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Williams’ ‘action plans’ may be asking for too much action

(Published February 8, 1999)


Staff Writer

Details about the dozens of high-profile projects planned by D.C. government agencies as part of Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ "action plans" are still scarce, even as deadlines for completion approach.

Few details are available about plans to develop three recreation centers by Sept. 30. According to documents from the mayor’s office, the Department of Recreation and Parks is charged with collaborating with the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop The Ark Town Hall center in Southeast, the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and the Banneker Ballfields in Northwest. Plans for the Southeast tennis center call for city officials to "execute... grant agreement; complete program and facility design; secure all project capital funds; start construction."

Victor Selman, named as "champion" of the project, would not provide details.

Work has not yet begun on a project to create 13 after-school homework clinics by April 30, because agency staff are still figuring out who does what and commandeering supplies, said Jennifer Smith, spokeswoman for the Department of Employment Services, the lead agency on the project. The project plans call for designated project leaders to obtain, rebuild and service 130 donated computers, identify and select sites, install computers, hire teachers and train staff. Smith said no further information was available.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing and Community Development was similarly reluctant to provide details about the plan to sell 100 government-owned buildings by July 31 and would not permit reporters to speak with the administrators identified in Williams’ public reports as leaders of the project.

"This is a new initiative above and beyond what we were planning to do, and we are still working out the specifics," said DHCD spokesman Leo Clark. The agency is now responsible for many new projects but received no additional staff or funds, he said.

The initiative to sell 100 government-owned buildings involves DHCD, the D.C. Housing Authority, the Department of Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). According to plans released by Williams, the project involves conducting an inventory of all property owned by the city or the federal government by Feb. 26. The next step is to gain legal control of abandoned properties held by HUD, negotiate terms of surrender and receive clearance for sale by March 31. Project leaders will then select the 100 properties and define a marketing strategy, and advertise the properties for sale through June 30. Clark said the properties would be sold for "a minimum price" to qualified buyers who have secured a loan for repairs.

But the steps outlined in Williams’ report would not necessarily be tackled in order, Clark said.

"We have to do almost everything simultaneously," he said.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator