DC High Court Continues Injunction Against Demolition of McMillan Park

Neighborhood residents who believe a world class mix of uses is possible at the McMillan Sand Filtration Site won a small victory recently.  On May 28, 2021, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued an order rejecting the request by the DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to lift the injunction that has been in place since February 2020, barring DMPED from demolishing the historic McMillan Park.  The Court concluded that Friends of McMillan Park (FOMP) has a “likelihood of success on the merits” of its pending appeal of an Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) decision that would have allowed demolition of McMillan Park to go forward and further agreed with FOMP that the harms that DMPED claimed (costs of delaying demolition activity) are “self-inflicted.” The Court also noted that continuing the injunction against demolition “… is presumptively in the public interest” and that “demolition of the filtration cells at the McMillan site is an irreparable harm.” See the full text of the Court order here.

DMPED’s plans call for the immediate demolition of all but one and a half of McMillan’s historic underground vaults (sand filtration “cells”) and a majority of the above-ground portals leading to the cells to construct two million square feet of intensive mixed-use development, including a speculative 10-story office building, on a site poorly served by public transit. Transportation engineers estimate that the proposed development plan would generate at least 31,000 additional vehicle trips per day on the already congested North Capitol Street corridor adjacent to the safety-critical Washington Hospital Center.  The demolition request is premature because (1) the developers that the District picked through a no-bid process have not proven that they have the financing to complete the development and (2) the private development project planned for the site is not slated to begin for more than a decade.

“Friends of McMillan has never opposed the city’s plans to demolish that small group of cells that are severely damaged or the plans to build the only public component of the project – a community center on the southern end of the site – where the most severely damaged cells are located,” says Kirby Vining, an FOMP board member. “We only oppose the permit to demolish ALL of the cells, while construction other than the community center is so far off.”

The Court of Appeals requested that Friends of McMillan Park file its brief by July 12, 2021 in this consolidated case, 20-CV-245, 21-AA-180, and 21-AA-185, and advised that the case will be on the Court’s October 2021 calendar.

For additional information, please refer to our recent written opposition to DMPED’s motion to dissolve the injunction here.

To donate to our legal fund, please visit https://www.crowdrise.com/savemcmillanpark.

Friends of McMillan Park is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit. Donations to this cause are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. To obtain a letter confirming your donation and the tax-exempt status of your donation, please contact Friends of McMillan Park Treasurer Kirby Vining at 202 213-2690 or at restoremcmillan@gmail.com

Friends of McMillan Park is now a part of the Amazon Smile program, allowing you to directly and automatically donate to the Friends of McMillan Park whenever you shop on Amazon.com.  See this link for more information: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/46-0977224

Thank you for your continued interest and support!

McMillan Park Returns to the DC Court of Appeals Challenging the Demolition Permit

You may recall that in August 2019, the District issued a demolition permit to begin the demolition of the McMillan site.  We immediately challenged that permit because it violated the DC Court of Appeals’ May 2019 order instructing the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to independently determine that the developer has the financial ability to complete the project. That’s the short story, see a more complete history of how we got to where we are on our web page here

Now after hearings before both the Superior Court and the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), we have brought the case back to the DC Court of Appeals, arguing that the developers’ “ability to complete the project” has not been demonstrated, in spite of the OAH’s determination that it was. The DC Court of Appeals has instructed the OAH to submit the administrative record. After the OAH does that, the Court of Appeals will send out further instructions, likely around mid-summer, which will include scheduling for submitting briefs and for arguments.

In the meantime, the injunction against any demolition activity at McMillan Park remains in force, and we’ve seen little activity there lately other than periodic lawn mowing and reinstallation of the green tarp around the fence that blew down over the winter.  We remain optimistic that we can prevail and are working hard to that end, with your continued support, including the many donations that we received during the winter Annual Progress and Giving Season Donations Rally, which we depend on to support our legal efforts. We cannot do this without your help!

