Councilmember McDuffie Successfully Intercedes to Obtain Key McMillan Park Document

Sunshine on Docs

With a simple phone call, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie obtained the release of a key McMillan Park project development document that the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development (DMPED) had failed to release despite multiple FOIA requests filed by Friends of McMillan Park (FOM) dating back to October 2012. The previously secret document is the “Exclusive Rights Agreement” between DMPED and its development consultant, Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), composed of EYA, Jair Lynch Development Partners, and Trammell Crow Company.

“Friends of McMillan Park is very grateful to Councilmember McDuffie for stepping up and aiding us with obtaining this document,” says Kirby Vining, a long-time Stronghold resident and FOM member who made the FOIA request. “We are carefully reviewing the document to fully comprehend the nature of the relationship between the District and VMP. Therefore, we cannot comment on the details on the agreement. But, having this in our hands will help us prepare for future meetings on the fate of McMillan Park.”

FOM still has an outstanding FOIA request for the specific contract terms between VMP and the District. If DMPED continues to ignore this request, the Friends will certainly call on Councilmember McDuffie’s good offices once again.

FOM has more than 3,500 petition signatures (gathered mostly in Ward 5) against the proposed VMP development proposal and in favor of creative alternatives (such as the Collage City Studio plan) that create a real park, preserve and adaptively re-use the existing underground historic structures, and stimulate economic development — just like The High Line in New York City.

DC Government Ignores Community FOIA Request

Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) Hides Public “Exclusive Rights Agreement” with Private Developer

The following email chain clearly documents DMPED’s promise to deliver to the community prior to the 6 June 2013 McMillan Park Surplus Meeting a copy of the City’s “Exclusive Rights Agreement” with Vision McMillan Partners. The community filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain a copy of this public contract on 17 October 2012 and again on 11 May 2013. Despite DMPED’s legal obligation to disclose this information and their promise to do so prior to 6 June in the email below, the City to-date has failed to deliver a copy of this hidden Agreement for public review. What is our government hiding?

From: “Newaldass, Shiv (EOM)” <shiv.newaldass@dc.gov>
Sent: Friday, May 31, 2013 7:03 PM
Subject: Fwd: Request to Cancel McMillan Park Surplus Hearing Scheduled for Thursday, 6 June 2013

Dianne and Scott,

We’ve responded to a request by Mr. Youngblood and it adds further clarity on the Surplus process, in case you all or others are interested. Thanks much.

Shiv

Shiv Newaldass | Project Manager
Government of the District of Columbia
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail message, including any attachments, is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and contains information which may be confidential, legally privileged, proprietary in nature, or otherwise protected by law from disclosure.  If you received this message in error, you are hereby notified that reading, sharing, copying, or distributing this message, or its contents, is prohibited.  If you have received this message in error, please telephone or reply to me immediately and delete all copies of the message.
Begin forwarded message:

From: “Newaldass, Shiv (EOM)” <shiv.newaldass@dc.gov>
Date: May 31, 2013, 7:00:18 PM EDT
To: McMillan Park <friendsofmcmillanpark@gmail.com>
Cc: “Gray, Vincent (EOM)” <Vincent.Gray@dc.gov>, “McDuffie, Kenyan (Council)” <kmcduffie@dccouncil.us>, “Mendelson, Phil (COUNCIL)” <PMENDELSON@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Graham, Jim (COUNCIL)” <JGRAHAM@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Catania, David A. (COUNCIL)” <DCATANIA@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “vorange@dccouncil.us” <vorange@dccouncil.us>, “dgrosso@dccouncil.us” <dgrosso@dccouncil.us>, “abonds@dccouncil.us” <abonds@dccouncil.us>, “Evans, Jack (COUNCIL)” <JACKEVANS@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Cheh, Mary (COUNCIL)” <MCheh@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Bowser, Muriel (COUNCIL)” <MBowser@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Wells, Thomas (COUNCIL)” <TWells@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Alexander, Yvette (COUNCIL)” <YAlexander@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Barry, Marion (COUNCIL)” <MBarry@DCCOUNCIL.US>, “Hoskins, Victor (EOM)” <victor.hoskins@dc.gov>, “Tregoning, Harriet (OP)” <harriet.tregoning@dc.gov>, “Miller, Jeff (EOM)” <jeff.miller@dc.gov>, “Abbasi, Ayesha (EOM)” <ayesha.abbasi@dc.gov>

Subject: Re: Request to Cancel McMillan Park Surplus Hearing Scheduled for Thursday, 6 June 2013

Mr. Youngblood,

 
I am responding to you on behalf of the Mayor.  Thank you for your recent email regarding your request to cancel the public meeting on the proposed surplus of the McMillan Sand Filtration site. 
 
As you stated, District Code §10-801 requires the Mayor to submit legislation to DC Council with several supporting documents in order to declare a property surplus and approve the disposition of the property for non-public purposes.  It is important to note that the surplus and disposition processes are bifurcated processes, as required by §10-801.  Therefore, the legislation needed for each process is separate and requires a different set of supporting documents to be submitted to Council and approved before any property can be transferred to a development team.
 
More specifically, the surplus legislation requires an analysis of why the Mayor has determined that the property is no longer required for a public purpose.  The meeting that is scheduled for June 6, 2013 will be held in order to receive feedback from the community on the District’s finding that the property is not required for public purposes. Comments collected at the public meeting will be submitted to the D.C. Council for their review as part of the aforementioned surplus analysis. The Council conducts a public hearing to receive additional feedback from residents about the proposed surplus before approval of the legislation.
 
Please note that this meeting is only to discuss the proposed surplus of the property and this meeting is not a discussion about the redevelopment plan. The redevelopment of the site is approved by Council through the disposition legislation.  The disposition legislation requires, as you have stated, an analysis of the economic factors and benefits to the District.  This disposition analysis is one of the documents that will be submitted to Council for review and approval with a Land Disposition Agreement.  The Council conducts a public hearing to receive additional feedback from residents on the Mayor’s proposed redevelopment before approval of the legislation.
 
The Mayor may elect to move forward with both processes in parallel, depending on the needs of the project.  Additionally, Council may conduct a joint hearing on both pieces of legislation in order to approve the surplus designation and approve the disposition concurrently.   
 
As a reminder, the public surplus meeting, which is required by §10-801(a-1)(4) of the D.C. Official Code, does not preclude other public meetings about the redevelopment from being held going forward.  The Deputy Mayor’s Office will continue to hold public meetings to receive feedback about the redevelopment plans for the project.  We look forward to seeing you on June 6th, 2013 at All Nations Baptist Church and receiving your comments.
 
Additionally, as per a FOIA request, we will have the requested documents available to the public prior to this hearing on the 6th.    
 
As always, thank you for your commitment to this site and do please free to contact me at your convenience with any further questions or concerns. 
 
Keep well,
 
Shiv
 
Shiv Newaldass | Project Manager
Government of the District of Columbia
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development 

Jack Evans Asked to Help Save McMillan Park

2,000 Petition Signatures Presented to Him at Mayoral Kickoff

McMillan Park Demonstration at Jack Evans Mayoral Launch Event - 8Jun2013The Friends of McMillan Park (FOM) asked Councilmember Jack Evans at his mayoral campaign launch on Saturday to take up their cause to save the historic McMillan Park Sand Filtration Site from destruction as planned by the Gray Administration. Members of FOM presented the city’s newest mayoral candidate with copies of the over 2,000 petition signatures that they have collected, mostly in Ward 5, against the current plan by the Gray Administration’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

“This is a chance for Mayoral Candidate Evans to set himself apart from the other contenders and support the clearly demonstrated desire of the residents around McMillan Park and Ward 5 for a park instead of the suburban-style development pushed by the Gray Administration,” said Tony Norman, long-time FOM member and Chair of ANC 1B. “We want to show him that the alternative vision that we developed preserves this national and local historic landmark while stimulating economic development, just like The High Line in New York City.”

The Gray Administration’s plan calls for massive development, including 12-story buildings on the north and generation of gridlock-level traffic. The community alternative, (The People’s Plan, designed by Collage City Studio) preserves the historic nature of McMillan Park and its underground caverns, maintains majority contiguous public park space, and allows for a generous amount of development with appropriate-sized buildings.

At a meeting called by DMPED on Thursday, June 6th, the community overwhelmingly rejected the Gray Administration plan to surplus the site in preparation for handing it over to a pre-selected corporate developer.

The 25-acre historic water filtration site along North Capitol Street purified all of Washington DC’s drinking water for nearly a century and served as a racially integrated community park space before World War II.

Community Says “NO SURPLUS!” for McMillan Park

Overwhelming Support for Park, Against District Plan

McMillan Park Surplus Hearing Panorama - 6 June 2013 - JD

Community members from the areas surrounding the Historic McMillan Sand Filtration Site came out in full force last night to declare loud and clear to the Gray Administration that McMillan Park should not be declared surplus and sold to private developers, and that McMillan should be restored to its previous glory as a public park.

More than 110 people came to the surplus meeting, over 40 people testified, and only 3 of those people testified FOR Mayor Gray’s privatization proposal. Shiv Newaldass, the Project Manager at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), convened the meeting, and Jeff Miller, Director of Real Estate at DMPED, was also present. Conspicuously absent were Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins, and Mayor Vincent Gray – the current plan’s biggest supporters.

Those who spoke at the meeting reflected the racial, age, and length-of-residence diversity of the surrounding communities. The vast majority who testified said that the land should be kept as a public park with its historic identity intact for the neighborhood, Ward 5, and the District. Pointing to the convener, the crowd demanded that DMPED and the city government stop disrespecting their positions. Phil Blair, a Brookland resident, said that he has been coming to these meetings and appearing as “the grumpy old man” who opposes development of the site for over twenty years, but he was happy to see last night that he was one of many grumpy old men. A few shouted out, “Mayor! Tear down this fence!” Long-time resident, Wanda Foster, who has lived on the 2900 block of North Capitol since 1986, said that she enjoys her view of sunsets over McMillan Park each night from her home and that she hopes to stay there and someday pass this gift to her grandchildren.

The speakers also strongly challenged DMPED and Mr. Newaldass for not listening to them before in previous meetings and questioned whether their testimony would mean anything now. Many also noted that while there was no microphone or recording equipment present for the meeting, two Metropolitan Police Department officers were there for the entire evening.

See more photos of the event here:

McMillan Park Protest Poster_Page_1

 

McMillan Park Protest Poster_Page_2

Mayor Gray to Mayor Bloomberg: Sell Central Park

By: Kirby Vining, Stronghold, nulliparaacnestis@gmail.com

DC’s Mayor Gray tries to persuade NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg to sell Central Park for development: a sardonic drama in one pathetic act of desperation. All names are real, but the action is fiction with a frightening resemblance to reality.

“Bloomberg here.”

“Mike, it’s Vince Gray. How are you? Hey, buddy, it’s election year, and my main source of campaign funds just dried up – you know the story. But I got this great idea: sell parks! Whaddya think? All that green just wasted on young lovers and children playing in the grass, not paying a dime in taxes or rent. A waste, I tell you! Low-hanging fruit just waiting to be harvested. Whaddya think, Mike?”

(Aside, to an assistant: “They got some Tammany Hall thing down there, or is this guy on dope?”). (Gravely) . . . “Uh, you’re right, Vince, one has to keep an open mind about whatever is necessary for the people and city we govern.”

“Mike, I got this great place here, McMillan Park, designed by the Olmsted firm that designed our National Mall and the Capitol grounds, that seems to have fallen into the wrong hands — mine . . . and I called because I realized you’ve got parks by the same group of guys — Central Park, Prospect Park, Morningside Park . . . they’re just apples waiting to fall off the tree and feed a campaign — yours! With a finder’s fee to your good friend who suggested it, of course! Whaddya think, Mike?”

(Aside to the assistant: “Change my number . . . this guy is an extraterrestrial.”) “Vince, those parks have been city treasures for about a century, scene of some of the most memorable events in the lives of the people of our cities. But you’re right, there’s no tax revenue from them as things are now, but they’re important for — ”

“Mike, I’m about to auction off McMillan Park to the highest bidder, whom I’ve already hand picked, and I’ll get back to you with more ideas like this when that’s done.” (Both hang up).

