As we kick start Memorial Day Weekend, here is the latest news about outdoor pools and spray parks opening, my work on your behalf on the DC Council, our oversight roundtable on school maintenance, trash collecting ‘sliding’ next week, city services, community resources, neighborhood events, and a tribute to Linda Harllee Harper, who we tragically lost this week. Thank you to everyone who attended our presentation with DDOT on how to organize a neighborhood block party. For those who missed it, you can check out the recording. I’m looking forward to being in community with you, and stay tuned for our next organizing training!
Outdoor Pools and Spray Parks Open Tomorrow
The wait is over! On Saturday, DC’s outdoor pools and spray parks open for the summer season. Upshur Pool in Ward 4 and all of DC’s outdoor pools will be open Saturday through Monday this Memorial Day Weekend from 10am-6pm and then operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturdays and Sundays) until June 26, when pools will open fully with their own individual schedules. DC’s spray parks will also open tomorrow and operate 10am-8pm daily throughout the summer. Ward 4 has spray parks at Lafayette-Pointer, Petworth Rec Center, Riggs LaSalle, Fort Stevens, and Takoma Community Center. There’s always a legislative link: the DC budget we’re set to approve next week includes funding for much-needed renovations of the spray parks at Takoma and Fort Stevens, as well as a full modernization of Upshur Pool.
Give Educators the Pay That Was Promised
Earlier this year, the Council approved a historic collective bargaining agreement to provide our DC educators long overdue and much needed raises. However, last week we found out that the retroactive pay that teachers were told they would receive on May 19 would be delayed for another month. Together with Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, I wrote to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to ask for an explanation about the delay and to call for retroactive pay to be paid out by May 31. Our educators are the backbone of DC. They have already waited four years for a new contract. We need to make them whole by paying the retroactive pay they were promised. Any further delay is unacceptable. Ready our full letter.
Examining Failures in School Modernization and Maintenance
This week I chaired an oversight roundtable on a recent report from the Office of the DC Auditor detailing serious issues with Roosevelt High School’s $136 million modernization in 2016 and ongoing maintenance at the school — as well as the role that Consolidated Maintenance Contractors play in school maintenance. Despite all the money spent on the new building, Roosevelt’s HVAC system has never quite worked properly and has already cost taxpayers an additional $2 million to repair and maintain. That’s only one of many missteps the report identified with the modernization and regular maintenance. Our roundtable investigated these failures and charting a better course for the future. First, DGS needs to work to resolve the existing issues at Roosevelt immediately so students can have comfortable learning conditions. Our roundtable focused on Roosevelt in Ward 4, but getting this right matters for students in schools across all of DC. DGS needs to do a better job overseeing its contractors and using contract warranties to recoup tax dollars when they identify work that was not done properly. The Auditor report and my roundtable revealed that DGS is not currently exercising these warranties nearly enough. We discussed several steps the agency can take to improve in this area. Roosevelt is one of nine DCPS campuses where day-to-day maintenance is contracted to outside firms (called “Consolidated Maintenance Contractors”) at a cost of about $50,000 per month per building. However, there are issues with the services being provided by these contractors too, and DC often needs to supplement their work. Are we getting a good return on our investment? This is another area where DGS’ oversight and management needs to improve. As Chair of the Committee on Facilities and Family Services, I will keep working with the agency to prevent these failures in the future, improve school maintenance, and strengthen accountability for contractors.
Metropolitan Branch Trail Party & Helmet Giveaway
On Saturday, May 27 from 11am-1pm the WABA DC Trail Rangers will hold a Metropolitan Branch Trail Party & Helmet Giveaway on the MBT between Gallatin Street NE & Fort Totten Metro. They will have music, helmet fitting, trail resources, refreshments, and more.
Takoma Pride Community Cleanup
On Sunday, May 28 at 9am Commissioners Erin Palmer and Evan Yeats will host a community cleanup at Takoma Elementary to show some Takoma Pride. Join them as they pick up litter and submit 311 requests. Supplies, snacks, water, and donuts will be provided.
ANXOversary: Celebrating 6 Years on Kennedy
On Sunday, May 28 from 12pm-4pm ANXO Cider (711 Kennedy St NW) will host a party to celebrate its 6th anniversary on Kennedy Street with $6 drink specials and the much anticipated return of the ANXOburger. Come celebrate and support a great local business!
Annual Senior Fest at Gateway DC Pavilion
On Wednesday, May 31 at 10am-3pm DPR will host a high-energy reunion of its annual Senior Fest at Gateway Pavilion (2700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave SE). Seniors are invited to enjoy line dancing, fitness demos, food, health resources, live entertainment, and much more.