To donate to our legal fund, please click: https://www.crowdrise.com/savemcmillanpark

Friends of McMillan Park is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit. Donations to this cause are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. To obtain a letter confirming your donation and the tax-exempt status of your donation, please contact Friends of McMillan Park Treasurer Kirby Vining at 202 213-2690 or at restoremcmillan@gmail.com

Friends of McMillan Park is now a part of the Amazon Smile program, allowing you to directly and automatically donate to the Friends of McMillan Park whenever you shop on Amazon.com.  See this link for more information:  
https://smile.amazon.com/ch/46-0977224


Thank you for your continued interest and support!

The McMillan Park Saga Continues: Where Are We Now, And How Did We Get Here?

The quest to Save McMillan Park continues, although the global health pandemic is of course slowing down everything that all of us are doing. Let’s take a moment to trace the current legal status of our fight, which is back in court and optimistic!

Background

Recall that on May 16, 2019, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued a decision against Friends of McMillan Park, approving the unfavorable Zoning and Historic Preservation decisions that we had challenged.  You can see the Court’s decision at this link. Our strongest hope resulting from the decision comes from this language in the final paragraph of the conclusion:

The applicants are not at liberty to begin demolition or subdivision, however, unless the appeal of their PUD approval is favorably resolved and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs independently determines that they possess the ability to complete the project.

The Court did not accept the Mayor’s Agent’s assertion that the applicants had demonstrated the financial ability to complete the project.  Instead, based on the Historic Preservation Act, the District must affirmatively provide documentation that the finances are in place to complete the project, and DCRA must independently verify this information. That seemed innocuous at the time, but later developments showed the power and use of this statement.

In mid-July, we sent a formal letter, certified, to DCRA advising the agency of this court-ordered obligation, making sure DCRA knew about it and offering to explain FOMP’s position on this.  DCRA has yet to reply. 

What triggered our most recent (current) court action?

On August 16, 2019, construction activity was seen at McMillan, and we found that a demolition permit had been issued that very day.  So we immediately contacted DCRA to ask for the documentary proof that the contractors have the ability to complete the project and that DCRA had independently verified that information, as instructed by the Court (and referencing our mid-July formal letter that would preclude DCRA claiming it did not know about the Court’s conditions).  No response. 

We told DCRA that we would be seeking an injunction from the Court if they did not respond.  DCRA did not respond, so we requested that injunction in late August 2019, which was heard in the Superior Court.  Although that court denied our request for an injunction, it found no evidence whatsoever that the applicant (defendant) had presented proof of the ability to complete the project, which was the subject of this case.  So we immediately appealed back to the Court of Appeals and requested an injunction.  On February 19, 2020, the Court of Appeals granted an injunction against any demolition or construction activity on the McMillan site until that Court decides this case.  The only point left open was what the Court called “uncertainty about whether DCRA’s issuance of the demolition permit is properly reviewable by the [DC] Office of Administrative Hearings.”  The Court said, “We do not decide that question at this juncture” and the Court “enjoined OAH to complete its review of this matter ((whether OAH can properly review the demolition permit issuance)) expeditiously.”  We have strong reason to believe that OAH does not have the authority under DC law to review the demolition permit.  OAH has held hearings on this matter, but it has issued no decision. 

When OAH is done, what will the Court of Appeals be dealing with?

Whenever the OAH does issue its decision, the Court of Appeals can then take up the issue that the District had not presented sufficient evidence of proof of the ability to complete the project.  The Court of Appeals did not say that it would abide by the OAH’s decision—if, for instance, OAH decided it had jurisdiction concerning the demolition permit issuance—only that OAH must review the matter first.  So, when our case returns to the Court of Appeals, the only real issue is whether the applicant provided, and DCRA independently verified, proof of the financial ability to complete the project, as instructed in the Court’s May 2019 decision.  Superior Court said emphatically “no.”  

So where are we today?

Now we are waiting for the OAH decision on whether it has jurisdiction over the issuance of the demolition permit.  In the meantime, the Court of Appeals has issued a standing injunction against any demolition or construction work on the site until the Court makes a final decision in this case.  And the injunction still stands. 

Complicated? You betcha.  But we have hope, and we hope that you share our hope!

