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Ward 4 Dispatch: Petworth Porchfest, Budget Hearings, and Safety Updates

Dear Neighbors,

The Council was back in hearings this week, and we discussed a number of important issues impacting Ward 4, including funding for our libraries, transportation, and social services. 

Additionally, there were some public safety incidents around Ward 4 over the past week, and I’d like to give you updates on what we’re doing to address them.

Here are my updates on the past week on the Council and in Ward 4:

Public Safety Updates

Late on Wednesday night, I was devastated to learn of a shooting on Spring Road near the Raymond Rec Center. The shooting left one victim dead and two injured, who were transported to the hospital to receive treatment for their injuries.

MPD officers were patrolling the area at the time of the shooting and were able to respond quickly, arriving to the scene only moments after the incident took place. I have been in close contact with MPD in the aftermath of this shooting, and they have expressed that this was a targeted incident.

As a community member and someone who has experienced this type of violence taking place in my own neighborhood, I’m incredibly concerned about the systemic gun violence we’ve seen in Ward 4. In the immediate term, I want to let you know of some of the steps I am taking in coordination with members of the community to address these cases of gun violence:

•   Enforcement and presence by Metro Transit Police,
•   Enforcement and presence by 4th District Police Department including bike patrol,
•   HIPS DC and DBH on drug treatment and substance abuse support at Petworth station and 14th and Spring. 
•   CURE the Street violence interrupters for de-escalation and retaliation mitigation and ONSE safe passage on before and after school duty to interrupt potential student conflicts,
•   DDOT is adding cameras and speed mitigation,
•  DC Public Library is constructing a new teen center, installing exterior cameras, and utilizing DCPL Police for enforcement and presence,
•   DCPS schools are doing dismissals on a staggered scheduled, not letting all schools out at once. School staff are monitoring and moving students along,
•   DPR- Roving Leaders and DPR Rangers assigned to Raymond for daily patrol,
•   DPW – Graffiti removal, gate placement at Carolina’s Restaurant, clean up,
•   DSLBD and Uptown Main Street: Clean team doing daily clean up on 14th Street, recruiting business to vacant and blighted small businesses. 

Yesterday, my team joined 4th District Commander Lavenhouse, MPD officers, CSOSA, building managers, residents, and members of Ward 1 Councilmember Nadeau’s office to discuss the shooting. MPD shared the steps they are taking to address these incidents moving forward, which include increasing active patrols and police presence in the area. I’m committed to making sure these acts of violence do not continue and stand ready to work with all members of our community to make sure we can increase public safety in Ward 4. 

Protecting the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children

On Thursday, I chaired the third budget oversight hearing of the Committee on Facilities and Family Services, where we heard from public and government witnesses on the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) and the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children (OFC). These are two crucial agencies that work to make sure children in DC receive the support they need and the best possible outcomes. 

OFC in particular is responsible for reviewing and investigating complaints against government agencies, working closely with CFSA to make sure children and families receive the support they need. This year, the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children was eliminated from the Mayor’s proposed FY25 budget. This is the third year the Mayor has rejected funding for OFC, despite the agency now being up and running and serving nearly 100 families. The budget also cuts the Safe Shores Children’s Advocacy Center, which works directly to aid child victims of physical and sexual abuse. 

One of the many unique characteristics of OFC is that it exists as part of the District’s legislative branch. Because the Ombudsperson does not report to the Mayor or an agency director, it is one of only a few truly impartial and independent offices in District government. As such, OFC does invaluable work to make sure our government programs are doing right by children and families.

The Mayor’s budget trivializes OFC as a “duplicative” agency, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The work of this agency changes the lives of children for the better and is done by no other entity in the District of Columbia. I remain committed to restoring OFC’s funding and working to continue providing services and support to some of our most vulnerable residents in Ward 4 and throughout DC. 

