Sunday, March 29, 2009

truxton circle mentioned in washington post

john kelly, who writes the answer man column in the post on sundays, discussed meridian hill park on march 22nd, and ended up mentioning truxton circle in passing.

a reader wrote back in response and asked for a little more detail on truxton circle today, and kelly responded with a little more background about both the circle and the neighborhood. check it out.

Friday, March 27, 2009

road closures around rhode island avenue ne?

View Larger Map

thanks to an email from debbie smith to the eckington listserv, i was made aware of information from the march 10th informational meeting of the THINK rhode island avenue great streets initiative.

you've probably heard about the district's great streets initiative, so i won't belabor the point by going too deeply into it here (you can click through and read more if you wish), but this is part of the city's plans to bring our commercial corridors back to live with new retail, housing, and transportation choices.

the rhode island avenue plan is in its infancy, so i just wanted to point out one interesting fact that caught my eye. part of the reimagining of parts of the street could lead to the closing of short block of surrounding streets. you can click on the link below the above map to open it up in a larger window.

this street closure doesn't strike me as a bad thing. some of these streets (like brentwood road) serve as little more than shortcuts that allow drivers to cut a few hundred feet off their trip through the area. they break some of these blocks up into small pieces of land hat are almost too small to build on.

some might argue that this could lead to the loss of green space along the corridor, as many of these small parcels are open land right now. there would be truth to this, but these parcels aren't serving as parks right now either...some are just weed-strewn empty lots, while others (like the northwest corner of 14th and rhode island) could be very nice parks if properly cared for.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

one of the 10 best local blogs! (UPDATED april 7th)

i just have to toot my own horn! this month's washingtonian magazine includes their list of the 10 best local blogs in the DC area. six of those blogs are located here in the district, and bloomingdale (for now) managed to snag one of those spots! i'm truly humbled and proud as hell to to be recognized by washingtonian for what's been a labor of love these past two-and-a-half years!

unfortunately, this article isn't available on the web (at least, not that i can find), but you can see the full list on page 48 of the april 2009 issue of washingtonian magazine.

UPDATE: this link will take you to the article, with the segment on local blogs on the fourth page.

marriott progess

the last time i posted anything about the marriott down by the new york avenue metro station, the building was still just a concrete frame. as you can see, it's nearly done. workers were setting the curb in front of the entrance on 2nd street ne this weekend.

national marathon in the neighborhood

here are a couple of photos that i took while watching the national marathon runners on north capitol street saturday morning. i saw mayor fenty, but the picture i took didn't come out well. guess i'll have to try again next year!

440 rhode island avenue nw update

last time i showed you photos from 440 rhode island avenue, the above-ground framing was just beginning. well, the building has topped out, and is moving along at a very fast clip. here are some pictures taken today. take note of the textured block on the sides, with a couple strips of color included. it looks like the building is going to mimic a set of four traditional rowhouses along the street. i really like the way it looks so far!

new trees in bloomingdale—here's hoping this isn't all of it

in the last two weeks, new trees have been planted in empty treeboxes around bloomingdale. while this is a great sight to see, i'm concerned that the city is done with out neighborhood and has moved on to other locations without finishing the job.

look at the above picture, taken on 1st street just north of seaton place. to the left, you can see a new tree planted and mulched, ready to go. to the right, you can see a treebox with one of the decorative treebox guards that was installed last summer. there's an orange spot painted on the curb in front of this treebox, signifying a space where ddot intends to plant a tree. the question is why wasn't this tree planted at the same time as the one to the left? did they run out of trees? did someone change their mind and put the tree further down the street? it seems silly to install a treebox guard and then plant a new tree on the outside of it.

i plan to email someone at the urban forestry administration to express my concerns. hopefully i'll be able to do a follow-up post later this week.

below is a view of these two spaces looking south towards seaton place.

below is another newly planted tree on the 100 block of seaton place. there is an empty treebox behind this one, but it doesn't have the orange dot that signifies a tree will be planted there. does this mean this treebox will remain empty? there's no obvious reason why that would be so.

picutred below is another empty treebox (on seaton place). it has the orange dot painted on the curb, but nothing is in the treebox so far.

you can see the space where that missing tree should go in the photograph below. it's between the tree in the foreground and the small twig of a tree in the background, near the streetlight.

speaking of twigs, some of these new trees are TINY! usually, the trees i've seen planted by the city are at least 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, and about 8 to 10 feet tall, but there are two trees on seaton place near 2nd street that are about 4 feet tall with almost no branches and are about .5 inch in diameter.

i'm concerned that these trees are too small to ever survive having branches ripped off by kids, being hit by car doors, and generally surviving in a harsh urban environment. time will tell, but i believe ddot planted trees that are too small here. one of them is pictured below.

