April 14, 2010 - 10:19 am

Park Design Meeting Tonight

The city is in the process of finalizing the design for the new park, but there are still opportunities for public input.

Come out tonight at 6:30 to see what the latest proposal has to offer in terms of pavement materials, benches, pavilions, and playground equipment.

April 14th at 6:30 pm
St. George’s Church
Second and U Streets NW

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March 02, 2010 - 12:05 am

Urgent: The Thomas U-Turn

After last year’s contracting controversy simmered down, Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. (D – Ward 5), assured residents that he would not block the park project in LeDroit Park.  He wrote in an email:

I would like to confirm that I am in support of moving forward with this project and supportive of the steps and work that the LeDroit Park community and many members from the Bloomingdale neighborhood have taken to support the Ledroit Park Project and will commit to ensuring that I will continue to support a contract process that moves this project forward and ensures its completion. (our emphasis)

It seems a councilmember is entitled to change his mind.

Mr. Thomas will introduce a bill tomorrow in the Committee on Libraries, Parks & Recreation, a committee he chairs, to prevent the mayor’s office from allotting $1.5 million for the park.

We’re not sure why Mr. Thomas has changed his mind, but residents are encouraged to call him or email him to ask why and to express the importance of the park.  If the site remains a mud pit in November, voters in Bloomingdale (Ward 5) may remember that on their way to the polls.

Harry Thomas, Jr. (D – Ward 5)
Committee chair
hthomas@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8028
David A. Catania (I – at large) dcatania@dccouncil.us (202) 724-7772
Kwame R. Brown (D – at large) kbrown@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8174
Phil Mendelson (D – at large) pmendelson@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8064
Yvette Alexander (D – Ward 7) yalexander@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8068
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February 23, 2010 - 7:51 am

The Restoration

Good news on the park front.  Mr. Jose Sousa from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) announced at the civic association meeting last night that Councilmember Jim Graham (D – Ward 1) insisted that DMPED restore the $200,000 in cuts to the park construction budget for LeDroit Park.

As we reported last month, the deputy mayor’s office had reduced the budget for the park from $1.7 million to $1.5 million as the result of citywide belt-tightening.  The remaining $200,000 will be restored legislatively to be paid in the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2010.  Though the park is still set to open in September, Mr. Sousa said that the remaining $200,000 could be spent right away in October to close up loose ends on the project.

In a month or so the design team will host a meeting to discuss additional design details for the park.  We’ll keep you informed.

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January 27, 2010 - 5:42 pm

See You In September

At the Civic Association meeting last night, a representative from the mayor’s office presented news on the park contract.

Jacqui Glover notified the assembled residents that the budget for the park has been reduced from $1.7 million to $1.5 million. The city would adjust the design accordingly by eliminating the water feature, removing a picnic shelter, and by reducing the number of benches and light fixtures. Other than that, the design is supposed to remain the same.

The design modifications will be finalized by the beginning of April, after which the mayor’s office will solicit bids, and— this is new!— submit the winning contract to the City Council for review as required by law.

Though Ms. Glover is confident that the park will open in September, some in the audience were skeptical.  Nonetheless, our fingers are crossed.

Read our previous posts on the park as the contracting saga unfolded.

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January 08, 2010 - 9:43 pm

A New Park This Fall

Gage-Eckington Demolition

Our ANC Commissioner Myla Moss (ANC1B01) reported that the our forthcoming park is back on track, despite the contracting fracas that erupted in October.

The contract for the park will be rebid expeditiously and submitted to the Council for approval as required by law.  If all goes well from this point, the park will open in September.

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December 17, 2009 - 5:23 pm

Rebidding the Park

Councilmember Jim Graham (D – Ward 1) informed his constituents via email this afternoon that the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development will rebid the construction contract for the park project in LeDroit Park.

The project is back on track, but the rebidding process will necessitate a delay of several months.

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December 17, 2009 - 12:23 am

Park Contract Shuffle

Gage-Eckington Demolition

The D.C. Council voted unanimously to reorganize the controversial park construction contracts.  Ten of the contracts will be managed by the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, which mainly handles school reconstruction.  The office is highly regarded as efficient and reliable.

Three of the contracts, including the one for the park in LeDroit Park, will be handled by the Department of Parks and Recreation and not the Housing Authority as originally planned.

Banneker Ventures, which had received all of the original contracts, is threatening to sue the city for a breach of contract.  D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles believes Banneker has strong legal footings upon which to build a case; the Council is not so sure (or doesn’t care).

Councilmember Jim Graham (D – Ward 1) believes the three contracts directed to the Dept. of Parks and Recreation may be able to go forward as originally planned because of the more open nature of their original approval.

Perhaps our local mud pit will open next year as verdant as planned after all.

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November 17, 2009 - 7:18 pm

Gage-Eckington Razing Featured on Fox 5

The new park for LeDroit Park is one of the halted park construction contracts, but demolition work is still going on.  Fox 5 aired a story this evening on our not-quite-stalled park project.

Resident Hugh Boyle and his grandsons are shown observing the construction work while Maria Fyodorova, heavily involved in the planning of the dog park, explains that residents have been caught in the crossfire in the feud between the mayor and the Council.

Even the This is How We Live mural at Third and Elm Streets gets a cameo!

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November 14, 2009 - 9:09 am

Widespread Disappointment on the Parks Fiasco

The Post is running a story today about other District communities disappointed by the ongoing parks feud between the Council and the mayor.  The disappointment appears to be widespread:

In interviews with advocates from Chevy Chase to Woodland Terrace to U Street, most activists said they oppose the delays. “They’ll be fighting, and our kids and residents are suffering,” [Football coach Steve] Zanders said.

And some are accusing the Council of feigning surprise:

Willie Ross, a Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, said the contracts must be investigated, but the council should have been more vigilant about its initial oversight. He said that some members attended groundbreakings with the mayor for projects that are now under scrutiny.

Whoops!

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November 06, 2009 - 10:15 am

More on the Parks Contract

Yesterday’s Council hearing, one in a series on the parks debacle, revealed an expedited (but opaque) process for awarding park renovation contracts.  The Housing Authority issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which simply determines which companies have the ability and experience to bid on the final contract.  An RFQ saves time by eliminating groups who do not have the ability to follow through on a project.

The second step is supposed to be a Request for Proposals (RFP), in which the qualified bidders submit cost estimates and designs.  The submitted proposals are what the city government and public review and debate until a final selection is made.

In response to the RFQ, a five-member panel composed of officials from the Housing Authority and mayor’s office selected Banneker Ventures, a firm owned by a close friend of the mayor, from among 13 applicants.  Recall that this step is merely supposed to determine who is qualified to proceed to the next step to bid on a contract.

Well, the administration decided it should end there and, after selecting Banneker as qualified, did not issue an RFP and just handed the $82 million in renovation work to Banneker to manage.  Banneker was awarded $4.2 million to manage the work to be performed largely by other firms.

None of this was done with Council approval, as required by law, and on Tuesday the Council voted on emergency legislation to restrict funneling of park money through the Housing Authority and to require the Housing Authority to notify the Council of all contracts above $75,000.

Voting Yes:

  • Yvette Alexander
  • Marion Barry
  • Kwame Brown
  • David Catania
  • Mary Cheh
  • Vincent Gray
  • Michael Brown
  • Phil Mendelson
  • Harry Thomas
  • Tommy Wells

Voting No:

  • Muriel Bowser
  • Jack Evans
  • Jim Graham (who represents LeDroit Park)
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