Kennedy Street Library Project Updates

On Wednesday, the Council held a budget oversight hearing for the DC Public Library system, where I asked the Chief of Staff and Executive Director of DCPL about the Kennedy Street Library Project, which had its funding eliminated in the proposed FY25 budget. This project would not only address a substantial library service gap in Brightwood Park and Manor Park but would also address the need for more community gathering space and affordable housing in Ward 4. 

I’m grateful for the community members who testified during the hearing, and the many more who submitted written testimony. The perspective of these Ward 4 residents speaks to the lived experience of our neighbors, and I have been moved by their testimony over the last several days. As one testimony from Ward 4 business owner Taalib-Din Uqdah reads, “there are very few institutional structures that can have an immediate impact on any community; a library is one of them… To build a library says we care; to not build one says we don’t.”

During the hearing, I also underscored the need for other crucial library services for Ward 4. One particularly important service is the provision of WMATA SmarTrip cards by DC public libraries. Many seniors are not able to travel downtown to get SmarTrip cards and making them available at local libraries is an effective policy to make sure seniors have access to affordable public transportation. Additionally, I underscored the importance of continuing construction of teen space and promoting safe passage to and from Petworth Library. Finally, I was relieved to hear DCPL’s indications that they will keep the Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library open on its current site. This was the result of persistent activism by many members of our community, and I will push to make sure this promise is upheld in the final budget, keeping this library where Ward 4 residents need it most.

Safeguarding Neighborhood Connect

During Wednesday’s Committee on Public Works and Operations hearing, I was extremely concerned to learn of the Mayor’s budget’s elimination of Neighborhood Connect, which is expected to take effect in late July. Neighborhood Connect is a vital service providing affordable shuttle services for people throughout DC and has been incredibly important to our Ward 4 community.

Neighborhood Connect has particularly earned the trust of our seniors as one of the most reliable transportation options they have available. I have heard time and again from Ward 4 seniors, especially those living in communities like East Rock Creek Village and Northwest Neighbors Village how important this program has been in their day-to-day lives. This cut will fall hard on those who are unable to walk to the nearest transit stop and can’t afford the high price of taxi or rideshare services. Seniors cannot be a part of the “shared sacrifice” of this proposed budget, and I am committed to making sure this program has its funding fully restored. 

Pay Equity Fund Updates

Last month, DC’s Chief Financial Officer stated that the city must immediately replenish DC’s reserve funds, which were largely spent during the pandemic. In an already tight budget year, any action by the CFO to decline to certify would force the city to cut $217 million from the budget to go towards these reserves. Ultimately, the Council asked the Attorney General for his legal opinion on the CFO’s position. 

This week, we learned that the Attorney General stated that this decision declining to certify the budget would have no legal effect. Now, rather than being forced to immediately replenish reserve funds, which have a harmful effect on our ability to fund important services for our communities, we will be able to replenish the funds over the next several years. Council Chairman Mendelson has publicly stated that this money will be used to restore the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, a crucial program for DC’s childcare workers and families. I’m thrilled about this development and will work to make sure we can keep this important program funded in the FY25 budget. 

Petworth Porchfest Returns on Saturday!

On Saturday, April 27th from 2 to 8pm, the incredible neighborhood festival Petworth Porchfest returns to Ward 4, with 225 bands performing across nearly 100 porches in Petworth, Brightwood Park, Sixteenth Street Heights, Columbia Heights, and Park View! Check out the full schedule and map of stages on the Porchfest website. We will have great music, friendly neighbors, and local businesses taking part in the festivities. If you live in the area, keep in mind that it may be harder to get around the neighborhood by car for a few hours due to streets being crowded. Let’s be neighborly to each other so we can all enjoy the day. Shoutout to all the volunteers and supporters who are making this day happen, including Eddie Suarez, Timber Pizza Co., Petworth Main Street, DSLBD, AppleTree, Sweat DC, Trent & Co., De Colores, Rabih Chamas, and Kennedy Counseling Collective. I can’t wait!