i'm excited to see that we're getting the new trees we were promised here in bloomingdale, but i can't help but feel less-than-satisfied by what i've seen so far. here's hoping i'm jumping the gun by passing judgment on this spring's plantings!

outdoor seating available at windows café

last july, i wrote about the application for outdoor seating at windows café at 1st and rhode island. the seating is finally outside as of the middle of this past week, under green umbrellas on the 1st street side of the store. now that the weather is warming up, you can enjoy your coffee and paper outside. here's hoping for even more outdoor seating and socializing this year in bloomingdale!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

update on the road that doesn't exist

a couple weeks ago, i posted about hoover road, a short street in the woodridge neighborhood that appeared to not be in the district's emergency dispatcher database.

a couple comments on that post led to a few emails between myself and district employees that were able to verify that the road does in fact exist in the city's GIS database. here's the direct quote i got from a city employee:

The CAD map contains the 3400 block of Hoover Rd NE. The DCGIS map has this block listed as the 3300 block. I extended the range of the CAD map to cover the 3300 block as well as the 3400 block. With that said, we can dispatch to a location without the street number. I couldn’t speculate as to what occurred in the linked blog.
so, it looks to me like things have been at least synched up here, so the correct block is listed in both places. the fact that the dispatcher couldn't find the street most likely means that dispatcher simply didn't know what she was doing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

update on streetscape around the howard theater

about 15 months ago, there was a meeting regarding the streetscape redesign around the howard theater. there was a vocal contingent at the meeting unhappy with the sculptor chosen to create the centerpiece of duke ellington plaza at the corner of florida avenue and t street (across from the ledroit park gate).

tonight (march 9th) there was a follow-up meeting at the dc housing finance agency (815 florida avenue nw). the streetscape design has been updated, and ddot engineers showed community memebers some of the details of the current plan.

to summarize, the streetscape, which includes sidewalks, light fixtures, other "furniture" (such as bike racks, garbage cans, and parking meters), and wheelchair cuts at intersections will be replaced on seventh street from n street north to florida avenue. seventh street will be milled and repaved along this stretch.

t street, between 7th and florida avenue, will be completely rebuilt to a depth of 20 inches. the utilities (including a water main) will be replaced. the street (including it's accompanying sidewalks) and ellington plaza will be paved with concrete paving blocks (essentially bricks). benches, planting boxes, a sculpture, and a large signature tree will grace the plaza.

wiltberger street, from s street to t street, will be reconstructed by lowering the street a few inches. this will finally allow separation between the street surface and the narrow sidewalks lining wiltberger. in addition, proper drainage will finally be included on wiltberger street, hopefully leading to an end to flooding that plagues the houses on this block.

alleys on the west and south sides of the howard theater, as well as one behind the dunbar theater building that connects t street to florida avenue, will also be repaved with new red brick pavement.

check out the photos below. clicking on each one will allow you to get a better feel for what the design of the area will look like. of special note is the color of the paving blocks.

the sidewalks along 7th street will include stripes of blue block that run perpendicular to the street at systematic random intervals, to give the street a sense of "rhythm". random block with differing shades of gray will add interest to the area along and around t street in front of the howard theater.

here's a close-up of the design along t street. take special note of the dark line of block running through this block of t street. instead of striping a bike lane, the bike lane will be delineated by the use of darker block. in my opinion, this looks very cool.

the slides shown to the audience at the presentation should be available at this link within a few days.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

curb cuts in other neighborhoods

anc5c will be considering a final vote on a curb cut on the unit block of seaton place nw here in bloomingdale at their next meeting, scheduled for march 17th.

anc2e just got turning down a curb cut request for a home in georgetown. while the situation is not the same as here in bloomingdale, i thought it was worth noting that the same subject is being debated around the city. there are some salient points made by the blogger at georgetown metropolitan.

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?

congress guts our gun laws? how about we mess with utah?

i just wanted to pass this along, because i thought it was sneaky-brilliant.

from cary silverman (who ran against jack evans in last year's ward 2 race), a way to exact revenge if a certain senator from nevada insists on continuing to meddle in local affairs:

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton shows some chutzpah and introduces an amendment to the House version of the bill to repeal all of Utah's strict alcoholic beverage laws to show how ridiculous it is for Congress to meddle in local affairs.
i love it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

petition to get nextbus up and running

(short version of this post: sign the petition insisting that nextbus is implemented on the wmata bus lines!)

if you're not familiar with nextbus, let me give you some quick background. nextbus is a service employed by many transit systems in the united states that allows bus riders to know exactly when a bus is going to arrive at a location. now, you might be thinking, "that's what schedules are for," but anyone who rides the buses in DC knows that they very often do not stick to the posted schedules.

