Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Anacostia Bridge - 2 Months of Unnecessary Inconvenience

Art of War Concept: With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your adversary, you should occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him to come up

I’m sure you all have noticed the progress being made on the new bridges being built across the Anacostia River. This is pretty exciting because all the morning cut-through traffic in the downtown Anacostia area will soon come to an end and Anacostia will have its own local bridge that will allow us to drive, walk and/or bike across the river.   In addition, the new bridges will allow Maryland and VA commuters to get to downtown DC without using Good Hope Rd or MLK Ave.

The good news of progress is almost always accompanied with a little not so good news.   DDOT has plans to close the 13th Street ramp before the new 11th Street bridge is completed. This was not the original plan DDOT proposed to the community years ago when first informing us of the new bridge. The new proposal closes the 13th Street Ramp on March 1, 2012, months before the 11th Street Bridge is completed—summer of 2012.

The reason for the change is because the bridge construction was a Design-Build project. This means, as sections of the bridge are built the design may change a little. What has changed was the portion over the 13th Street ramp. If you were to drive up the 13th St ramp and look to the left and right, notice the bridge is not connected. The only way to complete this section is to close off traffic on the ramp.

You are probably wondering, what does this mean for me? If you live in Fairlawn, Anacostia, Hillsdale and other greater Anacostia neighborhoods, for at least 2 months, you will have to find an alternative route to leave the neighborhood. These routes include:
·         To Suitland Parkway or Howard Rd to access the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
·         To Malcolm X Ave at MLK Jr. Ave to north or southbound 295
·         To Pennsylvania Ave to access the Sousa Bridge
Traffic studies estimate that it will take 12 minutes to leave the neighborhood-apparently only Anacostia residents will be affected by this change.  Residents on the other side of the river will be fine.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m very disappointed in this proposal. As usual, the underlying reason for this change is MONEYIf the bridge is completed earlier, all parties involved get a monetary bonus.  This includes the construction company, the District and the contractors. In return, Anacostia residents get inconvenienced for 2 months. Get this, in a recent meeting, even the contractors advising residents of the bridge stated they would not be in favor of this proposal if they were living East of the River.

To my understanding if residents speak up enough, there might be a possibility to put forth for a new proposal. One that would include keeping the 13th bridge open until the 11th St bridge is completed. Today, I wrote the following email to Mr. Terry Bellamy, Director of DDOT.

Dear Mr. Bellamy,
My name is Charles Wilson, a resident of Historic Anacostia. Recently I learned that DDOT plans to close access to the 13th Street Ramp prior to the opening of the 11th St bridge. This will force me and other neighbors to find an alternative route out of Anacosita. As you can imagine, my neighbors and I are very disappointed in this proposal. We hope that DDOT will reconsider and keep the 13th Bridge open until the 11th St Bridge is completed.

If you are in agreement, feel free to copy and paste my email or send one of your own to Mr Terry Bellamy at Terry.Bellamy@dc.gov

Soon the 13th Street Ramp will be closed. You
will have to find another way out of the neighborhood for 2 months.

If you look in the distance, you can see the
disconnected sections of the bridge overpass

The Mayor and other City Officials at the grand opening of
the new bridges. More changes are coming...


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Did You Help Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner?

ART of WAR Concept: When orders are consistently trustworthy and observed, the relationship of a commander with his troops is satisfactory.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of my favorite holidays. In part, because I get to see my family and have time away from work to relax. However, the best part of all is the FOOD.  Yes, I am a foodie. From the turkey, ham, candied yams, salads, stuffing and rolls- this time of year is always a feast of all those home cooked favorites, not to mention a guaranteed way to gain a quick 5 pounds.

If you are like me, typically you show up to the family gathering empty-handed. This happens because my mom, her sisters and my grandmother slave in the kitchen the night before preparing scrumptious dishes for the rest of us to enjoy. Then once dinner is over they say the same thing every year. “It is time for you young people to learn how to cook some of these dishes, so we can sit back and enjoy.” The response is always the same as we say, "yeah we should," and then its back to watching the Thanksgiving NFL tootball games. I’m sure it's because we assume that things will be the same the next year.

The statement from my family chef's got me thinking about a few challenges I would like to issue to the following 1. All us free loaders, 2. The Ward 8 Community 3. Long-term community activist.  The first challenge is for all our young people out there to learn to cook one dish for Christmas dinner. This may/will involve enlisting the help of the family chef(s), to show and share with us young people the tricks of the kitchen trade.

Secondly, as a resident of the Ward 8 community, I've heard many long-time community activists say that it is time for more young people to take on leadership roles in the community.  I’m sure some of us just assume these individuals will always be there as the voice of our community, but in reality, they won't. That is why I am challenging all the 20-40 something’s out there to get more involved in your neighborhood and larger community building effort. Help coach in a basketball league, attend a community meeting, mentor a high school student, or join a neighborhood committee. We need to do more than just get up and go to work every day.

My last challenge is for the long-time community activist to mentor someone younger to fill your shoes. Ask yourself, if you wake up one day and decide that you are too tired to do this community building thing, is there someone 45 years or younger who is ready, willing and ABLE to step in and continue where you left off? If not, please start looking.

Looking forward to Christmas Dinner!
Of course you have to begin Thanksgiving Dinner
with a family prayer

Salad and rolls...

Thanksgivng dinner classic - Turkey and Ham

 Its time for seconds...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mama's Kitchen Cafe

ART of WAR Concept: A general waits until the army's food is cooked before he eats.

In the past couple of weeks, I noticed some activity in the former Maple View Deli location. The old signage had come down and the building recently had a paint job. This past weekend, I decided to stop in to be nosey to see what was going on. There, I met Richardo Da’Salvia who introduced himself as the new chef at what is now “Mama’s Kitchen.” Of course, I was excited to hear this news because MLK Ave., SE could always use another food option.  And, I was equally pleased to learn that Richardo, a 15-year veteran chef, is also a Ward 8 resident and a member of our own Bethel Christian Fellowship Church located directly across the street from the newly re-opened MLK restaurant.
A few days after they opened, I stopped through again and met Fatima Nayir (Mama). Fatima and her husband own the new café. They moved to Washington DC from their native country, Turkey.  When I inquired about what brought them to Ward 8, she replied, “my husband always thought this building was in a great location and with Homeland Security soon to be down the street we know we will have a steady customer base.” I inquired further about the inspiration for the name of the café.  “My four kids tell all their friends that there is no better food than what is made in my Mama’s Kitchen.”

Ricardo and Fatima have the vision to offer some of the best tasting food in the city. “I want folks who work in the White House to want to drive over here and talk about how great the food and service are,” says Ricardo.
After being so nosey, I decided I needed to sample the food and ordered a slice of cheese pizza that cost me about $3. I was not expecting much, but to my surprise the pizza was pretty darn good. Fatima makes all her pizzas and breads fresh daily.
Be sure to stop by Mama’s Kitchen located at 1208 Maple View Pl., SE and let me know what you think.  Store hours are:  7am – 11pm; Monday – Friday and 9am - 5pm Saturday - Sunday.  One of the first things you’ll notice is that there is no bullet proof glass.  The Nayirs want to provide a truly “open kitchen” environment.

Fatima and Richardo
You don't have to eat and run...

Already a steady flow of customers

Anacostia Resident, Earl ordering a pizza.
He says his daughter loves Mama's pizza.

Ricardo likes to brag on his homemade Mambo Sauce.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Old Market House Square - Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

ART of WAR Concept: Land where you and others can come and go is called a trafficked ground.

Great news for all you park lovers and dog owners!

Yesterday afternoon, the ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of the Old Market House Square restoration effort was held in Historic Anacostia. A nice crowd attended the ceremony, which included St. Phillips Church members, Anacostia residents, politicians and other key stakeholders that helped make the new park a reality.

Many thanks to the St. Phillips Church, TKF Foundation, community members and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), who worked tirelessly for seven years to complete this project. 

As mentioned in And Now, Anacostia, Old Market House Square is the public space on 14th Street SE between U and V Streets, and was originally built as the central square and gathering space of the neighborhood. 

I am excited about the Park because the project committee understood that historic preservation is key to the revitalizing the neighborhood. The park was built in 1913, and the committee worked hard to retain some of its unique and historic characteristics.

This is an awesome effort to improve the quality of life in the Historic Anacostia neighborhood. Well-kept parks make neighborhoods feel safer, serve as a community gathering place and allows for residents the ability to enjoy the outdoors. 

