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Ward 4 Dispatch: Traffic Safety News, Takoma Gym Reopens, and Key DC Deadlines

Dear Neighbors,

There is so much to get into this week! Here is everything you need to know about DC government and our Ward 4 community.

Takoma Fitness Center Reopens

DPR shared with me this week during our performance oversight hearing that it finally reopened the Fitness Center at Takoma Community Center. The gym is located at its original location within the Takoma Aquatic Center building (300 Van Buren St NW) on the right-hand side as you walk into the building. DPR said that it is mitigating previous issues with the space by installing dehumidifiers, making HVAC repairs, and hiring a contractor to treat the equipment so it stays in good condition. I still have some outstanding questions for DPR, but I wanted to share this encouraging and long-awaited update with you all. The operating hours of the Takoma Fitness Center are 6:30am-8:30pm on Mondays-Fridays, 10:30am-4:30pm on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. Thank you to ANC 4B and all the neighbors for advocating alongside me to finally reopen this important resource for our community. 

CFSA, DPR, and DOB Oversight Updates

It was another action-packed week of Council hearings and oversight. On Wednesday, I held our performance hearing for the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children and the Child and Family Services Agency. I had honest and productive conversations with both agencies about how the current educational neglect system is not working and why our hero social workers’ caseloads are way too high and what more we can do to support them. We also reviewed the progress of the new 211 Warmline — a fantastic new resource that directly provides families in need with information about and referrals to a wide variety of resources. A major focus in 2023 was DC’s failure to use all the federal vouchers it has to help foster youth find stable housing after they leave foster care. A year later, every voucher is being used and CFSA even requested more vouchers from the federal government! This is meaningful progress on a critical program for young people leaving our foster care system.

I also joined the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) performance hearing on Thursday, focusing my questions on Ward 4 capital projects, aquatics staffing, and park maintenance. Beyond the reopening of Takoma Fitness Center, I also received updates on our local capital projects: the spray parks at Fort Stevens, Lafayette-Pointer, and Takoma should all be refurbished before Memorial Day; the first community meeting for the upcoming $13 million modernization of the Emery Heights Community Center will take place this summer; DPR committed to continue listening to neighbors and ANCs on the design of the modernization of Upshur Rec Center and Pool; and playground improvements at Lamond, Petworth, and Riggs-LaSalle should all be completed this summer. I also inquired about DPR’s need for additional safety measures after the tragic death of lifeguard Jazmin Jefferson last year at Roosevelt pool, requiring increased security at Petworth Rec Center, needing more consistent staffing for senior programs at Lamond and Riggs-LaSalle, and DPR’s broader coordination with DGS and DPW to keep our parks safe, well-maintained, and clean.

And I joined the performance hearing for the Department of Buildings (DOB). I had the opportunity to question Director Hanlon on their inspection process, data-sharing and coordination with DLCP, and the need for DOB to continue supporting the seniors who live at Todd A. Lee Senior Residences with the serious issues in their building. I look forward to continuing to work with Director Hanlon and DOB to build on our progress.

Oversight Hearings: DGS, Schools, and Public Safety

We still have important Council oversight hearings where we need Ward 4 residents to sign up to speak. Check out the full performance oversight hearing schedule and some key upcoming hearings below:

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.”

Traffic Safety Upgrades in Ward 4

Every day, my team and I advocate for traffic safety improvements on roads and intersections across Ward 4 in partnership with neighbors and our dedicated ANC Commissioners. Here are some of the latest upgrades coming to our community:

