Last week, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie agreed to meet with the Friends of McMillan Park to discuss the future of this 25-acre site on June 3. At this meeting, the Friends will urge Councilmember McDuffie to ask Mayor Gray to cancel the scheduled 6 June community meeting to be held on his Administration’s proposal to declare McMillan Sand Filtration Site surplus property. The Friends’ request is based on three vital pieces of information missing from the public record and problems of inadequate notice.
The first critical pieces of documentation missing from the public record are analyses that DC law requires the Mayor to provide when attempting to surplus public land. Specifically, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) has failed to make available to the public documents and information needed to fully and meaningfully evaluate and comment on the surplus proposal. According to the DC Code § 10-801, the Mayor must present analysis to the public explaining whether the land being considered as surplus “has any necessary use by the District and why, including economic factors and policy objectives which serve as the basis for this decision and a description of how competition for the land may be maximized, as well as a description of how the economic and policy objectives will be weighted and evaluated in the disposition process.” The Code also requires that the Mayor detail “what public benefit would obtain by selling, or keeping, the land.”
The second crucial document that the public must see is the “Exclusive Rights Agreement” DMPED has with Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), the consultant that DMPED picked to develop the site. This agreement has been the subject of FOIA requests filed on 17 October 2012 and 11 May 2013. Both of these requests were denied, making it impossible for The Friends and others to meaningfully evaluate the Mayor’s decisions and therefore unable to respond to either the proposed surplus designation or VMP’s development plans in a rational, meaningful way.
The final vital document not in the public record is an updated Fiscal and Economic Impact Analysis (FEIA) for the McMillan Park project. The only document on file was crafted in June 2011, but despite the significant changes to the development plans presented to the public and official review bodies, including those resulting from the addition late last year of the DC Water infrastructure project to address neighborhood flooding, DMPED has failed to produce an accurate FEIA.
Regarding inadequate notice about this community meeting, The Friends are very concerned that DMPED is attempting to limit community input in two ways. First, the only meeting notices from the District have been electronic. This effectively disenfranchises older, long-term residents who tend not to use the Internet. Second, the District’s electronic notices identify the site in a way that can easily mislead the public. Instead of identifying the parcel of land in its announcements to the affected communities to be considered as “the McMillan Sand Filtration Site”, DMPED identified the land by a street address only: 2501 First Street NW. No one knows McMillan by that address in no small part because the District has never posted a street address anywhere on the property. At best, this use of the address smacks of clumsy bureaucracy and lack of concern for the community; at worst, it is a not-so-subtle way of trying to prevent public input through the use of disinformation.
Because of the lack of vital information needed for a meaningful and rational meeting on the proposal to surplus McMillan Park, we strongly urge Councilmember McDuffie to advocate along with us that Mayor Gray cancel the June 6 meeting.
Friends of McMillan Park 28 May 2013 Letters to Government Officials: