McMillan Developers Launch Biased, Flawed Internet Survey

The developers chosen to develop the historic national landmark McMillan Sand Filtration Site have suddenly discovered the need to determine what the nearby community (and everybody else) really wants for the site. A full seven years after signing an “Exclusive Rights Agreement” with the District Government and presenting their plan to overdevelop the site at countless official and unofficial meetings, Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) has sent out, via the Internet and social media, a survey that is both flawed and biased.

Unlike the ANC 5C / McMillan Advisory Group 2012 survey that employed generally accepted methodologies for survey design, the VMP/District survey is subject to these design flaws:

  1. Ballot-stuffing: survey takers are not identified; anybody on the Internet can “vote early and vote often”;
  2. Unfocused: this survey has no mechanism to disaggregate the data collected so that anyone can determine where respondents are from:
    1. the surrounding community,
    2. Ward 5,
    3. the District of Columbia, or
    4. anywhere on the Internet;
  3. Exclusivity: the survey is apparently being conducted only via e-mail and at selected meetings, and thus many people, particularly older, long-term residents will be left out.
  4. Biased questions: some questions offer false choices between either the VMP/District’s poor development or no development at all, and other questions offer many options but limit answers to “choose only three,” automatically diluting the number and intensity of the concerns people have.

“Why are VMP and the District Government all of a sudden doing this survey after seven years of trying to sell us on their plan to overdevelop McMillan?,” asked John Salatti, a Bloomingdale resident, former ANC Commissioner, and member of The Friends. “Are they finally realizing that our rigorous door-to-door survey last year and the hundreds of petition signatures we have collected, both for more park and less development, show what people really want?”

The community completed its comprehensive, unbiased, door-to-door survey over a year ago and presented the results to Mayor Gray, the City Council, including Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, and to neighborhood and civic associations. The survey showed that an overwhelming majority of neighbors want over 50% park and preservation of the underground cells and above-ground silos. The VMP/District plan, in contrast, calls for an undistinguished, suburb-like development with 12-story office buildings on the north, massive automobile traffic at North Capitol Street and Michigan Avenue, destruction of most of the historic underground water filtration caverns and above-ground structures, and minimal contiguous park space.

“This flawed VMP/District Government survey is one more reason for Mayor Gray to cancel the June 6 meeting on declaring McMillan surplus,” said Salatti. “When we meet with Councilmember McDuffie next week, we will ask him to join our appeal to the Mayor.”

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