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Ward 4 Dispatch: Summer Safety, New Whole Foods, and Fourth of July in Ward 4

Dear Neighbors,

As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, I’m sharing updates on public safety in Ward 4, the new Whole Foods at the Parks at Walter Reed, free summer youth meals, outdoor pools staying open on weekdays, a higher DC minimum wage, WMATA’s new nighttime courtesy stops, and modified city services for the holiday weekend. Speaking of which, our office will be closed this Monday and Tuesday (July 3-4) in observance of the holiday. This newsletter also highlights Fourth of July events at Soldiers Home, Crestwood, Takoma Park, and The Parks at Walter Reed — along with many other neighborhood events, resources, and local news.

Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Meeting

On Thursday I convened public safety agencies and our community to discuss specific strategies to improve public safety in Ward 4 — especially during the summer when there is usually an increase in crime. Each agency leader laid out their plans and listened to feedback, requests, and ideas so they can better address the day-to-day issues that neighbors face in their community. We focused on the need for both short term interventions that disrupt violence and prevent crime — as well as long term solutions that put our young people on a good path and lift up our communities. Thank you to all the DC agencies, ANC Commissioners, and neighbors who participated in yesterday’s meeting:

  • Ward 4 Councilmember: I first highlighted our work on the DC budget, where we restored funding for support services for crime victims and survivors of domestic violence, funded major hiring incentives for MPD, secured a new Leadership Academy for MacFarland Middle School to mentor at-risk youth at a key time during their development, maintained the independence of DC’s crime lab so it can collect evidence for cases fairly and effectively, and made strong investments in housing, education, and mental health. I also spoke about the work we do in our community engaging neighbors and coordinating between agencies to address public safety issues and conditions that exacerbate crime.
  • Metropolitan Police Department: Commander Heraud reported that Fourth District had the highest reduction in violent crime in 2022, but that this year they are facing an 18% increase in overall crime in line with citywide trends. Fourth District is responding with a focused patrol initiative targeting the areas with the highest levels of violent crime, the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership that hosts weekly multiagency walkthroughs around Georgia & Kennedy NW and Petworth Metro to address safety risks, a flexible crime suppression unit that is deployed based on daily crime patterns and emerging needs, and two community engagement officers tasked with building relationships in Ward 4.
  • Department of Behavioral Health: Erica Barnes discussed DBH’s mobile Community Response Team (call 202-673-6495 to reach them) that responds to mental health crises and unmet needs across DC, including psychiatric incidents, substance abuse, residents in distress, and outreach to our unhoused neighbors. DBH also has a school-based behavioral health program that provides mental health services to DC students, but since the pandemic the program has struggled to fill vacancies and ensure each school has a clinician. DBH also conducts crisis response in schools to provide grief counseling and mental health support to students and educators after someone dies.
  • Cure the Streets: Rev. Judie Martin from InnerCity Collaborative and Gabbie Breven from DC OAG discussed the Cure the Streets violence interruption program that serves Petworth, Brightwood Park, and other neighborhoods in Ward 4. They have an outreach team that directly engages at-risk individuals to divert them from violence and connect them to services and opportunities that can alter the course of their lives. The Cure the Streets team also responds to gun violence incidents to support victims and their families, deescalate conflicts, and prevent retaliatory shootings. Despite working in the areas most heavily impacted by violence, the limited data we have suggests that Cure the Streets is making a positive impact in the areas where it is deployed.

Kennedy Street Drug and Gun Arrests

This week, the US Attorney’s Office announced a major indictment of 12 alleged members of the Kennedy Street Crew on gun and drug trafficking charges. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized more than 40 firearms, including eight suspected machine guns. This is a significant public safety development for our community. We refuse to tolerate or become desensitized to gun violence. Since taking office, I have fought alongside our community to bring resources and maintain a relentless focus on Kennedy Street. Thank you to the DC and federal agencies that conducted this multiyear investigation and brought these charges, including USAO, MPD, DEA, ATF, FBI, and IRS. This indictment is part of a comprehensive strategy to get guns off our streets and hold individuals accountable, while also addressing the root causes of gun violence — as we have been doing consistently on Kennedy Street and across Ward 4. We know that if we fail to invest in our community and support our youth with the resources they need now, then we will only end up in the same place we started.

