Wednesday, March 4, 2009

update on government agency hypocrisy

last week, i posted about the district department of the environment moving into the old gage-eckington elementary school in ledroit park. i thought it was interesting (and maybe a touch hypocritical) that the department of the environment was having trouble with the site because there wasn't enough parking.

well, fast forward to a message on yesterday's ledroit park listserv by anc 1b01 commissioner myla moss:


Yesterday LDPCA President Jeff Herron, Councilmember Jim Graham and I met with Mayor Fenty and Deputy Mayor Neil Albert regarding the reuse of the Gage-Eckington Building. The Office of Property Management (OPM) conducted an assessment and determined that to move the DC Department of Environment into the current Gage building would cost $18 million to properly retrofit the site. In addition, current parking space would not accommodate the needs of DCDE. The Mayor determined the retrofit costs to be excessive and a waste of funding for a short term project. OPM is identifying a new location for DCDE. Additionally, OPM has a negotiated contract with Common Good City Farm (CGCF) which allows CGCF to continue its plan to grow and provide fresh produce.

The Mayor noted that the administration rushed to judgment in identifying and agreeing to a short-term plan. Moreover, he conceded that the means by which the community learned of the decision to revisit the agreed upon plan could have been handled in a better way. Current thinking about a short term use of the site would be to demolish/raise the current structure and replace it with green space, playground, and dog park. This proposal would also be short term ultimately the Administration is considering mixed use primarily residential for the long term. A housing proposal was identified by the Administration during early discussions with the community. The Mayor believes the entire process to build a long-term housing project will take about 3-5 years.

According to Deputy Mayor Neil Albert the Gage site is not currently listed for an RFP. Both the Mayor and Mr. Albert stated that CGCF will continue to operate while a playground, green space is being is built. We asked how much funding will be allotted for the park, we asked if the Administration would consider another short term plan. the Mayor stated funding would be identified and appropriated. There was no reply regarding identification of a short term tenant. The Senior Wellness Center will be built at the original planned site on Georgia Ave. & Newton, NW.

It was noted by Councilman Graham that safety issues are a major concern with a open park given the high criminal activity on V and W Streets. The other issues for the park would be commitment by the City to keep it clean and properly maintained.

The only commitment at this time is the operations of CGCF all other items are open for discussion. At the request of the Mayor we will meet next week for further deliberations.


Myla Moss
well, it looks like the parking conundrum for the district's department of the environment will be moving on to somewhere else in town. perhaps they could move to a more metro-accessible site, removing the need for a lot of parking?


Brett said...

Perhaps the DC Department of Environment has a fleet of vehicles that they use for things like hauling boats and other equipment to monitor are rives and streams; make site visits to clear landmines and mustard gas in deep Northwest - probably drill rigs and armored cars; and other mundane Environmental operations. When not in use, these things have to go somewhere. Parking is probable more a matter of agency operations than a convenience for its commuting employees and visitors...

Richard Layman said...

I call this a version of intra-city sprawl. DC Govt. shouldn't be allowed to locate agencies in locations that aren't in the walkingshed (see my stuff on the mobilityshed) of a subway station. For reasons of agglomeration economies, agencies should be required to be close to each other, instead of far apart from each other.

Melissa of {craftgasm} said...

It looks to me (from viewing it through Live Maps) that the building is in decent shape as it is; why would they raze it and waste the materials used to build it, just to build a housing project with those same kind of materials? Wouldn't it be cheaper and more environmentally efficient to make the building as it is now into affordable housing? I've seen some excellent, low-cost apartment buildings made from old stock school buildings.