April 23, 2011 - 12:42 pm

Learn about Howard’s 10 year campus plan on Tuesday

Howard University will present details of its draft campus plan at Tuesday’s meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. The university is required to submit a plan every ten years and the university is currently finishing its draft that it will submit to the Zoning Commission in the coming months. This is your chance to learn about the future of Slowe Hall and Diggs Hall, as well as future dorms on 4th Street and buildings along Georgia Avenue.

Tuesday, April 26 at 7pm in the basement of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church, 623 Florida Ave (enter on U street)

Also on the agenda:

  • Park update— it’s nearly finished!
  • Vote to support the liquor license application of Shaw’s Tavern
  • Nominating committee for the coming civic association elections

All neighbors are encouraged to attend.

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March 22, 2011 - 8:39 am

Dorms, a park, a restaurant, and public safety

Relax

Howard University wants to add 1,300 beds on 4th Street, a new restaurant is coming to 6th St and Florida Avenue, the neighborhood watch seeks your input, and the conclusion of park construction are all agenda items at tonight’s Civic Association meeting.

The meeting is open to the public and all neighbors are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, March 22 at 7 pm
Basement of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church
(enter on U Street)

The civic association will also take open comments from neighbors who wish bring up anything of neighborhood concern.

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March 20, 2011 - 8:28 am

Park naming bill

The Park at LeDroit nearing completion

We reported earlier that the LeDroit Park Civic Association voted to request that the city christen our new park The Park at LeDroit.  In December our councilmember, Jim Graham (D – Ward 1), introduced a bill to make it official.  The bill went nowhere and since the council session ended just a few weeks later, the bill had to be reintroduced per council rules.

The Committee of the Whole will eventually hold a hearing and vote on the naming bill.  Since the name is not controversial we expect it to pass easily, especially since the name has the imprimatur of the LeDroit Park Civic Association.

We hope the bill passes in time for the park opening in April.

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November 29, 2010 - 12:33 am

The Park at LeDroit

At Tuesday’s Civic Association meeting, residents voted on naming recommendations for the park being built on the site of the former Gage-Eckington School.  Only the DC Council has the authority to name parks, but we have it on good authority that the Council will strongly consider the Association’s recommendation.  The following three names received the most votes and will be recommended to the Council:

  1. The Park at LeDroit
  2. Gage-Eckington Park
  3. Unity Park

The park is set to be complete early next year.

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November 17, 2010 - 8:52 am

Name the New Park

Park construction is underway, but when the park is ready in the coming months, what should we call it? The ultimate decision is up to the DC Council, but Councilmember Jim Graham (D – Ward 1) has assured us that the Council will strongly consider any three names that neighbors finally settle on.

You can submit your suggestions online. Anyone may submit names and you may submit as many as you like. The LeDroit Park Civic Association will gather the names and allow the public to vote for the names. The top three winners will be forwarded to the Council.

What would you like to call the park?

If we want to honor notable residents, here are a few famous figures from the neighborhood’s history:

  • Walter Washington – 408 T Street – First elected mayor of DC.
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar – 321 U Street – Notable poet.
  • Mary Church Terrell – 326 T Street – Notable civil rights activist.
  • Oscar De Priest – 419 U Street – First black Congressman elected since Reconstruction.

We have excluded Duke Ellington since he lived here for only one year and since he already has several civic works dedicated to him.  We also excluded living people since their histories are still being written.  We also left out Anna J. Cooper since she already has the circle park named after her.

One other deceased person who might merit distinction is Theresa Brown, who died in 2009.  Ms. Brown was instrumental in establishing the LeDroit Park Historic District and protecting the neighborhood’s unique architecture from the wrecking ball.  Without her, the neighborhood we know today may have been turned into parking lots.

Most parks operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation end their names with “Recreation Center”,  a suffix with as much charm as the tax code.  Perhaps Playground, Gardens, Park, or Field would set off our park from other projects.

What would you like to name the park?

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November 08, 2010 - 8:46 am

Sharing in LeDroit Park

Pick a Bike

Construction is still moving along at the park on the site of the former Gage-Eckington School. In addition to the dog park, playground equipment, picnic tables, and field, there are two more amenities on their way to the site: bike sharing and car sharing. DDOT’s assistance in integrating both car sharing spaces and its own Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) system is a good example of collaboration between different city agencies.

ZipCar is a subscription service that places cars throughout several cities worldwide and rents the cars to members by the hour. The rental fee includes the cost of gas and insurance and each car has a reserved “home” parking space to which it must be returned at the end of the reservation. These spaces are in public streets, public alleys and in private parking lots and garages.

We occasionally rent ZipCars when we need to haul heavy items or need to travel to transit-inaccessible destinations. This arrangement is far cheaper than owning a car and relieves us of the normal hassles of car ownership, e.g. parking, maintenance, washing, fuel costs, and insurance costs.

CaBi is another subscription service and is a joint venture between DDOT and Arlington County. CaBi bikes are parked at numerous racks throughout DC and Arlington and more are on the way. A member inserts his key into the bike dock and the bike unlocks. The member has 30 minutes to ride the bike for free before returning it to any dock in DC or Arlington.  CaBi is perfect for short one-way trips and we routinely use the CaBi station at Seventh and T Streets to commute to work downtown.  It’s also useful for occasional trips to Whole Foods or Dupont Circle, which are just minutes away by bike.

Both bike sharing and car sharing benefit residents who don’t even use the services. The existence of these services reduces the pressure to own a car and thus reduces the parking demand placed on our streets. For those who would live car-less regardless of these services, it provides us with two more mobility options located close to home.  Bike sharing and car sharing are welcome additions to the park site.

