Last night the ANC met for their May session. Unfortunately, as is often the case, a lot of the agenda was built upon the assumption that cars and people are the same thing.
Where this came into focus was during the discussions over street closures in connection with various races. Last night the races at issue were the Nations Triathlon, the Best Buddies Challenge Bicycle Ride, Bike DC, and the Marine Corps Marathon. Each of these events require a few streets in Georgetown to be closed for a few hours on their respective Sunday mornings.
Over the last couple years, the ANC has expressed increasing frustration over the proliferation of events calling for street closures in Georgetown. The heart of these complaints is that street closures, particularly those affecting lower Georgetown, “maroon” people in their homes during the closure. They’re “trapped”. They “can’t get out”.
These street closures can be an inconvenience, GM would just like to remind the ANC that nobody gets “trapped” by street closures, only cars do. People can still leave. They can walk a few blocks and catch a bus or a cab. Or they can just walk to the over 500 stores and restaurants right here in Georgetown. The point is that people and cars are not the same thing.
For the record, each event was approved by the ANC. They badgered a few of the applicants on whether they were charitable “enough”, but with the impacts so slight, the ANC didn’t hold anyone up over it.
Glover Park Streetscape Improvements
As discussed at an ANC meeting last November, Glover Park is currently undergoing a streetscape improvement project that will, among other things, widen sidewalks and reduce Wisconsin Ave. from six lanes to five lanes. This project has generated some anxiety among people who fear the reduction in lanes will lead to an increase in “cut through” traffic on 37th St.
The ANC decided not to object to the project last November, but requested that DDOT perform a traffic count before and after the changes to measure the effect on cut through traffic. Last night the ANC found, however, that the requested traffic count was not performed where they wanted it performed and, more damning from the ANC’s perspective, the “base” count was performed after construction started on Wisconsin. This, the ANC argued, would inflate the traffic count on 37th St. since people would already be avoiding Wisconsin Ave. traffic. Thus when the “after” number is compared to the base number, any increase in cut through from pre-construction numbers would be covered up. Paul Hoffman from DDOT responded to the criticism and stated that they would try to again to get a “base” number during a period of time without any lane closures.
The problem GM sees in this back-and-forth is this: so what if there is an increase in cut-through traffic? Right now Wisconsin Ave. between W Pl. and 34th is a serious hazard to pedestrians. The crosswalks at 35th and Wisconsin are death traps. Have you ever crossed Wisconsin at this intersection? You are seriously risking your life doing so. Even just crossing 35th along the west side of Wisconsin is incredibly dangerous. These conditions must be improved. If a slight increase in cut through traffic is the cost of eliminating the clear and present danger created by the current conditions, that is a cost we have to be willing to pay. Yes increased cut through traffic can create its own hazards, but they’re less than the hazards on Wisconsin right now, and they can be dealt with with other measures such as speed cameras or bulb-outs.
The never-ending construction site at the Friendly Estate at 31st and Avon is likely to continue for a while longer. A prospective new owner has emerged who is willing to buy the house, but wants even more additions approved before closing. But the prospective buyer is only buying the house on spec. He/She/It (GM is not sure who or what the potential owner is) only wants to buy the house as it currently is (totally gutted) and finish the plans Marc Teren originally received approval for, and then add even more so to make the property just right for what he/she/it thinks an ultimate owner would want. This new construction would take an additional year, which is on top of the five or so years of construction (or lack thereof) that have already passed.
The ANC and the neighbors expressed skepticism over the plans. Here is yet another investor-owner who wants to make big changes on the hopes that someone else will want it. Teren ran out of money trying to build such a house and has left behind a shell bereft of any interior historic detail. The neighbors probably can’t be blamed for fearing a repeat performance. The ANC passed a resolution approving work to complete the original Teren plans but opposing any further plans.
A Few More Things
- The new hotel on 31st St. where the old Trial Lawyers Association used to be is going to be crazy high end. The starting rate will be $800 a night.
- The secretive Vornado came back before the ANC with plans for exterior changes to the mall. The changes were actually pretty modest and mostly involved adding doors to the alley between the mall and Dean and Deluca and some windows to the back facing the canal. No hint at what will actually occupy the mall was offered.
- Taste of Georgetown is moving from October to June to avoid competing with other events. So make some room for paella.