  • DDOT has approved important safety improvements at the intersection of 16th & Arkansas NW for this spring, including installing a protected-only northbound right turn phase on the east side of the intersection so pedestrians can safely cross without facing vehicles that are simultaneously turning right onto Arkansas Avenue and fail to yield to them. And the Sixteenth Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project is on track to finish this summer!
  • We now have multiple new traffic lights installed in Ward 4 to reduce crashes, better manage traffic flow, and improve safety for all road users: Varnum & Iowa & Georgia Avenue NW in Petworth, Sligo Avenue & Eastern Ave & Sheridan NE in Lamond Riggs, and Georgia & Farragut NW in Brightwood Park — as well as a new traffic light nearing activation at 16th & Blagden NW in Crestwood and Sixteenth Street Heights.
  • We also have new pedestrian islands installed at Georgia & Crittenden NW and a HAWK signal, centerline median closure, and markings being installed at Georgia & Hamilton NW to improve pedestrian safety and eliminate a frequent crash pattern.
  • In East Petworth, DDOT proposed closing the 3rd St NW slip lane between Shepherd Street and Rock Creek Church Road to vehicular traffic and make several other safety adjustments to the intersection. And in Barnaby Woods, DDOT is planning to eliminate the slip lane at Utah & Tennyson NW and replace it with additional green space in order to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Last fall, DDOT released the initial design for a major traffic safety plan for Grant Circle. The agency is now working to improve the design based on community input.
  • In Riggs Park, DDOT proposed important traffic safety upgrades at the 2nd & 3rd NE intersection behind Walmart — including converting the intersection to a roundabout. Construction for the roundabout at 2nd & 3rd NE is planned for this spring.
  • I am also working with DDOT, our ANCs, and neighbors on badly-needed traffic safety plans to improve two dangerous intersections: Alaska & Geranium NW in Shepherd Park and Sheridan & Piney Branch NW in Brightwood.
  • DDOT has installed or has proposed installing speed bumps or speed tables across Ward 4, including the Unit block of Gallatin Street NW, the 200 block of Van Buren St NW, the 300 block of Emerson St NW, the 300-400 blocks of Rittenhouse St NW, 400 block of Crittenden Street NW, 600 block of Missouri Ave NW, 1300 block of Montague St NW, the 800 block of Delafield Pl NW, the 1400 block of Longfellow St NW, the 1400 block of Sheridan St NW, the 1700-1800 blocks of Shepherd St NW, the 4500 block of 15th St NW, the 4600-4700 block of 8th St NW, the 4800 block of 7th St NW, the 4800 block of 9th St NW, the 5600-5700 blocks of 1st Street NW, the 5700 block of 7th Street NW, and the 5700-5800 blocks of 3rd St NW — as well as a raised crosswalk at 6th & Butternut NW.
  • And shoutout to neighbors on the 1300 block of Quincy Street NW, who will finally get their speed bumps (three of them) by this summer!

Remember: neighbors can make Traffic Safety Input requests on 311’s website and can review which requests have been submitted, prioritized, or completed on DDOT’s TSI database.

Kennedy Street Revitalization II Begins

After years of delays caused by utility work and the COVID pandemic, the Kennedy Street Revitalization Phase II Project will finally break ground next week to bring improved streetscapes, enhanced public spaces, traffic safety upgrades, and other benefits to Kennedy Street between Georgia Avenue and 16th Street NW, as well as some adjacent blocks. At the community meeting last night (see slides), the project team shared the project timeline and how it plans to construct the project one phase at a time to mitigate disruption. The most impactful changes are focused on three intersections: Kennedy & 14th NW, Georgia & Longfellow NW, and Georgia & Kennedy NW — while also delivering two new open plazas. The work is happening concurrently with the DC PLUG Feeder 15001, a project that will move power lines underground in this area and make DC and our power grid more resilient. The project team committed to working to accommodate Uptown Farmers Market and to minimize the impact on local businesses. It also committed to communicating proactively with neighbors and expressed openness to community requests, including more traffic safety enhancements. Neighbors are encouraged to reach out to Peyton Manning ( with questions or requests.

Community Resources

Important Deadlines for DC Services

With so much going on, I want to make sure neighbors know these important deadlines:

  • Apply for the 2024 DPR Summer Camp Lottery no later than February 26
  • Plan ahead to prepare for the restart of DPW Street Sweeping on March 1
  • Submit your My School DC Lottery Application for PK3 – Grade 8 by March 1
  • Place your holiday tree or greenery out for DPW collection before March 2
  • Weigh in on Metro’s proposed FY25 budget and service levels by March 5
  • Apply for DPR Recreation for All grants to expand recreation by March 5
  • Apply for the MMB Summer Youth Employment Program by March 6

Retroactive SNAP Payments This Weekend

If you receive SNAP benefits in DC, look out for an extra payment on your EBT card this weekend. These are retroactive January and February payments for the SNAP expansion we passed in the DC budget. Starting in March, you will get the increase as part of your normal monthly benefit. SNAP food assistance is a critical lifeline against hunger in DC.

Apply for the Ms. Senior DC Pageant 2024

Calling senior women ages 60 or older! Please apply to represent the District as Ms. Senior DC at the annual Ms. Senior DC Pageant. “Contestants compete for the title in four categories and are judged on their elegance, poise, and style.” Apply by Thursday, February 29.

Celebrate Transit and Public Spaces with TranspoBINGO 

TranspoBINGO is taking place for the fourth year in a row from February 22-29 as a great way to challenge yourself to use public transit and other forms of transportation, celebrate public spaces, and enhance advocacy. TranspoBINGO cards are now posted on this website. Shoutout to Ward 4 residents Rachel Maisler and Commissioner Erin Palmer for organizing! 

New Grants for Businesses at The Parks at Walter Reed 

Last 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.” 

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 this map. And earlier this month, DPW unveiled a new website to track its public litter cans and requests to change them. 

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. 

Neighborhood Events

Grand Opening for Sticky Fingers in Takoma

On Saturday, February 24 from 10am-12pm Sticky Fingers and Takoma Main Street will host a grand opening for their new flagship bakery in Takoma. The first 100 customers will get a free chocolate chip cookie, and Sticky Fingers will share samples and prizes throughout the day. And local Drag Queen Tara Hoot will be kicking off the celebration with bubbles and stories.

