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Ward 4 Dispatch: School Budgets, Safety News, Crestwood Triangle, and Presidents’ Day

Dear Neighbors,

Here’s everything you need to know as we head into Presidents’ Day Weekend, including expected snowfall tonight, initial school budgets, Council oversight hearings, public safety updates, Crestwood Triangle Park, new public litter cans, a free electronics recycling event, Takoma Pool closing this weekend, community resources, and Ward 4 events!

Initial DCPS and PCS School Budgets

This week the Mayor released the initial school budgets for Fiscal Year 2025, including a 12.4% increase to the uniform per student funding formula (UPSFF). By comparison, the UPSFF increase was about 5.9% in FY23 and 5% in FY24, so this is a significant boost in funding for our DCPS and PCS schools. However, this increase in the UPSFF is likely outweighed by an even larger increase in school labor costs (from the deserved and overdue raises our teachers are receiving through the new WTU contract) and the loss of one-time federal and pandemic recovery funds. Because of these spending pressures, even schools with steady funding or small increases may struggle to retain all of their existing staff. That is deeply concerning given the support that our schools require to build on their progress and meet our students’ full needs (mental health, English Language Learners, and more…). Secondly, DCPS appears to have ignored the Council’s Schools First in Budgeting law for the second year in a row. The law requires DCPS to ‘hold harmless’ the budget of each school by providing at least the same level of funding it received last year. Right now, at least three Ward 4 schools are facing budget cuts (Lafayette, LaSalle-Backus, and Truesdell) even though two of the schools have a projected increase in enrollment. Less funding to educate more students amidst rising costs simply does not work for our schools. I am determined to work with DCPS, Chairman Mendelson, my Council colleagues, our State Board of Education, the Ward 4 Education Alliance (who I recently met with), and our school communities to advocate for increased support for our students. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my team. As the DC budget process gets underway, you can review the initial DCPS school budgets on this website.

Important Robbery and Carjacking Arrests

Fourth District officers and detectives made an important arrest this week of a suspect who is linked to at least nine armed robberies — including a carjacking on the 600 block of Randolph St NW and a robbery on the 3800 block of 5th St NW. This individual allegedly targeted members of our Latino community, so MPD conducted outreach to Spanish-speaking residents and received a tip that ultimately led to the suspect being apprehended. Additionally, MPD also made an arrest for three armed carjackings that targeted rideshare drivers in Brightwood Park and Manor Park. And last week, MPD announced a separate arrest for the December 18 homicide on the 5400 block of Illinois Ave NW, as well as additional arrests for multiple robberies in Petworth, Columbia Heights, and Brightwood. We know that these violent offenses are primarily perpetrated by a small number of repeat offenders, so effective police investigative work like this and tips and video evidence from our public can lead to arrests that disrupt cycles of violence in our community. Thank you to MPD for making these arrests and to the neighbors who helped provide tips and video. Tragically, our community suffered a fatal shooting during the early morning hours of Monday, February 12 at Georgia & Shepherd NW. Officers responded to reports of gunfire and found 32-year-old Jeremy Dewayne Johnson, who had been shot twice and pronounced at the scene. Our team later joined MPD and 4C02 Commissioner Antoine Kirby to canvass the area, brief neighbors, and gather information. MPD has announced a $25,000 reward for information that brings the perpetrator to justice. If you have any video footage or information, please call 202-727-9099 or text 50411. I also want to thank DC Fire and EMS for their brave response to the fire at 7th & Shepherd NW on Sunday. All residents were safety evacuated and the fire was extinguished before it could spread further. I am also grateful to DOB, Red Cross, 4C07 Commissioner Eric Heller, MOCRs, and our team for responding to assist the displaced residents and provide additional support.

Oversight Hearings: DCHA, DPR, DGS, DCPS, and More!

Don’t sit out this performance oversight season! The next two weeks are filled with hearings on impactful agencies, where residents can make their voices heard. Check out the full performance oversight hearing schedule for February and sign up to speak at the hearing that matters most to you. Even if you cannot make it to a live hearing, you can still submit written comments by selecting “Submit Testimony” and then choosing “Record Testimony.” Key upcoming hearings include:

This week I also shared the DGS’ responses to our pre-hearing performance oversight questions. You can find all the documents on this hearing page or this Twitter thread recap.

New Crestwood Triangle Park Reopens!

This week the fencing came down and Crestwood Triangle Park reopened to our community at Argyle Terrace & 18th Street NW. The new play spot is designed with nature features to match the many trees in the neighborhood — and it is set at the corner of the park to preserve open space for other community activities. Other features include new trees, improved grass, ADA accessibility, and new signage. There is still some minor work to be done in the weeks ahead to tidy up the space, but families are already taking advantage of the new park. Thank you to DPR, DGS, the Crestwood Citizens Association, Commissioner Pavan Khoobchandani, and neighbors for all their contributions and input to make the project better and balance the community’s needs. Check out the revamped park during your next neighborhood walk or next time you are heading towards Rock Creek Park through Crestwood.

Snow Preparedness for Tonight into Saturday

DC is expecting snowfall late tonight into early Saturday morning, so please plan ahead to stay safe! DC pre-treated the roadways on Thursday and will deploy plows later tonight to clear any potential snow from our streets. Neighbors are asked to clear their sidewalks, avoid driving during the storm, and look out for your neighbors. DC’s shelter transportation hotline is 202-399-7093, while the Humane Rescue Alliance hotline for all animal emergencies is 202-723-5730. Check out DC’s announcement for more information and winter preparedness tips.

Modified DC Services: Presidents’ Day Weekend

The District is modifying government services over the holiday weekend as it observes Presidents’ Day. Outdoor DPR fields and parks will be open on Monday, while indoor DPR rec centers and pools will be closed. All DMV locations will be closed on Saturday and Monday. Most library branches will be closed on Monday — except for MLK Library, Petworth Library, and one other library per Ward, which will be open from 9am-5pm. Trash, recycling, and curbside composting collection will ‘slide’ one day later next week, so regular Monday collection will happen on Tuesday, and so forth. Our Council office will be closed on Monday and reopen on Tuesday with regular hours. Check out the full rundown of city services for more details. WMATA will also be shifting service levels on Monday: MetroRail will operate weekend frequency with weekday hours, while MetroBus will provide Saturday Supplemental service.

Takoma Pool Closed During Holiday Weekend

DPR announced that Takoma pool is currently closed throughout the holiday weekend and will reopen with regular hours on Tuesday, February 20. It is closed to host the 37th Annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet and in observance of Presidents’ Day. Turkey Thicket and Rumsey Aquatic Centers will also be closed this Saturday to ensure there is sufficient staffing for the Swim Meet. To maintain access to aquatic centers this weekend, both Barry Farm and Marie Reed Aquatic Centers will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm.

New Grants for Businesses at The Parks at Walter Reed

This week DMPED and the Mayor announced $500,000 in new grant funding to support local and minority-owned businesses in developing space at The Parks at Walter Reed. The new program will support businesses that “activate the retail areas on The Parks at Walter Reed campus, support job opportunities, and better improve customer experience.”

Celebrate Transit and Public Spaces with TranspoBINGO

TranspoBINGO is returning on February 22-29 as the best local way to challenge yourself to use public transit and other forms of transportation, celebrate public spaces, and advocate for public and active transit. TranspoBINGO cards will be posted at this link on February 21 and will also be printed and distributed at several public locations. Get all the details on Greater Greater Washington, and shoutout to Ward 4 residents Rachel Maisler and Commissioner Erin Palmer for organizing TranspoBINGO for the fourth year in a row!

Report Uncollected Leaves to 311!

DPW has completed its two rounds of leaf collection in each part of Ward 4. However, I know some neighbors still have leaves on their block that were missed, so DPW crews are making additional rounds to get to these leaves too. If you still have uncollected leaves on your street, report them on the 311 website under the “Leaf Collection Missed” category. Try to add a photo of the leaves to help DPW find your leafy pile. Leaves need to be raked on your curb, treebox, or easement to be collected — or gathered in paper bags in front of your home.