Join the McMillan Park Walking History Tour – Sat, Mar 23rd, 9am (Rain: Mar 24th)

On Saturday, March 23, 2019, we will host another walking history tour through Bloomingdale and around the perimeter of McMillan Park. Once again, we are fortunate to have our neighbor and friend Paul Cerruti leading the tour. Paul has compiled a tremendous amount of detailed information about the park and its role in our neighborhood through the years since it was first opened to the public. The event will cover a lot of the information presented in the history walks that we hosted in 2017 and 2018 that were very well attended and enjoyed! The weather we hope will be ideal for such a walking tour. This is our first tour of 2019. We plan to have about four tours per year although we have yet to set dates for subsequent tours. Space still available for March 23rd!

The tour will showcase McMillan Park, its vistas, unique history, and connection to historic landmarks in the Bloomingdale neighborhood. The first part of the walk will include information and bonus highlights about the history and development of Bloomingdale, much of it in anticipation of the opening of McMillan Park.

The tour will last about two to three hours and will start at the triangular park located opposite the Big Bear Café (corner of 1st Street & R Street NW) on Saturday, March 23rd at 9:00am (rain date Sunday March 24th, 9:00am). Light liquid refreshments will be served and a selection of some of our favorite mounted art photos of McMillan Park will be offered for sale at the end of the tour, as well as some lovely greeting cards of those same photos!

Please register for the event by sending an email to restoremcmillan@gmail.com or by calling Kirby at 202-213-2690. We are limiting the tour to 30 people or so to ensure that all who attend can hear easily and participate fully. So please register early to guarantee that you’ll be able to be part of this special day.

Kindly note that the event has a suggested donation of $20 in advance ($25 on the day of the event) to benefit Friends of McMillan Park’s efforts to save this registered national historic landmark from demolition. We greatly appreciate your support. Even if you are unable to join the tour, please consider making a donation to help support these efforts. You can donate via PayPal (see the “Buy Now” button on www.friendsofmcmillan.org/merchandise), contribute to our Crowdrise campaign (www.crowdrise.com/savemcmillanpark), or pay in person with cash or credit card with FOMP’s Square account on the day of the event. Thank you in advance for your generous contributions!

*** McMillan Park News Update ***

  • Friends of McMillan Park returned to the D.C. Court of Appeals on January 22nd to present oral arguments challenging the District’s proposed demolition of the site. Now we anxiously await the court’s decision, both for that most recent hearing and another hearing held on October 17, 2018, which of course we hope will be in McMillan Park’s favor. We have no idea when the court’s decision will come out, or if the court will decide to combine both the zoning appeal and the historic preservation appeal into one decision.
  • Friends of McMillan Park is now a part of the Amazon Smile program, allowing you to directly and automatically donate to the Friends of McMillan Park when you shop on Amazon.com. See this link for more information: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/46-0977224.

If you have any questions, please contact restoremcmillan@gmail.com or call 202-213-2690.

Thank you for your continued interest and support!

Join the McMillan Park Walking History Tour – Sat, Nov 10th, 9am (Rain: Nov 17th)

On Saturday, November 10th, we are hosting another history walking tour through Bloomingdale and around the perimeter of McMillan Park. Once again, we are fortunate to have our neighbor and friend, Paul Cerruti, leading the tour. Paul has compiled a tremendous amount of detail about the park and its role in our neighborhood through the years since it was first opened to the public. The event will cover a lot of the information presented in recent history walks that were very well attended and enjoyed! The weather likely will be ideal for such a walking tour. This will be our final tour for the year. We hope to have about four tours per year and will start up when the weather gets a bit warmer in March or so, 2019.

The tour will last about two hours and will start at the triangular park opposite the Big Bear Café (located at the corner of 1st St. and R St. NW) on Saturday, November 10th at 9:00am (rain date Saturday, November 17th at 9:00am). Light liquid refreshments will be served and a selection of some of our favorite mounted art photos of McMillan Park offered for sale at the end of the tour, as well as some lovely greeting cards of the same photos!

Please register for the event by sending an email to restoremcmillan@gmail.com or calling Kirby at 202 213-2690. We are limiting the tour to 30 people to ensure that all who join us can hear easily and participate fully. So please register early to guarantee that you’ll be able to be part of this special day.

