Overwhelming Support for Park, Against District Plan
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: