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(Published February 25, 2002)


GIANT PROJECT ADVANCES: Construction of a new Giant Food store and adjacent housing on Park Road in Columbia Heights, just east of 14th Street NW, is expected to begin this summer. The D.C. Zoning Commission unanimously approved a zoning change on Feb. 12, clearing the way for Washington-based Horning Brothers, the lead developer, to begin building on the vacant land for which it was awarded development rights two years ago by the Redevelopment Land Agency.
"This project has been a long time coming, due to the complexity of public approvals," said Joseph Horning, president of the development company. "The zoning decision is a significant hurdle."
The zoning change was needed to move the Giant supermarket east of its originally planned site as part of an agreement to preserve and restore the historic and long-neglected Tivoli Theater on 14th Street as a retail, office and performing arts complex. The Giant and the restored Tivoli are both scheduled to open in 2004.


DEBATING PETTY CASH: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A officers say the commission is still deciding whether to follow the recommendation of D.C. Auditor Deborah K. Nichols that it set up a petty cash fund as an alternative to commissioners regularly spending their own funds on ANC business, then seeking reimbursement.
During recent testimony before the council's Committee on Public Services, Commission Chairman Elizabeth B. Elliott said commissioners have discussed the possibility of creating a revolving $50 petty cash fund for each commissioner "if there's a rational reason" for maintaining petty cash at all.
ANC Treasurer Dorothy Miller, known for her outspokenness, was less diplomatic in expressing her views about the D.C. auditor's recommendation, which was made in a Jan. 17 report on a routine commission audit. "The rules and regulations governing a petty cash fund are so ludicrous that nobody in their right mind would have a petty cash fund," Miller said.


SCIENCE BOWL WINNERS: Students from Sidwell Friends School won the right Feb. 23 to represent the District of Columbia in the 12th Anniversary National Science Bowl competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Sidwell's team will face 62 other student teams from across the country in the national contest May 3-6 at the National 4-H Center in suburban Chevy Chase. The national champions will win a two-week trip to London to attend the International Youth Science Forum.
Students from eight other D.C. high schools competed against Sidwell in the regional qualifying round at the Department of Energy headquarters. Students faced increasingly difficult questions in biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, earth science, computer science and mathematics. Also competing from the District were students from Anacostia Senior High, Banneker, Dunbar, H.D. Woodson, Georgetown Day School, National Cathedral School, St. Anselm's Abbey School and Washington Mathematics, Science and Technology Public Charter School.


GOP VISITS WARD 4: Continuing its recent practice of taking its monthly meetings on the road, the D.C. Republican Committee will meet Feb. 26 at First Baptist Church, 712 Randolph St. NW. Dylan Glenn, special assistant for economic policy to President George W. Bush, will speak at about 7 p.m. Registration and refreshments begin at 6:30 p.m., with a special demonstration of the District's new voting machines to be presented at 6:45 p.m. by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. At-Large Councilman David Catania also will be in attendance. The meeting is open to the public.


CUA CAMPUS PLAN: The Catholic University of America's new campus plan will be presented March 5 during the monthly meeting of the Michigan Park Citizens Association. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. at Bunker Hill Elementary School, 1401 Michigan Ave. NE.
The university sponsored several public meetings last fall to discuss its campus plan, but sparked controversy among some of its neighbors when 5C-12 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Matthew J. Hanka, who is enrolled as a Catholic student, was designated to represent ANC 5C on the campus plan task force. Some Brookland-area neighbors, represented by ANC 5A, also objected that their ANC was not represented on the task force, even though the university's students have caused disruptions in their neighborhood.


ANACOSTIA ISLANDS UPDATE: Habitat restoration on Heritage Island in the Anacostia River is expected to begin this spring, while a more extensive project to create nature and recreation areas on larger Kingman Island still awaits completion of environmental tests to determine the extent of low-level contamination.
"We don't anticipate the wholesale hauling of dirt off the island," said Ward 6 Planner Karina Ricks. She noted that both islands were created primarily from Anacostia River dredge, so any contaminants in the dirt would likely exist throughout the island to some extent. She said testing is expected to help determine which areas are safest for recreational and nature areas that are likely to attract larger numbers of people.
When completed, the Kingman Island park is expected to be patrolled by the Department of Parks and Recreation's Urban Rangers and to close at dusk to enhance public safety. The islands are accessible by pedestrian bridges leading from the north parking lot at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.


WILL HE RUN? Councilman Kevin P. Chavous predicted at the end of last year that he would make a decision sometime in February or March about whether to challenge Mayor Anthony A. Williams' re-election. While no decision had been announced at press time, the Ward 7 Democrat was beginning to look more like a candidate last week as his office issued several press releases - normally, an infrequent occurrence.
One press release, announcing the councilman's introduction of legislation to require council approval of residency waivers for top D.C. officials, pointedly criticized the mayor. "The Williams administration has issued more waivers of the residency requirement than any other administration," the release said. It noted that "over 30 employees in agencies overseen by the Mayor have received waivers of the residency requirement. And over half of those waivers came within the last year."


NEW TRAFFIC CONCERNS: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8B Chairman Jacque D. Patterson says the city needs to conduct a traffic study along Alabama Avenue SE now, before the huge Henson Ridge development being built on the former site of the Frederick Douglass Dwellings public housing complex is completed and inhabited. Patterson said neighboring residents already are concerned about potential traffic congestion along the area's main thoroughfares as hundreds of new residents - with cars - are expected to move into the new homes.
Patterson raised the concerns during a recent city council hearing on the performance of ANCs and found support for a traffic study coming from Public Services Committee Chairman David Catania, who chaired the hearing. Catania also suggested a traffic study of Mississippi Avenue SE. "We have to get ahead of this issue. There's a lot of development going on," the councilman said.


Copyright © 2002 The Common Denominator