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WARD REPORTS

(Published October 7, 2002)

WARD 1

ADAMS MORGAN’S FUTURE: As major developers continue to eye major changes for the Adams Morgan-Reed Cooke area, civic activist Tom Oliver is urging his neighbors to get involved as "the way to control our own fate." Oliver and other members of the Reed Cooke Neighborhood Association have planned a community forum for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at King Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1725 Kalorama Road NW, at which residents can discuss their development-related concerns with Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, neighborhood civic leaders and representatives of development companies with interests in the area, including P.N. Hoffman/Adams Investments and Douglas Development. Issues already raised in the neighborhood include increased traffic and parking demands, increased density in an already-congested area, loss of views by some, and anticipated effects on violent and drug-related criminal activity.

WARD 2

ANNUAL BOOK SALE: Bookfair 2002, the annual book sale sponsored for more than 40 years by the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide, will be held Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the State Department’s exhibition hall. Entrance for the book sale will be on C Street NW between 21st and 23rd streets. The sale features books, art objects, collectibles, stamps and coins. More information is available by calling (202) 223-5796.

FRANKLIN SCHOOL SALE URGED: The Downtown Cluster of Congregations has renewed its call for city officials to sell the long-vacant Franklin School at 13th and K streets NW and is urging officials to use the sale proceeds to help finance the D.C. Public Schools. Terry Lynch, the cluster’s executive director, estimated that a competitive bidding process for the prime property could reap as much as $10 million in needed public revenue. The property’s assessed value is $4.2 million.

"It seems appropriate its sale and spin-off revenues should be used to rehabilitate or construct new schools, such as McKinley Tech, or help prevent the elimination of important school programs for our children," Lynch said. "Its vacancy and abandonment of 20 years must come to an end now."

BETHUNE COUNCIL HOUSE CLOSED: The National Park Service has temporarily closed the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site for extensive rehabilitation work. The two-phase project will repair or replace all windows, brownstone steps and the slate roof; replace all deteriorated or missing wood on the front elevation to match existing scrollwork on the dormers; repoint brick work and paint the exterior. The work, which began at the end of September, is expected to be completed by Nov. 4. The Bethune house is located at 1318 Vermont Ave. NW.

WARD 3

FAMILY NIGHT: Palisades neighbors will celebrate Halloween on Oct. 27 with Family Night at the Fire Station, the Palisades Citizens Association’s annual potluck dinner. Firefighters at Engine Company 29, 4811 MacArthur Blvd. NW, cook the main meal, while neighbors bring a side dish or a dessert. The evening also features live music, face painting, cookie decorating and crafts. Neighbors should RSVP to palisadesdc@hotmail.com or (202) 363-7441.

WARD 4

NEW NONPROFIT KITCHEN: A groundbreaking ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 8 will kick off construction of a new kitchen facility and permanent home for the nonprofit Food and Friends, the only organization that provides home-delivered meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses. The new 25,000-square-foot facility at 219 Riggs Road NE is expected to be completed by fall 2003.

The project is being financed through a fund-raising campaign that included contributions of $2 million from the federal government, a $990,000 Community Development Block Grant from the D.C. government and $750,000 from the Avon Foundation.

The organization’s current kitchen is located at 58 L St. SE.

WARD 5

NEW OFFICE FOR ANC 5C: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5C has relocated its office from the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center to the rapidly developing New York Avenue-Florida Avenue commercial corridor. Commission Chairman James Berry said developer Douglas Jemal is providing rent-free office space for the ANC at 77 P St. NE, the same building that contains administrative offices for the D.C. Department of Employment Services. Berry said parking lot fees at the ANC’s new building are "an impediment," but he expressed hope that street parking in the area will be an adequate alternative for constituents who drive to the ANC office.

GIANT OPENS OCT. 10: Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Councilman Vincent Orange are expected to help cut the ribbon at 10 a.m. Oct. 10 to officially open the new Giant Food supermarket at 1050 Rhode island Ave. NE. The 53,236-square-foot store will feature a full-service pharmacy and what Giant officials describe as "a new ‘Relax, Renew, Revive’ health and beauty care department concept." Specially designed shopping carts at the store will include seats underneath the carts where children can sit in a molded plastic vehicle with twin steering wheels.