Apply Now for DPR Summer 2024 Camps

This week DPR opened camp applications for Summer 2024! Like last year, DPR is using a lottery application system where applications remain open from February 12-26, and parents will be notified via email of lottery selection by March 1. Please visit DPR’s dedicated website to check out the full list of summer camps and locations and submit your application.

MPD Amazon Lockers Program Expands to 4D and 2D 

If you are having problems with package theft, Ward 4 residents ordering from Amazon now have the option of ordering their packages to be delivered to new Amazon Lockers at Fourth District Station (6001 Georgia Ave NW) or Second District Station (3320 Idaho Ave NW). We should not have to take these precautions, but this is a valuable resource for residents who want to take advantage of it while package thefts are high. Learn more from MPD’s notice

Free Income Tax Help at DC Libraries for Seniors 

The AARP Foundation is providing free income tax filing assistance for eligible seniors at libraries across the District until April 15. In Ward 4, the income tax help is offered at Petworth Library on Mondays and Fridays from 11am-4pm, and residents must make an appointment ahead of time by contacting 202-656-1341 or Review the list of participating libraries and the list of documents seniors should bring on DCPL’s website

Other Helpful Tax Resources for DC Residents 

With tax season upon us, I want to ensure you are aware of these additional resources: 

Thanks to the Homes and Hearts Amendment we passed, the DC EITC gives DC residents 70% of their Federal EITC amount for 2023 — one of the highest match rates in the US. 

New DOES Unemployment Benefits System 

DOES launched a new unemployment insurance system on February 5 that aims to make it easier to apply for benefits and reduce fraud through a new identity verification component. Residents now have a centralized portal where they can submit and request documents, file new claims or check the status of pending claims, and communicate with DOES staff. DOES is urging residents to verify their identifies through the DOES portal to ensure they continue to receive benefits

DC TAG Applications Delayed to March 11 

The DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DC TAG) program announced this week that it will begin accepting applications on March 11 — not February 1 as originally planned. That is because the US Department of Education will not make FAFSA information available until mid-March, and DC TAG relies on that information to determine student eligibility. DC TAG, which is also known as the DC OneApp, is a program that subsidizes the cost of eligible DC residents to attend out-of-state public universities, private colleges in DC, or private HBCUs nationwide. 

Apply for the Summer Youth Employment Program 

Applications are now open for the Mayor Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program for DC youth ages 14-24! This is a great way for young people in the District to earn pay, gain valuable experience, and contribute to the work of our agencies, local businesses, and community organizations. Youth can apply for SYEP through March 6 and organizations can also apply to host SYEP participants. 

Litter Cans Restored and Added in Ward 4

Last year I heard about public litter cans being removed from our neighborhoods without notice. DPW found that some of these cans were being used improperly by residents to dump their household trash, but removing them made litter in neighborhoods far worse. I introduced legislation to require ANCs to receive notice before a public litter can is removed so they can weigh in, and the bill helped spur policy change: DPW made it possible for residents to directly request for public litter cans to be (re)installed in their neighborhood through 311. DPW also restored more than a dozen of the litter cans that were removed from Ward 4, which you can see marked by green dots in the map below. And this month, DPW unveiled a new website to track its public litter cans and requests to change them. Thank you to all the neighbors who wrote to me about this, as well as to our ANC Commissioners who advocated for restoring litter cans in Ward 4. This is far from the most important issue in our city, but it has a real effect on our neighborhoods, and we are better off because of these changes.

Neighborhood Events

Free E-Cycle Event in Takoma

On Saturday, February 17 from 10am-2pm (rain or shine) there will be a free electronics recycling collection event on the corner of Van Buren St NW & 4th St NW by Takoma Community Center. Check out DOEE’s website for a list of covered electronics, and here is the specific collection point. Come drop off your electronics to be safely recycled for free! Please note that organizers shared that this event will still move forward even if it snows overnight.