Friends of McMillan Park Responds to Vision McMillan Partners (VMP)

Dear Ms. Anne Corbett,

The name of our group is Friends of McMillan Park. Through our petition, we represent the views of over 1,500 DC residents – a significant percentage of which live in neighborhoods that abut our City’s national landmark historic Olmsted park that your firm’s scheme would destroy. We gathered these signatures in 3 weeks merely from showing DC residents images of the historic structures and educating them on the history of the McMillan Park Reservoir Historic District (as the Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places). For comparative purposes, we also show residents your firm’s renderings of its plan for 12-story office buildings, dense condos and townhouses, and a green space alongside images of an alternative proposal produced by Collage City Studio.

The 80-90% landmark destruction figure comes from the DC Historic Preservation Review Board’s (HPRB) comments provided at their 25 April 2013 deliberation on the VMP revised master plan and design guidelines. During this same HPRB hearing, your organization did not contest the 80-90% destruction figure or the statements by HPRB members in which they expressed concern about the high level of landmark demolition or how your scheme would alter the historic integrity of the Site, including by making the sand towers look like pylons down a highway. In fact, the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) urged HPRB to reject of your plan, and we have seen no independent study showing that the underground caverns, which many of us toured as recently as last year, are unfit for preservation.

It is telling that VMP is unable to generate support for its scheme from DC residents and must resort to creative illustrations and deceptive marketing as well as your meaningless online survey that polls anyone and everyone on the Internet – anonymously – and allows respondents to vote as many times as they wish.

These facts are clear: DC residents want historic McMillan Park reopened for public use in a way that provides amenities while preserving the integrity of the Site’s historic above- and below-ground structures that characterize the Slow Sand Filtration Plant. We know that we can do much better than the scheme that your firm proposes for this amazing national treasure. We intend to make sure that our elected officials get this message.

Sincerely,

Friends of McMillan Park

CM McDuffie Rejects Appeal to Cancel Surplus Meeting, Supports Mayor’s Plan to Destroy McMillan Park

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie flatly rejected the appeal on Monday, June 3rd from Friends of McMillan (FOM) to intercede with Mayor Gray to cancel the meeting on Thursday, June 6th to declare the McMillan Park Sand Filtration Site surplus public property.  “You’ve raised legitimate concerns [but] I just don’t know that it’s necessary to postpone the meeting… to get those questions answered,” the Councilmember told FOM. “I support the development of this project and I think we are just on different sides of that issue.”
 

FOM presented the Councilmember a petition with some 2,000 signatures against the current plan by Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) and the District Government. Pointing to the petition, the Friends asked him directly how many opposed constituents it would take to change his mind. “I can’t answer that question,” McDuffie replied.

Gwen Southerland, former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) of SMD 5C05 and current McMillan Advisory Group member, at the Wilson Building meeting, told McDuffie: “I’m going be quite frank with you. History is not going to treat you well; it’s going to treat you like a fool. This is a historic site [and] they’re going to say, ‘Why didn’t that Councilmember speak up?’ There are so many other creative things, so many other plans… this could be something so fabulous.”

“We are very disappointed in Councilmember McDuffie,” said Hugh Youngblood, also a former ANC and another member of the FOM delegation. “It would be a simple thing for the Councilmember to stop this rush to judgment and ask Mayor Gray to cancel the surplus meeting. We now plan to show our opposition to their flawed plan at the Thursday meeting at 6:30pm, at All Nations Baptist Church located at 2001 North Capitol Street NE, and at other venues.”

Friends of McMillan Park opposes to the VMP plan because it is too dense, too tall, and too suburban. It calls for massive development, including 12-story buildings on the north-end and destruction of 90% of the historic underground caverns plus generation of gridlock-level traffic. FOM also points out that the city has aggressively ignored all other development alternatives such as The People’s Plan, designed by the Collage City Studio, that would preserve the historic nature of McMillan Park (including its underground cells) and allow for greater contiguous park space and more appropriately sized buildings while still providing a generous amount of development.

Other members of the Friends attending the meeting with Councilmember McDuffie included: Tony Norman, Chairman of ANC 1B and Founder and Chairman of McMillan Park Committee; John Salatti, former ANC and former VP of Bloomingdale Civic Association; Patrick Hudak, member of the Bloomingdale Civic Association; and, Kirby Vining, member of the Stronghold Association.