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New Mayor, New Chance: Will Fenty Build on DC's Investment in Metro?

Anthony Williams transformed the face of much of the District. For creating new pockets of upscale development downtown, he won credit for bolstering the tax base, but sparked criticism that all he cared about was the rich. In a far less widely known story, Williams also reshaped several of the District's poorest sections, supporting new mixed-income communities--the single best recipe for improving everything from security to education.

Now comes Mayor Adrian Fenty, who won election by managing to persuade both sides in the development wars that he understands and sympathizes with their passionate concerns. Fenty's track record is one of supporting growth in a city that desperately needs a stronger tax base, but working closely with neighbors to make certain that the new development is appropriate and properly located.

The best thing you can say about Fenty's attitude toward development is that he gets the importance of building up the areas around the District's Metro stations, which have been neglected for far too long.

Now, the mayor is about to get a chance to show his true colors at one of the greatest development opportunities in the city, the woefully underbuilt area around the Tenleytown Metro station. A developer, Roadside Development, has proposed a last-ditch effort to put a substantial residential building at Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street NW, immediately across from the Metro station. The developer, Armond Spikell, proposes to put the residential building behind a new public library; the existing D.C. library on that corner has been shuttered and imprisoned behind a chain-link fence for years.

The library was supposed to have been replaced by now with a new facility, but that idea died as a relative handful of neighbors repeatedly stymied efforts to inject some density into a curiously barren part of the city's most affluent ward. Spikell, whose company built the Cityline residential and retail complex just north of the library site, is optimistic that the reflexive neighborhood opposition that sabotaged a small-scale residential development one block from the same Metro station can be overcome.

Here's what Spikell recommends: Build the city a new public library, put a residential building with fewer than 200 units adjacent to that library, build an underground parking garage to handle cars from both the new residents and visitors to the library, and build an addition for woefully-overcrowded Janney Elementary School, which sits behind the library building. Benefits: Added density, a new library, removal of the unsightly trailers now used for classroom space at Janney, expansion of the green space and athletic facilities at Janney.

"It's up to the community to weigh whether the benefits of a public-private partnership are worth suffering another building," Spikell says. Obviously, there's no question where the developer stands on that. As he says: "I mean, it is Wisconsin Avenue."

Spikell believes Fenty will turn out to support transit-oriented development. "We were early and ardent supporters of his, and our experience with him has been excellent," the developer says. Working with then-Council member Fenty on a project on upper Georgia Avenue NW, "When we wanted something done, he just pushed, pushed, pushed. He understands that downtown's fine, but the neighborhoods really need the help."

Even if Spikell's proposal is not accepted, the developer and many who live in the neighborhood or have kids at Janney School see this as the last chance to use the proximity of school, library and Metro to create some kind of public facility that eases crowding at Janney, creates a neighborhood magnet of a library, and lets more people take advantage of public transit.

If, in addition, some of the non-taxable property on the site could now start generating tax revenues, that would be a big boost to all concerned. But for this to happen, the developer would need approval from a blizzard of agencies, including the public schools, the public library, the city, historic preservation authorities, and a very cranky coterie of neighborhood opponents.

The two versions of reality constantly under debate in upper Northwest Washington could hardly be more different. The anti-development crowd believes, as they say in the web site for the Coalition to Stop Overdevelopment in Tenleytown, that there is "already unacceptable congestion" in an area that many other residents consider oddly and sadly barren. (I live one neighborhood away, in an area riven by similarly polarized perceptions of reality.)

Spikell is understandably diplomatic in talking about the neighborhood's anti-development contingent: "The people in the community are not terribly unreasonable," he says. He believes he can avoid the holy war now being waged over a proposal for an office building a few blocks up Wisconsin because Spikell would seek to build within the existing zoning regulations, rather than seeking a variance for something larger.

Next move: Spikell will present a more detailed version of his plan at these community meetings:

Thursday, May 10, 7:30 PM
St Mary's Church, 42nd St and Fessenden St, NW

Monday, June 18, 7:30 PM
Capital Memorial Church, 3150 Chesapeake St, NW

By Marc Fisher |  May 9, 2007; 7:36 AM ET
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I hope this proposal is widely disseminated throughout the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights communities. Creative approaches such as this help solve major issues in the community, and yes, the developer makes some money, but the school and library are the real winners here. It worked in Woodley Park at the Oyster School, and given the proximity of the Metro Station, seems like it should work at this site.

Posted by: Tenley Resident | May 9, 2007 10:28 AM

AAlong the same lines, it would be great to see the Waterfront station area actually developed into something desirable.

Posted by: Tom T. | May 9, 2007 10:35 AM

Sure, the area around Tenleytown Metro is relatively barren. On the other hand, the congestion around Tenleytown Metro is abhorrent. Traffic from Tenleytown to Friendship Heights along Wisconsin Avenue already barely moves. DC DOT can probably provide specific details on the traffic there, but negotiating those five long blocks always seems to take a minimum of 20 minutes regardless of time of day. Even M St/Canal Road doesn't have it that bad except perhaps at rush hour. A public-private solution for Tenley-Janney could work, but someone in DC needs to address the traffic angle as part of that package.

Posted by: athea | May 9, 2007 10:52 AM

This sounds like a great proposal.

But it is a shame that the developer is conceding anything to the anti growth and anti change nut jobs by only doing this project as a matter of right project which for those who aren't obsessed with our 1974 zoning laws basically means a 50 foot tall building.

Anywhere else in this region this close to a Metro station and we would be starting with a baseline building much taller than this and we should be here as well.

At the very least I hope they build up to the height of the Janney roofline which I would assume is more than 50 feet tall at the library portion of the site as there is a significant downward slope moving to the east away from the school.

With a taller building the developer gets more architectural flexibility and the community would hopefully retain a bit more green space and get some more affordable units and the region gets more badly needed housing near Metro.

And for those who aren't familiar with this site the corner of Wisconsin and Albemarle is nowhere near any single family homes so there should be no one losing any light or living in the shadow of this development.

Posted by: Fedup in Friendship Heights | May 9, 2007 10:56 AM

Interesting comment about the traffic situation. In the CSTO website linked by Mr. Fisher, there is a call for more parking garages:

"The need for inexpensive parking garages:
People will have cars and drive them in even the most transit-oriented communities. Inexpensive, plentiful parking is a vital component of any successful urban area. A good model for the Wisconsin Avenue Corridor might be Bethesda Row, a lively and attractive shopping area distinguished by lots of cheap parking courtesy of the many municipal parking garages where you can park for fifty cents an hour. Contrast that with the much scarcer parking at Mazza Gallerie where you pay up to three dollars an hour. Getting people to park in lots rather than all over the residential neighborhoods is a matter of common sense--ease and expense are the bottom line. Many residents would welcome a Mayor who works to create more and cheaper parking garages."

So traffic is bad, but opponents of new development on top of metro stations want more garages. Anyone sense a paradox?

Posted by: Tenley Resident | May 9, 2007 10:58 AM

"Williams also reshaped several of the District's poorest sections, supporting new mixed-income communities--the single best recipe for improving everything from security to education..."

Yep, and one of the best will be the soccer stadium, retail and mixed development housing project on poplar point. Jobs, shops and better policing and schools for a long ignored stratch of town. Best of all, unlike the Baseball stadium, the owners, not the city, are paying for this one.

Tenleytown, is NOT one of the city's poorest sections, unless you consider the poor selection of starfruit at the Fresh Fields there as your sole criterion.

Posted by: DCAustinite | May 9, 2007 11:05 AM

if these NIMBYs in upper northwest want to see traffic congestion go down, maybe a few of them could stop driving their BMWs and M-Bs around and start using the great public transportation that is available to them. it blows my mind how some people could live in an area where it would be SO easy to live pretty much car-free, yet they still drive everywhere and pretend like THEIR driving isn't part of the problem.

Posted by: IMGoph | May 9, 2007 12:42 PM

One of the reasons that traffic is so bad on that stretch (and along the rest of Wisconsin Avenue) is that timing of the traffic lights is simply absurd. I'm thinking even minor fixes to the timing of the lights would help traffic flow a lot better.

And don't get me started on the ridiculous light they just put up so cars can get out of the National Cathedral's new garage. Way to make a bad situation worse.

Posted by: Matt | May 9, 2007 1:21 PM

It's about educating everyone not to think of the personal car with one occupant as the only way to move about the city. I pray that "congestion pricing" will become a reality. Step one: register cars in the District for something like what it really costs. Step two: Eliminate the idea that the "free" parking space comes with the purchase price of the car. Step three: Pull the driving privileges of those who make it hard to be a pedestrian -- red-light runners for example.

Suddenly, living and/or working near transit will look too good to do otherwise.

Posted by: Lisa -- DC pedestrian | May 9, 2007 2:28 PM

Marc wrote: "The library was supposed to have been replaced by now with a new facility, but that idea died as a relative handful of neighbors repeatedly stymied efforts to inject some density into a curiously barren part of the city's most affluent ward."

I have seen all the documents produced by former Mayor Williams' office, the DC Office of Planning and the DC Public Library in response to a recent Freedom of Information Act request concerning the Tenley-Friendship Library. Those documents clearly show that DCPL was moving ahead on its longstanding proposal to rebuild that library without a public-private development project.

It was not, as Marc writes, a handful of neighbors who stymied that effort because they did not want added density at that site. Rather, it was the people who wanted to see tall, dense buildings along Wisconsin Avenue who succeeded in stopping that project precisely because the DCPL proposal was not tall and dense enough for them. It was they who, on May 27, 2003, submitted petitions to former Mayor Williams and other DC government officials to stop it. Their petitions stated in part:

"We ask you to delay the award for the contract to rebuild the Tenley-Friendship Library to allow DCPL and DCPS to investigate the feasibility of a public-private partnership on the land along Albemarle Street between 42nd Street and Wisconsin Avenue."

The petition drive was led by Allison Barnard Feeney -- who is a member of the Ward 3 Vision Steering Committee -- and the petitions were signed by approximately 126 people. [I have to estimate the number of signators because two petitions pages were missing from the FOIA response, so I assumed that each line on those pages was filled in.]

Marc is flat wrong on his facts on this point -- but I've never known him to let that that get in the way of a good argument.

Posted by: Fact Checker | May 9, 2007 2:48 PM

To Fact Checker...I do not see where your assertion conflicts with Mr. Fishers report. There were discussions at the time to have a public-private partnership, and there were members of the community who were opposed to more density and torpedoed those discussions.

Is the proposal envisioned by Roadside "tall buildings". It doesn't look like it to me. I recall that the hyperbole by the residents of the area, using words like "massive" to describe a 5-7 story building top be par for the course.

Perhaps "tall" is in the eye of the beholder?

Posted by: Tenley Resident | May 9, 2007 3:37 PM

I am flabbergasted by your rant. As a member of the so-called anti-development contingent, I ask you to sit down with us and actually listen to our views (but please walk or take public transportation), so that you may not consistently misrepresent our stance towards development in our neighborhood. We have in no way said that we are opposed to any new development in Tenleytown or for that matter have we made any public statements opposing the Janney and Teneleytown Library PPP. We would actually like to see a detailed proposal on how this is going to benefit our neighborhood, school and library before we go and jump on Roadside's bandwagon - and yes we will be at the ANC meetings - will you?

Posted by: andra - not afraid to use my name - Tenley Resident | May 9, 2007 3:54 PM

Hey Fact Checker!

If my petition did, in fact, stop the Tenleytown Library contract, why then did DCPL subsequently close the library, enter into a design-build contract, allow their contractor to hold public meetings and complete a design for a two-story stand-alone library? Why did DCPL not EVER solicit proposals for a mixed-use partnership for the Tenleytown site? I refuse to take credit for our shuttered library.

The reason we don't have even a stand-alone library now is because the design did not meet the community's expectations for its library, the costs came in over budget and the city decided to cut its losses and get out of the contract, at a significant cost to us taxpayers. If the District leadership had LISTENED to the testimony given in the hearings on the Library rebuild they would have known that a) design build is not a value-driven process and b) the amount of money approved for construction several years before would not be sufficient to rebuild the libraries due to multiple factors including escalating construction costs.

Instead the District leaders caved to the emotional arguments of "those who oppose." Lets see to it that they don't do it this time. I support fully exploring this new partnership proposal. What do we have to lose?

Posted by: Allison Barnard Feeney | May 9, 2007 4:02 PM

I signed Allison's petition at Turtle Park's May Fair that year. I feared that the Library contract was headed the way of the Tenley fire station. Why is it so difficult to get a public building constructed? Why on earth do DCPL, and DCPS have their own construction authority, independant of that of the rest of the DC government? Why is there no incentive for the Schools and Libraries to explore joint development projects -- especially at Tenley where the library sits on land that was once the school's.

Posted by: Tenley Resident | May 9, 2007 4:36 PM

Just to be clear...the above post is not from must be a different "Tenley Resident".

Posted by: Tenley Resident | May 9, 2007 4:50 PM

There is absolutely no evidence in the numerous FOIA response documents that the Tenley-Friendship Library project was delayed or abandoned because of complaints from community members who did not want to see greater density on that site. Read again, please, what Marc posted on his blog:

"The library was supposed to have been replaced by now with a new facility, but that idea died as a relative handful of neighbors repeatedly stymied efforts to inject some density into a curiously barren part of the city's most affluent ward."

What is the factual support for this revisionist (and counter-intuitive) history? Allison Feeney states in her recent blog post that "District leaders caved to the emotional arguments of 'those who oppose.'" Who is she referring to and what exactly were those people opposing? After all, DCPL was proposing a two story library with surface parking to replace a similar configuration. Wouldn't it seem logical to assume that the antagonists that Marc and Allison rail against were therefore supportive of that concept? And, wouldn't it also seem logical to conclude that those who wanted a delay and more density to be the group who in fact delayed the project?

Posted by: Fact Checker | May 9, 2007 4:51 PM

One "Tenley Resident" has written, "I signed Allison's petition at Turtle Park's May Fair that year. I feared that the Library contract was headed the way of the Tenley fire station. Why is it so difficult to get a public building constructed?"

As someone with a rather personal interest in the Tenley fire station, I have to question what the above quote means.

If Fact Checker is right, Allison's petition sought a delay in the library. If "Tenley Resident" was seeking to avoid a repeat of the Tenley fire station situation, I would assume that seeking a delay would not be the way to accomplish that.

Another, more significant, problem with the Tenley fire station is that it is way too small to serve its intended community. DC had the opportunity to acquire the adjacent Mini-Mart several years ago and opted not to.

[One could reasonably raise the same concerns about the size of the Tenley-Friendship Library as the community grows, but I digress.]

Ward 3 Vision wants to see 7 to 9 story and taller buildings lining Wisconsin Avenue. If we add thousands of new residential units and millions of new square feet of office and retail space, how will we handle fire emergencies, medical emergencies and mass casualty events when (not if) they occur?

Please explain the solutions to the infrastructure constraints. I don't see them.

Posted by: Smokey | May 9, 2007 5:15 PM

Fact Checker clearly has issues with reading comprehension. Go back to the NW Current coverage of the issue. Leaders and developers at the time tried to propose a PPP to which some anti-development residents said no. Those who said no, said no to any concept of something different than what was there.

Why would this show up in a FOIA request? Check posts from May 2003 and earlier on the Tenleytown Yahoo Listserver Group.

The library remains shuttered today because of mismangement by the city in terms of proper allocation of funds to rebuild the library, not because of a petition filed by other certain residents in the community, as is alleged by Fact Checker.

There is an opportunity right now, to get Janney and the library upgraded with the by-product being a moderate residential (tax payers) building at the Tenleytown Metro. Rather than play the revisionist history game, or point fingers, let's focus on what is best for the children in our community.

Bring on the Janney and Tenleytown library upgrades sooner rather than later.

Posted by: reading comprehension issues abound | May 9, 2007 5:25 PM

"Tenleytown is NOT one of the city's poorest sections, unless you consider the poor selection of starfruit at the Fresh Fields there as your sole criterion."

LOL post of the day.

Posted by: South Loudounian | May 9, 2007 6:29 PM

It is obvious from looking at the Roadside proposal that the city would gain far more from their proposal than will ever be provided if the Library and DCPS go down their own bureaucratic paths. The proposal is a stunning and well-considered use of that space. The Tenley nimbys who oppose these things might be happier in a rural WV one-lane village than in a city. Maybe a developer will come along who will relocate the nimbys out west and let the rest of us enjoy the urban space that Tenley should become.

Posted by: Petra | May 9, 2007 10:05 PM

Marc claims: "Benefits: Added density, a new library, removal of the unsightly trailers now used for classroom space at Janney, expansion of the green space and athletic facilities at Janney."

I'm very interested to hear how the athletic facilities and green space will be "expanded" as they are sold off to build residential units behind the library. Please.

Posted by: are you kidding me? | May 10, 2007 1:08 AM

To the person above...if you look at the plans you will see that by putting the existing surface parking underground, there is more green space. There is more space opened up by removing the classroom trailers (what a great learning envirnment) so no, he is not kidding you. Look at the plans. In fact, the soccer field gos from a dinky barely useable space to a mostly full size field.

Posted by: No, not kidding.... | May 10, 2007 6:05 AM

To the poster who questions my reading comprehension: The FOIA response documents from former Mayor Williams' office, from DCPL and, to a lesser extent, the DC Office of Planning, all contained press articles about the Tenley-Friendship Library. These included many articles and letters to the editor from the Northwest Current.

You are clearly mistaken that, as you put it, "some anti-development residents said no" to a Public-Private Development proposal. I challenge you to provide quotes or other hard facts to back up your assertion.

The Tenley-Friendship Library renovation project was part of a DCPL initiative to renovate four neighborhood libraries in different parts of the city. The others were Benning Branch Library, Anacostia Library and Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Library.

At the beginning of the process, DCPL met with developers to discuss a PPP but no developer was then willing to meet the special needs of the library as part of a project proposal. When developers learned of those needs, they abandoned the project.

With no serious developer interest, DCPL went ahead and sought/received bids for the renovation of all four libraries.

Again, there is absolutely no evidence that the Tenley-Friendship Library was delayed because anyone in the community wanted to see low density on that site. Marc is flat wrong on that and I have yet to see anyone produce a shread of evidence to the contrary.

Instead, the evidence is clear that people who now comprise Ward 3 Vision (such as Allison Barnard Feeney) engaged in efforts to delay the project in order to increase the density at that site.

I challenge anyone disputing these facts to cite to specifics. Don't simply attack me. Address the facts head on.

Posted by: Fact Checker | May 10, 2007 9:04 AM

While I do not have old copies of the NW Current handy, here is a link which are emblemic of the sentiment:
h ttp://

"It sounds as though the public funding is enough to give us a fine library: "2-stories, and a footprintof 16-18,000 square feet, considerably more usable space than the current library." Let the developers move elsewhere with their "altruistic" help. We seem to be doing fine without them."

The current proposal calls for a 19,000 square foot library with an option for a third floor, which would provide even more programming space that would have been alotted in 2003.

Further, Washington Post archives detail similar sentiment in article.

Posted by: Tenley Resident | May 10, 2007 10:16 AM

To Tenley Resident:

The PPP proposals that were being considered several years ago for the Tenley-Friendship Library and Janney Elementary School all involved a significant reduction in Janney's green and open space. That was why neighborhood residents opposed the PPP. Residents did not oppose density on the library site per se. They opposed the reduction of green and open space at Janney. Is there anyone who seriously disputes this?

With respect to the latest PPP proposal for the library and school, we need to evaluate not just what the benefits (and costs) are for school children, but also what the benefits (and costs) are for library patrons.

As the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights populations more than double over the next 10 to 15 years, as Ward 3 Vision advocates, will there be sufficient space in our library? Will there be sufficient space for our public school children? Will the latest PPP proposal allow for future growth at both the library and the adjacent school?

Posted by: Fact Checker | May 10, 2007 11:22 AM

I think it was Mayor Williams who had the stated initiative of adding 100,000 new DC residents. I do not see anywhere that Ward 3 Vision advocates for a doubling of residents in Friendship Heights over the next 10 -15 years.

The bigger demographic question is that all metropolitan regions are expected to grow over the coming decades. Growth is GOING to happen. The question then becomes, "where should this growth take place?".

Most sensible people believe that the growth should take place in areas which are already able to absorb it without paving over more green space. For the District of Columbia, that means areas along transit corridors where there are scarce parcels of land which can house more people.

If amenities to the community include "green technologies", inclusionary housing, support for non-profit and public institutions, then all the better.

Fact Checker seems to take the position that the infrastructure is already overburdened, and that growth should happen elsewhere. If that is the case then he hasn't seen overburdened yet. Look at densities in cities elswhere around the world. DC is a modest hamlet in comparison.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 11:31 AM

I am not relying on former Mayor Williams' news bite about wanting to increase DC's population by 100,000. I am relying on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' population forecasts for the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights areas. Those forecasts show the > 100 percent increases I referred to for the next 10 to 15 years.

And, yes, I'll admit it. I think we lack the necessary infrastructure to accommodate that kind of growth. I'd like to know how we're going to move people in and out of FH and TT; the impact on ambulance and fire truck response times; the impact on our public schools and our small library; the impact on our non-existent community center; the impact on our non-existent open space along Wisconsin Avenue from Tenley Circle to Western Avenue; the impact on our two track Metrorail system, etc. And silly as I am, I'd like to understand these impacts before we more than double our existing local population instead of after the people are already living, working, visiting, or shopping here.