37th Annual Black History Swim Meet at Takoma Pool

On Friday, February 16 through Sunday, February 18, our own Takoma Aquatic Center will be hosting the 37th Annual Black History Invitation Swim Meet. As a reminder, Takoma Pool is closed for public swimming until it reopens on Tuesday. Check out all the Swim Meet information you need on DPR’s website, and check it out at 300 Van Buren St NW.

“At Home” Exhibit at Grandma’s House in Petworth

On Saturday, February 17 from 10am-7pm and Sunday, February 18 from 10am-7pm Grandma’s House, a new art and culture hub in Petworth, will host a new exhibit called At Home featuring eight local artists exploring the family unit. RSVP to receive the event location.

Love and Jazz Concert at 19th Street Baptist Church

On Saturday, February 17 from 2pm-6pm Nineteenth Street Baptist Church will host a Love and Jazz concert with music, food, and fellowship! You can get your tickets on Eventbrite.

Artist Talks at Zenith Gallery for “AWARENESS”

On Saturday, February 17 from 2pm-6pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris St NW) will host an Artist Talk with Julee Dickerson-Thompson, Buzz Duncan, Francine Haskins, and Curtis Woody for its new exhibit celebrating Black History Month, AWARENESS: Through an African American Lens. The exhibit features the work of 11 separate artists, and there will be another artist talk on Saturday, February 24 from 2pm-6pm featuring Cheryl Edwards and Hubert Jackson.

Kennedy Street Revitalization II Project Meeting

On Thursday, February 22 from 6:30pm-8pm DDOT will host a virtual public meeting to update neighbors on the Kennedy Street Revitalization Phase II Project, which is set to finally begin construction at the end of this month. The project will bring traffic safety upgrades, better intersection design, and improved streetscapes and green spaces on Kennedy Street from Georgia to 16th Street and some of its adjacent blocks. Find the meeting link on this flyer.

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

Ward 4 in the News

WTOP: FRESHFARM Farmers Market Workers Vote to Ratify Union Contract

Axios DC: DC Weekender featuring Grandma’s House Opening in Ward 4

DCist: DC Tool Library in Petworth Holds Fundraiser To Replace Stolen Tools

Petworth News: ANC 4C Approves Resolution Supporting Grant Circle Safety Plan

DCist: A Local Childcare Center Faces Closure. Parents Want The City To Step In

DDOT: Temporary Road Closure and Detour on 6700-6900 Blocks of Piney Branch Road

DDOT: Metropolitan Branch Trail Fort Totten to Takoma February Newsletter

Alert: DC Water Warns Customers About Phone Scam Asking for Bank Information

Channel 9: DC Residents Could See Higher Utility Bills Soon, if a Washington Gas Pipeline Project Is Given the Green Light

Washingtonian: Here’s How the Justice Department Plans to Help Fight Crime in DC

Washington City Paper: Washington Post Reduced Daily Editorials in Another Turn Away from Local Coverage

Washington Post: Five Red Line Stations to Close This Summer to Link Metro with Purple Line

Next Stop… Riggs Park: Complete Riggs Park Traffic Control Box Community Art Project Survey by March 4

DPR: New 2024 Recreation for All Grants to Create Recreation Opportunities for Youth

Washingtonian: No Station Closures, But Fares May Increase Under New Metro Budget

Ward 4 Dispatch: Secure DC First Vote, Council Action, and DPR Summer Camps

One of the things that makes Ward 4 so special is that we love and show up for our seniors! Today was a wonderful day shared with our seniors at the Inaugural Ward 4 Senior King and Queen Pageant! It was hosted by the great Genevieve N. Johnson Senior Day Care Center, which provides quality services, recreation, and events for our seniors in partnership with Zion Baptist Church. Congrats to all our seniors who participated in the pageant, especially our Ward 4 Senior King and Queen, Ronald Mitchell (from Genevieve N. Johnson) and Mary Davis (from Colony House).

Wishing you a great Presidents’ Day holiday weekend, Ward 4! Please be extra cautious and look after our neighbors as we receive more snow tonight.  

Yours in Community,