Whole Foods Opens at The Parks at Walter Reed

This week we welcomed the new Whole Foods at The Parks at Walter Reed to our Ward 4 community. The new store is located on 12th & Dahlia NW and is open 7am-10pm seven days a week. It was great to see so many neighbors and our dedicated ANC Commissioners at the store on opening day. This new store will serve many people in our community — especially our seniors and veterans living on the Walter Reed campus, who will now have nearby access to food. Approximately 180 people were hired to work at this store, and 80% of them are DC residents. One person who was in our thoughts as the store opened is the late Commissioner Stephen Whatley, who worked tirelessly to help shape The Parks into what it is today. The new Whole Foods is part of Marketplace Plaza, which will include apartment buildings, a Chase Bank, Jinya Ramen Bar, Mezeh Mediterranean Grill, an ice cream shop, and a nail salon. There is also an in-store Amazon Pickup and Return Center inside the Whole Foods for neighbors’ convenience. There will be a community celebration and ribbon cutting for the entire Marketplace Plaza on July 20, so mark your calendars. We need to keep fighting to expand grocery store access — not just in Ward 4 but in food deserts across DC.

Community Resources

Free Summer Meals for Youth Available All Summer

Free summer meals are being distributed for youth 18 and under at 14 different sites in Ward 4! No child needs to go hungry during summer break. Find the full list and spread the word!

DC Minimum Wage Rises to $17 Per Hour

Effective July 1, DC’s minimum wage will increase to $17 per hour (up from $16.10), and DC’s tipped minimum wage will rise to $8 per hour (from $6) with employers being required to make up the difference to $17 per hour if tips are insufficient to do so. More wages for workers!

Outdoor Pools Now Open on Weekdays Too

Outdoor pools are now open on weekdays, too! Each pool is open six days, and you can find each pool’s schedule on DPR’s website. In Ward 4, Upshur Pool is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 10am-6pm and only closes on Mondays. On July 4, all DPR outdoor pools will be open from 10am-6pm and outdoor spray parks will be open from 10am-8pm. Please keep in mind that DC’s indoor pools are also open during summer, including Roosevelt High School Pool and Takoma Aquatic Center in Ward 4. Indoor pools are a great option if you want to swim early in the morning or late at night — or if the weather or air quality is bad.

July 4 Trash Collection and Modified DC Services

DPW plans to have normal trash and recycling collection on Monday, July 3, but collection will slide a day later starting on Tuesday, July 4 for the remainder of the week. That means that if your regular collection takes place on Tuesday, it will shift to Wednesday and so on for the rest of the week. DC libraries, indoor DPR facilities, and DMV locations will also be closed on July 4. Check out the full list of modified DC services for details. Also: WMATA will have all-day frequent service and free MetroRail and MetroBus service after 5pm on July 4.

MetroBus Launches Nighttime Courtesy Stops

MetroBus drivers now offer nightime courtesy stops for riders traveling between 9pm-5am to improve service and customer safety when it is darkest outside. All riders need to do is politely ask the driver for a courtesy stop at a safe location and use the front door of the bus to exit.

DCPL Dinosaur Roaring Contest Is Back!

DC Public Library is bringing back its fun and frightening dinosaur roaring contest. Just record a video of your best dinosaur roar (10 seconds or less) and upload your entry on DCPL’s website by August 1. There will be prizes and a compilation video with the best entries!

