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Ward 4 Dispatch: Ward 4 COVID Center, Community Safety, Redistricting, and WMATA Budget!

Dear Neighbors,

Gone are the days of crisscrossing the ward to get your tests, shots, and masks from different locations. Now you can do all of that in Ward 4’s brand new COVID Center, open Monday-Saturday at 4704 13th St NW!

This week I’m updating you on our response to the shooting on Spring Road last weekend, on our traffic safety walkthrough in Shepherd Park, and on WMATA’s proposed budget and service levels for next year (and how you can weigh in on the proposal). I’m also sharing highlights from our oversight hearings this week and giving you the full rundown of the Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force’s schedule and community input opportunities.

As always, I include key updates on city services and community resources. This week both the $40 million Bridge Fund for small businesses and the DC Summer Youth Employment program started accepting applications. We also have neighborhood events coming up and now get to enjoy a new FitLot outdoor exercise park at Lamond Recreation Center in Ward 4!


Ward 4 News

New Ward 4 COVID Center: One-Stop Shop for Vaccines, Tests, and Masks

Ward 4 now has its own COVID Center! Located at 4704 13th St NW, the new center will be a one-stop shop where DC residents can get their vaccine, booster, self-administered on-site PCR tests, pick up rapid tests, or get free KN95 masks (two per resident per day)! The new center is open six days a week with extensive hours to accommodate varying schedules. They’re open 10am-8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; 11am-9pm on Thursdays; Fridays from 9am-7pm; and are only closed on Sundays. No appointments are needed and everything is free. I had the chance to visit the site yesterday when it opened and can confirm that it’s a spacious, well-run center that can meet our community’s needs. You can find a listing of all of DC’s COVID Centers, their hours of operation, and a live tracker of how many masks remain at each center on this webpage. DC Health’s website also includes other opportunities to be vaccinated or tested, which are updated daily. Thank you to Peoples Congregational UCC for stepping up to host the new center in Ward 4 and to the helpful and friendly DC Health staff!

Meanwhile, the Mayor has extended DC’s limited public health emergency until February 15, and has also extended indoor mask requirements through February 28.

Shooting on Spring Road: Community Safety Update

Last Sunday our community experienced another gun violence incident when an MPD officer was shot on Spring Road. The suspect then ran into a multifamily residential building on Quincy Street, which was barricaded and searched by law enforcement late into the evening. I arrived at the scene to gather information for our community, then returned with my team the following day to speak to neighbors and take action on their concerns. Thankfully, the MPD officer who was shot has been released from the hospital and is recovering well from his injuries. MPD has arrested the suspect and recovered the gun believed to have been used by him. Numerous other arrests were also made in the area, including wanted individuals, drug seizures, and more gun recoveries. MPD is maintaining its heavy presence on this block, where a security camera is also installed. 

My team has been coordinating with city agencies to address the conditions that exacerbated public safety issues in this area, including multi-agency inspections led by DCRA of two buildings that have been a focal point for these issues. One of these buildings is now being pursued as a nuisance property by the Office of the DC Attorney General. Meanwhile, we are working to hold accountable the developer who owns these buildings for the housing code violations, security failures, and overall neglect that has fueled criminal activity there. The shooter was able to run straight into one of these properties because the front entrance lock has been broken for months. My team has also been working with DPW to address the illegal dumping and lack of parking enforcement on this block, and we have been pushing for action on nearby blighted, trash-filled properties since long before this incident.

We also know that if limit ourselves to being reactive to gun violence, we will fail to stop it. That’s why we are carrying out this work across Ward 4 by prioritizing constituent services work and legislative oversight on confronting issues that we have seen exacerbate gun violence  – from blighted properties and abandoned vehicles to addiction issues and behavioral health. As your Councilmember, I am continuing to fight for evidence-based programs that can address the root causes of gun violence. The Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is finalizing the location of its Pathways cohort in Ward 4, which will provide transitional employment and guided mentorship to people who are most impacted by gun violence. Meanwhile, Attorney General’s Office is preparing to launch its Cure the Streets violence interruption site in Brightwood Park, Petworth, and Columbia Heights this spring. The new Cure program will help diffuse the conflicts between neighborhood crews that drive most shootings in our ward. In addition, we remain focused on the root causes of gun violence, which include poverty, inequality, mental health, a lack of opportunity, and easy access to firearms. By pairing immediate responses to gun violence with long-term solutions, we can build lasting peace in our community.

