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Ward 4 Dispatch: DC Updates, Flowers, and Budget Forum on Saturday!

Dear Neighbors,

I’m coming to you with our performance oversight highlights from this week, updates on Ward 4 transportation projects, and the scoop on where to get your flowers for Valentines Day Weekend. I’m also looking forward to hearing from Ward 4 residents tomorrow at our Ward 4 Community Budget Forum to shape my work on the DC budget this year. We also have quite a few updates on city services, neighborhood events, and community resources that you don’t want to miss. Take a look below!

Ward 4 News and Legislative Updates

Ward 4 Highlights from Performance Oversight Hearings This Week

Performance oversight hearings don’t get much coverage, but they’re a great opportunity to press agencies on what they’re doing to meet the needs of our communities and get answers to questions constituents have been raising all year. Here are some highlights from this week:

  • I asked DPW for updates on their handling of abandoned vehicles. I’m grateful to hear that DPW and DGS are closer to getting additional impound lot space, which will address a key barrier to the prompt removal of these vehicles from our neighborhoods. I’ve also introduced legislation to streamline the removal of abandoned vehicles.
  • I also raised the need for apartment buildings with private solid waste collections to have adequate containers. We’ve heard from 4A04 Commissioner Singleton and many residents that buildings often lack adequate dumpster space for the volume of trash they’re producing, leading to rodent and dumping problems – particularly in our alleys.
  • At this hearing I also discussed improving residential parking permit (RPP) enforcement, DPW’s role in encampment clearings, and the agency’s role in the Building Blocks initiative.
  • Then I got the chance to discuss the SchoolConnect program with the Department of For-Hire Vehicles about the need to expand the safe student transportation program to Ward 4, in order to help students living near LaSalle-Backus ES who attend Ida B Wells MS and Coolidge HS. I’m following up with Director Do, DME, the Ward 4 Education Alliance, and our principals to coordinate on getting this done.
  • We also had our hearing with DC Public Library this week. I raised my strong objections with Director Reyes-Gavilan around decision to name the auditorium at MLK Library after Jeff Bezos (a decision that now seems unlikely to move forward).
  • At the same hearing, I raised my concerns about DCPL’s tentative plans to relocate the Shepherd Park Library in 2027, insisting that this important neighborhood library must continue to serve our growing community at its current location. I also emphasized the need to address existing service gaps with an additional library in Brightwood Park or Manor Park. The Director agreed to meet with the community to discuss this need and their current plans. We also got some good news from the hearing: the fully rebuilt Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library is on track to open this summer!
  • We also had our performance hearing with DSLBD, the small business agency in the District. I shared my excitement about the new Petworth Main Street, which will be run by the existing Uptown Main Street association and is currently hiring an Executive Director for the Petworth site. I also highlighted our community’s concerns about Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street and discussed ways to expand our Georgia Avenue Clean Team and make sure they have more staff to do their important work.
  • I was also alarmed by the significant staffing shortage at the Office of Administrative Hearings and the case backlog it has caused. This affects a whole range of city services, including preventing timely enforcement against vacant and blighted properties by DCRA.
  • This week DCPS released initial school budgets. My team and I are reviewing these budgets and we’re working with Local School Advisory Teams (LSATs) to make sure every school will have the resources they need for next school year.
  • And finally, we had an important oversight hearing with the Office of the DC Attorney General. They are still in the process of selecting a contractor to run the new Cure the Streets site in Ward 4, which will serve the Brightwood Park, Petworth, and Park View communities. The site is still on track to launch this spring by late March or early April. They will work daily to deescalate the conflicts between neighborhood crews that fuel most of the gun violence in our community. The two shootings we had in Petworth this week demonstrated the urgent need for this intervention to support our existing public safety resources in Ward 4.

DDOT Updates on Ward 4 Infrastructure Projects

I got the chance to meet with DDOT Director Lott this week and wanted to share some updates on transportation projects in our community, which I know are of interest to residents.

