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Ward 4 Dispatch: Leaf Collection, School Connect in Riggs Park, and a New Building for Friendship Ideal

Dear Neighbors,

This was a jam-packed week on the Council and in Ward 4! We have a new DC School Connect program serving Riggs Park students, a new building for Friendship Ideal in Lamond, public safety walks and meetings, Council hearings on DPR, DOB, and trash issues, a preview of leaf collection, an early roundup of Halloween events in Ward 4, and surveys on the proposed rehabilitation of Rock Creek Golf CourseUpshur’s modernization, and the proposed redevelopment of the Chevy Chase Civic Core Site. Find it all below!

Filling a Transit Gap for Riggs Park Students

A few years ago, Ward 4 Education Alliance had its members travel to school alongside students to assess transit needs in our community. One of the most concerning issues they observed was the school commute for students around Riggs Park. Currently, there is no direct bus route for students in Lamond Riggs to get to their feeder middle school or high school — and it’s faster for students to walk the entire way than to take several buses and wait for the connection. But the walk is 1.5 miles each way across dangerous corridors like Riggs Road, New Hampshire Avenue, Kansas Avenue, and North Capitol. Together with school leaders and community leaders, we have been advocating over several years for this transit gap to be addressed. This month we are taking an important step in advancing transit equity for Ward 4 students by launching a new DC School Connect pilot shuttle program to safely transport students from Riggs Park to their feeder middle school, Ida B Wells. The new shuttle will keep students safe on their way to and from school, and it will improve equity for families who cannot drive their kids to school every day. Safe and reliable transportation also supports school enrollment and helps reduce truancy and tardiness. Families interested in the program can enroll via waitlist on the DC School Connect website. While we are grateful for this resource for our children, we know there is more work to do to make it easier and safer for Ward 4 students to get to their local schools. Let’s keep working together to get it done!

Friendship Ideal Celebrates New Building in Lamond

This week we cut the ribbon for Friendship Ideal PCS’ beautiful new building in our Lamond community in Ward 4. The new building features a spacious new gymnasium to host school activities and gatherings; modern and expanded classrooms; sustainable features like eco-friendly grounds, bicycle racks, and an electric vehicle charger; and community meeting spaces to serve our broader Ward 4 community. Everyone was thrilled about the new facility, but it was Friendship Ideal’s cheer squad and marching band that stole the show with their energy and talent! Projects like this take years of planning and dedication, so we celebrated the Friendship PCS school leaders, educators, parents, and broader school community that made this vision a reality. As chair of the Facilities and Family Services Committee, I know how important it is for our students to have comfortable and safe learning spaces. I’m excited for all the ways this facility will help our Friendship Ideal Warriors learn and thrive!

Public Safety Walks, Tenant Meetings, and Council Hearings

On Wednesday, I co-led a multiagency public safety walkthrough of Georgia Avenue NW from Upshur Street to Kennedy Street with Councilmember Brooke Pinto (who chairs the Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee) to bring greater agency attention and coordination to safety issues along the corridor. The walkthrough also included MPD, CSOSA, DC OAG, DC Fire and EMS, ANC Commissioners, and neighbors. We covered issues ranging from maintaining safety after school dismissal, violent crime suppression, blighted properties, supporting residents with substance abuse needs, fire code violations, and addressing criminal activity on the corridor. Immediately after, we joined 4D Commander Lavenhouse, ANC 4B Chair Alison Brooks, and other DC government partners for a safety walk around the 1st & Kennedy NW area. We worked to meet the safety needs of small businesses, address illegal parking in the alleys, and mitigate quality of life issues like illegal dumping and excessive trash. On a citywide level, the Council is advancing multiple bills to address serious issues in our public safety ecosystem, such as failures with our 911 Call Center and Crime Lab. The day ended with a meeting with a group of Brightwood tenants and 4A06 Commissioner Candace Nelson about addressing unsafe and undignified housing conditions in their apartment buildings. The Office of the DC Attorney General secured a settlement agreement last year to benefit many of the impacted tenants, but the process has been slow and tenants need assistance with receiving their compensation.

This week was also full of Council hearings. I participated in confirmation hearings for Brian Hanlon, who was nominated to run the Department of Buildings (DOB), and for Thennie Freeman, who was nominated to lead the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). So far, both nominees have been very engaged on Ward 4 matters and show a willingness to bring needed reforms to their respective agencies. Still, I raised important issues at each hearing that still need to be address. For DOB, I focused on addressing vacant and blighted properties in our neighborhoods, holding companies accountable for poor construction, and protecting tenants living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. And for DPR, I raised issues like improving cleanliness and security at our parks, hiring more lifeguards for our pools, reopening Takoma Fitness Center, and preventing DPR programs from being cancelled in the future. After Council engagement, DPR is resuming some of the fall programs it initially cancelled and offering refunds for those who can no longer participate. And finally, this week we also had a bill hearing on my legislation to require DPW to issue public notices before removing public litter cans. This bill, along with the CLEAN Collections Act, will help reduce the litter and trash dumping in our communities. I was grateful to hear the testimony and ideas of several Ward 4 ANC Commissioners and neighbors on the legislation.

Leaf Collection Is Back and Improved

As the leaves start to take their fall colors, leaf collection is kicking off in DC with collection set to start Monday, October 30 and run through January 20. This time around, leaf collection will look significantly different than in years past. Instead of mailing out a brochure with the full schedule to all residents, this year DPW will share weekly updates on its collection schedule for the upcoming week every Friday on its website, its leaf collection line (202-671-5323), and through neighborhood outreach. This way, residents will get an accurate estimate of when leaf collection will take place on their block rather than rely on a schedule that quickly becomes outdated and inaccurate. I will also keep you updated on where leaf collection will take place in Ward 4 in advance of each week. Another change this year is DPW’s new machinery — 40 new electric leaf blowers, six more leaf vac trucks, 18 additional dump trucks, and three new collection buckets — which will allow DPW’s dedicated workers to collect leaves easier and faster. Once collection is underway, neighbors are asked to rake leaves into their treeboxes or curbs in front of their homes on the Sunday before collection begins in their neighborhood. Missed leaf collections can be reported to 311, and my team and I will closely monitor leaf collection and support residents with any issues that emerge. Also, don’t forget that you can drop off pumpkins, gourds, and food scraps at any of DPW’s 12 weekly food waste drop-off sites to be composted and donated — including Uptown Farmers Market (14th & Kennedy NW) this Saturday, October 21 and next Saturday, October 28 from 9am-1pm. Get a full breakdown of leaf collection plans and tips on DPW’s website.

Community Resources

Weigh in on the Proposed Rehabilitation of Rock Creek Golf Course 

Residents have until Tuesday, October 24 next week to weigh in on an important proposal from the National Park Service (a federal agency) and National Links Trust (a non-profit) to rehabilitate Rock Creek Golf Course. The rehabilitation offers potential benefits like reinvigorating the course, improving facilities, improving course trails and paths, and addressing issues like drainage, irrigation and deterioration of grass throughout the golf course. However, the project would also have a significant environmental impact. Notably, it proposes removing up to 1,262 trees and seeks to mitigate the impact by establishing 13 acres of meadow habitats, removing non-native invasive plants, and replanting nearly 200 trees throughout the course. I encourage all Ward 4 residents to learn more about the project, read the environmental assessment, and weigh in by Tuesday’s deadline.

Survey on Upshur Rec Center and Pool Modernization

4C01 Commissioner Casey Swegman and 4C05 Commissioner Brittany Kademian have created a community survey on the upcoming $19 million modernization of Upshur Rec Center and Pool Modernization to inform their engagement with DPR and DGS about the project. Please complete the survey by November 19 on this important project.

Survey on Proposed Redevelopment of Chevy Chase Community Center and Library

ANC 3/4G has launched a survey on the proposed redevelopment of the Chevy Chase Community Center and Library site to construct new facilities and add housing, including at least 30% affordable housing at the 30-80% median family income range. The survey is open to all residents, has a deadline of November 5, and will inform ANC 3/4G’s official positions.

Ward 4 Mutual Aid Grocery Distribution

On Saturday, October 21 starting at 10am at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church (744 Jefferson St NW), Ward 4 Mutual Aid will be distributing gift cards, diapers, and other items as available to the first 100 Ward 4 families in need. Future distribution dates include November 18 and December 16. They also offer a limited number of home deliveries on these same Saturdays. If you physically cannot make it to the church, please call or text the Ward 4 Mutual Aid Hotline at 202-681-3098 to sign up for delivery.

Free Halloween Costume Distribution

If you need a free Halloween costume for your child, Ward 4 Mutual Aid will also distribute costumes for children (newborn to 5 years old) during the grocery distribution on Saturday, October 21 at 10am at Brightwood Park UMC (744 Jefferson St NW). Please contact or 202-854-9830 with any questions.

Updates on Curbside Composting Pilot in Ward 4

Collection started last week for the DPW curbside composting pilot program in Ward 4. Your weekly compost collection day should have been indicated on a card on your starter kit. Residents can also email to find out or confirm their collection day. You can report missed compost collections, broken bins, or stolen bins directly through 311. Despite early bumps in the roll out of the program with broken bins and drivers learning new routes, this curbside composting pilot is a big step towards reducing food waste and promoting sustainability. My team is available to support residents with issues that come up.

Crestwood Triangle Park Closed for Construction

DPR and DGS announced that Crestwood Triangle Park (Argyle Terrace & 18th Street NW) will be temporarily closed for small renovations and the construction of a nature-inspired play area. The park is expected to reopen later this coming winter. Check out the project page and October project update for more details on the upcoming renovation.

Applications Closed for Emergency Rental Aid

Applications for emergency rental assistance are already closed for this quarter after DHS received 3,500 applications in less than 10 days. Applications will reopen again on January 1, April 1, and July 1 and accept 3,500 more applications per quarter. If you require support with your ERAP application, please email or reach out to my team.

Piney Branch Parkway Trail Temporary Closure

DDOT has temporarily closed the Piney Branch Parkway Trail to pedestrians and bicyclists as of Monday, October 16 for approximately five weeks to construct a new crosswalk and sidewalk ramps at the intersection of Piney Branch Parkway & Beach Drive NW as part of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail and Pedestrian Bridge project. Pedestrians and bicyclists are being around the trail using Park Road, 16th Street, and Arkansas Avenue.

24-Hour MetroBus Service Begins December 17 

WMATA updated residents last week that 24-hour MetroBus service is expected to start on December 17 along 13 major DC bus routes. Among the routes that will run overnight are the S2, 52, 70, and 80 routes that directly serve Ward 4 residents. Each overnight route will run at least every 20 minutes or better from 9pm-7am. Check out this slide from WMATA for details. 

ANC 4B Forming Youth Advisory Committee 

ANC 4B is seeking youth applicants between 12-18 years of age who live in or attend a school within ANC 4B boundaries to serve on its new Youth Advisory Committee. The Youth Advisory Committee will work with the Commission to learn more about local government, advocate for policy changes, and connect decision-makers with school communities. Applicants should send their name, grade, school, and a short statement of interest to 4B08 Commissioner Alison Brooks and 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer by October 31

Receive the Ward 4 Newsletter by Text 

Neighbors can now receive the Ward 4 newsletter by text message. To sign up, all you need to do is send a text to 202-286-5268 and request to be added to the list. Once you do, you will receive a text with the newsletter link on Fridays. 

Check Out Our Ward 4 Farmers Markets  

Get your fresh goods, crafts, and dose of community at our Ward 4 Farmers Markets:   

For more local events, check out DPR, DC Public Library, and the Rock Creek Conservancy.