Traffic Safety Walkthrough with DDOT in Shepherd Park 

Yesterday I led a traffic safety walkthrough in Shepherd Park with DDOT’s Director and staff to highlight dangerous stretches and identify traffic safety improvements that will make them safer. We visited Alaska & Geranium NW, where poor stop sign compliance along Alaska Avenue leads to dangerous pedestrian and vehicular crossing on Geranium St NW. DDOT is considering additional “stop ahead” markings on Alaska approaches, light-up stop signs, and pedestrian pylons. Then we stopped by Alaska & 12th St NW, a dangerous uncontrolled crossing as Alaska traffic has no stop signs and drivers on 12th Street must inch into intersection to see if anyone is coming. DDOT is considering pushing parking further back from the intersection to improve line of sight. DDOT will also coordinate installing speed bumps on the 7600 & 7500 blocks of 12th St NW to address the dangerous speeding observed. DDOT is considering installing speed tables or speed bumps. Then on Alaska & Kalmia Rd NW, DDOT will investigate signal timing to address the mis-timed traffic signals that make this intersection (and its adjacent stretch of Georgia Avenue) so dangerous. Over at the 1100-1600 blocks of Kalmia Rd NW, DDOT is considering speed tables and other traffic calming measures to address the rampant speeding that takes place here. And finally, at 13th & Kalmia Rd NW by Shepherd Elementary, DDOT will improve faded roadway striping and their Safe Routes to School team will evaluate further improvements. Thank you to DDOT’s director and staff, Naima Jefferson, Commissioner Stacey Lincoln, the Ward 4 MOCRs, community leaders, and neighbors who joined yesterday’s walkthrough.


Legislative Updates

Take Action: Share Your Feedback on WMATA Budget’s Proposed Budget

Reliable, accessible, and affordable public transit is essential for our Ward 4 community and the District as a whole. This week WMATA released its proposed budget and service levels for FY23, and is inviting the public to weigh in by filling out its budget survey or testifying at its public meeting on February 8 at 6pm at WMATA headquarters (600 5th St NW). Residents can participate in the meeting in person, by phone, or by video. I know Ward 4 has been deeply impacted by changes in Metrobus service, so this is an opportunity to advocate for improved or restored service for the bus routes in your neighborhood. This is also an opportunity to weigh in on WMATA’s proposed Metrorail service, which has also affected our community – especially these past few months after the 7000-Series Cars were sidelined. I wrote to WMATA in September calling for improved bus service, and will testify on behalf of our community during its budget process as well. On an encouraging note, WMATA announced this week that Metrobus will return to its regular weekday service levels on Monday, February 7.

Performance Oversight: Behavioral Health, Gas Leaks, and DPR

This week’s performance oversight hearings presented another opportunity to press agencies to deliver on our community’s pressing needs. I engaged the Department of Behavioral Health about the lack of mental health clinicians in our schools. Many Ward 4 schools currently have vacancies for these positions, and schools that are “fully-staffed” often only have one professional to serve hundreds of students. I also had the opportunity to ask DOEE’s Director to step up the agency’s response to gas leaks, which are prevalent in Ward 4. And yesterday, at DPR’s oversight hearing, Director Hunter agreed to visit Lamond Recreation Center with myself, community members, and DGS to expedite the many outstanding maintenance requests and supply issues at the rec center. I also asked DPR’s Director to improve bathroom availability at DPR facilities for our community, and I highlighted the important role that Roving Leaders play in supporting and mentoring our youth.

Please take a look at upcoming oversight hearings for DC agencies and instructions (scroll down) for how to sign up to testify or submit written comments for each Committee’s hearings.

Updates on Redistricting Ward 4’s ANC and SMD Boundaries

The Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force held its inaugural meeting last Sunday, and has now laid out the plan for the rest of its work – as well as opportunities for the community to weigh in. Visit the dedicated Ward 4 redistricting web page for a full schedule of redistricting meetings, Zoom registration links for each meeting, and the recording and slides from previous meetings. There will be two public meetings where community members can speak on how Ward 4’s ANC and SMD boundaries should be adjusted: Sunday, February 6 at 2pm and Tuesday, March 8 at 7pm. Community members can also send feedback to the Task Force by emailing Ward4Redistricting@dccouncil.us or leaving a voicemail with your input at 202-642-5714. The Task Force’s next regular meeting will take place this Sunday, January 30 at 2pm, and you can sign up to watch at this link.


Community Resources

Updates on City Services

  • Leaf Collection: Next week DPW will continue to catch up on leaf collection in Section C and Section D in this Ward 4 map. Then they hope to finish Section E by next Sunday, February 6 (weather permitting).
  • Tree Collection: Holiday trees and greenery are being collected through February 28 from your curb or at your normal point of collection for trash and recycling.
  • MetroBus Service: WMATA announced this week that regular weekday Metrobus service will resume on Monday, February 7.
  • Update Your WMATA Card: WMATA is installing new faregates at rail stations and will upgrade fareboxes on Metrobuses in the fall. If your SmartTrip card was issued before 2012 it will need to be replaced by March 1, 2022. Tip: see if you have the digits 0167 on the back of your card. If you don’t, you must replace your card. Learn more on WMATA’s website.
  • Open Enrollment Deadline: Open enrollment with DC Health Link for quality health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act ends Monday, January 31. Visit this website today to enroll for yourself and your family while you still can!

$40 Million Bridge Fund for Small Businesses Struggling from the Pandemic

On Monday, DC opened applications for a $40 million bridge fund to support brick-and-mortar small businesses in the restaurant, entertainment, and retail industries who have struggled during the pandemic. Grants can be as high as $100,000 and can now cover rent and payroll costs. The Bridge Fund is prioritizing DC businesses that had no more than $2.5 million in revenue in each of the last three years and that did not receive an award from the Paycheck Protection Program. The deadline to apply is February 25 at 5pm, and there are several information sessions scheduled. Please spread the word to our Ward 4 businesses!

In case you missed it, my newsletter last week featured some of Ward 4’s amazing health and wellness businesses to support (scroll down to the dedicated section).

2022 Summer Youth Employment Program Now Accepting Applications

Today the 2022 Summer Youth Employment Program started accepting applications from DC residents ages 14-24. The program is set to serve 14,000 this year, so be sure to share the application with the young people in your life who need a job for the summer! The program will run from June 27 through August 5, and there are both virtual and in-person options within the program.  Applications will be accepted until Monday, February 28.

The Parks at Walter Reed Events and Community Survey

The team at the Parks at Walter Reed hosted more than 11,250 visitors at their many events this year. They have a community survey out to gather feedback on events to host this year! They take community input seriously, expanding their farmers market by four weeks based on survey responses last year. Take the survey, especially if you live in or near The Parks.


Neighborhood Events

Ward 4 ANC/SMD Redistricting Meeting

On Sunday, January 30 from 2pm-4pm the Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force will host its second meeting. The Task Force will lead the process of updating the boundaries for Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and Single Member Districts for Ward 4. All meetings will be open to the public and include Spanish and ASL interpretation. Register to watch the meeting and find out more information about future meetings on the Ward 4 Redistricting webpage.

Listen As We Climb: Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods & Hawthorne

On Thursday, February 3 at 6:30pm we will host our third Listen As We Climb virtual community listening session, this time focused on Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods & Hawthorne. RSVP here to chat with me and your neighbors about the changes we want to see in our community. What we discuss will help shape my legislative work, oversight of DC agencies, DC budget advocacy, constituent services, and efforts in our community. If you haven’t yet, take a moment to go to my website and sign up for your neighborhood’s event.

Ethiopian Cooking Class with Truesdell Parent

On Saturday, February 5 from 5:30pm-6:15pm Truesdell Parent Rahel Tewoldemedhin will be leading a 45-minute Zoom class to teach our community how to make Atakilt Wat, a traditional Ethiopian dish with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. You can sign up to receive a bag of ingredients and sign up for the class by contacting Ms. Lawrence by email, text, or call at Jessica.Lawrence8@k12.dc.gov or 202-423-3950.

Ward 4 ANC/SMD Redistricting Meeting: Open to the Community To Testify

On Sunday, February 6 from 2pm-4pm the Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force will host its third meeting, . The Task Force will lead the process of updating the boundaries for Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and Single Member Districts for Ward 4. All meetings will be open to the public and include Spanish and ASL interpretation. Register to watch the meeting and find out more information about future meetings on the Ward 4 Redistricting webpage.

DPR Valentine’s Day Events in Ward 4

The Department of Parks and Recreation is coming through for our community with three Valentine’s Day events in Ward 4. Reserve your spot while you still can!

  • Friday, February 11: Movie Night at Emery Heights Recreation Center
    “This event provides movies for the kids in the community to get together and enjoy.”
  • Monday, February 14: Love is in the Air (Seniors) at Fort Stevens
  • Monday, February 14: Valentines Day Dance at Raymond Recreation Center
    “Come join us by celebrating Valentine’s Day with a dance.”

I couldn’t end the week without highlighting the new outdoor fitness park at Lamond Recreation Center! This FitLot will provide an outdoor exercise space for residents, and will later also offer free fitness classes led by certified fitness professionals. In the meantime, there are signs on site to help guide residents as they exercise with the new equipment. I’m very grateful to AARP and FitLot USA for bringing this new amenity to our ward, and to DPR for coordinating with me and the sponsoring organizations to make it happen.

Wishing you a fun and restful weekend, Ward 4!

Yours in Community,
—Janeese