Watch “The Tuskegee Airmen” at Lamond-Riggs Library

On Saturday, February 24 at 2pm the Friends of Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library will screen The Tuskegee Airmen, a film featuring heroes of the Black Air Squadron that proved to be a historic fighting force during WWII with their heroism, tenacity, and hard-fought success. 

Artist Talks at Zenith Gallery for “AWARENESS”

On Saturday, February 24 from 2pm-6pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris St NW) will host an Artist Talk featuring Cheryl Edwards and Hubert Jackson for its new exhibit celebrating Black History Month, AWARENESS: Through an African American Lens.

Artist Talk at Art of Noize Gallery in Petworth

On Saturday, February 24 from 4pm-6pm Art of Noize will host an Artist Talk with BUCK! and Alanzo Robles-Gordon. Join for an intimate conversation delving on the Black male experience within the arts landscape with the artists featured in the “F is For February” Exhibition. 

Peace Vigil at Georgia & Shepherd NW

On Saturday, February 24 at 5:30pm the Ward 4 Clergy Against Gun Violence and neighbors will host a community peace vigil and candle-lighting in remembrance of Jeremy Dewayne Johnson, who was the victim of the first homicide in Ward 4 this year.

Son of a Slave Memoir Event at Busboys and Poets

On Monday, February 26 from 6pm-8pm Ward 4’s Loretta Neumann will lead a presentation on the life of her late husband, Daniel R. Smith at the Takoma Busboys and Poets. Dan Smith was the last person to be born to a man who was born into slavery. He served as a medic in the Korean War, championed civil rights, and ran literacy, health, and anti-poverty programs.

Neptune Room 4-Year Anniversary in Brightwood Park

On Wednesday, February 28 from 5pm-1:30am Neptune Room will host a 4-year anniversary party with delicious East Asian offerings, dumplings, and special birthday treats!

Grant Circle Cleanup with Petworth Blooms 

On Sunday, February 25 at 2pm Petworth Blooms will lead a cleanup of Grant Circle. Join them as they remove litter and clean the flower beds to show the daffodils that are popping up. 

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

Ward 4 in the News

Petworth News: Kennedy Street Community Is Hopeful for Proposed Library

Channel 9: Three-day Invitational in Honor of Black History Month Comes to a Close

Next Stop… Riggs Park: Complete Riggs Park Community Art Survey by March 4

Washington Post: Cause of DC fire that Left 84-Year-Old Man Dead Ruled Undetermined

PopVille: New Fare Gates at Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro Station Are In

DGS: New Tiger Sculpture by Local Artist Installed at Raymond Elementary

CBENA: Apply to Be Part of a PorchFest in Sixteenth Street Heights in May or June

DPR: Help DPR Plan for the Future by Filling Out DPR’s Court Survey by March 31

MPD: DC Police Seeks a Suspect in an Attempted Armed Carjacking on Kennedy Street

USAO DC: District Man Indicted on Enhanced Second-Degree Theft Following Theft from Residential Front Porch in Ward 4

Street Sense: DC Introduces New Unemployment Insurance and ID Verification System

Washington Post: Last Week’s Snow Forecast for DC Area Was a Bust. Here’s Why.

DPR and DGS: Update on Wilson Aquatic Center (via Ward 3 Councilmember Frumin)

Nineteenth Street Baptist Church: Tai Chi Meditative Classes Offered on Mondays

WTOP: FRESHFARM Farmers Market Workers Vote to Ratify Union Contract

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

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

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

The Parks at Walter Reed: Concept Design for 37 New Townhomes on Parcel Z by DCI

At the end of every newsletter, I share local news stories to keep you updated about what is happening in Ward 4 and across DC. I share stories from DCist and WMAU more than any other outlet because they consistently deliver insightful stories across so many local issues without any paywall or barrier to readers. Their hard-working reporters keep us informed, hold our institutions accountable (myself included), and shine a light on the issues that matter most in DC. Today’s news about the shutting down of DCist and the layoff of 15 talented reporters from WAMU is devastating and constitutes another huge blow to DC’s press corps. Thank you to all the past and current reporters at WAMU/DCist for their impactful reporting.

Let us all take this as a painful reminder about the need to support local news. If you are able, subscribe and contribute to the news outlets you depend on. I also encourage you to follow WAMU’s union on Twitter to stay connected to efforts to support WAMU’s staff. The union has asked readers and listeners to email WAMU General Manager Erika Pulley-Hayes at about reversing layoffs and saving DCist. And as you may remember, last year I introduced the Local News Funding Act to provide a stable and independent source of funding for local news. The bill is still awaiting a hearing. Please consider taking a moment to reach out to other Councilmembers and ask them to support the bill. We need to fund local news like the essential public good that it is.

Wishing you a good weekend, neighbors.

Yours in Community,