Saturday, February 23, 2019

Daniel Wolkoff: "DC government wastes McMillan Park to impose massive over-development"

Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2019 4:51 PM
To: Yahoogroups
Subject: [WARD5]
DC govt. wastes McMillan Park to impose massive over-development  

Daniel Goldon Wolkoff
McMillan Park Conservancy
1231 Randolph Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017
Tel: 202-232-8391

Submission to National Association of Olmsted Parks Feb. 22, 2019 

                                     FIELD NOTES

The Community Struggle to Save McMillan Park Washington DC

Daniel Goldon Wolkoff

The legacy of segregation continues to impact American cities. In Washington, D..C., sections west of 16th St enjoy five times more parks and green-space than predominantly African-American eastern sections. In upper NW parks are in walking distance to every household, they are wooded hillsides and stream valleys, manicured historic civil war fortifications, horse and bike trails and the Olmsted landscaped “Jewel of The National Park System”, 1500 acre, Rock Creek Park, and even that had been segregated.

Washington’s only integrated park, designed by The Olmsted firm as well, McMillan Reservoir Park was called “our beach, our paradise” by the eastern section’s minority community.


                                                     (photo of McMillan Park Ivy)

At the turn of the 19th Century, Senator James McMillan brought to Washington enlightened designers and engineers from the wildly successful Columbian Exposition. McMillan Park turned out to be “the omega collaboration amongst the cadre chiefly responsible for popularizing the City Beautiful Movement.”

The 113 acre hybrid clean water utility and outdoor public recreation green-space, that eliminated water –borne diseases, was landscaped by The Olmsted firm, and when the original fresh water Filtration site was decommissioned, Federal GSA sold that 25 acres  to The District of Columbia for $9.3 million, in 1987.

In what may have likely been efforts to discourage African-American families from buying homes in the area, the park remained fenced off after fear of sabotage ended after WWII. 

                                 (Photo of Ben Franklin Bloomingdale elder at fence)

The District government cut down hundreds of trees and “our paradise” was purposely erased from local memory. Even when designated historic, the Office of Historic Preservation did not enhance, maintain, improve or give access to the site, though required to by DC’s Historic Preservation Act.

Over 20 years later HPO’s architectural historian, Kim Williams, nominated the site to The National Register of Historic Places. 

Since the $9.3 million purchase, the site and that fortune has been totally wasted, no public access permitted and even neighborhood group’s tours have been terminated. A massive development of high rise offices, dense housing and retail are planned by development conglomerate Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), actually partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development..


Parks and green-space desperately needed, community efforts to save McMillan Park from massive urbanization include court appeals to stop demolition of 20 acres of underground masonry arched sand filtration cells, perfect for adaptive re-use.

                                               (Photo of underground filtration cells)

Federally assigned deed covenants require all work on the site to conform to The Secretary of Interior’s Historic Preservation Standards, which VMP and DC government are trying to circumvent, destroying the park to build their massive McMillan Town Center, and transferring public ownership to the private corporation.

Our community groups 25 year efforts won an Appeal in DC courts, vacating the zoning approvals. All alternative plans have been ignored including this world class site plan by Catholic University Planning Professor, Miriam Gusevich.


Cynical attempts to suppress our efforts, VMP and the Deputy Mayor hired a Baltimore PR firm to run an “Astroturf” campaign, characterizing all opposition as a lunatic fringe with a “national agenda.” Although public opinion is heavily weighted against the development they sought to  “neutralize opposition”, “provide continuous political cover to elected officials” and “shift community dialogue and general perception to that of majority local support of VMP plans”. 

We believe a violation of our first amendment rights to petition the government for redress of grievances. We have little in the way of resources and hope to gain support from the Olmsted parks community, especially legal assistance,

please contact Daniel Goldon Wolkoff ,  202-232-8391 and                                        
The Mayor and DC City Council have literally written the law as they go along, determined to demolish the Olmsted Park and bring traffic and unworkable mass transit demand to this already dense section of D.C. Our most experienced preservationist says “you don’t build condos on an Olmsted Park”.


Unknown said...

Has there been any recent updates that we should be aware of?

Daniel in brookland said...

Armed Forces retirement home is putting out requests for development plans, I believe, this Spring.
That 80 acre development plan, with more office space than The Pentagon, the world's largest office building, is much larger, and much more housing etc, than VMP/DMPED/JAMIE FONTAINE 25 acre development plan for McMillan Sand Filtration Site.

So if North Capitol has 38,000 auto trips per day(DDOT 2013) and the McMillan Town Center,
"The Monstrosity on Michigan Avenue" will bring 31,000 auto trips per day( so that is 69,000 auto trips per day), and add probably an additional 31,000 auto trips a day from a much bigger development monstrosity, just a bit North at AFRH. WHAT IS THE TRAFFIC ON NORTH CAP GOING TO LOOK LIKE? 100,000 auto trips per day????
And VMP expects 24,000 mass transit users with no mass transit. McMillan Town center will be the 14th largest Metro Station with out a Station!
Then this pretty tiny decking will do little, when a real multi mile corridor decking, with Monorail to AFRH from NOMA, would eliminate the need for cars, and serve Washington Hospital Center and Vets, and Children's National Medical Center.
Bowser has put aside $40 million for the initial costs of small decking over polluted 6 lane road, while the Washington Post estimate a few years ago for restoring McMillan Park historically at less than $40 million. I believe with student and youth training in the building trades at MCMPK, it would cost less.
McMillan Park needs to be saved, RESCUED from super - urbanized mediocrity by VMP/DMPED and the Monorail would of course serve McMillan Park, again not requiring autos to visit and enjoy it.

Good urban planning brings in mass transit before massive development, but we do not have urban planners at OP. Their mission statement is "to promote development", doesn't mention urban planning, obviously.

Update on the legal issues, our potential new case, we seek close in Bloomingdale residents for Co-plaintiff on court claim demonstrating illegality of VMP/DMPED plan. please email Daniel Goldon Wolkoff at for more information.