Community Resources

DC School Lottery Deadlines

Last month, My School DC lottery results were made available to families seeking to enroll their children in participating charter schools and DCPS schools outside their school boundary or feeder pattern. Enrollment is currently open, and on Saturday, April 27th, schools will be providing support to families to help them enroll directly in their school. May 1st is the final deadline for families to enroll in their matched school, so be sure to submit the necessary documents before next Wednesday. You can find the Enrollment Saturday hours of matched schools here

Petworth Library Haiku Contest

DC Public Library’s haiku contest is accepting submissions until April 30th in honor of National Poetry Month. Prize-winners will take home library swag and have their poem posted in the library and on the DCPL website in May. Winners will be selected by age group, with children (6-12), teen (13-19) and adults encouraged to submit. Send in your haiku here!

DPR Boost Camps

Registration is open for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Summer Boost Camps! Boost Camps are specialty enrichment camps geared toward tweens ages 11-13. Each day is a combination of enrichment and social-emotional learning with additional access to physical activities like swimming, dance, and group fitness. There will also be time for arts and crafts, games, puzzles, and free play. Click here for more details and to register.

Riggs Park Traffic Control Box Art

The application deadline has been extended for proposed designs to wrap traffic control boxes in Riggs Park! If you’re an artist who would like to see your work displayed around restaurants, businesses, and transit stops throughout Riggs Park, this could be the project for you. Artists of all ages are welcome! Applications can be submitted here until April 29th.

Lamond Rec Center Capital Bikeshare Station

Earlier this month, Capital Bikeshare added a new station on Kansas Ave and Tuckerman Street NE next to the Lamond Rec Center. Be sure to check out this new station in Lamond Riggs for easy bike access! For Capital Bikeshare plans and pricing, click here.

DC Water Rate Adjustment Town Halls

DC Water will be holding its final town hall on April 30th at 6pm to give community members more information about DC Water’s budget and proposed rate adjustment for next year. The meeting will take place on Microsoft Teams. Learn more about the town hall and sign up here.

Roosevelt High Host Families

From May 28th – June 1st, Roosevelt High School will host 16 students and 3 chaperones from Homburg, Germany. Roosevelt High is looking for families who would be interested in hosting students in their homes for the duration of their stay. Responsibilities would include providing dinner during the week and meals on the weekends, taking part in activities on the weekends, and answering questions about DC and the United States in general. For families who are interested, sign up here!

Shepherd Park Library Tech Assistance

The Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library will be hosting drop-by technology assistance sessions on May 5th and May 19th, from 1:30 to 3:00pm. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn technology skills like uploading and downloading, saving documents, submitting online applications, and more. Be sure to bring your device with you and reach out to with any questions!

Rock Creek Green Infrastructure Project Comment Period

Earlier this month, DC Water published a draft project description for its Green Infrastructure Project in Rock Creek Park. Among other things, this project will help upgrade Rock Creek’s stormwater management. As part of its process, DC Water must accept comments from the public until May 10th. You can find the project description here and send comments to DC Water will also be hosting a public meeting on May 6th at 6:30pm to present its third green infrastructure project in Ward 4, giving residents the opportunity to give comments and ask questions. Learn more and sign up to attend here.

Apply for Tuition Support from DC

Applications opened last month for DC Futures, DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DC TAG), and the Mayor’s Scholars Undergraduate Program. These are three popular tuition support programs for DC residents pursuing higher education. Applications will close on Friday, September 6th. Learn more and apply!

Disputing a DC Water Bill

A number of community members have expressed confusion or concerns about how to dispute charges with DC Water.  After receiving a charge, occupants have a 20-day period to submit a dispute and should submit it in writing with reasons why the bill is believed to be incorrect. Disputes can be filed via mail, email, or through DC Water’s dispute form. Learn more here.