CARE Day in North Portal and Colonial Village
On Thursday, June 1 from 4pm-7pm I will be hosting our Ward 4 CARE Day for Colonial Village and North Portal Estates, starting from the intersection of 17th & Kalmia Rd NW. Come join us for a resource fair with agencies, outreach to neighbors, constituent services support, and a day of bringing our community closer together. Please RSVP online.
Summer in the Parks at Carter Barron Mini Oasis
On Thursday, June 1 from 6pm-8pm the Rock Creek Conservancy and NPS will host a Summer in the Parks event with free fun for people of all ages near Carter Barron Amphitheater. Bring a picnic and enjoy games, activities, music from DJ Lance Reynolds!
Community Movie Night at Emery Heights
On Friday, June 2 at sunset Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW) will host a community movie night. The movie shown will be chosen by the children present!
80’s Night Happy Hour at The Parks at Walter Reed
On Friday, June 2 at 5:30pm-7:30pm The Parks at Walter Reed will host a 80s Block Party Happy Hour at their newly-opened Marketplace Plaza. Everyone is invited to enjoy a drink, dance, and mingle with their neighbors (dogs welcome too), but RSVP is required.
Chacho 2nd Anniversary Party!
On Saturday, June 3 from 2pm-midnight Chacho Distillery and Tasting Room (6031 Kansas Ave NW) in Manor Park will have its two-year anniversary party with drinks, food trucks, live DJs, piñatas, special deals, and more. Neighbors can RSVP to attend on Eventbrite.
Graduating Senior Cookout in Takoma
On Wednesday, June 7 from 4pm-7pm DPR will host a Graduating Senior Cookout at Takoma Community Center (300 Van Buren St NW). College bound or work bound, come celebrate your achievement with food, games, music, and the Class of 2023!
Jazz, Blues, and R&B Oldies at Fort Stevens
On Thursday, June 8 from 2pm-3pm Fort Stevens Senior Center will host its annual jazz concert for our seniors to groove to the sounds of jazz, blues, and R&B oldies. Join the fun!
Visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Markets
Ward 4 has several great Farmers Market options every weekend. Check them out:
- 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
Ward 4 Commemorative Project
The DC Office of Planning is developing a commemorative work project to honor a Ward 4 resident or subject, and they’re partnering with Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street to seek community input. This is a Ward 4-wide effort, not just for the Upper Georgia Avenue corridor. The first community meeting for neighbors to weigh in on will take place on Thursday, June 1 from 6:30pm-7:30pm. There will also be other meetings and more opportunities to weigh in!
Modified DC Services for Memorial Day Weekend
As DC government observes Memorial Day, some city services will be adjusted. DPW trash and recycling collection next week will slide one day, meaning your collection will take place one day later than regularly scheduled. DC public libraries, indoor pools, indoor rec centers, and our Council office will be closed on Monday, while outdoor fields and outdoor pools will be open on Monday. Read the full breakdown of modified city services this weekend.
How to Host a Neighborhood Block Party
This week my team hosted a virtual presentation from DDOT on how to organize a neighborhood block party. We know that the strongest neighborhoods are the ones where neighbors know and care for one another, and a neighborhood block party is a great opportunity to build community and have neighborly fun. You can check out the recording of our great training, as well as this great guide from Greater Greater Washington. My team is available to help sort through any issues, and I’m looking forward to seeing you on your block!
Free Food Distribution on Kennedy
On Thursday, June 1 from 12pm-4pm Zion Baptist Church’s Mobile Market will provide free food distribution from the driveway behind City Blossoms (516 Kennedy St NW). The same distribution takes place at the same time and place on the first Thursday of each month.
UDC renames Bertie Backus Campus to Lamond-Riggs Campus
This week the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) announced that its Bertie Backus Campus has been renamed the University of the District of Columbia Lamond-Riggs Campus. The University Board of Trustees approved the change on April 25 to recognize the historic Lamond Riggs neighborhood while aligning the UDC Campus’s name with the site.
Hosting Exchange Students Visiting Roosevelt
This fall Roosevelt High School will have the opportunity to host a number of exchange students from France and Poland for a couple of weeks. The students will need to stay with host families during their time in DC. Host families provide dinner during the week and meals on the weekend, take part in weekend activities, and answer questions about DC and the US. Learn more and consider applying to host an exchange student with this form.
DDOT Releases 2023 DC Bike Map
DDOT has released its 2023 DC Bike Map, detailing the bike lanes, protected bike lanes, contraflow bike lanes, dedicated bike trails, and Capital Bikeshare stations in DC. It includes the new Metropolitan Branch Trail extension to Fort Totten. Check out the updated map.
Grounds Maintenance Requests Can Now Be Made on 311
DGS shared this week that DC residents can now submit grounds maintenance requests via 311 for DC-owned facilities and green spaces like DPR parks and rec centers. Requests can include trimming bushes, removing fallen branches, and removing weeds. Residents can also check out DGS’ mowing map to track DGS’ progress on mowing DC land. In my Committee mark up last month, I advanced legislation requiring DGS to integrate grounds maintenance requests (and other services) into the 311 system so they can be more accessible to residents.