I’m pretty sure the Historic Anacostia Block Association will host ice cream socials in the spring and summer of 2012. Now it’s going to be up to us residents to take care of this new park so we can all enjoy it for years to come!

This project shows us that you don’t have to bring in something new to see improvements in our neighborhood, sometimes it is just about improving what you already have.  Enjoy the pics below…

Public Service Announcement: Please curb your dog in the park.

Way back in 1913...

And now today...

For all you chess players out there

 Back in the olden days, the only way you found out
about community news was visiting the neighborhood square
to read community announcements placed in the marque.

Mr. Harrison and Mrs. Cotton enjoying the fall afternoon

 Seats for the kids...

Community members

ANC Commissioner Greta Fuller

Adrienne McCray, Ward 8 resident and Architect who helped design
the layout for the park.

This bench is made out of 200 year old pickle wood

Underneath the bench is a compartment that will house a journal for
park visitors to write down their thoughts...I thought that was pretty cool. Its
going to be interesting to read whats on folks minds.

Can't forget the kids...

And of course the ribbon cutting...

Ms. Frieda D. Murray never got to see the park become a reality, but
we all owe her a big THANK YOU for pushing the idea forward!
R.I.P. Ms. Murray.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tour of Ward 8 - Where is Bellevue?

ART of WAR Concept: Understanding these six kinds of terrain is the highest responsibility of the general, and it is imperative to examine them.

There was a recent article about the back and forth regarding the name of the new library being built in place of the old Washington Highlands Library.  The big issue is whether the library will be named after the neighborhood where it is located, Bellevue or after the late William Lockridge, former Ward 8 School Board Member. As a neighborhood association president, I’m always in favor of neighborhood promotion. But on a different note, it got me to thinking, does anyone know where Bellevue is located? Have you ever heard of the neighborhood?

Many times we blame the Washington Post for classifying all of Ward 8 as Anacostia, but do we as residents know the neighborhoods that make up our great Ward?  Most residents know of Historic Anacosita, Congress Heights, Washington Highlands, and maybe Fairlawn….but where is Bellevue? When I looked it up on Wikipedia, it only contained two short paragraphs on the neighborhood. My guess is that it is the least identified neighborhood in Ward 8, but has tons to offer.

A couple of interesting facts about the neighborhood. First the name Bellevue is French for "beautiful view." Walking some of the streets, I definitly get that feel. And yet another fact is that Bellevuians (made up word) boast that two celebrities are from the neighborhood. Here is some info on opera singer Denyce Graves and country singer Roy Clark -- thats right, country music in Ward 8!

I took a short tour of Bellevue in hopes of finding some signage identifying the neighborhood. I did not find many signs but I did find a great looking neighborhood. It has some of the quietest streets in the Ward and quick access to 295 and 495 to VA. Take a look at some of the pics below….
Can you pronouce the name of this street?
Yup, you read it correctly, MLK Ave., "SW."
Ward 8 has both a SE and SW section
Another favorite street name...

Did you know Ward 8 has two in-patient medical facilities?
Hadley Hospital focuses on long term medical care 

I dig this street - single family homes, clean streets &
trees on the opposite side = beautiful view

And we can't forget about Covenant Baptist Church

Monday, October 31, 2011

Events/Meetings in Ward 8 this Week (10.31.11)

ART of WAR Concept: Now the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge.

ANC 8A Meeting
Date: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Time: 7pm
Where: Anacostia UPO Center - 1649 Good Hope Rd., SE

United Medical Center Community Board Meeting
Date: Thursday, November 3, 2011
Time: 6pm

Where: THEARC - 1901 Mississippi Avenue, S.E.

Ward 8 Health Council Meeting

Topic: Medicare
Date: Friday, November 4, 2011
Time:10:30 am
Where: 2100 MLK Jr. Avenue, S.E.3rd Floor Conference Room

MLK Parade Planning Meeting
Date: Saturday November 5, 2011
Time: 2pm
Where: Anacostia Library

Elvans Road Keep the Peace Day
Date: Saturday, November 5, 2011
Time: 1pm
Where: 2441 Elvans Road, S.E.

Ward 8 Contractors Business Council
Special Guest:  Councilmember Vincent Orange
Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Time: 6pm
Where: 2100 MLK Jr. Avenue, S.E.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great Article -- Past and Future of the District

ART of WAR Concept: The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

Just in case you missed it, check out today's article in the Washington Post that gives you some insight on the past and provides opinions on the future of the District. It makes me wonder about whats in store for the neighborhoods East of the River -- the last frontier. Click here to continue reading...