this is the beauty of nextbus, or at least it will be. when fully implemented, the service will allow anyone with a computer or a smart phone to pull up a bus line (like the g8), select a stop (like 1st and rhode island nw), and find out when the next bus will show up (5 minutes? 20 minutes? never??!?) instead of standing out on the corner forever (in the cold, or rain) waiting for a bus that never seems to be coming, you'll be able to time when you leave the house so you can show up at the stop just before the bus gets there, saving you time and headache.

wmata even started using the service on an experimental basis on the 90s buses back in 2007. they abruptly pulled the plug on the experiment when someone decided that the service wasn't accurate enough. it's too bad, because the service was actually accurate enough to be worth using. it was far better than relying on the schedules that were never followed.

some folks realized that the service was still available, though. you just had to go through a back-door on the nextbus website to find it. unfortunately, after some publicity on new columbia heights and dcist, wmata and nextbus shut down the back door.

before the day was out, another back door was discovered. this time, it was publicized earlier today by greater greater washington. within hours, that back door was plugged as well.

it's clear that wmata and nextbus do not want the public to have access to this service until they believe it's ready to be released. the problem is that the timeframe that wmata initially proposed has not been followed. we, the bus riders of the washington, dc area have been waiting a long time for this service, and it seems like it's never coming.

so, today, new columbia heights has started a petition asking wmata and nextbus to get nextbus up and running as soon as possible. you can sign the petition here, and i strongly encourage you to do so!

wmata and nextbus need to know that there is a real clamoring for this service, and they need to realize that its implementation will only lead to increased revenue for them (since the bottom line is clearly the most important thing here, right?!?), as it will make catching a bus an easier task, leading more people sitting on the fence to realize that it's easy and cheap to catch the bus to get around town.

so click on that link and sign the petition! what are you waiting for!?

Monday, March 2, 2009

mcmillan filtration site photo tour

since we haven't talked about the mcmillan site much lately, i just thought i'd keep it fresh in people's minds with a post that includes a few photos from a friend who was lucky enough to take one of the guided tours of the site a few years ago. i hope they'll be having another one of these sometime this year, and i actually get a chance to go!

here are the photos from jessica hanff on flickr.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

a road that doesn't exist

many times on various DC blogs and listservs i have read about people having difficulties dealing with emergency dispatchers.

when calling about an emergency on ridge street NW (a one-block street between 4th and 5th streets and M and N streets), residents have complained that dispatchers are convinced that they're talking about either riggs road (a major artery in northeast DC near the fort totten metro station) or riggs street (a short street that runs from 13th to 19th streets NW, with gaps). clearly, dispatchers are either hearing things incorrectly or are not as familiar with DC geography as we might hope they would be.

that said, what happens if your road doesn't exist? now, i don't mean you're making the road up, of course. i mean, what if the district, for whatever reason, didn't have your road in their database. for all intents and purposes, you might as well be floating somewhere in space (or at least over the river in virginia). well, that exact scenario played out last november in the district's woodridge neighborhood. here's a note that was posted to the brookland listserv:

Hello, neighbors -

I just had a frustrating experience with 911. I'm on Monroe Street, next to the narrow Hoover Road that connects Monroe to Rhode Island. I witnessed a man punching a woman as they argued their way down Hoover, and immediately called 911, only to have the dispatcher tell me that Hoover Road did not exist. Well, there's a street sign and stretch of pavement that tells me it does, in fact, exist. She was extremely professional and as helpful as she could be, explaining that she couldn't dispatch to a location that isn't on their system. We managed to get directions worked out, and an officer dispatched, but by the time I got off the phone with the operator, the couple had moved out of my line of sight, I guess on to Rhode Island Avenue. No word on if the police ever made it to them, although I'm going to hope for the best.

This particular instance, as disturbing as it was, did shed light on the fact that this Hoover Road is invisible to emergency services. Does anybody have any idea of how to get it on their map? We get all sorts of activity on it, ranging from public intoxication to possible drug deals to prostitution activity. Don't even get me started on drive-through trash dumping. It would be nice to actually have it show up when the need to call 911 arises. Any ideas? ANC folks?

Kyle (on Monroe)
here's the road that kyle's talking about (from google maps' street view):

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

hoover road is a short 2 blocks long, with rhode island avenue at its south and monroe street at its north end. it's basically an alley that has a name. unfortunately, that "alley" doesn't appear to have made it into the database that dispatchers use to send police, fire, and medical personnel to the scene of an emergency.

there was never any follow-up on the listserv to kyle's post. does 911 now have hoover road in their database? i don't know, but i'd like to find out, and i'd like to hope that they're doing a thorough review of their data to make sure it's flawless. in potential life-or-death situations, we can ask for nothing less.