Residents with SNAP Can Now Get 50% Off All WMATA Fares

DC, Maryland, and Virginia residents who are currently enrolled in SNAP (previously known as the food stamp program) are now able to sign up for WMATA’s reduced fare program, which reduces fares by 50% of all of your MetroBus and MetroRail trips. All you need to enroll is a SmarTrip card for you and each person in your household, an active SNAP EBT card, a government-issued ID card or passport, and your phone number. You can register online and in-person at three enrollment centers. Please sign up if you qualify for the program, and spread the word to your neighbors so they do the same!

Deadline Extended: Ward 4 Commemorative Project

The deadline for nominating Ward 4 individuals, events, or organizations to be commemorated as part of the Ward 4 Commemorative Project has been pushed back to Friday, July 7. This project is facilitated by Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street and will lead to a statue, sculpture, or plaque installed within Ward 4 to recognize the honoree. Subjects can include a person who passed away more than 10 years ago or an event that occurred at least 10 years ago.

DC Libraries Now Opening and Closing an Hour Earlier

As of this past week, neighborhood libraries are opening and closing an hour earlier on Mondays through Thursdays “to better serve those who co-work at the library, seniors, older students, and caregivers with young children.” That means our Petworth, Takoma, Chevy Chase, Shepherd Park Juanita Thornton, and Lamond-Riggs/Lillian Huff libraries are now open from 9am-8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays — and from noon-8pm on Thursdays.

Free Woodworking Classes for ANC 4A Residents

The Zenith Community Arts Foundation is offering FREE woodworking classes for Ward 4 residents ages 18 and older who live in ANC 4A, which includes Brightwood, Colonial Village, North Portal, The Parks at Walter Reed, and Shepherd Park. The classes will take place on July 8, July 15, and July 22 from 10:30am-1pm, and they will be taught by expert cabinetmaker Ric Simmons. Please call Lynda Smith-Bugge at 202-783-8005 to sign up for classes or to express your interest in woodworking opportunities. Read the full announcement for details!

Run for ANC Commissioner in Riggs Park

Ward 4 needs a new ANC Commissioner to fill a vacancy in Single Member District 4B09 in Riggs Park. If you live in SMD 4B09, consider stepping up to serve your neighborhood. Learn more about the process of running on the DC Board of Elections website, or look up who your Commissioner is on the ANC website. Nominating petitions will be available starting July 3.

Neighborhood Events

Genevieve N. Johnson Community Health Fair & Bazaar

On Saturday, July 1 from 10am-3pm the Genevieve N. Johnson Senior Center will host its annual Health Fair and Bazaar on the lawn of the Senior Center (4817 Blagden Ave NW) to share invaluable resources to Ward 4 residents related to health and wellness — and offer quality goods from local vendors. Don’t miss this great event!

Vinyl & Vintage Marketplace at 14th Street Graffiti Museum

On Saturday, July 1 from 10am-3pm 14th Street Graffiti Museum will host an outdoor vinyl and vintage marketplace with hundreds of funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, and rock LPs available, as well as crafts from local vendors and DJ music. Check it out at 14th & Crittenden NW!

Summer Breeze Line and Hand Dance Social at Lamond

On Saturday, July 1 from 1pm-5pm Lamond Rec Center will host a Summer Breeze Line and Hand Dance Social event with hand dancing, slow dragging, bopping, and line dancing to good music. Put on your dancing shoes and bring your favorite food and non-alcoholic drinks!

Crestwood Annual 4th of July Parade

On Tuesday, July 4 at 10am Crestwood neighbors will hold their annual 4th of July Parade featuring bikes, strollers, scooters, wagons, coffee, and breakfast munchies! Neighbors are encouraged to gather in front of 1810 Shepherd St NW at 9:30am to decorate their mode of transportation. The parade will start on Shepherd, continue to 18th, proceed to Taylor, then to Argyle, and return to Shepherd Street. Neighbors are encouraged to participate or take a seat and cheer on the parade. And everyone is encouraged bring a breakfast snack to share!

