Call to Action – Please Send McMillan Park Testimony to Zoning Commission by May 27th

Dear Supporters:

We need your help.

We’ve reached another critical moment in the Gray Administration’s plan to destroy historic landmark McMillan Park and replace it with a plan designed by Vision McMillan Partners (VMP). The DC Zoning Commission will consider the Mayor’s latest development plans and request to re-zone the the Park for high rise buildings and massive development in a set of public hearings beginning on Thursday, May 1st at 6:30 PM.

To see VMP’s latest concrete box nightmare, click here.

VMP Big Box Nightmare

Like we did back in October with the Historic Preservation Review Board, we now need to flood the Zoning Commission with public comments in opposition to the lame duck Mayor’s plan. Let the Commission know that converting this historic Olmsted park into the proposed concrete monstrosity would cripple the surrounding communities with completely unacceptable impacts on traffic, parking, flooding, open space, and the environment. Please send your written testimony to the Zoning Commission by May 27th and attend the hearings to testify in person if possible.

Below we’ve included two sample letters as guidance for your letter to the Zoning Commission plus a list of points that you can use to tailor your draft.

Help us send the message to the Zoning Commission that this development plan is unacceptable for a Park that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places—our great city, the surrounding communities, and our historic landmark deserve better!

Are you available to testify in person at the Zoning Commission hearings on May 1st, 5th, 8th, 13th or 27th? Here’s what you need to know:  The hearings will take place at 441 4th Street NW, Room 220 South (Metro: Red line, Judiciary Square station). The zoning Case # is 13-14. Please bring printed copies of your testimony for the Commission if possible. If you have any questions, please contact restoremcmillan@gmail.com or 202.234.0427.

Here are two sample letters to the Zoning Commission plus additional points:

Please see instructions below on how to present your views to the Zoning Commission for these important hearings.

To see all documents submitted for the hearings online:

Go to this web page:

Enter 13-14 in the ‘Search Term’ box, and click ‘Go.’ (13-14 is the “zoning case number” for the proposed VMP development). At the bottom of the page, beside information about case 13-14, click ‘View Details.’ On this page, under the ‘Case Documents,’ click ‘View Full Log’ and all the documents filed concerning this case will be visible, currently about 5 pages of them. To view any of these documents, click on ‘View’ on the far right side of any document.

To present oral testimony at the hearings:

Submit a copy of your written testimony before the hearing (see below) OR bring 12 copies with you to the hearing. Only 3 minutes are allowed for each speaker, 5 minutes for organizations, so submitting longer written testimony that you can refer to in your 3 minutes may help. The hearings will all take place at 441 4th St NW, Suite 220 South, all at 6:30PM. (Metro rail to the Judiciary Square station)

To submit written testimony:

Go to this web page to create an “IZIS Account” (necessary to submit any documents):

Then go to this page and log in with the login/password you created above: http://app.dcoz.dc.gov/Login.aspx . Click on “file documents in an existing case,” and then specify case number 13-14, and ‘select’ that case in the next window. Click ‘choose file’ to select the document on your computer that you wish to submit as your written testimony, then select ‘document type.’ If you oppose the current development plan, you would select ‘Letter in Opposition.’ Your letter should explain your position and why you think McMillan Park should not be zoned to permit high-rise buildings. Then hit ‘Submit’ and your document should soon be visible in the list of documents for case 13-14 (see instructions above for how to see all documents for these hearings).

Please call or email us if you need help:  202.234.0427 or restoremcmillan@gmail.com.

Thank you for your support!

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Save the Date: McMillan Park Fundraiser Party at 410 GoodBuddy Gallery – Thurs, 27 Mar 2014

410 GoodBuddy Event

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Friends of McMillan Park is thrilled to invite you to the Save McMillan Park fundraiser cocktail party!

The event will take place on the evening of Thursday, March 27, 2014. Please join us for this fun-filled affair hosted by our friends at 410 GoodBuddy Gallery located on the border of the Bloomingdale and Shaw neighborhoods at 410 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC. The proceeds from this major event will benefit the Save McMillan Park Legal Fund to preserve our community’s endangered historic green space.

The evening will include food and drinks from local businesses, talented local artists, presentations from preservation and legal experts, and raffle prizes! Additional details coming soon.

McMillan Park Reservoir Historic District is currently endangered by commercial development that would destroy the park’s majestic underground caverns. Until WWII, the space was used by the DC community at large as a central park for recreation, cultural events, and gathering.

Friends of McMillan Park was founded by community supporters and neighbors who have fought tirelessly to protect McMillan Park since 1989. Our mission is to preserve, restore, and transform historic McMillan Park for the benefit of the public.

Please let us know if you, your business, or your associates would like to join our event Host Committee at the $250 level. Contributions are tax-deductible thanks to our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, National Association for Olmsted Parks.

General admission tickets are $100. All proceeds benefit the Save McMillan Park Legal Fund.  Please click here to purchase tickets or to donate otherwise.

For additional information, please contact Kirby Vining at (202) 213-2690 or restoremcmillan@gmail.com.

Facebook event page: http://on.fb.me/1hXBUBK 

FMP Logo 1 - 14Feb2014

410 GoodBuddy Party 2

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Panel Discussion: Communities Battling Harmful Development — Sat, 15 Feb 2014, 2pm, Anacostia Library

Flier - DC Communities Fighting Back Against Harmful Development - 15 Feb 2014

Please mark your calendars for this important community event to build your coalition and gain lessons learned from the following controversial DC development projects:

A primary purpose of the forum is to discuss the tools and strategies that communities have used to influence, oppose, or shape development proposals that were thrust upon them as compared to proposals resulting from community needs or desires.

Logistics details:

  • What:  Panel Discussion on Communities Fighting Back Against Harmful Development
  • When:  Saturday, 15 February 2014, 2-4pm
  • Where:  Anacostia Library, 1800 Good Hope Road SE, Washington, DC
  • Hosted by:  Empower DC
  • Facebook:  http://on.fb.me/1o9fQBv

Supermarket in the Hood

Poor VMP Crocodile

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The Original Vision for McMillan Park: “No Medical Facilities, High Rises, or Big Box Retail”

The District of Columbia Office of Planning conducted an intensive community planning process for McMillan Park a decade ago that concluded in 2002. The following document, recently uncovered by the McMillan Park Intelligence Consortium, outlines a vision for McMillan Park revitalization that looks very different from the plan that the Gray Administration’s development consultant, Vision McMillan Partners (VMP), is presenting to our communities today:

Unfortunately, the competitive process for selecting a master developer for McMillan Park was never completed.  The DC Council dissolved the National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC) in 2006 just months after NCRC released its RFP for McMillan Park Phase I Land Development Partner.  How exactly VMP was selected from the at least 19 proposals submitted to NCRC remains a mystery. To learn more, research the dealings of the defunct Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and Nationals Park baseball stadium project.

McMillan Plan - 1901 - Emerald Neclace of Parks

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McMillan Park – Washington’s First Racially Integrated Park

Racial Integration 3

By: Kirby Vining

Washington D.C.’s McMillan Park commemorates the contributions of Michigan’s Senator James McMillan both to beautify our nation’s capital and improve the water supply and stop the epidemics of typhoid fever. The commemoration of Senator McMillan at this location is significant: It combines the water purification function of the Washington Aqueduct’s McMillan Reservoir and slow sand filtration facility with the graceful, calming landscaping of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., both projects for which Senator McMillan fought hard to realize. A fountain named in his honor, paid for by the school children from every county in Michigan, originally stood in the place of honor and prominence, overlooking the entire park, and again combining beauty with water.

But it is also the scene of a lesser-known chapter in the history of our once very segregated city. McMillan Park was Washington’s first de facto racially integrated public park, enjoyed for decades by black families who were not permitted to use other, segregated public parks, until it closed for security reasons at the beginning of World War II. And at the southern edge of the Park is the former home of James Hurd, whose attempts to purchase that house resulted in the landmark Hurd v. Hodge Supreme Court case that overturned the racial covenants then common in D.C. real estate deeds.

The racial integration of McMillan Park was likely unintentional. While police throughout the rest of Washington shooed blacks away from most other public institutions, McMillan Park was administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers whose mandate was to maintain the water facility. Apparently the Corps never chased anyone off the Park for racial reasons. Howard University Sociology Professor William Henry Jones in his 1927 book, Recreation and Amusement Among Negroes in Washington, D.C., a detailed study of exactly where blacks could and could not go in segregated Washington, noted that there were only two public parks open to blacks. Rock Creek Park and the National Zoo were open to blacks one day each year only: the day after Easter, according to an old Washington tradition. But he also wrote that “McMillan Park, located east of Howard University and surrounding the New Reservoir, has been taken over almost exclusively by Negroes.” Professor Jones could not cite any other public park in Washington that routinely admitted black families.

A fence with “No Trespassing” signs was erected around McMillan Park in May, 1941 to protect the water supply from enemy sabotage not many months before the U.S. entered World War II. The McMillan Fountain was removed with all its benches and other amenities to stop the public from sneaking in to continue to enjoy their park. McMillan Park has been closed to the public since then, though many men in the surrounding neighborhoods fondly recall sneaking under the fence to run around in the underground caverns or play ball on the surface even years after the park was closed.

Many now-elderly residents of the nearby neighborhoods recall their enjoyment of the park before it was closed, for all the usual activities we associate with city parks. The park atop the sand filtration site was used for ballgames, parades, picnics, military training, and many other common activities, as is documented in the DC Historic Landmark designation for the site (see section 310.23), as well as in some more recent oral history interviews. And there are many more of our senior citizens who for reasons that must be respected choose not to have their stories documented.

Though the park, reservoir, sand filtration plant, and the fountain are tangible testimony to the McMillan Plan’s intentions of beautifying our city and saving us from the ravages of typhoid, the story of the use of McMillan Park is intangible, but no less a chapter of our history. This story is not well known because segregation was always a dirty secret not well covered in the press except when it exploded in arrests, riots, or worse. We hope that those days are gone and that this story will not be forgotten.

The District of Columbia is our home. But it is also the world’s stage, a beautiful theater that hosts grand events such as the 1963 March on Washington and funerals of presidents. It is also home to a subtler grandeur as well for those of us who spend our lives here, such as the drum circle at Meridian Hill Park, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and for the black families who spent hot summer afternoons and evenings with a picnic on the breezy plain at McMillan Park. Senator McMillan, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and others on the McMillan Plan design team could not have foreseen these intangible details of how their redesigned city would be used, both grand and small. But they certainly foresaw the creation of this stage for the grand and the subtle on which history, national and personal, would play out.

A Formal Banquet

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Save the Date: McMillan Park Fundraiser Event at The Red Hen – Mon, 24 Feb 2014

Beer and The Red Hen

Please save the date for a very special fundraiser event hosted by The Red Hen restaurant in Bloomingdale to save historic McMillan Park. The elegant event will take place on the evening of Monday, February 24, 2014.

Details coming soon.

Please let us know if you, your business, or your associates would like to join our event Host Committee at the $250 level. Contributions are tax-deductible thanks to our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, National Association for Olmsted Parks. All proceeds benefit the Save McMillan Park Legal Fund.

For additional information, please contact Kirby Vining at (202) 234-0427 or restoremcmillan@gmail.com.

The Red Hen logo

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Yoga District Fundraiser to Save McMillan Park – Sunday, 15 Dec 2013

Calling all lovers of Bloomingdale, the surrounding neighborhoods, and the District of Columbia at large!

Please join us for a very special yoga fundraiser to save historic McMillan
Park on Sunday, December 15, from 2:30 – 4:30pm at the Bloomingdale Yoga
District (1830 First Street NW).

Yoga District’s senior teacher and Bloomingdale lover, Gracy Obuchowicz, will
lead a beginner-friendly yoga class with the theme of using yoga to inspire
and awaken conscious activism in our communities.

Community leaders Paul Cerruti and Hugh Youngblood will speak and conduct Q&A before and after the class on the following topics:

  • The importance of preserving and restoring McMillan Park as a world-class public place to serve all DC residents and visitors
  • Attracting creative and innovative local business to the park
  • What we can do as a community to save this marvelous, unique site.

All levels of yoga are welcome. The suggested donation is $20. All proceeds benefit the Save McMillan Park Legal Fund. We will also have Save McMillan Park t-shirts, holiday cards, and other merchandise available for purchase.

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Public Service Announcement – The McMillan Park

The McMillan Park from Snorre Wik on Vimeo.

Washingtonians are worried that their government is about to give away the beautiful and historic McMillan Park site to deep-pocketed and politically connected commercial developers. If you care about our city and our parks, please watch Bloomingdale resident Snorre Wik’s beautiful McMillan Park PSA video. We need your voices to help protect this legacy.

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National Trust “Extremely Troubled” by Proposed Development’s Disregard for McMillan Park Covenants

A view of McMillan Park in autumn.

A view of McMillan Park in autumn.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation added its testimony today in strong opposition to the most recent plans submitted by Vision McMillan Partners to develop historic landmark McMillan Park. The Trust’s statement joined dozens of testimonial letters voicing disapproval of the revised plans due to their failure to maintain the historic character of the site, which was constructed in 1904.

“The National Trust remains extremely troubled by the fact that the development plans completely disregard the binding historic preservation covenants that conditioned the sale
of the McMillan Reservoir site from the GSA to the City in 1987,” said Elizabeth Merritt, Deputy General Counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Ellicottdale Arch, Franklin Park, an Olmsted Park in Boston, MA. Olmsted National Historic Site, photo courtesy NPS  National Association of Olmsted Parks.

Ellicottdale Arch, Franklin Park, an Olmsted Park in Boston, MA. Olmsted National Historic Site, photo courtesy NPS National Association of Olmsted Parks.

The DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) received testimony before their public hearing today to determine if the Vision McMillan Partners’ revised plan upheld the site’s historic character. McMillan Park–originally the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant–was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted Jr. to serve as the city’s first water filtration plant.

John Singer Sargent,  Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted's son designed McMillan park.

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted’s son designed McMillan Park.

Olmsted Jr., whose father designed Central Park, created the site as part of the US Senate Park Commission’s comprehensive plan to preserve park space and provide for the recreation and health of the growing city.

 Parc Monceau, a 20-acred park in Paris, France. McMillan has drawn comparisons to the urban park.

Parc Monceau, a 20-acred park in Paris, France. McMillan’s potential has drawn comparisons to the urban park.

The HPRB received letters from a large contingency of neighbors, DC citizens, architects, and preservation groups, including the Sierra Club and the National Association for Olmsted Parks, objecting to the destruction of the site’s historic character, which is composed in part by rolling green hills and ivy-covered towers. These letters are part of the pubic record and should be accessible soon.

“Why would the city choose to build on a park, any park, let alone a park of great significance?” asked one writer. Others called for an international competition to develop a new plan for reviving McMillan and utilizing its underground infrastructure. “Act like a world-class city.  Make no small plans. Let’s build for the ages; let’s honor this historic place,” concluded one letter writer.

Seattle Gas Works Park, a 20-acre reclaimed industrial space now used as an urban park and once slated for demolition.

Seattle Gas Works Park, a 20-acre reclaimed industrial space once slated for demolition and now used as an urban park. Architect Richard Haag realized that the site contained the last gas works and a unique opportunity for preservation.

Call to Action – Please Send McMillan Park Testimony to HPRB by October 30th

Dear Supporters:

We need your help.

We’ve reached a critical moment in the Gray Administration’s plan to destroy historic landmark McMillan Park and replace it with a plan designed by Vision McMillan Partners (VMP). The DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) will consider the Mayor’s latest development plans for the Park on October 31st in a public hearing at 10:45 AM.

To see the VMP’s new concrete box nightmare, click here.

The HPRB helped us slow the Mayor’s relentless push to overdevelop the Park back in June, raising concerns that the development plan fails to preserve the Park’s historic character. We need to flood the HPRB with public comments once more to let the Board know that this concrete monstrosity represents an unacceptable destruction of a historic Olmsted park. Please send your written testimony to HPRB in advance and attend the hearing to testify in person if possible.

Below we’ve included a sample email for you to send to HPRB, plus a list of points that you can use to tailor your letter.

Help us send the message to the HPRB that this development plan is unacceptable for a Park that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places—our great city and our historic landmark deserve better!

Are you available to testify in person at the HPRB hearing on Thursday? Here’s what you need to know: http://1.usa.gov/19V6wNC. The hearing will take place at 441 4th Street NW, Room 220 South (Metro: Red line, Judiciary Square station). Please bring printed copies of your testimony for the Board if possible. If you have any questions, please contact restoremcmillan@gmail.com or 202.234.0427.

Here’s a sample email to send the HPRB:
——

To: steve.callcott@dc.gov, bruce.yarnall@dc.gov, historic.preservation@dc.gov, pmendelson@dccouncil.us, kmcduffie@dccouncil.us, dcatania@dccouncil.us, vorange@dccouncil.us, dgrosso@dccouncil.us, abonds@dccouncil.us, jgraham@dccouncil.us, jevans@dccouncil.us, mcheh@dccouncil.us, mbowser@dccouncil.us, twells@dccouncil.us, yalexander@dccouncil.us, mbarry@dccouncil.us, vincent.gray@dc.gov

Cc: victor.hoskins@dc.gov, jeff.miller@dc.gov, shiv.newaldass@dc.gov, harriet.tregoning@dc.gov, friendsofmcmillanpark@gmail.com

Subject: McMillan Park Reservoir Historic District, HPA #13-318

Dear Members of the Historic Preservation Review Board:

I urge the Historic Preservation Review Board to reject Vision McMillan Partners revised master plan, design guidelines, and building designs proposed for McMillan Park Reservoir Historic District (HPA #13-318). The VMP revisions would be a visual blight on the neighborhood. The height, scale, and designs of the proposed buildings are inappropriate for the open McMillan Park site and are inconsistent with the overall character, sense of place, aesthetics, and historic vistas of this distinctive national landmark Olmsted park and engineering marvel. The proposed building designs are also incompatible with the site’s existing historic buildings and with its above- and below-ground historic structures.

Specifically, [insert your favorite points from the list of example design weaknesses provided here etc].

Open space is so important to the historic sense of place at McMillan Park that any infill development would be inappropriate. Would you subdivide all the scarce few Olmsted parks left in the District of Columbia? Please reject this application.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

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