Friday, August 20, 2010

Some thoughts on the Walter Reed Re-use Plan meeting

I left the first two Walter Reed Re-use meetings feeling excited about our neighborhood’s future. I left last night’s meeting feeling frustrated.

This was because, at least in part, there was a generational lopsidedness at my table. (Table assignments are given randomly, so one table isn’t dominated by a single group of friends/neighbors/people with common interests. This is done to facilitate unbiased discussion between citizens. A volunteer from America Speaks is present at each table to serve as moderator, so the “unbiased discussions” don’t turn ugly.) There were only two other “young” people at my table. Which is, I suppose, somewhat proportionally representative of Ward 4 in general (our ward “tends to skew old”, as ANC 4B commissioner Sara Green stated so eloquently last night). I haven’t experienced that kind of tension between the “young” and “not-so-young” residents of our area since I’ve lived here. The not-so-young at my table were concerned mostly with using the land for senior housing, along with amenities that would be useful to seniors. This is of course an important matter, particularly for an area of the city that “skews old”. But they mostly scoffed at the concerns of the more youthful people at out table (they seemed to be against any retail development or improved transportation infrastructure).

Another source of my frustration was a general feeling of dread that the outcome of the project won’t be anything close to what I’ve envisioned. The developers, in my opinion, have come up with an attractive, mixed-use plan for the land, and I’m hopeful that it moves forward smoothly. I want it to be done well, and have tremendous positive impact on our area!

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