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Ward 4 Dispatch: Librarians, Roosevelt Pool, and Boil Water Advisory

Dear Neighbors,

This has been another active week serving you on the DC Council. We fought hard and delivered important budget wins for our community. We cut the ribbon on a brand new playground at The Parks. We responded to a Boil Water Advisory that left part of Ward 4 without clean water. And we held a press conference calling for justice for our neighbor Karon Hylton-Brown. Thank you for taking time to read these updates. I hope you find them useful!

Legislative Updates

I will have a full budget breakdown for you next week, but today I wanted to focus on two important budget wins we secured for our community at the Council’s second vote on the budget. On Tuesday, August 10, the Council will have its final vote on the Budget Support Act (BSA), which is the legislative language that accompanies the budget allocations. After Tuesday, the Council’s work on the DC budget will finally be completed.

Securing a Librarian for Every DCPS School!

Every school should have a librarian. That’s always been the case, but it’s particularly important now that so many of our students have fallen behind in literacy and make up for learning loss during the pandemic. But due to a change in the staffing model, 36 DCPS schools were set to start the school year without full-time librarians. Nearly half of schools without a full-time librarian are in Wards 7 and 8. Librarians play in an essential role in schools by helping close the literacy gap, driving student achievement, teaching research skills, helping students navigate online platforms and new technology, maintaining collections of books and materials, and instilling a love of reading in children. 

That’s why this Tuesday during the Council’s second vote on the DC budget introduced and passed an amendment that moves funds from within DCPS’ budget to provide a full-time certified librarian to every DCPS school that doesn’t currently have one. As a result, schools across the city – including Roosevelt High School, Roosevelt STAY, and the new Military Road Early Learning Center – will gain a library media specialist for this school year. Beloved librarians whose position was cut can now be rehired by their schools. And in the long term, I’m committed to working with fellow Councilmembers and DCPS to change the staffing model so schools don’t need to choose between a librarian and other critical support staff. The bottom line is that now every DCPS student will have a librarian at their school to help them bounce back from the pandemic. Thanks to all of the students, parents, educators, community members, and the DC State Board of Education (including our Ward 4 Rep, Frazier O’Leary) who advocated to make this happen.

Funding to Open Roosevelt Pool for Our Community!

In 2019 after strong community advocacy, DC dedicated $2.1 million to constructing a public entrance to the pool at Roosevelt High School so community members can access it as well. But when the Mayor’s proposed budget was released there was no funding to staff the pool, meaning it would have to remain closed to residents. Given the months-long closure of the pools in Takoma and Turkey Thicket, Ward 4 residents would have been left without a year-round pool to use. I’m excited to share (if you haven’t yet heard) that I worked with Chairman Mendelson to fully fund staff and lifeguards at Roosevelt Pool in the DC budget, so our community can have access to the pool starting this Fall! In addition to thanking the Chairman for his partnership on this, I want to thank Commissioner Audrey Duckett and every single resident who wrote in to support funding for Roosevelt High School. You made this happen!

Ward 4 News

Brand New Playground and Jazz Concerts to Come at Walter Reed

I’m still amazed at all of the neighbors who gathered at The Parks at Historic Walter Reed to celebrate our brand new playground in Ward 4 with a popsicle party! Families can now enjoy the new playground from dawn to dusk right off the intersection of Georgia Ave & Butternut St NW. Check out some of our photos of the playground and its many slides, swings, sandlot, and tunnels for children to enjoy. The best part about this playground is all the community input that shaped it. Thank you to the Development Team, ANCs 4A and 4B, Commissioner Whatley, and all of the residents who shared their ideas and made this such a great gift for our community. After the ribbon-cutting, we got to enjoy an awesome jazz concert with several acts, food from Hardy’s BBQ, and craft beer from 3 Stars Brewing. Check out these vibes during the children’s performance by Baba Ras D! If you’re sad you missed out or want to relive the magic, The Parks will host two more jazz concerts starting at 5:30pm on Saturday, August 21 and Saturday, September 18. Mark your calendars!

Boil Water Advisory in Northeast DC, including Riggs Park

Most of Northeast DC has been under a Boil Water Advisory since Thursday morning after customers experienced a loss of water pressure, which may have led bacteria or other disease-causing organisms to enter the water. Residents in impacted areas, including parts of Riggs Park in Ward 4, are advised to boil water for at least a minute before using it and take other precautions described in DC Water’s notice. To lift the Boil Water Advisory, DC Water needs two consecutive days of testing where no harmful bacteria are present. They shared an update this afternoon that of 10 samples taken, all 10 were negative for E.coli and 1 was positive for coliform bacteria, which could indicate other potentially harmful bacteria are present. Right now the information we’re receiving suggests that some areas may return to normal on Saturday, while other residents will still be under the Boil Water Advisory until Sunday (fingers crossed that it’s no later than that). Please keep an eye on DC Water’s website for updates. My team and I have been out in Riggs Park spreading the word about the Boil Water Advisory and sharing clean water with residents who need it. If you are impacted by the Advisory and need water, or if you know someone who does, please call us at 202-724-8052 and let us know their name and address.

Still Seeking Justice for Karon Hylton-Brown

It has now been nine months since our neighbor Karon Hylton-Brown was chased on a moped by police through narrow streets and alleys in Brightwood Park, causing him to crash into a vehicle and tragically lose his life. Karon was a 20-year-old Ward 4 resident, son, grandson, father, partner, friend, and beloved community member. Based on body camera footage and videos from neighbors, the officers who pursued Karon over a minor traffic infraction violated MPD’s no-chase policy and were placed on paid administrative leave while the US Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the District launched an investigation. But despite the fact that footage of the incident was available online for the whole world to see, the US Attorney’s Office has stalled the investigation and prevented accountability for any of the officers. It has now been nine months and there is no end to the investigation in sight. This delay is unnecessary and unjust. That’s why this past Wednesday I held a press conference with community members in front of the US Attorney’s Office and called on the USAO to complete its investigation. If they do not, I plan to introduce emergency legislation at our first legislative session after Council recess to allow MPD to proceed with its disciplinary investigation into the officers involved. Justice delayed is justice denied, and our community is done waiting. Accountability is essential, not optional.

Neighborhood Events

Petworth Summer Saturdays Goes Into August! On Saturday, August 7 from 5pm-7pm Petworth Summer Saturdays will host its fifth free concert of the series with the The French Champagne, an alternative jazzy folksy group! The shows take place on the 800 block of Upshur Street in front of Willow Fashion, and they’re a great way to enjoy your Saturday evening alongside neighbors – with great music and excellent food and drink options nearby. Here’s the full lineup of shows for August!

Opening Reception for New Art of Noize Exhibition. On Saturday, August 7 from 5pm-8pm Art of Noize is hosting a reception for its new exhibition Nyce Life, featuring the work of Kev Nyce. He is a son of the District and self-taught musician with a passion for photography and videography, a love for constructing moving visuals with ill imagery, and an ability to curate a dope soundtrack.

3 Stars Brewing 9th Year Anniversary Party. On Saturday, August 7 from 12pm-8pm 3 Stars Brewing celebrates nine years of brewing right here in Ward 4! They’ll have a BBQ cook-out, live music, a special beer list, and more. Grab your tickets on their website.  

Jazz Music at Shepherd Park Community Center. On Thursday, August 12 from 6pm-8pm DPR’s Shepherd Field will host Jazzy Thursday, a concert featuring Jazz Vortex. It is completely free and open to the public. Come enjoy some jazz with your neighbors!

Save the Date: Chevy Chase Day. On Saturday, September 18 from 1pm-4pm the Chevy Chase Citizens Association is bringing back Chevy Chase Day on Connecticut Avenue at the Commons. Plan to come for the music, puppet show, juggler, magician, balloon art, outdoor yoga, sidewalk chalk art, the free ice cream giveaway, and so much more!

Save the Date: The Parks Main Street Art All Night. On Friday evening, September 24 the Parks Main Street will host Art All Night, a free arts festival that showcases performances from musical, visual, and movement artists. If you’re interested in performing or vending at the festival, fill out this form!

Save the Date: Celebrate Petworth! On Saturday, September 25 between 11am-5pm Celebrate Petworth makes its grand return. This is a free neighborhood festival organized by and for the residents of Petworth—celebrating the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods. It takes place on the 800 block of Upshur Street NW and features a Kids Zone with music, a Fire Engine, a soda explosion experiment, chalking, and a Balloon Bounce Community Art Project!

Save the Date: Open Streets Returns to Georgia Avenue. On Saturday, October 2 from 10am-3pm Open Streets will return to Georgia Avenue in Wards 1 and 4. During that time period, a miles-long stretch of Georgia Avenue will close to cars and will instead host an urban festival of activities ranging from food, drinks, fitness classes, obstacle courses, children’s games, live music, and other educational and entertainment programming.

