There’s a lot to report on this week: key insights on school repairs, an update on the 16th Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project, a landmark hearing on my bill to replace all lead pipes in our city and create a green jobs pipeline for DC residents, an open house for the Georgia Avenue Bus Priority Project, a map of free summer youth meals in Ward 4, today’s nomination deadline for the Ward 4 Commemorative Project, and many community events.
Lessons from School Readiness Tours
As part of my work as Chair of the Facilities and Family Services Committee, last week I led school readiness tours at 13 DCPS schools in every Ward of DC. The purpose of these visits was to assess DGS and DCPS overall maintenance of our school buildings and identify systemic issues that we can address through Council oversight or legislation. I was grateful to be joined by staff from DCPS, DGS, SBOE representatives, ANC Commissioners, school leaders, educators, and parents. My visits included a tour of the Sharpe building in Ward 4 that will house Dorothy Height Elementary and Truesdell Elementary next school year while both schools are being modernized. Last month I conducted similar readiness tours at rec centers across DC, and I reported on key takeaways from those visits in my June 23 newsletter. Now I’m sharing some of the key lessons learned during our school readiness tours:
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Issues: Several schools are experiencing broken or malfunctioning HVAC systems, causing discomfort for students and staff. DGS staff pledged to do everything in their power to improve conditions before the new school year, but it is alarming that these issues were not resolved sooner.
- Active Security and Safety Risks: Across the 13 schools visited, there were 75 open lock and door repair requests with the median age that these requests have been open being 141 days. In addition, there were broken security cameras, malfunctioning security alarm systems, and difficulties with getting new keys produced at multiple sites. These widespread problems are why our Committee advanced and funded the School Security and Transparency Act, which was authored by Councilmember Robert White to improve security in schools.
- Salesforce Miscommunication and Training Concerns: Staff at DCPS sites had varying understandings of how to enter and manage work orders in Salesforce, leading to frustrating confusion and delays. There were concerns about incomplete information in work order requests, inadequate training, and a lack of communication between DCPS and DGS. In addition to improving training, I am urging the agency to make two simple but important changes to address these issues: update the email distribution list for work orders at each school to include all relevant staff and allow DCPS staff to mark work orders as “not complete” when they are mistakenly marked as resolved.
- Other issues that we identified and are urging agency action on include: significant delays in resolving work orders, many of which exceed their Service Level Agreement timelines and still lack an estimated completion date; data quality concerns with duplicative work orders and work orders incorrectly marked as resolved and vice versa; pest control issues at several schools that require better coordination and regular visits by DGS environmental services teams; bathroom supply problems that schools struggle to address with their existing non-personnel funds that must also fund other important school needs; needing improved communication and faster resolution of broader, more complex work orders that require procurement; a summer triage process prioritizing 10 work orders in each school that should have been planned sooner and that disadvantages schools with a large number of work orders.
Even as we press for major improvements in school maintenance, we recognize the incredible work being done in our schools every day. I visited 13 DCPS schools less than a week after the last day of school, and teachers and staff at each school were already hard at work preparing for the next school year. And dedicated agency personnel at DGS, OSSE, and DCPS are helping coordinate summer school operations, equipment replacement, meal distribution, building moves, and building repairs across 115 DCPS campuses.
Hearing Held on Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC
On Thursday, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment held an important hearing on my Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC legislation to accelerate the removal of all hazardous lead service lines in the District, while also creating good green jobs for District residents. These jobs will deliver opportunity to the same communities who have been hit hardest by the severe health hazards of lead in our water supply. Lead exposure can seriously harm children’s development, cause miscarriages, and exacerbate physical pain and cognitive issues for seniors. But for DC to meet its goal to replace all lead pipes by 2030, major changes will be needed. I believe we should look to cities like Newark, which successfully removed all of its lead service lines well ahead of schedule by creating a strong jobs pipeline to hire local residents to do the job — and by building public trust and community buy-in for the project through clear communication and credible messengers. DC is receiving approximately $143 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) that will help fund the rapid replacement of lead pipes in our city. At Thursday’s hearing, we heard from more than two dozen community leaders, policy experts, racial justice advocates, union representatives, and environmental justice organizers on why lead service line replacement is a critical priority for DC — and their ideas and insights on how to strengthen the bill and successfully implement it. I will keep working with our communities and Committee Chair Charles Allen to pass comprehensive legislation to confront the lead pipe crisis in DC.