Neighborhood Events

Manor Park Community Cleanup in 4B06

On Saturday, October 21 at 9am-11am 4B06 Commissioner Tiffani Johnson will host a community cleanup starting from Kansas & Blair NW with Sunday as the rain date. Snacks, supplies, and swag will be provided, and students can get volunteer hours. Details on this flyer!

Takoma Community Cleanup: Spooky Edition

On Saturday, October 21 at 10am 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer will host a community cleanup for neighbors starting atTakoma Elementary School (7010 Piney Branch Rd NW). Come help clean the surrounding area, learn how to submit 311 requests for city services, dress up to celebrate spooky season, and leave with a personal marshmallow roasting kit to enjoy after the cleanup at home!

Brightwood Community Yard Sale

On Saturday, October 21 from 10am-2pm several homes in Brightwood along the 1300-1400 blocks of Rittenhouse, Sheridan, Somerset Place, and Tewkesbury Place will host yard sales offering toys, clothes, electronics, furniture, home decor, tools, rugs and more as part of a Brightwood community yard sale. Check out the flyer for more information!

“Don’t Toss It, Fix It!” Community Repair Event

On Saturday, October 21 from 1:30pm-3:30pm DC DOEE is partnering with Green Neighbors to host a community repair event at Twin Oaks Community Garden (1390 Taylor St NW). This is a free event open to all DC residents where neighbors can learn how to repair broken items like small appliances, woodworking projects, clothing, and bikes with a coach.

Fall Festival in Colonial Village at Circle Park

On Sunday, October 22 from 3pm-5:30pm Colonial Village neighbors will host a Neighborhood Fall Festival at Circle Park (Plymouth & Parkside Lane NW) with light food, games, hay rides, and a costume parade at 3:30pm. Come celebrate fall with your neighbors!

Ward 4 and Ward 3 Meeting on DC Streetlight Project

On Thursday, October 26 at 6pm there will be a public meeting on the DC Streetlight Project at Cleveland Park Library (3310 Connecticut Ave NW) for Ward 3 and Ward 4 residents. Come learn about the project, ask questions, and share your feedback with the project team. I wrote extensively about the DC Streetlight Project in last week’s newsletter.

AKA Xi Omega Chapter TRUNK OR TREAT Event

On Friday, October 27 from 5pm-8pm the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Xi Omega Chapter will host its annual TRUNK OR TREAT event at Xi Omega Center (4411 14th St NW). Children of all ages and their families are invited to come fill their bags with lots of treats!

7th Annual Spookyville: Haunted Alley in Takoma

On Friday, October 27 starting at 6pm 4B02 Commissioner Erin Palmer will host the 7th Annual Spookyville: Haunted Alley event in the alley behind 715-719 Van Buren St NW in Takoma. The party is fun for all ages and will include stories, crafts, games, a fish fry, a DJ, haunted walks, s’mores, and more. Find the full schedule of festivities on the flyer.

MPD v. Riggs LaSalle Youth Basketball Game

On Friday, October 27 at 6pm MPD will take on Riggs LaSalle Youth in a community basketball came at Riggs LaSalle Rec Center (501 Riggs Rd NE). Come out to show support!

Sixteenth Street Heights Halloween Block Party

On Saturday, October 28 from 5pm-9pm Sixteenth Street neighbors will host a Halloween Block Party on the 1500 block of Buchanan Street NW (i.e., Boochanan Street) featuring live bands, karaoke, a DJ, moon bounce, costumes, a spooky piñata, food, drinks, and fun!

St. Paul’s Rock Creek Church Halloween Spooktacular

On Saturday, October 28 from 5pm-8pm St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (located at Rock Creek Church Road & Webster NW) will host its annual Halloween Spooktacular event with a haunted house, treats, spooky crafts, cemetery hayrides, and pumpkin decorating! Admission to the event is free.