Grand opening activities will include entertainment by the Spingarn and Dunbar high school marching bands, food sampling, face painting, sweepstakes and random prize drawings. Officials said the first 500 customers each day between Oct. 10 and Oct. 26 will receive a free giveaway item. The company said it will donate proceeds from a five-day sidewalk sale of hot dogs and soda as well as 1 percent of the store’s sales from the first four Saturdays to the Hillcrest Children’s Center.

"We committed to hire the majority of the staff from the local neighborhood and we have hired over 100 individuals from within the Brentwood community to work in our new store," said Dick Baird, Giant’s president and chief executive officer.

The new store will be Giant’s fifth supermarket in the District. The food chain plans to begin construction of a replacement for its Cleveland Park store at Wisconsin Avenue and Newark Street NW this winter and is finalizing plans for a new store in Columbia Heights on Park Road NW, behind the historic Tivoli Theater. Giant also is negotiating to build a store on East Capitol Street SE at the Maryland border as part of a neighborhood redevelopment project.

WARD 6

NEW POLICE COMMANDER: Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey has promoted Thomas McGuire, a 23-year MPD veteran, to be the new commander of the First Police District. McGuire replaces Alan Dreher, who recently was named the top assistant chief in the Atlanta Police Department. McGuire most recently served as commanding officer of MPD’s Violent Crimes Branch, the central unit that investigates all homicides and serious shootings in the District. He previously served in a supervisory role in MPD’s Major Narcotics, Criminal Investigations and Special Investigations units.

WARD 7

EPA FINDS TOXICS: A preliminary report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency substantiates some of the concerns regarding toxic contamination voiced for years by residents of River Terrace.

The report concludes that "further action...is warranted at the PEPCO Benning Road Facility" due to the presence of PCB-contaminated soil on the power company’s property, which is adjacent to the Anacostia River. Evidence of PCB contamination has been found in sediments of the Anacostia River, which the report called "a documented fishery" for area residents. Potomac Electric Power Co. stores decommissioned transformers containing cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are now banned from use, on the grounds of its Benning Road power plant, according to the report.

The EPA performed the assessment at the urging of At-Large Councilman David A. Catania after a May meeting with several River Terrace residents, including Wanda Carter, president of the River Terrace Citizens Association, and George Gurley, director of Urban Protectors.

Catania said the continuing process of analyzing the health risks to River Terrace residents and conducting public meetings may take up to 14 months. Catania said he is "encouraged by the responsiveness of the EPA" to the community’s concerns about environmental health risks and pledged to continue working with officials at the EPA, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.

Last year, River Terrace residents conducted a community health survey which found a high incidence of cancer and asthma among the area’s residents. Residents have long contended that contamination from the Benning Road PEPCO plant and from the District’s Benning Road trash transfer facility are responsible for many of their health problems. The District’s trash facility was not mentioned in the EPA report, which focused on the PEPCO facility.

WARD 8

CDC DEDICATES NEW HQ: Officials gathered Sept. 23 to dedicate Plaza 8, the new headquarters building for the East of the River Community Development Corp. at 3029 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE. In addition to administrative offices, the building houses the CDC’s state-of-the-art workshop and training center. Children’s National Medical Center has signed a long-term agreement to operate a children’s clinic on the building’s first and second floors.

Plaza 8 replaced a former community residential facility that had been vacant for more than 10 years and had become a haven for illicit activities. The CDC sponsored a neighborhood "demolition party" on Oct. 28, 2000, at MLK Avenue and Raleigh Street to celebrate the new building’s groundbreaking.

Completion of the $1.7 million project is "a principal phase of the [CDC’s] plans to revitalize one of the community’s most significant thoroughfares," according to a press release announcing Plaza 8’s grand opening. The CDC has been negotiating to rid the Congress Heights commercial corridor of other vacant and neglected properties and is refurbishing the facades of several small businesses adjacent to the new CDC headquarters.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator