Important Community Meeting re. the Impact Upon the Sursum Corda “New Communities Project” and Our Neighborhood

From Jim Berry

Single Member District 5C02 Representative Cleopatra Jones is hosting a meeting on Monday, August 15, 2005 to talk about a proposal by the DC Office of Planning to build housing on the land (green space) that is now occupied by the New York Avenue Playground. Cleopatra tells me that Ward Five Council Member Vincent Orange, Revitalization Planner Michael Downey, and Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation Kimberly Flowers, are all invited guests to this meeting.

If my understanding of what is being proposed is correct, then an approximately 100 unit building will be constructed on what is now the site of New York Avenue playground. The sole purpose of proposing that these units be constructed, I am told, is to accommodate those who will be displaced by the tearing down of the current housing in Sursum Corda.

In my mind, such a proposal raises a number of serious concerns. First, the affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission (i.e., 5C) never received any formal notice of the consideration of this proposal, nor have we been invited to comment on a major housing project that the city is considering implementing in an area that is solidly within the boundaries of ANC 5C. As a rule, proposals of this scope and magnitude are vetted formally at an ANC meeting and the Commission is given a certain period of time within which to offer comments. In the instant situation, none of this customary procedures were followed and, for me, this is a very very troublesome fact.

The fact that this is yet another assault on the sorely limited amount of functional recreation and green space in the neighborhood, is also a major problem for me. Over the years, our recreation and leisure time resources have been systematically stripped away from us, leaving residents of all ages (but, most notably, our children) with few, if any, alternatives for their use. As a consequence of the lack of organized activities, they organize themselves and play on our streets or, worse, boredom often makes them ripe subjects for the recruitment of drug dealers.

The area in question is located in Commissioner Jones’ single member district. When she contacted me a day or so ago about her intention to hold Monday’s meeting, I learned that she received a briefing on the proposal by DC Office of Planning officials the day before. Again, there has been no formal notice to our Commission about this proposed project and it is my understanding that the DCOP has been contemplating this matter for a time.

Whatever the case, I am going to attend this meeting to find out exactly what the facts of this proposal are. I urge you to join me also.

The specific details are as follows:

When: Monday, August 15, 2005
Where: Associates for Renewal in Education (ARE)
45 P Street, NW
Time: 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there!


Jim Berry