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

Dear Neighbors,

There is a lot to catch up on this week, including our work to improve school conditions, public safety updates, new smart LED streetlights being installed in Ward 4, updates on curbside composting, temporary trail and park closures, and Down in the Reeds festival on Saturday. Check it all out below!

New Smart Streetlights Coming to Ward 4

Did you know that DC is currently converting 100% of its streetlights on streets, sidewalks, and trails to improved, sustainable LED technology that is remotely monitored and controlled? The DC Smart Street Lighting Project is now underway in Ward 4 and hopes to finish converting all of our streetlights by the end of this calendar year. I joined DDOT this week in Brightwood for a live demonstration of the new streetlights and their capabilities. The project offers many potential benefits to our community: The lights are monitored remotely, so DDOT will find out right away when a light goes out and can address it faster. This is also a more equitable citywide system, since DDOT will not need to depend on reports from neighbors to address issues. As I saw first hand, the lights can be dimmed, brightened, and turned on or off remotely within seconds. And the new lights break down less often, making them more reliable for our neighborhoods. Moreover, the new streetlights are expected to eliminate 38,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year and generate 50% in energy savings for the District. As always, good implementation and addressing the issues that emerge during this process will be key to making the streetlight project a success. As more streetlights are converted in Ward 4, residents will be able to submit 311 requests for problems that arise. There will also be a public meeting on the project on Thursday, October 26 at 6pm 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.

Community Safety Updates

Last Saturday as we left Open Streets Festival on Georgia Avenue I received an alert and responded to a tragic shooting in the alley of the 5500 block of 7th Street NW that claimed the life of 36-year-old Alonzo Jessie Atkins. Detectives are actively investigating the case, but initial reports suggest that the shooting resulted from a domestic dispute between two individuals who were walking together before getting into a loud argument that escalated into violence. Detectives are piecing together footage and other evidence to identify the person responsible, and neighbors can share additional information by calling 202-727-9099 or anonymously texting 50411. In response to the shooting, MPD Fourth District is doubling police patrols along the Kennedy Street area to provide more security to the area. Meanwhile, our Cure the Streets team is organizing several community responses, working to deescalate conflicts, and working with families impacted by gun violence to prevent further tragedies. Saturday’s shooting was one of several recent gun violence incidents in our community that my team and I responded to. My priority as your Councilmember is to ensure our agencies are working closely together and have the resources they need to make our neighborhoods safe — whether its securing funding for new security cameras, bringing effective violence prevention programs to Ward 4, or convening agencies to address public safety issues. One encouraging recent update is that DC’s struggling crime lab at the Department of Forensic Science filed for reaccreditation in September and requested a fast-track review that could lead to its reaccreditation as early as January. DC’s crime lab plays a critical role in our public safety ecosystem by collecting and analyzing evidence used to solve cases — and having it on the sidelines these past three years has been a real loss.

School Readiness and the Work Order Integrity Act

Earlier this week, I chaired a 6-hour public hearing on DGS’ efforts to ensure our schools are ready and my Work Order Integrity Act, which was co-introduced by the full Council. We heard from over 20 public witnesses, including our Ward 4 State Board Rep Dr. Frazier O’Leary, Cathy Reilly of the Ward 4 Education Alliance, and several parents from Whittier Elementary. Witnesses spoke about ongoing maintenance concerns in our DCPS facilities, particularly related to HVAC systems and security. DGS Acting Director Delano Hunter shared a detailed presentation about the Summer 2023 Blitz efforts, including that 93% of DCPS priority work orders were completed and overall work order completion was up 80% annually. In addition to reviewing this past summer, we also reviewed DGS’ plans for this winter — including preventive maintenance on boilers and contingencies in case of emergencies. Improving readiness at our schools and recreation centers has been a major focus of mine since taking office — having completed back-to-school tours the last three years, and going citywide this year to visit schools and rec facilities in all eight wards.

The Work Order Integrity Act would require that DGS receive affirmative approval from a DCPS school staff member (a principal, foreman, etc.) before closing out a work order in Salesforce. This follows repeated complaints about DGS’ quality control process, specifically that work orders are often marked complete despite the work not really being done. In one of the most frustrating examples we raised at the hearing, the cafeteria elevator-lift at Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary School has been broken since August 2022, but the school’s repair request was marked complete three times in Salesforce all while remaining inoperative. DGS had accepted a picture of a note saying “DONE” as documentary evidence from contractors – a clear sign that their current supervisory review process is not working. You can watch us discuss this example and others like it on this clip.

We need to restore public trust in DGS and their ability to responsibly maintain our public facilities. This bill, along with other recent improvements like ensuring all relevant DCPS staff receive Salesforce emails, expanding the public work order dashboard to include DPR facilities, and upcoming integration of rec center repair and rec center trash collection requests into the 311 system are all part of my oversight work and partnership with Acting Director Hunter. The record for this hearing remains open until October 26 for anyone interested in submitting testimony, reviewing pre-hearing responses, or finding other documents related to the hearing on the Council’s Hearing Management System website.

Community Resources

Updates on Curbside Composting Pilot in Ward 4

Collection started this week for the DPW curbside composting pilot program in Ward 4. I know there are many questions about the program, so I want to share some additional information:

  • 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.
  • This week, compost collection is taking place one day later than usual because of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day holiday on Monday, but collection will revert to the normal schedule next week.
  • You can report missed compost collections, broken bins, or stolen bins directly through 311 and follow up with if the issue is not resolved.

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 any issues that come up.

