Thursday, June 30, 2011

MPD uncovers auto theft ring HQ on Blair Rd.

From the MPD-4D listserv:

For several months members of the Fourth District Auto Theft Unit have been working with Detectives from Montgomery Counties Centralized Auto Theft Unit.  This afternoon their joint investigations lead to an address in the 7300 block of Blair Road Northwest.  The detectives and investigators located several suspects that they had been tracking as well as several stolen cars and motorcycles and a large amount of parts from other stolen vehicles.  

The investigation revealed that multiple suspects were stealing cars and motorcycles primarily from Montgomery County Maryland and bringing them to the location on Blair Road.  There the suspects would strip down the vehicles for their parts, basically running a chop shop.  Four suspects were arrested as part of the operation. 

This joint investigation continues by both agencies.  They clearly made a dent into a major auto theft ring today.  The outstanding work of both agencies across multiple jurisdictions should be praised by all.  

John R. Haines
Fourth District
Vice, Auto Theft, and Crime Suppression Units

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ANC4B unanimously votes to oppose Square 2986 Large Tract Review unless Commission recommendations are met; Walter Reed LRA meeting Thursday

After much deliberation at last night's meeting, ANC4B finally voted to not support the Large Tract Review for Square 2986 (aka "the Curtis Chevrolet Site" or "the site of the potential Walmart") unless a long series of recommendations are adopted. The recommendations are in the areas of transportation demand management, traffic circulation, building design, safety, neighborhood impact, and community benefits. I only have access to the draft resolution at this time; I'll link to the final resolution once I get a hold of it.

ANC4A has also unanimously opposed Walmart's LTR.


On Thursday night, the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) will meet for the first time since the announcement was made that the General Services Administration no longer wanted its 30+ acres of land on the site, and that all of the Georgia Avenue frontage will go to the District. This decision will significantly alter the development plans devised by the LRA and the community through a series of meetings last spring.

WRAMC LRA Committee Meeting
When: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 7:00 PM
Where: Ft. Stevens Senior Recreation Center
1327 Van Buren Street, NW

Monday, June 27, 2011

DDOT: Walmart has satisfied the Large Tract Review requirements for the Curtis Chevrolet site

DDOT, the agency that had denied Walmart's initial traffic plan, now says that the company has submitted sufficient data and analysis to meet the Large Tract Review requirements. In a letter to the Office of Planning, DDOT said that "the Applicant has identified mitigation measures in order to reduce the transportation impact of their proposed development to include increased roadway capacity and safety, which will require the loss of curbside parking." See the full letter below.

DDOT and the Office of Planning have yet to respond to the report submitted by ANC4B's Large Tract Review Committee.

Final Walmart Georgia Ave Lg Tract Review Jun 23

Walter Reed redevelopment will be the topic on Kojo Nnamdi show today, 12 noon, WAMU 88.5 FM

Kojo Nnamdi and his guests will discuss the Walter Reed redevelopment plans today at noon.

Questions from listeners will be taken by phone at 1-800-433-8850; by email at, and via Twitter @kojoshow.

Info from WAMU:

Base realignment and closure (BRAC) brings opportunity to the District. In September, Walter Reed Army Medical Center will move to new facilities in Bethesda and Fort Belvoir, leaving sixty-two acres of prime real estate along Georgia Avenue for the District to redevelop. We hear about plans for the future of the sprawling and storied campus.

James Wood

Planning and Strategies Leader for Washington, DC, with the design firm Perkins & Will.
Eric Jenkins
Director of the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority.
Colonel Norvell Coots, MD
Commander of the Walter Reed Health Care System
Randall Clarke
Citizen member of the Local Redevelopment Authority Committee for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Muriel Bowser
D.C. City Council Member (D-Ward 4)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Georgia Avenue post-Caribbean Carnival homicide victim identified

From WTOP:

Police have identified a man who was shot and killed near the Howard University campus in Northwest Washington.

Forty-three-year-old Robert Foster Jr. of Washington was one of four people shot near the route of the Caribbean Carnival parade late Saturday afternoon. Two other men and a woman were shot and survived. The parade had largely passed, but many people remained near the route when gunfire sent people fleeing.