Kindly note that the event has a suggested donation of $20 in advance, $25 on the day of the event, to benefit the Friends of McMillan Park’s efforts to save this registered national historic landmark. Even if you are unable to join our tour, please consider making a donation to help support these efforts. You can donate via the PayPal or Crowdrise links located at www.friendsofmcmillan.org/merchandise, or in person with cash or credit card with FOMP’s Square account on the day of the event. Thank you in advance for your generous contributions!

We hope to see you for the event!

Join the McMillan Park Walking History Tour – Sun, Sep 23rd, 930am (Rain: Sep 30th)

Dear Friends,

We are hosting another history walking tour through Bloomingdale and around the perimeter of McMillan Park on Sunday, September 23rd. Once again, we are fortunate to have our neighbor and friend Paul Cerruti leading the tour. Paul has compiled a tremendous amount of historical detail about the park and its role in our neighborhood through the years since it was first opened to the public long ago. The event will cover a lot of the information presented in the history walks that we hosted since 2017, each of which was very well attended and enjoyed! The weather likely will be ideal for this informative social outing. 🌞

The tour will showcase McMillan Park, its vistas, unique history, and connection to historic landmarks in the Bloomingdale neighborhood. The first part of the walk will include information and bonus highlights about the history and development of Bloomingdale in the early 1900’s, much of it in anticipation of the opening of McMillan Park.

The walk will last about two hours and will start at the triangular park opposite the Big Bear Café (corner of 1st St. and R St. NW) on Sunday, September 23rd at 9:30am (rain date Sun., Sept. 30th, 9:30am). Light refreshments will be served and a selection of some of our favorite mounted art photos of McMillan Park offered for sale at the end of the tour, as well as some lovely greeting cards of those same photos!

Please register for the tour by sending an email to restoremcmillan@gmail.com or calling Kirby at 202 213-2690. We are limiting the tour group size to 30 people to ensure that all who join can hear easily and participate fully. So please register early to guarantee that you’ll be able to be part of this special day!

Kindly note, a suggested donation of $20 in advance ($25 on the day of the event) will benefit Friends of McMillan Park’s efforts to save this registered national historic landmark. We greatly appreciate your ongoing support! Even if you are unable to join our tour, please consider making a donation to help support these efforts. You can donate via PayPal (see the “Buy Now” button here: www.friendsofmcmillan.org/merchandise), contribute to our Crowdrise campaign (www.crowdrise.com/savemcmillanpark), or pay in person with cash or credit card with FOMP’s Square account on the day of the event. Thank you in advance for your generous contributions!

We hope to see you for the event!

***** McMillan Park News Updates *****

  • The DC Court of Appeals overruled the District Government’s plan to
    demolish most of the McMillan site and construct a huge
    development in a decision dated December 8, 2016 (one
    day after the Mayor’s official groundbreaking event for the
    project). The court also remanded a series of questions
    for the DC Zoning Commission and the Mayor’s Agent for
    Historic Preservation to consider; hearings were
    held on those questions in late 2017. In early 2018,
    those two offices issued their final decisions on the
    remand — siding with the District Government once again and affirming
    the development plan. As a result, Friends of McMillan Park is now
    working to bring these decisions — that we
    obviously disagree with — back to the DC Court of
    Appeals for reconsideration. Dates for oral arguments will
    be set in the near future, and the matter will be presented in two
    parts this time: one proceeding focusing on the preservation
    issues, and one on the zoning issues.
  • DMPED/DGS/Gilbane Construction Company has
    commenced historic preservation and rehabilitation/
    stabilization work on McMillan Park’s regulator houses and
    sand silos located in the north and south service courts visible along North Capitol Street. We support this work because it is long overdue
    (the site has been a DC Historic District since
    1991), and the District Government is arguably guilty of demolition
    by neglect if it does NOT do this work. No other parts
    of the site are affected by this work. If you see building
    activity on McMillan, that’s what it is, and that’s
    ALL that it is — no demolition or construction going on.
  • Effective September 9, 2018, the Bloomingdale neighborhood is a new Historic District, adjacent to but separate fromMcMillan Park Reservoir Historic District. Please see additional details here.

Thank you for your continued interest in and support of historic McMillan Park!

John Salatti, Kirby Vining, and Hugh Youngblood
Board of Directors, Friends of McMillan Park, Inc.

If you have any questions, please contact restoremcmillan@gmail.com or call 202.213.2690.

McMillan Park Walking History Tour on Sat, Mar 3rd, 9am (rain: Mar 10th) – First Tour of 2018!

We are planning another history walking tour through Bloomingdale and around the perimeter of McMillan Park. Once again, we are fortunate to have our neighbor and friend, Paul Cerruti, leading the tour.  Paul has compiled a tremendous amount of historical detail about the park and its role in our neighborhood through the years since it was first opened to the public. This event will cover a lot of the information presented in history walks we did in 2017 that were very well attended and enjoyed!

The tour will showcase McMillan Park, its vistas, unique history, and connection to the historic landmarks in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.  The first part of the walk will include information and bonus highlights about Bloomingdale.

The tour will last approximately 1 ½ hours and will start at the Big Bear Café (located at the corner of 1st and R Streets NW) on Saturday, March 3rd at 9am (rain date Saturday, March 10th at 9am). Light refreshments will be served, and a selection of some of our favorite mounted art photos of McMillan Park will be offered for sale at the end of the tour along with some lovely greeting cards of those same photos!

Please register for the tour by sending an email to restoremcmillan@gmail.com or by calling Kirby at 202 213-2690.  We are limiting the tour to 30 people to ensure that all who join it can hear easily and participate fully. Please register early to guarantee that you will be able to be part of this special day.  

Kindly note, we greatly appreciate your suggested donation of $20 in advance, $25 on the day of the event, which will benefit Friends of McMillan Park’s efforts to save this registered national historic landmark.  Even if you are unable to join our tour, please consider making a donation to help support these efforts.  You can donate via PayPal or Crowdrise links available on our web page, www.friendsofmcmillan.org/merchandise, or in person with cash or credit card with FOMP’s Square account on the day of the event.

We hope to see your there for the event!

Join Us at Big Bear Holiday Market – Weds, Dec 20, 4-9pm!

Happy Holiday Season!

Please consider making a year-end donation to sustain the Friends of McMillan Park Legal Fund, and join us at the Big Bear Holiday Market on Wednesday, December 20th from 4-9pm. This is our third year at the Big Bear holiday market!

With your support, we financed our successful appeal before the D.C. Court of Appeals, as a result of which the Zoning Order and Mayor’s Agent Order were both vacated and remanded. We expect that this case will almost certainly be headed back to court, so we ask for your continued financial support to sustain our legal costs. Friends of McMillan Park is a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit organization and donations to this cause are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Please also join us to meet, chat, and/or purchase some of lovely McMillan Park holiday cards and Art Photos at the Big Bear Holiday Market this Wednesday, December 20th from 4-9pm. Friends of McMillan Park accepts donations and payment for merchandise in cash, checks payable to the Friends of McMillan Park, via PayPal (the ‘Buy Now’ button on our merchandise page), and via our Crowdrise crowdfunding page. We also now accept donations of financial securities through our new brokerage account (contact Kirby at 202 213-2690 or restoremcmillan@gmail.com for details).  Big Bear Café is located at the corner of First Street and R Street, NW. Here is a link to more information about the Holiday Market.

Thank you for your continued interest and support!

If you have any questions, please contact restoremcmillan@gmail.com or call 202.213.2690.

McMillan Park History Walking Tour – Sat, 2 Dec 2017, 9am (rain: 3 Dec) – Last Tour of 2017!

We are hosting another history walking tour through the Bloomingdale neighborhood and around the perimeter of McMillan Park, led by our neighbor and friend, Paul Cerruti, who has compiled a tremendous amount of detail about the park and its role through the years since it first opened to the public. The event will cover a lot of the information presented in a history walk that we hosted last month in October, which was very well attended and enjoyed!
 