  • Oregon Avenue NW Reconstruction. Safety Improvements from this project include stormwater management to reduce roadway flooding, new sidewalks and streetlights, and new bridge over Pinehurst Run. Timeline: On track for completion in April 2022.
  • Metropolitan Branch TrailFort Totten to Takoma. Safety Improvements from this project include a planned network of over 850 miles of trails throughout the region. It will connect to the Capital Crescent Trail and Anacostia River Trail. It’s an important transportation route, providing connections to homes, work, and play. Timeline and Next Steps: The design is 95% complete, and DDOT is waiting for DC Water review and approval. DDOT will advertise for construction this fall.
  • Metropolitan Branch Trail: Blair Road to Piney Branch. See above for a description of the MBT. DDOT recently hosted a community meeting on this section of the trail. Timeline and Next Steps: DDOT is working on completing the last half mile link of the trail in the Takoma Park area. They’re currently reviewing a draft of the preliminary design.
  • Kennedy Street Revitalization II: 16th Street to Georgia Ave NW. Safety Improvements from this project include reconstructing and revitalizing the corridor by reconfiguring and upgrading intersections at Georgia Avenue and Longfellow Street NW, as well as improving the intersection of 14th St & Kennedy St & Colorado Ave NW. In addition, Illinois Ave & Georgia Ave NW intersection will be relocated to the south to mitigate some of the existing operational problems. There will also be sidewalk replacement, ADA ramps, and updated traffic signals. Timeline: Construction is scheduled to take place at the end of this year through 2024, but DDOT is still coordinating with utility partners on the DC PLUG initiative.
  • Rehabilitation of Eastern Avenue NE between New Hampshire NE and Whittier Street NW. Safety Improvements from this project include increasing multi-modal (pedestrian, bicyclist and motorist) safety and improving the corridor’s appearance and functionality with new pavement and granite curbs. They will also include new sidewalks, additional bike lanes, improved lighting, traffic signal updates, and pavement markings. Timeline: Design completion will take place Spring 2022, and construction will begin in 2027.
  • 16th Street Bus Transit Priority. This project started this month and is set to be completed by this summer.

Gather Ye Rosebuds: Flower Shops in Ward 4

Ward 4 residents don’t have to travel far for our Valentine’s Day flowers since we’re lucky to have several awesome flower shops here in our community. I want to highlight some of these shops as you plan for this weekend – and also for your needs year-round.

In Petworth we’re celebrating the (re)opening of Flowers by Alexes at 851 Upshur Street NW, a longtime family business revived by the original owner’s daughter, Alexes. In Brightwood ParkMary Wood’s Florist at 921 Kennedy St NW is another beloved neighborhood staple. The Kennedy Street corridor also has the great Roots and Blooms (703 Kennedy St NW), which is already sold out of flowers for February 14 but has plenty of options for other dates this weekend. Then in Manor Park, neighbors can benefit from a wonderful selection of bouquets from Convention Floral at 5932 3rd St NW. Meanwhile, Takoma is getting a brand new house plant store named Black Box Botanical at 7059 Blair Rd NW. Black Box will launch tomorrow from 2pm-5pm with a special Floral Bar for your Valentine’s Day flowers. Also in Takoma: Lost Sock Roasters is hosting a pop-up with Petal DC this weekend, and KSquared is at the SpiceSuite on Sunday selling bouquets. In addition, we’re fortunate to have N Time Floral Design as a fantastic option at 1209 Tuckerman Street NW right in the border between Takoma and Brightwood. West of the Park, the Farmers Market at Lafayatte Elementary School in Chevy Chase won’t have a flower vendor on Saturday but they will offer an extraordinary selection of desserts for your loved one, including cakes, baklava, chestnut-stuffed chocolates, and more.

Neighborhood Events

Ward 4 Community Budget Forum

This Saturday, February 12 at 3:30pm I will be hosting a Ward 4 community budget forum to hear directly from neighbors and ANC Commissioners about what they want to see included in the DC budget for next year. Each Ward 4 resident will have the chance to share their budget priorities as we head into budget season. Last year, I advocated for the investments that residents asked for at this forum and several of them ended up in the DC budget! Sign up to join the budget forum.

