for just one second!


    4. Drinking early today, eh?


      If housing is the concern, why is most of the value of this new town center attributable to downtown-sized office buildings and large scale retail? Indeed, why not make it all housing that fits in our residential neighborhood and leave commercial development to places served by Metro? You and the other out-of-town developers keep touting affordable housing, but this is a miniscule percentage of the square footage being pushed by EYA and their accomplices in city hall.

      How are "new property owners" to blame for Vincent Gray's decision to build a 900 foot long tunnel digging machine in order to drill a 2,700 foot long hole under Bloomingdale? Please tell me how that City decision is our fault.

      And, I just have to say, that the Bethesda-based developer's campaign to "Create McMillan Park" has to be the most cynical of any public campaign I've endured. I was here when EYA (at the same they were giving tens of thousands to Harry Thomas Jr's "charity", which led to him going to jail) was publishing drawings where they showed the streets and sidewalks in green to trick people into thinking their designs had green space! Their calculation was that we were stupid, a conclusion that can be understood because, in those days, folks like Barrie Daneker were winning ANC elections in Bloomingdale.


      Also, "The Commiss" (Barrie, let it go; even though you were the city's love child, you lost your ANC re-election race to a nobody), if you publish your address I'll send you my elementary school grammar book.

    5. Mr. Danneker, here the Pope, just read your own hysterical garbage, you are obsessed, and few can understand why.
      We can make employment, real careers, not door men and receptionists. We can be resourceful and innovative and provide food stores, markets, bazaars, without taking away our necessary green and open space. Let's tell it like it is, as did Pope Francis.
      Barrie just slow down for a minute, and solve all the urban problems with your incredible mind, seriously, with big parks, and urban beaches, and historic sites, and adaptive re-use, all the other cities in the world do it. DC govt has it's head up VMP bank account, and it won't com out.Don't act like the abject mediocrity of this govt. gets a pass, what a dangerous, unhealthy mess they provide here for a city!
      The PAPA in Vatican City unmderstgands,, listen Barrie, just listen for a minute.
      Pope Francis
      "we have created new idols. The worship of the ancient Golden Calf
      has returned in a new ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and
      the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose"

    6. Daniel, in 1986 the Dc government paid for that land to be developed PERIOD! This constant attempt to turn back time and the FOM'ers failure to see the reality of the situation is where you and your group have gone wrong. This will create middle income jobs, not the doormen you suggest. It will create much needed housing in DC and services for this area of DC. It's that simple. McMillan isn't a park never was a park by 20th century standards and the attempt by your group to create a urban farm is a joke. It's simple! It's going to be built, it's going to happen and it's time you and your friends got on board to shape what will happen there instead of the silly attempts to stop it.

  8. Hey, The Commiss, whoever you are, lots of things change in 30 years! Such as stormwater drainage affecting McMillan park (land that was used as a park for years more than 30 years ago) and therefore the prospective development has to change too.

    1. The land was never a park PERIOD. What you may call a park and what is a park are very different things! And if you think 30 acres of concrete is helping with Storm water well I think you have bigger issues.

  9. It is wrong to say that that the DC gov't paid for that land to be developed "PERIOD". Actually, in addition to the master plan and other zoning and transportation-related parameters that are being ignored, there is a very specific legal covenant pertaining to preserving the historic features of the property. During the dog and pony show, much fanfare was made about the inclusion of the Alexander Company, a nationally-known, prestigious historic development group. It didn't take for the Alexander Company to see that EYA and Jair Lynch were singularly focused on maximizing their profits by stacking downtown-sized buildings in this residential neighborhood, already over-burdened with traffic and not served by metro. The Alexander Company quickly left the group, which is evident from the renderings which show the historic features dwarfed in the shadows of the downtown-sized buildings surrounding all sides.

    The historic board said they didn't like the design. The zoning board said they didn't like the design. One way we could save some tax dollars would be to get rid of both of them altogether given their impotence and/or ambivalence.

    1. WRONG! Soning did approve the plan and so didn't HPRB. HPRB and the Mayor Agent have apporved the historic preservation steps needed on the site. Frankly I think there is a freaking thin on that site that is historic. IT freaking didn't work to clean the water when they first operated it and still had to add chemicals to the water. How is that historical or significant? Oh that right, a real DC F'uped industrial site is significant by DC standards...RIGHT! As for the delevepment...It's a process of give and take for all parties and finally a plan was put forward and approved by both bodies. And it's still correct that DC paid $9.3 million with the intent to develop that land. Read the many reports in the media and the sale of the land, then maybe you will see the truth!