The tour will showcase McMillan Park, its vistas, unique history, and connection to historic landmarks in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.  The first part of the walk will include information and bonus highlights about Bloomingdale.
 
The tour will last approximately 1 ½ hours and will start at Big Bear Café (located at the corner of 1st and R Streets NW) on Saturday, December 2nd at 9am (rain date Sunday, December 3rd at 9am). At the conclusion of the tour, we will serve light refreshments and offer a selection of our favorite mounted art photos of McMillan Park for sale.
 
Please register for the Park History Tour by sending an email to restoremcmillan@gmail.com or by calling Kirby at 202-213-2690.  We are accepting up to 30 people for this tour to ensure that all who join can hear and fully participate, so we will accept the first 30 registrations.

Kindly note, we suggest and greatly appreciate a donation of $20 in advance ($25 on the day of the event) to benefit Friends of McMillan Park’s efforts to save this registered national historic landmark.  Even if you are unable to join the tour, please consider making a donation online to help support our efforts.  You may provide payment via our PayPal or Crowdrise links available on the web page, www.friendsofmcmillan.org/merchandise, or in person via cash or credit card on the day of the event.

Thank you for your continued interest and support!          

*****Other Recent News*****

  • The Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation and Zoning Commission hearings on the remand of the D.C. Court of Appeals McMillan Park decision have concluded, and no orders formally announcing the position of those two bodies have been issued.  When the agency orders are released, we will decide what action to take based on the content of the orders. We expect that the case will almost certainly be headed back to court. We still need your financial support because our legal work is ongoing, and our legal bills continue to accumulate accordingly.
  • DC Water will be present on the site near the corner of 1st & Channing Streets NW for a couple of weeks, conducting the first inspection of the 1st Street stormwater tunnel by lowering equipment down the access shaft located just inside the McMillan Park site.
  • DMPED, DGS, and Gilbane Construction Company announced at a recent ANC meeting that they plan to commence rehabilitation and stabilization work on the silos and regulator houses located in McMillan Park’s two service courts “soon. Some Gilbane equipment is already onsite in the south service court, apparently indicating that this rehabilitation and stabilization work will soon begin.

If you have any questions, please contact restoremcmillan@gmail.com or call 202.213.2690.

McMillan Park History Walking Tour – Sat, 28 Oct 2017, 9am (rain: 29 Oct)

We are hosting another history walking tour through Bloomingdale and around the perimeter of McMillan Park, led by our neighbor and friend, Paul Cerruti, who has compiled a tremendous amount of detailed historical information about the park and its role in our neighborhood through the years since it was first opened to the public. This event will expand upon the successful history walk that we held in October 2016 that was well attended and enjoyed!
 
The tour will showcase McMillan Park, its vistas, unique history, and connection to historic landmarks in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.  The first part of the walk will include information and bonus highlights about Bloomingdale.
 
The tour will last approximately 1 ½ hours and will start at the Big Bear Café (located at the corner of 1st St. and R St. NW) on Saturday, October 28th at 9am (rain date Sunday, October 29th, 9am). At the end of the tour, we will serve light refreshments and offer a selection of our favorite mounted art photos of McMillan Park for sale.

This walking tour through Bloomingdale and around McMillan Park is mentioned in the current issue of Home & Design magazine, linked here, and will immediately precede the annual Bloomingdale House Tour that begins at 10:30 am on October 28th (see details of the house tour linked here).  The Park History Tour will conclude in time for everyone to participate in the House Tour, and encourage all to do so!
 
Please register for the Park History Tour by sending an email to restoremcmillan@gmail.com or by calling Kirby at 202 213-2690.  We are accepting up to 30 people for this tour to ensure that all who join can hear and fully participate, so we will accept the first 30 persons who register.

Kindly note, we suggest and greatly appreciate a donation of $20 in advance ($25 on the day of the event) to benefit the Friends of McMillan Park’s efforts to save this registered national historic landmark.  Even if you are unable to join the tour, please consider making a donation online to help support these efforts.  Payment may be made via PayPal or Crowdrise links on the web page, www.friendsofmcmillan.org/merchandise, or in person with cash or credit card on the day of the event.

Thank you for your continued interest and support!