Police have said the shooting apparently stemmed from a neighborhood dispute and was not connected to the parade or the university. Police have not identified any suspects or revealed a possible motive.

Councilman Jim Graham says the man may have been an innocent bystander.

Caribbean parade 2011 in pictures

Lots more after the jump

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Caribbean Carnival's truncated route ends in violence

According to the Washington Post, five people were taken to the hospital earlier this evening with knife and/or gunshot wounds. Another report brought the number to six. I'll update as I hear more information. The incidents occurred in the 700 blocks of Gresham Street and Columbia Road, close to the end of the Caribbean Parade route.

Aside from this sad ending, the shortened parade route has been the source of controversy. At the end of the parade Muriel Bowser tweeted:

"Thousands of people on Georgia Avenue looking for rest of the Parade. This short route is a disaster. #lostrevenue"

A series of tweets between Bowser and Paco Fimbres of Mayor Gray's Office for Neighborhood Engagement (ONE) ensued, with Bowser stating that the Gray administration had disrespected the Caribbean community by approving the truncated route, causing confusion for parade attendees and revenue loss for the shops on Georgia Avenue. She also accused the Mayor's office of breaking promises (though I'm not exactly clear on what the promises were; again, I'll update as I get more information) (UPDATE: Bowser clarified via email: "I'm told that Candidate Gray promised [the organizers] support of status quo with parade this year. Mayor Gray refused to meet with them.")  Fimbres responded:

"No promises were broken. All involved knew exactly what the plan was...At the time plans were finalized no objections were raised."

This is shaping up to be quite a story. I'm hoping the full parade route can be restored next year...sans the violence.

UPDATE: Now hearing one person stabbed at Georgia and W Street, 4:30 pm; four people were shot at Georgia Ave and Gresham St, 5:15 pm (one has succumbed to injuries)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bike House's Jameel Alsalam appointed as Ward 4 representative to Bicycle Advisory Council

CM Bowser has appointed Jameel Alsalam, who you may know as one of the founding members of The Bike House, to the Bicycle Advisory Council as Ward 4's representative (a position that I believe has been vacant for quite some time, so it's great to have it filled, and to have it filled by a Bike Housemate is very fitting).

Jameel says he wants to focus on making bicycling a practical and accessible choice for as many residents of Ward 4 as possible. "A big part of that is making connections between where people live, work and shop. In my personal experience, I would like it if the Upper Georgia Avenue commercial corridor was more bike-accessible."

Since one of the roles of the BAC rep is to act as a bridge between residents and DC government on bicycling-related issues, Jameel asked me to let readers know that he's interested in hearing your thoughts on everything from your favorite bike routes in Ward 4 to roads/intersections that you've found to be dangerous. Feel free to leave notes in the comments section below or email him directly.

The Bicycle Advisory Council meets on the first Wednesday of odd numbered months in room 1117 of One Judiciary Square (441 4th Street, NW) from 6 to 8 pm. (July's meeting will be held on July 13, due to Independence Day). Meetings are open to public.

Community gardening: one hip avocation!

"Community gardening is one of the hottest pastimes sweeping the country!", proclaims an email announcing that construction of the community garden at Bruce Monroe Park (Georgia Avenue between Columbia and Irving Streets) will commence tomorrow at 9am. Aside: I'm not sure if tomorrow is the best date to begin this endeavor, as crowds from the Caribbean Parade will be rather...massive, which might inhibit construction just a bit. In any case, if you're interested in helping with the buildout or in reserving a garden plot, go here.

Additionally, check out the DC Foodshed Map, created by Ecolocity DC. Looks to me like a pretty comprehensive listing of community gardens (the Peabody, Madison Street, and Fort Stevens gardens in Brightwood are represented, as well as the Takoma Rec Center and Blair Road gardens) as well as co-ops, urban farms, etc. Contact info is listed for most, so if you're looking for a community garden plot near home, here's your resource.

