Adams Morgan Is Helping Itself
By Denis James
Terry Lynch [“A Better Balance in Adams Morgan,”] should stick to the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. Those of us who live here and are deeply involved in our community fully understand the tragic effects that an overabundance of one use, alcohol, can bring.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C (Adams Morgan), the Kalorama Citizens Association and the Reed-Cooke Neighborhood Association joined last April to demand and receive from the ABC board a moratorium on any further Class C (on-premises consumption) liquor licenses, blocking any further change for current license-holders to operate taverns or nightclubs. On that front, we’ve done what we can do. It’s now up to the board to find an acceptable balance in weeding out establishments with histories of violence, along with restaurants that violate their license requirements.
Allowing fewer on-premises alcohol establishments will eventually lead to the availability of space in the commercial strip for other uses that serve the neighborhood. Commercial landlords need to get the message that there are a finite number of liquor licenses available and allow their properties to be used in ways that better serve the neighborhood.
Although Lynch made it sound as if the community was doing nothing about its problems, the Adams Morgan Streetscape project is planned to begin later this year. This project has been worked on in one form or another for seven years. A community steering committee is engaged with the D.C. Department of Transportation and its contractor on final design issues and construction staging. The appearance of 18th Street from Columbia Road to Florida Avenue will be revamped with wider sidewalks; parallel parking replacing the angled parking that makes the area look like a used-car lot; fewer travel lanes; well-placed loading zones, bike lanes and racks; and a crop of new trees. These traffic-calming and safety measures will help discourage the current overabundance of late-night activity and make 18th Street more of a neighborhood street.
But Lynch was farthest off base when he said the Marie Reed Learning Center was not as “safe” and “attractive” as it could be. The Learning Center features two tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, a softball diamond, the Happy Hollow children’s pool and play equipment for the elementary school’s children. Reed is an incredibly valuable resource that is underused by segments of its community, more because of cultural barriers between users, or potential users, than because of its architecture.
If the Marie Reed Learning Center were redeveloped with commercial uses, the violence that sometimes happens there would probably shift to other nearby unsupervised areas (local parks and alleys) in the late-night hours. Adams Morgan does not need the additional commercial development that would come from “modernizing” the Reed site. We don’t have enough parking for that, we’re not close enough to a Metro stop to encourage riders to easily shop here, and the property was deeded to the District from the federal government for its current use. Change the use and the property would revert to the U.S. government.
Thanks for thinking of us, Mr. Lynch, but we’re already working to “turn around” Adams Morgan.
The writer is the president of the Kalorama Citizens Association.
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