DPR Valentine’s Day Events in Ward 4
The Department of Parks and Recreation is coming through for our community with two Valentine’s Day events in Ward 4. Reserve your spot while you still can!

Sixteenth Street Heights Neighborhood Clean Up

On Saturday, February 12 starting at 11am neighbors in Sixteenth Street Heights will be having a small neighborhood clean up starting at 4517 15th Street NW. Cecelia Waldeck from the 16th Street Neighborhood Association is coordinating the clean up, and she will have garbage bags and extra trash pickup sticks to share.

Petworth Playground Clean Up

On Sunday, February 13 starting at 10am the Friends of Petworth Park will be hosting a clean up of Petworth Playground. Meet them at the corner of 8th St & Taylor St NW to get started. Enjoy the great weather while helping tidy up our Ward 4 park! Thank you to Steven Feingold for coordinating.

High School Boys Basketball Semi Final: Roosevelt v. Coolidge

On Monday, February 14 at 6pm our two Ward 4 DCPS High Schools square off in the playoff semi final for a ticket to the HS Boys Basketball Championship Final! The Coolidge Colts (#2) will host the Roosevelt Rough Riders (#3) at Coolidge High School. Both teams have had amazing seasons. DCIAA has been live-streaming several basketball games through the Scholar Athletes Sports Network.

Listen As We Climb: North Portal Estates and Colonial Village

On Thursday, February 17 at 6:30pm we will host our sixth Listen As We Climb virtual community listening session, this time focused on North Portal Estates and Colonial Village! RSVP here to chat with me and your neighbors about the changes we want to see in our community. What we discuss will help shape my legislative work, oversight of DC agencies, DC budget advocacy, constituent services, and efforts in our community. If you haven’t yet, take a moment to go to my website and sign up for your neighborhood’s event.

Virtual Community Event Previewing Dance Loft Development

On Thursday, February 17 from 6:30pm-7:30pm Dance Loft on 14 is hosting a virtual community event to preview the future space it’s working to develop. “Dance Loft is working to create a new world-class arts complex with affordable housing above it and net-zero emissions. At this event, you’ll hear from Dance Loft’s Founder, resident artists, and building partner Heleos development about the future space and its possibilities.” RSVP here for the event.

Chevy Chase Small Area Plan Open House

On Wednesday, February 23 from 3pm-7pm the DC Office of Planning will host a Community Open House on the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan at the Chevy Chase Library (upstairs meeting room). It will take place in a gallery format where community members can view presentation boards about the Small Area Planning process, a summary of what we’ve heard so far, illustrative graphics of potential growth along the Connecticut Avenue corridor, and draft design principles and guidelines. Learn more about the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan and review information from past meetings and events at this link.

Ward 4 ANC/SMD Redistricting Public Meetings

The Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force is meeting regularly as they work to redistrict Ward 4’s SMD and ANC boundaries. All meetings are open to the public and offer ASL and Spanish interpretation. Additionally, you can share your input with the Redistricting Task Force at any point by emailing or leaving a voicemail at 202-642-5714. Find more information about the Task Force and the redistricting process on the Ward 4 Redistricting webpage. Here’s a list of the Task Force’s meetings:

  • Sunday, February 20, 2022, 2pm-4pm via Zoom: Task force subcommittees report back on their research.
  • Sunday, February 27, 2022, 2pm-4pm via Zoom: Proposed discussion maps made public.
  • Tuesday, March 8, 2022, 7pm-9pm via Zoom: PUBLIC MEETING where community members can weigh in with public testimony (up to 3 minutes) on forthcoming proposed discussion maps from the Task Force.
  • Sunday, March 13, 2022, 2pm-4pm via Zoom: Finalize proposed map boundaries and begin report drafting.
  • Sunday, March 20, 2022, 2pm-4pm via Zoom: Draft report discussion.
  • Tuesday, March 29, 2022, 7pm-9pm via Zoom: Final vote on proposed map and report to submit to the Council’s Subcommittee on Redistricting.