View Washington DC Area Foodshed in a larger map

UPDATE! Bruce Monroe Garden organizer has informed me that they hauled their stuff yesterday, so the parade should not impede their progress. All is right with the world.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Caribbean Festival preparations: list of street closings on/around Georgia Avenue for this Saturday

As I noted last month, the Caribbean Parade will commence at Georgia and Kansas Avenues this year, instead of the usual commencement point at Georgia and Missouri Avenues. So this means Brightwood is not as directly affected by the parade as it has been in the past, but if your plans for that day take you south on Georgia, you'll have quite a few street closings to contend with. Here's the lowdown from MPD:

The following street closings will begin at 6:00 am and are expected to reopen at approximately 4:00 pm:

Parade Staging area:
• Upshur Street NW from Georgia Avenue, NW to 13th Street
• Iowa Avenue NW from Georgia Ave to Allison Street NW
• Georgia Avenue NW from Kansas Ave to Allison Street NW

Parade Route:
• Georgia Avenue NW from Kansas Avenue to Florida Avenue, NW

The following street closings will begin at 6:00 am and are expected to reopen at approximately 9:00 pm:

Festival Perimeter area:
• 9th Street NW from Florida Avenue northbound to end of circle
(By the Sherman tower dorms of Howard University)
• 8th Street NW from V St to Barry Place
• Barry Place NW from Georgia Avenue to Sherman Avenue

All street closures and listed times are subject to change based upon prevailing or unexpected conditions.

Motorists could encounter possible delays if operating in the vicinity of this event and may wish to consider alternative routes.

The Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Department of Transportation also wishes to remind motorists in the vicinity of this event to proceed with caution as increased pedestrian traffic can be anticipated.

New murals at Paul Public Charter School

These brighten up the corner of 8th and Peabody Streets NW pretty significantly.

There are more segments of the wall that have outlines painted on them that look like they'll soon be filled in; I'll post photos of those when they're completed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Ward 4 dense enough to support Metro stations?

Looking back at this Greater Greater Washington post from '08, in which David Alpert presented one of GGW's famous "fantasy" Metro maps that included a variation of the Brown Line that Metro is now considering as part of its long-term development plan, I noticed this gem of a comment:

Brightwood and Kansas Ave might not have the density to support a station.

I've heard this sentiment expressed before by city planners when they talk about Ward 4. But it bothers me. I understand we're not the densest part of the city, but in my (biased) opinion that shouldn't justify denying the Ward easy Metro access. After all, other residential neighborhoods that have similar density are served by Metro (Deanwood, anyone? West Hyattsville, maybe? Congress Heights, hello?). And considering some of the plans for Georgia Avenue's future, specifically the development of the Curtis Chevrolet site and the redevelopment of Walter Reed, it's hard to argue that Metro wouldn't be valuable as a way of transporting customers to these destinations, in addition to spurring residential growth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Metro's long-term plans may include a new line serving Upper Georgia Avenue

Metro's Office of Long Range Planning recently released some brainstorms regarding how it will cope with the Washington region's projected rapid growth over the next 30 years. Although Metro is contemplating several different ways to alter the current system in order to better serve riders, the concept that will be of the most interest to Brightwoodians is that of a new "Brown Line", which would begin at Friendship Heights and head south, looping through downtown and Georgetown (to much fanfare already), and then heading north through Eckington and Bloomingdale before hitting Petworth and then...wait for it...Manor Park, Brightwood, and Shepherd Park.

Keep in mind that this is just Metro brainstorming and these plans are by no means concrete (and also try not to be too bothered by the fact that "Shepherd Park" is misspelled on the map, nor by the fact that the map references "Walter Reed Med Center", which will have been long gone by the time this conceptual Brown Line gets constructed).

Become a neighborhood guide for WalkingTown/BikingTown DC

Have you been around Brightwood and/or Ward 4 for a long time? Do you have extensive knowledge of your neighborhood, as well as a deep desire to share that knowledge with others? Cultural Tourism DC is seeking tour guides and ride leaders for WalkingTown DC and BikingTown DC. According to Cultural Tourism DC, "Tour Guides lead walking or biking tours and share their expertise and passion with residents and visitors while promoting and gaining new audiences; Ride Leaders partner with tour guides to lend their group riding expertise and ensure a safe ride for all." Guides work with Cultural Tourism DC staff in order to develop their tours' routes and content.