MPD Fourth District Fall Festival

On Saturday, October 28 from 5pm-8pm MPD Fourth District will host its Fall Festival at 6001 Georgia Ave NW. The festival will include music, food, face painting, candy giveaway, a 360 photo booth, and other family-friendly activities.

Yardfest Fall Festival at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church

On Sunday, October 29 from 12pm-3pm Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (4606 16th Street NW) will host its 2023 Yardfest Fall Festival featuring COVID shots and boosters, flu shots, health activities, line dancing, a Tai Chi demonstration, a hand dancing demonstration, children’s dance activities, and more. Check out the flyer with more info about this free event!

Sherman Circle Halloween SPOOKTACULAR

On Sunday, October 29 from 3pm-7pm Petworth Peanuts will be hosting the 2023 Sherman Circle Spooktacular offering free spooky fun that will include music, giveaways, games, and family-friendly activities. “Get your best Halloween costumes ready, boys and ghouls!”

Trick or Treat on the Chevy Chase Main Street Corridor

On Tuesday, October 31 between 3pm-6pm Chevy Chase Main Street is coordinating trick-or-treating along Connecticut Avenue with participating businesses between Livingston Street and Chevy Chase Circle. This is a great option for Ward 4 residents west of the Park on Halloween Day!

Ward 4 in the News

Empower K12: Whittier, Roots PCS, and Friendship Named Bold Performance Schools

WMATA: Doors Opening… Faster! Metro Preparing for Auto Doors

Petworth News: La Coop Coffee Shop Relocating to Kennedy Street

Washington Post: 2023 Fall Dining Guide (featuring The Hitching Post in Ward 4)

Little Food Studio: New Cafe Location on Upshur and Afro-Fusion Dining by Night

PopVille: Al Volo folks buy the old Macombo building in Brightwood Park

Shepherd Park Children’s Academy: New Educational Childcare Center Opens in Ward 4

Petworth News: Enjoy a spooky Halloween theatrical show — Spirits: A Hat Trick

Washington Post: DC SNAP recipients expected to get boost thanks to excess revenue

Next Stop… Riggs Park: Cleaning Up Riggs Road NE

PopVille: Merry Pin is Craft Store + Cafe + Community Space – Opening Early 2024

Petworth News: Sandovan’s Restaurant and Lounge on Georgia Avenue to Close

PopVille: Little Vietnam Moving to Larger Space, While New Afro-Fusion Restaurant Almeda Takes Over Its Upshur Street Space

Washington Post: In Between His Two Other Jobs, He’s the Food Critic Voice of DC (featuring Ward 4’s Shellfish Market)

AKA Xi Omega: Community Conference on Reproductive Health for Women of Color

Washington Informer: New Council Bill Aims to Better Protect DC Forestland

Washington Business Journal: On the Road Walter Reed: Inside the amazing transformation of the former Army medical campus

Ward 4 Dispatch: New Smart Streetlights, School Readiness, and Down in the Reeds

Last weekend we gathered at Coolidge High School ahead of the Homecoming game to rename Coolidge field for Coach Samuel P. Taylor and rename Coolidge track for Coach Adrian E. Dixon — two coaches who dedicated their lives to coaching and mentoring generations of Colts. Both coaches helped instill a tradition of excellence, sportsmanship, and grit at Coolidge High School. It takes someone special to step in and transform the life of a young person — and Coach Taylor and Coach Dixon did it for countless young people for decades. Now they will be memorialized on the Coolidge campus for their legacy of leadership, determination, and success! Thank you to Terry Goings, the Coolidge Alumni Association, Principal Bright, and all the past and present Coolidge coaches, teachers, and staff. And thank you to Ward 4’s own Gelberg Signs for making the beautiful signs for Coolidge’s bleachers and scoreboard.

I will be back next week with more legislative and community updates. Enjoy your weekend and the amazing fall weather!

Yours in Community,