Friday, December 20, 2013

weekly McMillan brief: putting the Park in McMillan Park

From: "Tania Jackson, Vision McMillan Partners"
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 9:29 AM
Subject: Weekly McMillan Brief: Putting the Park in McMillan Park

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A glimpse at the history of McMillan: Putting the Park in McMillan Park
Those of you familiar with the history of the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant know that because the work of filtering DC water was the primary function of the site, the active working areas (reservoir, filtration beds and filter courts) were designed largely for visual effect from paths and adjacent roads.  Plans for “parking of the grounds” were a secondary and more visual experience for the community, with active recreation activity concentrated only on the southwestern portion of the site – west of First Street and directly south of the reservoir. Today, our plans include a vast, central park and open space spanning nearly two-thirds of the site.

Click here to take a look at a 1991 report that sets out to answer two questions:
  1. Was the filtration plant east of First Street an integral part of the park as originally conceived, and
  2. How did the original design envision the use of the filtration beds as park space and how were these areas used?
The conclusion?
While the working grounds of the plant were generally accessible to the public, foot traffic or recreational activity was not encouraged – particularly, as it points out on page 5, when at any given time acres of the property were dotted with open manholes, providing light and access for workers. There were, however, recreational uses planned for the small portion of land directly south of the reservoir, which you can see on this nomination document.
Share your stories
Mr. Jeffrey Fearing commented recently on Facebook that back in the 40s, Howard students used to picnic on the shore of the “lake so blue” as the Alma Mater refers to it. While this particular land surrounding the reservoir (west of First Street) is owned by the Federal government and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers (so not part of DC-controlled land, our new central park or overall development), we love your stories about time spent at the McMillan site! We encourage you to share them with all of us on Twitter and Facebook, or send us an email:


Tania Jackson
Vision McMillan Partners
McMillan Sand Filtration site today
Envision McMillan
If you haven’t seen it, now is a good time to check out our Vision Video.
Copyright © 2013 Vision McMillan Partners, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have expressed support for Vision McMillan Partner's plan to transform the McMillan property into a model 21st century community.

Our mailing address is:
Vision McMillan Partners
1508 U St, NW
WashingtonDC 20009


Bloomingdale Resident said...

Small print alert:

"You are receiving this email because you have expressed support for Vision McMillan Partner's plan to transform the McMillan property into a model 21st century community."

Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale said...

Thanks for the small print alert.

Daniel in brookland said...

An artificial neighborhood, built on the failing infrastructure of our city, just keep pushing rush to build!. We need real parks like in upper NW, for real family activities, art, music, performance and gracious vistas and sunsets. See the nomination to National Register of Historic Places just awarded to McMillan Historic District ( ) you will quickly understand that McMillan is a resource of NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE, and it is yours, not VMP. McMillan's preservation is being made a joke by Gray, and a Deputy Mayor former employee of the developer Trammel Crowe, with conflict of interest. VMP has been incapable of the "World Class" re-development they have floundered attempting because Olmsted was a great landscape architect and they aren't , profit is not always the best driver.
We can restore McMillan, expand the Emerald Necklace of parks, trails, woods,, not a lawn in front of a grocery store. We can decide that adaptive re-use,just imagine Eastern Market , skating rinks, carousel, all done in real historic preservation that has value for us. It is or land, and "surplus" is a corruption of democratic rule. The Mayor must be stopped, this is not his land to give away, and waste $319 million subsidy on misguided anti "smart growth" projects.,

We have to decide what has value for us. This has been a closed, insider process, with no voting referendum, no open discussion of all the possibilities, we can take back our government, it is an international embarrassment, including what it is doing to McMillan for 30 years.
The community will restore McMillan, create the gracious , green, healthy environment Senator McMillan planned for you. If this govt. had failed the community any worse, I fear what that would be, it imposed it's will on the people, and made a mess of the critical water and sewer system. We need to preserve McMillan for clean water security, a historic Glen Echo type Eco-Campus for the nation. Paving over a major swath of the city is exactly what caused the disaster, what fool keeps slogging forward, insane destructive development, at any cost.?

Betsy said...

An interesting statement in the 1991 report reads: "Oral interviews may be a more effective way of providing an account of McMillan Park's recreational role." I wonder if any oral histories were taken following this 22 year old report. I am sure there were many more residents, alive and still in Bloomingdale, than there are now, who had memories of what McMillan was like back in the day. There are some recent interviews available at Does anyone have access to any other oral or written histories from residents?

Unknown said...

I raised the small print issue to Anne Corbett, Project Director for Visions McMillan Partners (VMP). In response, she noted that the fine print has been amended to read "interest in" instead of "support for."

Mathew Bader
Bloomingdale Civic Association (BCA) McMillan Advisory Group (MAG) Representative

Daniel in brookland said...

VMP mouthpiece Anne Corbet brings us at McMillan "a model community".
Maybe a model,, but it sure is artificial, and a very corrupt insider deal process that ain't democratic and kinda dictatorial. She certainly doesn't mean the "model villages" that were part of rural pacification in the Vietnam and Guatemalan Civil war, described by wikipedia as

"The term "model villages" refers to the forcible resettlement program for civil war refugees in Guatemala developed by the national government to isolate civilians from guerrillas by confining them to closed garrison towns. The system was based on the Strategic Hamlet Program in Vietnam instituted by the US military and the Diem regime during the earlier parts of the Vietnam War, and has parallels with the village guard system enforced by the Turkish government during the Turkish-Kurdish conflict."

As forced on the DC community as the VMP plan is , I'm sure it's not modelled on the Phoenix Program during the Vietnam Police Action. That is reassuring, but come neighbors they are taking our park land, billions of our dollars, in a "exclusive rights agreement" with no public referendum, a mayor under federal investigation, three council members convicted of felonies, these are the sponsors of this VMP development,,, a model of what ? really?
The restoration of McMillan is your only chance for a gracious big , interesting, public park, not the "creation" of a grudging rectangular lawn in front of a grocery store and 50 buildings, on top of a sewer.Neighbors you must make the choice, not former employees (Jeff Miller)of these VMP corporate developers, running our lives ,change the system! Dump Gray!

TheCommiss said...

MR Wolkoff again misleads the reader to think that it's a corrupt process what he doesn't tell you is that their have been 3 plans over almost 30 years for the site. The current process had 5 RFP's applications submitted 2 of which were rejected because they did not meet the requirements of the RFP, and 3 firms were reviewed by the community i.e. the MAG. MAG selected VMP's based on their presentation and credentials and NCRC also reviewed it and choose the same applicant. Hence not corrupt!
Now we have the new antics of Mr. Bader who recently moved to the area splitting hairs over the words "interest" and "support".

Let's not forget that Washington City Paper gave the group they all support "Save Mcmillan Park" THE 2013 PLEXITY Award for Most misleading slogan: Save McMillan Park
It`s a powerful rallying cry: The city`s about to destroy McMillan Park by allowing a developer to build a mixed-use complex atop it. The only problem is that there is no McMillan Park. For more than a quarter century, the 25-acre site along North Capitol Street has sat vacant; prior to that, it served as a sand filtration facility. There was a perimeter walkway, but since the 1940s, it`s been closed off to the public. (The area across First Street, near the McMillan Reservoir, did serve as more of a park, but now the Army Corps of Engineers doesn`t allow public access.) Still, there`s good news: The development team is planning an eight-acre central park that incorporates the historic silos, plus additional open space and a restored perimeter walk. In order to save a park, you first have to create one.

So join the majority of residents and show your support and CREATE MCMILLAN PARK!

Unknown said...

Mr. Daneker,

You state: "Now we have the new antics of Mr. Bader who recently moved to the area splitting hairs over the words "interest" and "support"."