Community Resources

Updates on City Services

  • Ward 4 COVID Center: We have a Ward 4 COVID Center at Peoples Congressional UCC (4704 13th St NW) where residents can get their vaccine, booster, PCR test, rapid tests, or free KN95 masks all in one place. COVID Centers now exist in every ward, including a new site in Ward 3 (5335 Wisconsin Ave NW) that opened last week! Find a full listing of all DC COVID Centers and their operating hours on DC Health’s website.
    Note: The Ward 4 COVID Center has had to be closed the last couple of Saturdays but it will be open tomorrow from 10am-8pm. You can confirm a center is open before visiting through the daily schedule posted on this website.
  • New DC Digital COVID Vaccine Record Site: This week DC launched, a new site that provides a digital record of your vaccine that is accessible from your smart phone, tablet, or computer and includes a QR code that will display the same information as your paper CDC vaccine card. Go to the site and enter your name, DOB, and contact info to access a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record. Residents who have used the new site have reported mixed results, including difficulties locating vaccinations that occurred out of state or through federal agencies.
  • DC Fully Vaccinated Entry Requirement: Reminding you that DC’s citywide vaccine entry requirement for entering most restaurant, entertainment, and recreation businesses will require that residents be fully vaccinated starting Tuesday, February 15. The requirement has already been in effect since January 15 but so far only required that patrons have their first vaccine dose. DC Health has a detailed FAQ to help answer your questions about the policy.
  • Deadline for DC School Lottery PK3-Grade 8: The My School DC Lottery application deadline for parents of children in PK3 through Grade 8 is March 1, 2022. If that includes you, be sure to submit your application for next school year!
  • Leaf Collection: This coming week DPW will continue responding to 311 service requests for missed leaf collection. So if your block still needs leaf collection, please submit a 311 request so DPW can complete it next week. Feel free to follow up with me or my team if that doesn’t work so we can flag it for the agency. We’re happy to help!
  • Unemployment Insurance Fraud: My team and I have been in touch with DOES and supporting Ward 4 constituents who are the victims unemployment insurance fraud (someone fraudulently filing for benefits under their name). We received this update from DOES on what residents should do in this situation and how they should go about filing their taxes. If any of you have experienced this and need further support, please consider contacting my constituent services team.
  • WMATA Budget Survey: If you believe that a MetroBus route in our community needs to be restored or offer more frequent service, be sure to weigh in on WMATA’s proposed budget for next year by filling out their budget survey. It only takes a few minutes, and this is our best shot to ensure Ward 4 receives the MetroBus service we depend on.
  • Update Your WMATA Card: WMATA is installing new faregates at rail stations and will upgrade fareboxes on Metrobuses in the fall. If your SmartTrip card was issued before 2012 it will need to be replaced by March 1, 2022. Learn more on WMATA’s website.
  • DC Small Business Grant: DC launched a $40 million bridge fund to support brick-and-mortar small businesses in the restaurant, entertainment, and retail industries that have struggled during the pandemic. The deadline to apply is February 25 at 5pm.
  • Summer Youth Employment Program: The 2022 Summer Youth Employment Program is accepting applications from DC residents ages 14-24. It will run from June 27 through August 5, and there are both virtual and in-person options within the program. Applications will be accepted until Monday, February 28.

How Black History Inspires Me” Art Contest at Petworth Library

As part of Black History Month, Petworth Library is hosting an art contest where young people ages 5-19 can share the ways they feel inspired by Black history. Participating artists may use any 2-D or 3-D medium (i.e., painting, collage, or sculpture) no larger than 12″ x 14″. Winners will be selected for various age groups and winning artworks will be displayed in the library. All entries are due by Friday, February 25 by 5pm. Please drop off the artwork to the Petworth Neighborhood Library and attach a label with the student’s name, age, school, and contact information. More info can be found on the Petworth Library website. I also wanted to put a plug in for the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library‘s Walk Like Annalese Keating TikTok video competition, also celebrating Black History Month.

In between all the hearings and meetings this week, I’m dedicating some time to participating in TranspoBINGO, a fun way to celebrate public transit and public spaces. Shoutout to Ward 4 residents Rachel Maisler and 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer for coordinating this week’s festivities. Here’s the link in case you want to join the fun.

Have a wonderful weekend, Ward 4!

Yours in Community,