Save the Date: Down in the Reeds Festival. On Saturday, October 9 from 11am-7pm Down in the Reeds Festival is back in Ward 4 hosted by The Parks at Walter Reed! It’s a free all-day festival celebrating the power of music to heal across communities and cultures. Check out the website for ways to plug in and follow them on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for updates as the festival takes shape.

Ward 4 Weekly Farmer’s Markets. We have: 

Community Resources

Backpack and School Supply Giveaway at 19th Street Baptist Church. On Saturday, August 7, 2021 between 10am-1pm 19th Street Baptist Church (4606 16th St NW) is hosting a giveaway of backpacks and school supplies. Families can drive through to receive their supplies.

Job Fair on Kennedy Street. On Thursday, August 13 from 3pm-6pm my team and I are hosting a Kennedy Street Job Fair at Horton’s (600 Kennedy Street NW). Our community has highlighted the need for job opportunities, so we are gathering more than 15 DC employers for an evening of resume-writing and job networking. Please contact with any questions, and help us spread the word to anyone who is looking for work.

Pediatric Immunizations and Vaccines for DC Students. If your child still needs to catch up on their required immunizations, you can sign them up for an appointment at this link. Students who are at least 12 years old can also receive the COVID vaccine at the same time. Roosevelt High School is one of the schools where you can book an appointment on Mondays and Thursdays between 12:30pm-4:30pm. 

The Parks at Walter Reed CBE Outreach Event. CBE Subcontractors and supplies are invited to a Meet-and-Greet on August 12, 2021 from 5pm-7pm at Shepherd Park Library (7420 Georgia Ave NW). During this time, subcontractors and suppliers are invited to stop by to meet the Reynard at the Parks project team and to learn more about the bidding and procurement processes. Find more information at this link.

Multi-Year Grants for Black-led Organizing and Advocacy. The Horning Family Foundation is offering five-year grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 per year to support Black-led organizing and advocacy in the DC area. Learn more and apply by Friday, September 10.

Call for Artists to Redesign the Petworth Mural. The effort to redesign the Petworth Mural is underway. Petworth News is seeking local artists to submit their designs for a new mural on the wall on the 800 block of Upshur Street. They’ve raised $4,000 for the project. Please help spread the word!

Heads Up: New Stop Sign Traffic Camera by Fort Stevens Recreation Center. In response to a citizen request a new stop sign camera has been installed by DDOT for northbound traffic vehicles at the intersection of 14th Street & Van Buren Street NW by Fort Stevens Recreation Center.

Office Closed on August 16-20, 2021. I’ll share more information next week, but our office will be closed the week of Monday, August 16 so I can give my staff a much-needed break after seven relentless months of hard work serving the people of Ward 4. If you need to urgently reach us, please contact my Chief of Staff Lenace at the email below. I will also continue my work by touring Ward 4 schools to ensure they are ready to reopen at the end of the month.

Shortly after the Boil Water went into effect in Northeast DC, our team secured generous water donations from Safeway and Giant. But it was too much water to fit in one car, so we packed it all up in a U-Haul truck and have been driving around Riggs Park to distribute it to neighbors. Here’s what the set up was like earlier today with me behind the wheel!

In the past I’ve written to you about our efforts to prevent evictions in the District, especially given that we know evictions during the pandemic increase the spread of COVID and lead to more deaths. This past weekend, the nationwide CDC eviction moratorium was set to expire, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to evictions just as states are experiencing a surge in COVID cases and the contagious Delta variant spreads – and as states struggle to distribute federal rent relief funds to their residents in need. With lawmakers leaving town and the White House and Congressional leaders asserting that nothing could be done, the CDC eviction moratorium seemed doomed.

But then Representative Cori Bush, who herself has experienced eviction three times, took to the steps of our Capitol and launched a last-ditch, all-night, all-day protest to prevent millions from losing their homes. By the time I got there on Saturday, a group of community members, activists, and Members of Congress like Rep. AOC and Senator Warren had arrived to rally alongside her. And by Sunday, we had captured national headlines and galvanized people across the country in support of the cause. Then on Tuesday, after having previously ruled it out, the White Housed announced a new national eviction moratorium that protects the vast majority of tenants through October 3, 2021.

It was an important reminder of the change we are all capable of making when we stand true to our beliefs and our lived experiences, especially when we organize in social movements.

Thank you, Rep. Cori Bush. It was an honor to stand alongside you.

Yours in Community,