This is one of my favorite quotes: “We can live for a while on the laurels of the past,” Golden said, “but the District, in the future, is not going to be able to run on autopilot. Right now, we’re getting to be embarrassing again.”

Economic Revival in Anacostia Begins With...

ART OF WAR Concept:  Preserving the state capital is best, destroying their state capital is second-best. He must fight under Heaven with the paramount aim of preservation.

One of my favorite blast from the past....

Long-term, sustainable economic development in downtown Anacostia begins with the appreciation of …HISTORIC PRESERVATION. Typically, when you hear people talk about what it will take to see economic prosperity in Anacostia they mention new stores, offi ce space, new homes, new residents and jobs for longtime residents. Yes, these are all things that will be the result of economic development in Anacostia, but in order to take dramatic steps forward, we must fi rst start with the appreciation of what we already have in the form historic preservation. CLICK HERE to continue reading...

Public Hearing for the St. Elizabeths East Master Plan

This is the final reminder for the upcoming public hearing for the DC Office of Planning to present and seek public input on the revised alternatives for the St. Elizabeths East Campus Master Plan.

Public Hearing for the St. Elizabeths East Master Plan Alternatives
Thursday, October 27, 2011
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Malcolm X Elementary School
1351 Alabama Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20032


How the hearing will work…

This public hearing is structured differently than the earlier workshops.
 • The project team will present an overview of the alternatives and how the alternatives reflect public feedback.
 • The next portion of the meeting will focus on more detailed presentations of the alternatives to smaller groups, and will provide an opportunity for meeting participants to indicate their preferences for the alternatives.
 • The meeting will conclude with an opportunity for meeting participants who choose to make a brief statement about the alternatives into the formal record. These statements will be recorded and later transcribed.

A final hearing on the Transportation Environmental Assessment will take place later this fall.

Get on the record…

If you want to make a formal statement you must provide notice that you intend to do so by signing up prior to the hearing. No later than 5:00 p.m. on October 26, 2011 - THAT IS TODAY!, please contact Evelyn Kasongo by email or phone to add your name to the list. Make sure to provide your first and last names and street address. Comments are limited to 3 minutes.

Can’t make the meeting or have more to say…The hearing is not, however, the only opportunity you have to provide feedback on the alternatives. Following the meeting, there will be a written comment period from October 28 through November 28, 2011. Attached to this email is list of “Where to Go” after the hearing to review the alternatives and complete a comment form. You may also visit the project website to review the alternatives and submit any comments.

If you want to know more, visit the project website:  http://www.stelizabethseast.com/ or contact:

Evelyn D. Kasongo
Ward 8 Neighborhood Planning Coordinator
1100 4th Street  SW, Suite E650
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 442-7613

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

r.e.e.l. Annual Meeting Coming Soon!

Join us in Anacostia on November 10, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Auditorium for the members-only Annual Membership Meeting. We will highlight our progress, share our experiences, and engage each other on pressing issues. Not yet a member? You Can Join Here...

» Click Here to Register for the Annual Membership Meeting Now

Monday, October 24, 2011

Events/Meetings in Ward 8 This Week (10.24.11)

ART of WAR Concept: Advance Knowledge cannot be gained from ghosts and spirits, inferred from phenomena, or projected from the measures of Heaven, but must be gained from men.

Anacostia Coordinating Council Meeting
Date: Tuesday October 24, 2011
Time: 12pm -2pm
Where: Anacostia Community Museum

St. Elizabeth East Campus Public Meeting
Date: Thursday October 27, 2011
Time: 7-9pm
Where: Malcolm X Elementary School

Ward 8 Community Conversation on Crime & Criminal Justice
Special Guest: Judge Robert Rigsby
Date: Thursday October 27, 2011
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Where: St. Elizabeth Hospital Auditorium – 1100 Alabama Ave., SE

ANC 8D Meeting
Date: Thursday October 27, 2011
Time: 7pm
Where: Hadley Memorial Hospital – 4601 MLK Ave., SE

Ward 8 Farmers Market
Date: Saturday October 29, 2011
Time: 9am – 2pm
Where: TheARC – 1901 Mississippi Ave., SE