More info from Cultural Tourism DC:

This year Cultural Tourism DC is trying something different for WalkingTown DC and BikingTown DC. Instead of offering one spring weekend and one fall weekend of 100-plus free guided tours, we are expanding the event to 10 days in the fall: September 23 through October 2.

Most tours will take place on the two weekends: Saturday/Sunday, September 24 – 25; and Saturday/Sunday, October 1 – 2. But the new format means we also will be able to offer weekday tours, for example during lunchtime and after work, and possibly offer visits to places/buildings that might be closed during the weekend.

If you would like to volunteer as a tour guide, please download and complete the 2011 WalkingTown DC and BikingTown DC Tour Participation Form, and submit it to Helen Gineris by Tuesday, June 28.

If you have any questions about completing the form or about the event, or if you prefer a form in Word format, please contact Helen Gineris at 202-626-1148.

Friday, June 17, 2011

ANC4B Large Tract Review committee releases recommendations for the development of Square 2986

Here is the final report from ANC4B's Large Tract Review committee. The committee (of which I am a member) has been tasked with reading and responding to the Large Tract Review for Square 2986 (aka the Curtis Chevrolet site), which developer Foulger-Pratt submitted to the DC Office of Planning, a necessary step in their current plans to build a 102,000 square foot Walmart on the site. The report contains recommendations from the committee. Note that because this is a matter of right project, the committee refrained from critiquing the planned tenant, as this is something the ANC (or the city, for that matter) has no control over.

The full report:

LTR Report Final 2011-5-23

And the summary:

LTR Report Summary Recommendations 2011-5-23

Here's a summary-of-the-summary, in case you don't feel like poring over the PDF (but at the same time I must tell you that it's well worth at least skimming the report, particularly to see the images used to illustrate our points).

  • The project should be mixed-use, but the current plans call for single-use. Foulger-Pratt isn’t entertaining the idea of making it mixed-use, despite repeated urging from planners and the Upper Georgia Avenue Great Streets Redevelopment Plan, and despite the fact that Walmart has demonstrated with their proposals for their stores in Ward 6 and in Tysons Corner that they are more than willing to locate their stores within mixed-use projects. The single-use nature of the plan is not the result of Walmart insisting on it, it’s the result of Foulger-Pratt’s reluctance to build mixed-use.

    Therefore, a phased mixed-use development that would allow for the addition of upper-story housing at a later date should be explored. If Foulger-Pratt is not willing to agree to a phased project, the committee asserts that the proposed 75 year lease for this project is not in the public interest, and that a shorter lease term is more appropriate.

  • The transportation impacts of the project are significant. Considering plans for streetcar service on Georgia Avenue, as well as the future redevelopment of Walter Reed, the failing intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues should be reconstructed in order to increase capacity and relieve congestion. Doing so would be a major undertaking, however it’s an important long-term investment for the growth of Georgia Avenue. At the same time, none of the land surrounding the intersection is city-owned, which gives DDOT few opportunities to reconfigure the streets there.

    Construction of the Georgia Avenue streetcar line should be prioritized before this project commences, in order to reduce traffic that would occur as a result of Georgia Avenue’s limited public transportation options.

  • The city should do an economic impact analysis of the store and prepare a mitigation strategy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sculptures created from recycled bike parts start appearing this week in Old Takoma

by Robert Wertz
at 6903 Laurel Avenue

The Amazing Alien Egg
A Phenakistoscope by Alison Baker
at 201 Ethan Allen Avenue at the TPSS Co-op

Wheels in the Sky
by Howard Connelly Design
at B.Y. Morrison Park

Photos: Laura Barclay

Who doesn't love bikes, art, and recycling? Artists from all over the world have been known to use old bike parts as their media, and that spirit is being brought to our area thanks to the Old Takoma Business Association.

Installation of the OTBA's reCYCLE Art of Bike Project began last weekend and will continue throughout the week. The project was "designed to celebrate the art, bicycling and recycling cultures of Takoma", according to the OTBA press release.