Update on 16th Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project
Ward 4 residents have been patiently waiting for the 16th Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project to be completed. The project will rehabilitate the historic bridge over Piney Branch Parkway, which was originally built in 1906 and was last rehabilitated more than three decades ago. In addition to important bridge maintenance, the project will also deliver community benefits such as safety improvements; upgraded lighting, pedestrian fences, and guardrails; sculpture restoration; traffic signal upgrades; and the addition of biofiltration planters to improve stormwater management. The project has made slow but steady progress, though the sidewalk and lane closures throughout construction have been a burden on neighbors. I wanted to update our community that DDOT anticipates the bridge overlay work to be completed by this winter, so sidewalk closures are anticipated to end before the start of the new year. Work inside the bridge arch will continue through the winter, but it will not impact the public like other phases of project have by closing sidewalks and travel lanes. We are looking forward to this project being completed and having a fully rehabilitated and accessible 16th Street Bridge!
Community Movie Night at Emery Heights
On Friday, July 7 at 6pm-8:30pm Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW) will host a community movie night indoors in their media room. The movie shown will be chosen by the children present!
Invasive Plant Removal and Cleanup at Little Forest Park
On Saturday, July 8 from 9:30am-12pm NPS and the Rock Creek Conservancy will host an invasive plant removal restoration and cleanup event event in Little Forest Park (5430 30th St NW) in Chevy Chase. Sign up to join the event and help sustain this beautiful park.
Summer Saturdays with City Blossoms on Kennedy
On Saturday, July 8 from 10am-12pm City Blossoms will host Summer Saturdays in their studio garden at 516 Kennedy St NW (accessible through the alley on 5th Street). This is a free, kid-driven, community event with nature play, reading, recipe-making, garden art, plant care, and more summer activities. Check out all the details on the event’s flyer.
Jazz in the Parks at Walter Reed: Ben Williams
On Saturday, July 8 from 5pm-8pm The Parks at Walter Reed will host Jazz in the Parks on their Great Lawn featuring Grammy-winning bassist and Shepherd Elementary alum Ben Williams at 6pm and an earlier children’s performance at 5pm. Bring your own picnic, blanket and refreshments, and enjoy popular local food vendors. RSVP on Eventbrite if you plan to go!
6th Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl
On Friday, July 14 from 10am-3pm and Saturday, July 15 from 10am-3pm Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Neighborhood Library and The Parks Main Street will host the 6th Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl. The event will feature local vendors, music, books, live painting, yoga demo, face painting, balloons, caricatures, and more! Check out the event flyer for details.
Late Night Hype Emery Heights Community Center
On Friday, July 14 from 6pm-11pm DPR will host an after-hours Late Night Hype event at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Avenue NW) as part of its weekly summer activation. Late Night Hype is a nighttime carnival-style event featuring bounce houses, music, food, video games, and much more! Check out the details on DPR’s website.
Manor Park Community Cleanup
On Saturday, July 15 starting at 9am 4B05 Commissioner Kevin Gilligan will host a community cleanup in Manor Park. Neighbors will meet at 8th & Peabody NW and clean nearby streets. Bags, gloves, grabbers, and snacks will all be provided.