I emailed Ms. Corbett based on 1) the comment in this blog, and 2) her own assertion that individuals who sign up for project updates (via the website) would not be seen as showing support for the plan. The language in the small print clearly conflicts with that assertion, hence the change in language. The response that I posted comes from Ms. Corbett herself. My reason for posting is so everyone is aware of when they are and are not showing support for the plan.

I've said it before, but I take no issue with anyone who supports the redevelopment plan nor anyone who opposes the plan. I just ask that everything be transparent and not misleading.

Thanks for responding.

Mathew Bader
Bloomingdale Civic Association McMillan Advisory Group Representative

DB said...

Mr. Wolkoff - You are doing a disservice to the residents who read this blog by saying that "This has been a closed, insider process, with no voting referendum, no open discussion of all the possibilities." Perhaps you just moved here recently and have not been a party to the intenser community process surrounding this development? I myself have been to dozens of community meetings over the years noted by VMP and/or local community groups - and been made aware of dozens more. There have been open houses and public salons. There was an open RFP process in which 5 teams were vetted by the community and one was chosen. The MAG was formed to solicit community input. There have been various public hearings - most recently by the Historic Preservation Review Board - which voted unanimously to move the project forward.

It is perfectly acceptable to disagree on what should happen with this land. It is not OK to mislead the public and twist the facts. I suggest anyone who is interested in the facts should attend the next public or community meeting and hear for yourself.

CairaDances said...

I am confused by Matt Bader and the MAG! It has always been my understanding that the role of McMillan Advisory Group Members was to make sure the community was working with developers to get the best development - that you would collect input from the community - make sure this was presented to the developers and vice versa. How can you be an effective member of this group when you so clearly oppose any development? How can you make sure we are getting the best development when you are so busy trying to catch the developers - like you did above - in a silly disclaimer on their email list? It would be excellent for this community if we had neutral people serving this community who could provide objective information and help support positive development. I very much respect your opposition to development. However, it appears that this fact makes you ineligible to represent your community on the MAG.

Bloomingdale Resident said...

I was the one who pointed out the small print in the above email. I received the same email because I had requested updates from VMP and in no way considered that an expression of support. I appreciate Mat taking the time to clarify this point with VMP and I sent him an email thanking him.

Mat was duly elected as a Bloomingdale Civic Association representative to MAG in October. In every communication that I have seen, he has presented the information in a very neutral manner. I applaud him for his work in getting out notifications to the community about upcoming meetings and starting a web site for the MAG.

If anyone thinks that all members of the MAG are neutral, I would have to ask you to take another look. Also, I have no idea what Mat would like to see at McMillan, but I think it is safe to say the he does not "clearly oppose any development".

Thanks, Mat, for all the time you have spent in the last few months, getting information out to the community of this important project. Happy 2014!

Unknown said...


I wholeheartedly agree that the purpose of the MAG, and my role as a representative, is to bring community input before the developers and discuss a middle ground going forward. In this respect, I have tried to solicit input from anyone and everyone (both in support and opposed to the project) in Bloomingdale and try to present opinions of both sides. I am also working on a larger Communications Plan for the MAG to reach out to individuals who do not use the Internet.

In addition to soliciting input from residents, I also am doing my best to make the process and information surrounding the redevelopment project as transparent as possible. I am doing so because I believe it's challenging to make an informed decision without all of the necessary information. Part of this transparency is putting together the MAG website and posting documents that have long not been readily available (e.g. contract with VMP, commitment letter for the MAG, etc). Another part of this transparency effort is trying to clarify whenever I feel that something is misrepresented (e.g. the above post but also the historic district sign tweet).

You are correct that I hold personal feelings about the project as I suspect everyone in the neighborhood does (in support, opposed, grey area, don't care); however, I do my best to present only factual information. To the extent that I misrepresent any information, please do reach out to me ( and let me know. I would also encourage you, and anyone else, to attend a MAG meeting and make your opinion known. It is a good opportunity to hold me accountable as a representative if you believe I am misrepresenting anything.

Thank you for the response.

Mathew Bader (
Bloomingdale Civic Association (BCA) McMillan Advisory Group (MAG) Representative