Photo: “Pick a Bike” by M. V. Jantzen

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November 02, 2010 - 8:46 am

LeDroit Park from the Sky

What were you doing on Sunday, August 29, 2010? If you were outside shortly after 1 pm, chances are Google Maps caught you on camera from a satellite.

Google recently updated its satellite imagery of the Washington area and the new photos illustrate just how much the region has changed. The most noticeable difference in LeDroit Park is the disappearance of the Gage-Eckington School and the establishment of the Common Good City Farm.

For a listing of other notable changes visible from the sky, have a look at our article at Greater Greater Washington.

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September 26, 2010 - 11:39 pm

Civic Association Meets Tuesday at 7pm

Gingerbread on the Cooper House

The LeDroit Park Civic Association will meet on Tuesday, September 28 at 7pm in the basement of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church (623 Florida Avenue NW – enter on U St). All neighbors are welcome and encouraged to attend.

During first week of September, we saw groundbreaking ceremonies for both the park and the Howard Theatre. Construction managers for both projects will present at the Civic Association meeting to detail the construction timeline, address neighborhood questions, and discuss job opportunities for residents.

Also learn about the upcoming LeDroit Park Community Day and the Howard University Homecoming, both set for late October.

Don’t forget to renew your annual membership (or join for the first time) if you haven’t already. Dues are $15 per household ($5 for seniors). You can even pay online!

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September 01, 2010 - 8:25 am

Three Projects Break Ground This Week

We’re back from our half-month vacation and LeDroit Park and Shaw are about to see some construction action starting today.

Wednesday, September 1 – 10:30 am

Just when we thought construction on the park on the site of the old Gage-Eckington School would begin, along came the parks scandal last October. Then in March, Harry Thomas Jr. (D – Ward 5) tried to prevent the mayor from appropriating money to the park project; he then reversed himself after an avalanche of constituent criticism.  The new contract was ready to go until Councilmember Marion Barry (D – Ward 8) put a hold on the contract in late July.  Mr. Barry’s delay procedure just expired and the mayor’s office will host a groundbreaking ceremony today at 10:30 am at Third and Elm Streets.

3:00 pm

Over in Shaw, the two block site currently occupied by Giant and a crumbling old market façade is about to start its journey to become a vibrant mixed-use development.  Join the Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), Mayor Adrian Fenty (D), Council Chairman Vincent Gray (D), Councilmember Jack Evans (D – Ward 2) and Councilmember Kwame Brown (D – at large) for the groundbreaking.

Thursday, September 2 – 10:45 am

After years of planning and promises, construction on the Howard Theatre begins in earnest.  Join the developer, ANC Commissioner Myla Moss, and other notables for the official groundbreaking.

We’re relieved to see these long-promised projects finally moving forward to construction.

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July 27, 2010 - 8:52 pm

Park Quid Pro Quo

Back in March, LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale residents mobilized to prevent Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. (D – Ward 5) from blocking the transfer of funding to the park project here in LeDroit Park.  Our hard work paid off: Mr. Thomas reversed his resolution in the face of an avalanche of angry calls and emails, a good number coming from his constituents in Bloomingdale.

Now Councilmember Marion Barry (D – Ward 8) has inexplicably placed a hold on the new park contract, possibly delaying construction by at least 45 days.  When reached by the City Paper, Mr. Barry responded,

The Gage-Eckington contract was one of those not authorized by the council, not voted on. The mayor in his shenanigans sent it over the council, and I have the responsibility to protect the taxpayers’ money…There’s no money available, and there’s no authority to do this.

Mr. Barry’s statement contains a half-true and a lie. This current contract is being submitted to the Council for passive approval, which is required of city contracts over $1 million.  If the Council does not act on it within a certain period of time, the contract is approved.  This is common method of review since the Council does not have the time to vote explicitly on every city contract.  So, yes, this contract with Keystone Plus Construction Corporation has not been voted on, but few contracts of this size are.

More distressing is that Mr. Barry is absolutely wrong to state that the money isn’t available and that the mayor doesn’t have the authority to build this park.  On March 2, Mr. Barry and the rest of the Council voted unanimously to approve the mayor’s request to re-appropriate $1.5 million for this park:

Sec. 2. (a) Pursuant to section 47-363 of the District of Columbia Official Code, the Mayor transmitted to the Council on February 19, 2010, a reprogramming request of $1.5 million from the capital budget authority and allotment from the Department of Parks and Recreation and the District Department of Transportation to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

(b) The Council approves the $1.5 million reprogramming request.

Sec. 3. The Secretary to the Council shall transmit a copy of this resolution, upon its adoption, to the Office of the Mayor.

Sec. 4. This resolution shall take effect immediately. (our emphasis)

Facts are stubborn things, Mr. Barry.

Mr. Barry’s new-found scrutiny (obstruction, really) of city projects is especially ironic considering he doled out d0-nothing city contracts to his girlfriend and when questioned on the conflict of interest, responded to the Post,

“You all think it is inappropriate to hire a girlfriend. I don’t think it is. In fact, there is no law against it.” When asked whether he would hire another woman he becomes romantically involved with, Barry said, “Unless the law changes, why not?”

The Council’s fair-weather watchdog is likely angling for a quid pro quo from the rest of the Council before he withdraws his resolution.  Perhaps he’s holding out for the Council to cut him a deal he can’t get by any other means than logrolling.

Or he may simply want attention, since his unanimous Council censure and ejection from committee positions has spared the city from much of his legislative influence.

But even if Mr. Barry’s stubbornly refuses to withdraw his disapproval, his huffing and puffing will be for naught since he likely doesn’t have the votes to defeat the contract.

Several civic groups in LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale are turning up the pressure on Mr. Barry and the Council.  He may not have realized what he has provoked.

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