Posted by: Fact Checker | May 10, 2007 1:54 PM

But we digress, don't we?

I'd like to see the support for Mr. Fisher's assertion that: "The library was supposed to have been replaced by now with a new facility, but that idea died as a relative handful of neighbors repeatedly stymied efforts to inject some density into a curiously barren part of the city's most affluent ward."

Which neighbors repeatedly stymied the library -- other than those who sought to delay it to turn it into a taller, denser building?

What is the response to Fact Checker's assertions? Perhaps Mr. Fisher or one of the Ward 3 Vision members will answer this for us.

Posted by: Friendship Heights Skeptic | May 10, 2007 2:10 PM

Thanks for acknowledging that it was the COG who is forecasting a doubling of population in upper northwest over the next 10-15 years. Why do you cast this in a deragatory manner on a local community group who makes no such claims as you suggest?

On the other, our small library is non existant and we have an opportunity to make a new one which would be much larger than what was proposed in 2003.

The schools in the area take many out of boundary students due to open spaces. This is not the case with Janney, but it is with other nearby schools. There is the capacity to handle in boundary children, but a good first step willbe to teach them in buildings, not trailers. Once the reorganization to Deal and Wilson is complete, there will be plenty of space in our schools for our kids, but we need to modernize the infrastructure, something this proposal will do at a rate faster than DCPS.

I haven't seen any complaints with Fire/EMS response times. The issue there has been (now that the Firehouse is opened again) with competent care once help does arrive (re: Rosenbaum).

There could be better coordination of traffic/parking/transit issues, but many of these are at the hands of DDOT. I like what I am hearing out of the new director and his team these days and will give them the benefit of the doubt that they understand some of the issues in the community and best practices to help mitigate them.

The fact still stands, our population is going to grow. Is it better to pave more green space and encourage more fossil fuel consumption, or to encourage modern practices to centralize and manage the change which is inevitible?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:11 PM

So how much growth does Ward 3 Vision want to see in Friendship Heights and Tenleytown? I've heard Ward 3 Vision Steering Committee members complain that the Akridge project at 5220 Wisconsin Avenue is not tall and dense enough. What height and density does Ward 3 Vision recommend for the WMATA Western Bus Garage site? What height and density does Ward 3 Vision recommend for the east side of Wisconsin Avenue across from the library and Best Buy? What about the Fannie Mae site?

I've heard Ward 3 Vision Steering Committeee members advocate for higher and denser buildings along and near Wisconsin Avenue, but I haven't heard any of them set out the limiting principle. How high/dense is too high/dense? Should we scrap the height act?

And what about parks and green space. Do you think that because we live where we do that our children don't merit neighborhood playgrounds within walking distance of their homes? If the densest areas of downtown DC can have big squares and open green space, why can't we? Is that not environmentally sensitive?

And to follow up on Friendship Heights Skeptic's message: "Which neighbors repeatedly stymied the library -- other than those who sought to delay it to turn it into a taller, denser building?"

Posted by: Fact Checker | May 10, 2007 2:53 PM

Here's the interesting thing - cars can be managed.

But the big problems we are up against - economic growth, job growth and population growth are very difficult to manage and impossible to stop.

So instead of tilting at windmills and pretending that stopping/shrinking projects X, Y and Z are going to make any difference in a region that is still adding 80,000 jobs a year we should be putting some of our energy into addressing problems that have actual solutions.

For example why are the traffic lights on Wisconsin Avenue and Reno Road clearly not synchronized?

Why are we putting additional impediments up to the smooth flow of traffic like the poorly designed light at Morrison and Connecticut, the unnecessary new stop sign at Military and 43rd Street and the new stop light at River and Reno (that will give us 4 stop lights in 1 block!) all of which cumulatively ensure that the cars we have in our community spend more time than necessary idling in traffic and fouling our air?

Why don't we put some energy into actually managing our valuable residential parking spaces instead of giving them away to outsiders who then further add to congestion as they circle on our residential streets looking for the same parking spaces - please see
for more on this subject.

Why don't we push to add turn lanes to Wisconsin Avenue to smooth the flow of traffic? (this one was shouted down by the same crowd that is opposed to growth because it would cost some on street parking spaces)

Why don't we insist on vigorous and consistent parking enforcement in our community?