24-Hour MetroBus Service Begins December 17

WMATA updated residents this 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 more details. This was a Council investment in expanding access to public transit — especially for hospitality staff and other workers with late and early work hours.

E-Waste Collection Event at Uptown Farmers Market

On Saturday, October 14 from 9am-1pm DOEE will be hosting an eCYCLE collection event near Uptown Farmers Market on the north end of Colorado Avenue NW. Learn more about the importance of recycling electronics and what electronics are and are not accepted at this event.

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. DMPED is also hosting two engagement meetings on Saturday, October 14 and Wednesday, October 18 to hear directly from residents about the future of this site.

Crestwood Triangle Park Closing for Construction

DPR and DGS announced that Crestwood Triangle Park (Argyle Terrace & 18th Street NW) will close on October 16 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.

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.

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 will temporarily close the Piney Branch Parkway Trail to pedestrians and bicyclists starting 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 will be detoured around the trail using Park Road, 16th Street, and Arkansas Avenue.

New Mural at Whittier Elementary 

Next time you walk by Whittier Elementary, please take a moment to appreciate the beautiful new mural that animates its front walkway and entrance. The “Whittier Wonderland” mural was unveiled today as art meant to inspire students to dream big and discover joy. Kudos to the school community for coordinating the project and the artists Colors By M+C, Meich’e Goode of Good Art Fam Public Arts Company, and Courtney Lapenta for creating such a beautiful piece. 

Receive the Ward 4 Newsletter by Text

Starting this week, neighbors can 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.

Neighborhood Events

Down in the Reeds at The Parks at Walter Reed!

On Saturday, October 14 from 3pm-7pm Down in the Reeds Festival returns to The Parks at Walter Reed to present a fall afternoon of FREE live music, family fun, and local food and beverages on the Great Lawn! This year’s celebration will continue to celebrate the power of music to heal across communities and cultures and will feature performances from Leon City Sounds, Black Masala, and Cumbia Heights, along with lawn games, vendors, local food truck favorites, and beverages. Check out the Down in the Reeds website for details!

Roosevelt Homecoming Football Game

On Friday, October 13 at 6pm Roosevelt High School will have its Homecoming Football Game versus Eastern. Come cheer on our Roosevelt Rough Riders!

Yoga for Youngsters in Sixteenth Street Heights

On Saturday, October 14 at 11:15am-12pm the Carter Barron East Neighborhood Association is hosting a Yoga For Youngsters event at Second Wind Crossfit (5509 14th St NW) for tots ages 4 & up. Learn more and sign up!

Zenith Meet the Artist Opening Reception

On Saturday, October 14 from 3pm-7pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris Street NW) will host a meet-the-artist opening reception for Young Mornings, their new exhibit featuring the colorful mixed-media collages of Ram Brisueño. RSVP on Eventbrite for the reception. 

Coolidge Homecoming and Renaming Ceremony

On Saturday, October 14 at 3pm Coolidge High School (6315 5th St NW) will have its Homecoming Football Game against the Phelps Panthers. Come cheer on our Coolidge Colts! Prior to the game at 1:30pm there will be a brief ceremony at Coolidge Field to rename the field for Coach Samuel P. Taylor and rename the track for Coach Adrian E. Dixon — two coaches who dedicated their lives to coaching and mentoring generations of Coolidge Colts.

Manor Park 5th Street Community Cleanup in 4B06

On Sunday, October 15 at 9am-11am 4B06 Commissioner Tiffani Johnson will host a community cleanup starting from 5th & Nicholson NW. Snacks, supplies, and swag will be provided, and students can get volunteer hours. This flyer has all the info, and note that the event has already been moved to its rain date; it is taking place Sunday instead of Saturday.

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!

“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.

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.

Were you bummed that Celebrate Petworth festival was cancelled due to rain? The event has now been rescheduled! Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 18 from 11am-5pm.

Ward 4 in the News

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

Next Stop… Riggs Park: Cleaning Up Riggs Road NE

Jinya Ramen Bar: The Parks at Walter Reed Location Opening on Monday, October 16 

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

DCist: Latest In A Flurry Of Council Crime Bills Focuses On 911 Response, Crime Lab Staffing, And Violence Interruption

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

Petworth News: Honeymoon Chicken addresses facilities issue, engages neighbors

Capital City PCS: Student in Ward 4 Elected as Student Representative on State Board

DCPL: The Return of the Evil Laugh Contest at DC Public Library (One Week Left)

Ward 4 Dispatch: SNAP Expansion, Senior Jubilee, and Open Streets Georgia Avenue

Ward 4 is far from Israel and Palestine, but I know that the violence taking place there hits very close to home for many in our community. Earlier this week, I shared a message with our community mourning for the hundreds of lives lost in the bloodshed and the millions of innocent people facing unspeakable suffering. This is an incredibly heavy and frightening time for many of our neighbors, so I have been reaching out to our faith communities, religious schools, and broader Jewish and Muslim communities to offer my support. As a community, we pray for peace and we stand united against every form of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hatred.

Earlier this week, Councilmembers had the opportunity to hear from our DC State Board of Education (SBOE) in a meeting about major issues facing our schools, including improving school security and climate, increasing teacher retention, and strengthening DC’s school governance structure. I often see our Ward 4 State Board Rep Dr. Frazier O’Leary out in our community supporting Ward 4 schools, but this week it was great to also see him in the Wilson Building. Thank you for always fighting for Ward 4 students and educators, Frazier.

Sending wishes for a nice weekend to all of you!

Yours in Community,