159th Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Stevens
On Saturday, July 15 at 10am-4pm NPS andthe Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington will host the 159th Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Stevens with the theme “Music and the Defense of the Capital.” The main program will begin at 10:15am and will include a great lineup of speakers, musicians, reenactors, historical interpreters, and children’s activities. There will also be a walk-and-talk session at 3pm at nearby Battleground Cemetery.
Outdoor Jazz Concert in Crestwood
On Saturday, July 15 at 5pm the Crestwood Citizens Association will host an outdoor jazz concert for neighbors at The Triangle (18th & Argyle Terrace NW). Enjoy tunes with neighbors!
Ward 4 Day at National Building Museum
On Thursday, July 20 from 10am-4pm the National Building Museum will host Ward 4 Day, where Ward 4 residents will be able to enter the museum for free and explore their newest summer installation, participate in hands-on crafts, enjoy storytime at 11am or 1pm, and meet neighbors and community partners. Bring your proof of residency to verify your zip code, and all children must be accompanied by adults. If you are tied up on July 20, you can also visit the museum for free on August 3 or August 17 through your At Large Council representatives.
The Parks Marketplace Ribbon Cutting and Festival
On Thursday, July 20 from 4pm-6:30pm The Parks at Walter Reed will host a ribbon cutting and community festival to celebrate the opening of the new Marketplace Plaza, featuring The Hartley apartments, Common Clover co-living, Kite House condos, the new Whole Foods, and retail stores like The Charmery ice cream shop, Nailsaloon, Mezeh, and Chase Bank. The event will kick off with live music and feature free beverage samples, food, and giveaways.
Socialist Night School on Social Housing in Petworth
On Thursday, July 20 at 6:30pm Metro DSA will host a Socialist Night School event focused on social housing at Petworth Neighborhood Library (4200 Kansas Ave NW). The hybrid event will feature Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker and labor, housing, and community organizers from DC and beyond. The panel will discuss the housing crisis in the District and why social housing is an essential policy to address it. Please RSVP via Action Network.
Fresh Goods and Community at Ward 4 Farmers Markets
We have several great Farmers Market options in Ward 4 every weekend:
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette ES on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
DPW Trash and Recycling Shifts an Hour Earlier
Starting this week, DPW is collecting trash and recycling an hour earlier than usual — starting their collection routes at 6am. The change will help safeguard the health and safety of DPW collection workers from summer heat and poor air quality. Residents are encouraged to put their trash and recycling out the night before collection — anytime after 6pm.
Georgia Avenue Bus Priority Project Open House
DDOT recently expanded the scope of the Georgia Avenue Bus Priority Project to cover all of the Georgia Avenue corridor in Ward 4 stretching from Barry Place all the way up to Eastern Avenue. On Tuesday, July 11 from 4:30pm-7:30pm DDOT will host an Open House at Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Library (7420 Georgia Avenue NW, Meeting Room 1) to share information and receive community input about the project, which aims to drastically improve bus service and traffic safety on Georgia Avenue. DDOT also has an online survey that residents can fill out to weigh in on the project, as well as a phone number (202-671-2376) and email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) where neighbors can ask questions.
Deadline TODAY: Ward 4 Commemorative Project
The deadline for nominating Ward 4 individuals, events, or community organizations to be commemorated as part of the Ward 4 Commemorative Project is TODAY: Friday, July 7. This project is facilitated by Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street and will lead to a statue, sculpture, or plaque installed within Ward 4 to recognize the honoree. Subjects can include a person who passed away more than 10 years ago or an event that occurred at least 10 years ago.
DC Minimum Wage Rises to $17 Per Hour
DC’s minimum wage has increased to $17 per hour (up from $16.10), and DC’s tipped minimum wage has risen to $8 per hour (from $6) with employers being required to make up the difference to $17 per hour if tips are insufficient to do so. Higher wages for workers!