4th of July Parade in Takoma Park

On Tuesday, July 4 from 10am-11:30am our neighbors in Takoma Park, MD will host an Independence Day Parade celebrating our democracy with Congressman Jamie Raskin as Grand Marshal! The parade will begin at Carroll & Ethan Allen Aves, and there will be also be an evening celebration and street party from 6pm-9pm on Maple Avenue with live music, prizes, food trucks, kids activities, and a beer and wine garden. Details on the parade website!

July 4 “Grass” Music Event at The Parks at Walter Reed

On Tuesday, July 4 from 3pm-9pm the Parks at Walter Reed will host a free presentation of music and community on the Great Lawn with delicious food and a great band-and-DJ lineup! This will be a family-friendly event but no fireworks are permitted. RSVP to reserve a spot!

Soldiers Home 4th of July Independence Day Celebration

On Tuesday, July 4 from 4:30-9pm the Friends of the Soldiers Home will host the 11th Annual 4th of July Independence Day Celebration at Soldiers Home. Families can enjoy food trucks, drinks, music, bounce houses, catch-and-release fishing (bring your own gear), a 6pm patriotic bike-and-scooter parade, and a hillside view of the National Mall Fireworks. Learn more!

Local News Links

DCist: Crime Bill Draws Fierce Opposition, Support During Council Hearing

DCist: DC Runs Out Of Down Payment Assistance Funds For First Time Homebuyers

DC Line: How a long-delayed database project affected decision-making on rent caps

DCist: Mysterious New Pest Threatening One Of The Most Important Trees In DC Forests

UrbanTurf: How a Zoning Change Could Reshape Upper 14th Street

DCist: Looking Glass Priced Out Of Petworth, Leaving Locals Heartbroken

Next Stop… Riggs Park: Photos from the One-Year Anniversary Celebration of the New Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library

DCPS: Roosevelt Assistant Principal Darryl Powell Serenades the Class of 2023

DCPS: Coolidge Valedictorian Mariana Guadalupe Bermudez Pays Tribute to Her Family

Ward 4 Dispatch: Rec Center Repairs, Summer Safety, and Reduced WMATA Fares

This week the Supreme Court issued devastating rulings against affirmative action, student debt relief, and the right of our LGBTQIA+ communities not to be discriminated against. This court has sacrificed its legitimacy in favor of right wing judicial activism and an agenda that favors the rich, privileged, and powerful over everyone else. It feels like the very freedoms we celebrate over the July 4th holiday are under assault. Still, we know that the long arc of the moral universe bends towards justice, and that we will never stop fighting to restore and expand our rights and liberties in order to guarantee equal justice under law. For now, we take heed in the words of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson from her powerful dissent

“Gulf-sized race-based gaps exist with respect to the health, wealth, and well-being of American citizens. They were created in the distant past, but have indisputably been passed down to the present day through the generations. Every moment these gaps persist is a moment in which this great country falls short of actualizing one of its foundational principles—the ‘self-evident’ truth that all of us are created equal.”

To end on a hopeful note, this week I had the chance to visit the Sharpe school building during my 13 DCPS school readiness tours across the District (more on that to come). Sharpe is our dedicated swing space where Ward 4 schools relocate while their schools are being modernized. In last year’s budget, we secured funds to renovate Sharpe so it can host students from both Dorothy Height Elementary and Truesdell Elementary students next school year. This is important, because it allowed Truesdell’s modernization to stay on track and prevented Truesdell students from being relocated to a distant swing space on U Street. It also allows us to keep Whittier Elementary’s modernization on track to start in 2025 by ensuring there will be an available swing space at Sharpe to host the school. During the tour, we identified necessary repairs for the summer and saw the great progress being made to build brand new classrooms, add a playground, and create more space for students and educators on campus. We will keep working together with our agencies to ensure the building is ready to welcome our Dorothy Height and Truesdell scholars by the end of summer.

Enjoy the 4th of July holiday weekend, and stay safe!

Yours in Community,