Georgia Ave Bus Priority Project to Cover Entire Corridor
DDOT recently announced that it had decided to expand the scope of the Georgia Avenue bus priority projects to include the entire 4.5-mile stretch of Georgia Avenue between Barry Place to Eastern Avenue NW. The purpose of the project is to improve bus service for some of the highest ridership MetroBus routes (the 70 and 79) and make safety improvements along Georgia Avenue, which is a Vision Zero high-crash corridor. DDOT previously planned on addressing one section of Georgia Avenue at a time — starting from Barry Place to Kansas Avenue — but the agency now says that making bus priority improvements at a corridor-wide level will allow for efficiency in planning, design, and implementation. DDOT also believes that this approach will bring bus improvements sooner and allow for more robust community engagement. Check out the project website and weigh in on the project through this survey.
A Legacy of Saving Lives: Remembering Linda Harllee Harper
Our city mourns the devastating loss of Linda Harllee Harper, the director of DC’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and the Office of Gun Violence Prevention — as well as a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and our Ward 4 neighbor in Takoma. Born and raised in DC, Director Harllee Harper dedicated her life to making our city safer with more than two decades of leadership in public safety, restorative justice, and youth development.
Linda was a beautiful person both inside and out. She had the most beautiful family. Linda also loved our communities deeply, and that was evident in the way she served. She had a warm spirit that nurtured collaboration, brought people together, and bridged divides. And there was a special place in her heart for our young people and returning citizens. We remember Linda as a devoted public servant who touched the lives of countless DC residents. And we honor her as a visionary leader who believed in the dignity and promise of every single person.
So much of the work of preventing violence and getting vulnerable people back on the right track happens with great discretion behind the scenes: mediating a conflict before it escalates, safely relocating a family in danger, connecting a returning citizen with a stable job, enrolling a young person in a program that will transform their life… These interventions rarely make the news, but they make a profound difference. For as long as I have known her, Linda has done this work in Ward 4 and across DC with great dedication and care — helping bring peace to our neighborhoods and hope to the people who need it most.
Linda Harper was in the business of saving lives and lifting up communities. That was her life’s work, and that will forever be her legacy in the city she loved.
I offer my heartfelt condolences to Linda’s loving husband and son, all her family and friends, and to Mayor Bowser and Linda’s many colleagues in DC government.
Rest peacefully, Linda. You loved DC, and we loved back. Thank you for everything.
Local News Links
Washington Post: Off-leash dog attacks a beaver in Rock Creek Park (leash your dogs)
DCist: Chef Kevin Tien’s Moon Rabbit Restaurant To Close Its Doors Amid Union Push
Washington Informer: Coach Rob Nickens Sets the Standard at Roosevelt High School
PopVille: Sticky Fingers to Bring Sweet and Savory Vegan Delights to Takoma this Fall
Petworth News: Volunteer to make July 4th at Old Soldiers Home even more spectacular
Next Stop… Riggs Park: Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series Kicks Off on June 2
Washington Post: This Shepherd Park mansion is a reminder of DC’s agrarian past
Petworth News: Home Rule Music Festival returns to Walter Reed bigger and better
GGW: Block parties are the best of neighborhood life. Here’s how to throw yours in DC.
Next Stop… Riggs Park: Metro authorizes solicitation for Fort Totten joint development
Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street: Check out the traffic box art by San Miguel students
Washington Informer: Campaign for Public Library on Kennedy Street Enters New Stage
Channel 4: Migrants Bused From Texas Arrive at VP’s Residence as Title 42 Ends
DPW: DC’s Annual Truck Touch family event on June 3 at RFK Stadium
Ward 4 Dispatch: Big Budget News, Responding to Tragedy, and CARE Day
We had perfect weather on Wednesday for our CARE Day in Chevy Chase, Hawthorne, and Barnaby Woods. And more importantly, we were able connect with many neighbors and bring DC government attention to several important community issues — from blighted buildings to providing more support for our senior citizens. Special thanks to 3/4G Chair Commissioner Lisa Gore and 3G02 Commissioner Bruce Sherman for walking the neighborhood with me. I’m excited to be in North Portal and Colonial Village next week. Don’t forget to RSVP for your neighborhood’s CARE Day on my website.
As we enter Memorial Day Weekend, I hope we can all find time to rest and spend time with friends and family. At the same time, we remember and honor all veterans who died serving in our Armed Forces. More than 5,000 DC residents lost their lives fighting for our country. Their sacrifice warrants both our eternal gratitude and equality for the District through DC Statehood.
Yours in Community,