Artists were commissioned to build seven outdoor sculptures, using mostly bicycle parts. Some sculptures are kinetic, including The Amazing Alien Egg and Wheels in the Sky, pictured above. They will be displayed throughout Old Takoma (though notably only one of them is located on the DC side; it's at 341 Cedar Street NW) (EDIT: OK, as Laura points out in the comments, the lawn of 6930 Carroll Avenue is just inside the District line [although the building is in Maryland], therefore so is the sculpture that is placed on its lawn) until October 2, when they will be auctioned off to the public at the annual Takoma Park Street Festival. Proceeds will benefit future OTBA public art projects.

Check out more photos and a map. I also understand that the Green Commuter and Takoma Bicycle have reCYCLE t-shirts available for sale.

OTBA will host an official unveiling this Saturday, June 18th at 10:00am at B.Y. Morrison Park (at the intersection of Carroll Avenue and Rt. 410 in Takoma Park). Car parking is available in the public lot next to 201 Ethan Allen Avenue; bike parking is available everywhere.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saturday: Dedication of Sam Gilliam piece at Takoma Metro underpass; Gray decides to attend after all

Photo: Rich Holzsager,

Bring yourselves to Takoma tomorrow morning for the official dedication ceremony for From a Model to a Rainbow, the Sam Gilliam piece that was recently installed in the Takoma Metro underpass. Here's the relevant info:

When: Saturday, June 11th, 10:00am
Where: The grassy area in front of the Takoma Metro entrance (across Cedar St. NW from the 7-11)

From a Model to a Rainbow is a hand-blown Italian glass mosaic, and it definitely does a lot to liven up the not-so-lovely underpass.

The ceremony will be attended by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams, Councilmember Muriel Bowser, and even Mayor Gray, who reportedly announced a few days ago that he was backing out of attending the ceremony, but did an about-face pretty quickly once he started hearing that people in the neighborhood were peeved by his decision. The power of community outrage prevailed.

Sam Gilliam will be on hand to speak, and entertainment will be provided by the Takoma Baptist Church Choir and the Calvin Coolidge Senior High School Drum Line.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tonight: public meeting regarding revised plans for Ecco Park

One of the new renderings of the Ecco Park design. Image:

Architect Sas Gharai has revised his design proposal for Ecco Park since the last public meeting on the topic. He'll show the new plans and discuss them with the community this evening.

When: Wednesday, June 8, 7-9 pm
Where: Seekers Church, 276 Carroll Street, NW (across the street from the 7-11)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Upshur Playground officially opens tomorrow

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Get ready kids! From Friends of 16th Street Parks:


Join the Friends of 16th Street Heights Parks, Councilmember Muriel Bowser's Office, ANC4C05, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the 16th Street Neighborhood Association on Saturday, June 4, 2011 from 11:45 to 4:00 to celebrate the opening of the new playground and the start of the pool season at Upshur Park. Mayor Gray will attend.

The new playground has something for all ages including climbing equipment, a sand area for toddlers, swings and a rubberized surface that is safe and sustainable. New fencing, landscaping and hardscaping along with picnic tables and a pavilion with a vegetated roof make it a functional, accessible and beautiful space for families to enjoy.

  • 11:45 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
    with Muriel Bowser and Department of Parks and Recreation representatives
  • 12:00 – 2:00 Lunch
    Entertainment including a DJ, kids activities and more!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Walter Reed personnel call for delaying the facility's closure

The closure of Walter Reed is scheduled for September 15, but some personnel are asking for a delay of the closure because facilities at the newly expanded army medical center in Bethesda are not yet sufficient to accommodate wounded troops returning from the wars, reports The Examiner:

Local government officials are already urging the Pentagon to delay moving more than 30,000 local defense personnel in the Washington area until road improvements can be made around the office and hospital sites to accommodate more daily commuters and avoid gridlock. But the new warnings from medical personnel add a sense of urgency to those efforts.

"My equipment could break down tomorrow, and that should be OK because we're going to [Bethesda]," one Walter Reed nurse said. "But they're not ready to handle my workload."
The Pentagon is required by law to move personnel by Sept. 15, but Congress is crafting legislation that would give the defense secretary the authority to delay some of the moves.