Outdoor Pools Now Open Six Days a Week
Outdoor pools are now open open six days, and you can find each pool’s schedule on DPR’s website. In Ward 4, Upshur Pool is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 10am-6pm and only closes on Mondays. Keep in mind that DC’s indoor pools are also open during summer, including Roosevelt Pool and Takoma Aquatic Center in Ward 4. Indoor pools are a great option if you want to swim early in the morning or late at night — or if the weather or air quality is bad.
MetroBus Launches Nighttime Courtesy Stops
MetroBus drivers now offer nightime courtesy stops for riders traveling between 9pm-5am to improve service and customer safety when it is darkest outside. All riders need to do is politely ask the driver for a courtesy stop at a safe location and use the front door of the bus to exit.
DCPL Dinosaur Roaring Contest Is Back!
DC Public Library is bringing back its fun and frightening dinosaur roaring contest. Just record a video of your best dinosaur roar (10 seconds or less) and upload your entry on DCPL’s website by August 1. There will be prizes and a compilation video with the best entries!
DC Libraries Now Opening and Closing an Hour Earlier
As of this past week, neighborhood libraries are opening and closing an hour earlier on Mondays through Thursdays “to better serve those who co-work at the library, seniors, older students, and caregivers with young children.” That means our Petworth, Takoma, Chevy Chase, Shepherd Park Juanita Thornton, and Lamond-Riggs/Lillian Huff libraries are now open from 9am-8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays — and from noon-8pm on Thursdays.
Free Woodworking Classes for ANC 4A Residents
The Zenith Community Arts Foundation is offering FREE woodworking classes for Ward 4 residents ages 18 and older who live in ANC 4A, which includes Brightwood, Colonial Village, North Portal, The Parks at Walter Reed, and Shepherd Park. The classes will take place on July 8, July 15, and July 22 from 10:30am-1pm, and they will be taught by expert cabinetmaker Ric Simmons. Please call Lynda Smith-Bugge at 202-783-8005 to sign up for classes or to express your interest in woodworking opportunities. Read the full announcement for details!
Run for ANC Commissioner in Riggs Park
Ward 4 needs a new ANC Commissioner to fill a vacancy in Single Member District 4B09 in Riggs Park. If you live in SMD 4B09, consider stepping up to serve your neighborhood. Learn more about the process of running on the DC Board of Elections website, or look up who your Commissioner is on the ANC website. Nominating petitions are now available.
Free Summer Meals for Youth Available All Summer
Local News Links
Washington Post: Swimming in the Anacostia River will be legal for one day in July
City Paper: Health Centers Create Strategies to Keep Residents Enrolled in Medicaid
Washington Post: DC home buyers’ assistance program is out of funds, officials say
Fox 5: Hedzole dishing up Ghanaian cuisine in Sixteenth Street Heights
Petworth News: Turning a garage roof green and getting cool
Channel 9: DC, MD, VA officials share mixed reactions to SCOTUS student loan decision
DCist: Norton Wants To Expand NPS Mission To Improve DC’s Urban Parks
DCist: DC Revamps Driver’s License Design
DDOT: Public Meeting Notice: Positive Truck Route Signage Study
Petworth News: Celebrate Petworth is bringing a full day of fun
DC Line: How a long-delayed database project affected decision-making on rent caps
DCist: Mysterious New Pest Threatening One Of The Most Important Trees In DC Forests
UrbanTurf: How a Zoning Change Could Reshape Upper 14th Street
DCist: Looking Glass Priced Out Of Petworth, Leaving Locals Heartbroken
Ward 4 Dispatch: Summer Safety, New Whole Foods, and Fourth of July in Ward 4
Whether you travelled or stayed in DC for the Fourth of July, I hope you had a great celebration! I’m leaving you with a glimpse of our local festivities at the Armed Forces Retirement Home (Soldiers Home), where neighbors gather every year for a day full of family fun and a hillside view of the National Mall fireworks. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to make the day possible, and to Drew Schneider of Petworth News for sharing this photo.
Have a great weekend, Ward 4!
Yours in Community,