Why don't we insist on higher parking meter rates that would compel more guests in our neighborhoods to use the underutilized half full commercial parking lots in our community?

Why don't we insist that MPD, which has the most policy officers per capita by far of any city in the US, establish a traffic enforcement division and deploy those officers to our community to enforce the oft ignored traffic laws we already have on the books?

Well one reason we don't put energy into these issues is the two main Wisconsin Avenue ANC's concentrate most of their coordinated energy into fighting development (and worrying about teenagers shoplifting organic wine from Whole Foods).

They have succeeded to some degree but in the meantime out in the real world our parking and traffic problems continue to worsen.

Posted by: Fedup in Friendship Heights | May 10, 2007 3:27 PM

Fact Checker - do you actually live in Friendship Heights?

If so I can't understand you trotting out the tired and completely untrue argument that we have no greenspace in the neighborhood.

What do you consider Ft Bayard park at Western and River? Does it not also have a playground?

How about the park at 41st and Western and Livingston? Gosh that park has a baseball field, tennis and basketball courts and another playground!

Both of these parks are within a 5 minute walk of my home in FH so perhaps you don't live in the community or do and are somehow not aware of them?

If you are not aware please see my specific directions above and please go investigate them because I can assure you they are parks.

Or what about Ft Reno and Glover Parks in Tenleytown - are those also not parks with considerable green space? Or am I imagining them too?

The argument that we don't have greenspace in Upper NW is tired, untrue and ridiculous and we would all be better served if you would stop repeating that falsehood.

Posted by: Fedup in Friendship Heights | May 10, 2007 3:58 PM

In addition to the aforementioned parks, there is also Friendship Recreation Center (aka Turtle Park), and little pocket triangles of green space throughout the neighborhood, Eldebrook (which many use as a quiet reading area) and of course Janney and NPC playgrounds.

I cannot speak for Ward 3 Vision or its Steering Committee, but personally, the model that seems to work in other neighborhoods and jurisdictions is to focus density at the subway stations. Thus, the parcels at Friendship Heights and Tenleytown make the most sense to consider redevelopment to better focus retail, create a 'town center' feel and preserve the scale both in the neighborhoods, and in the area between the Metro stations.

I wasn't aware the that Fannie Mae site was under consideration for redevelopment.

Posted by: to Fact? Checker | May 10, 2007 4:30 PM

If liberal DC wants to get on the environmental bandwagon, that means supporting appropriate development near a Metro station. I don't understand how we could allow this corner to be built out with just a 2 story library . . . .

It is fine to buy a Prius. But we need to support development that reduces the number of polluting cars out there.

Posted by: Switched Sides | May 10, 2007 10:23 PM

Mr. Fisher is apparently not in the habit of checking his facts. On July 10, 2003, I sent him an e-mail explaining why the idea of a public-private partnership for the Tenleytown Library never got off the ground: "The [original] library proposal was not only for the Tenleytown Library but for three others in less-affluent neighborhoods. While many of us were initially interested in a public-private partnership in order to get a larger library with housing above, we were told in no uncertain terms by DC Library representative Shirley Diamond that the contract for the four libraries had already been bid, and to try to implement a public-private partnership for Tenleytown would delay and perhaps abort all four projects."

Molly Raphael, then director of District of Columbia Libraries, also wrote a letter to the editor of the Washington Post in response to Marc Fisher's column "Library Plan Takes D.C. in Wrong Direction" (July 8,
2003). The following is an excerpt from that letter: "After an open meeting held at the Tenley Library in the fall of 2001, Tenley residents approached several developers, with our encouragement, to discuss the possibility of mixed-use. There were no takers. In addition, prior to the Request for Proposals (RFP) for building four new libraries being issued in December 2002, discussions were held by library officials
about the mixed-use option with some additional developers. The response was similar: once developers understood what was required to build a state-of-the-art library and that we would not give up the street-level presence for purposes other than a new library, the interest from those we talked with seemed to disappear."

Thus it was not the efforts of a few NIMBYs that stymied the project, but the reluctance of the library authorities to compromise and the lack of interest on the part of developers. Maybe this time the situation will be different. We are all watching with interest to see what will happen.

Posted by: Carolyn in Tenleytown | May 11, 2007 6:44 PM

In a separate by related topic:

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A lot of the same cast of characters rehashing the same logic against any change in the neighborhood.

Posted by: on another note | May 12, 2007 10:54 AM

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