Free Counseling Services for Medicaid Recipients

Olive Tree Counseling Services provides District youth and families with mental and behavioral health supports and offers convenient telehealth visits without the lengthy delay for appointments. This is a free service funded via Medicaid. Olive Tree takes a trauma informed approach with licensed professionals expanding access and reducing barriers to assistance with continuity across the patient’s medical care including family therapy to strengthen the family unit. Learn more on Olive Tree’s website here.

Neighborhood Events

Annual DC Citywide Baby Shower

The Annual DC Citywide Baby Shower is on Saturday, April 27th from 10am to 3pm at Hook Hall on Georgia Ave! The event will feature speakers sharing resources on benefit leave options and workshops to help families plan for parenthood. With last week being Black Maternal Health Week, I encourage all soon-to-be parents to sign up to attend this free event!

Invasive Plant Removal at Fort Slocum Mini-Oasis

Join Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service for this invasive plant removal restoration event in Rock Creek Park on Saturday, April 27th, from 10am to 12pm. Invasive plants are a major threat to our fragile forests, and stopping their spread helps allow for a thriving native understory. Event location, directions, and information will be sent from the event leader 48 hours prior to the event. Register here.

Extreme Litter Cleanup at Carter Barron

Join Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service for a litter removal restoration event in Rock Creek Park on Sunday, April 28th from 2 to 4pm. Trash is the visible form of stormwater pollution, a major threat to water quality and park health and its removal makes the parklands cleaner, safer, and more beautiful for all. Event location, directions, and information will be sent one business day prior to the event. Sign up here!

Takoma ES Hype Squad

Takoma Elementary School students began CAPE (Comprehensive Assessments of Progress in Education) testing this month, with 3rd and 4th graders having tested on April 23rd. TES is still seeking volunteers for a “hype squad,” for their 5th graders who are testing on April 30th. Participants will give high fives, hold inspirational signs, and cheer on students. Volunteers are encouraged to rep TES’s colors, blue and yellow. Sign up here!

Race, History, and Rock Creek – The William Beckett Project

Join Rock Creek Conservancy and Rock Creek Park, in collaboration with Friends of Peirce Mill, for a presentation and panel discussion about William Beckett, an African American man born enslaved in Washington, D.C., and an integral part of Joshua Peirce’s nursery business located in what is now Rock Creek Park. This presentation will explore the intriguing life of William Beckett, who was an astute member of his local community, a businessman, and a government employee. The event will be held via Zoom. Register here!

Senior Fest at Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center

In preparation for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Senior Fest on the Yard event on May 29th, DPR is doing a tour of all eight wards, with Ward 4’s stop taking place on May 1st at the Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center. The event will go from 12 to 2pm, with fitness demonstrations, line dancing, and more! Learn more and RSVP for Senior Fest here

For more local events, check out DPR, DC Public Library, and NPS.

Ward 4 in the News

DC News Now: 4th annual Petworth PorchFest returns this weekend

Axios DC: D.C. weekend: Petworth PorchFest, Cocktail Festival and more

Washingtonian: 39 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: Project Glow, Georgetown French Market, and Petworth PorchFest

WAMU: Get Out There: Petworth has it’s biggest Porchfest yet

The Washington Post: D.C. ‘gifting’ shops undergo mass transition to medical marijuana

DC News Now: 3 killed, 2 hurt in overnight shootings in the District

Monday was Earth Day, and Ward 4 has been leading the charge with a series of neighborhood clean-ups over the past few weeks. Thank you to all ANC commissioners and community members who participated and made these clean-ups possible. There are still more to come, so make sure to stop by to meet neighbors and spend some time in the sunshine!

The third and fourth graders at Takoma Elementary School kicked off CAPE standardized testing on Tuesday, and the highlight of my week was stopping by to join for a hype squad to cheer the students on as they got ready to take their tests. 

Next week will be another big week on the Council, so stay tuned for more updates and news on things to come!

Have a great weekend, Ward 4!

Yours in Community,