President's Message

By Eric Langenbacher,

2016 is off to a dramatic start with the crippling blizzard. As I write this, the city is still getting back to normal, but I hope everyone made it through “Snowzilla” as well as could be expected. I was quite impressed with how many Burleith residents complied with the law and shoveled their walkways and portions of the sidewalk. Those who did not are gently reminded that the city will levy $25 fines for failure to shovel. The city needs to do a better job plowing alleys in the future—something we will bring up with the relevant officials.

The BCA has recently been confronted with a variety of issues that affect the quality of life in our neighborhood. Unexpectedly, a proposal has been circulating to locate temporary trailers for Hyde-Addison Elementary School on Ellington Field for 18+ months for the approximately 300 students and teachers and staff starting this summer as the school is renovated. Note that Burleith children will be in the Hyde-Addison boundary after this modernization is complete. From the outset, the BCA has expressed severe misgivings about this plan. Our concerns include loss of use of the field, increased traffic, a suboptimal learning environment for students, the variety of other construction projects underway (Ellington renovation) or starting soon (MedStar Georgetown University Hospital addition likely in early 2017), and basic equity, in light of many educational institutions in or abutting Burleith. Our small neighborhood simply cannot take more traffic. 

We have shared these misgivings with a variety of stakeholders and decision-makers from Hyde-Addison School, the ANC, Jack Evans’s office, the Mayor’s office, Ellington leadership, DCPS, and the Department of General Services (DGS). We have also conducted a survey of Burleith (and Hillandale) residents, finding that among the 215 respondents 85% are against the proposal under all circumstances and another 7% possibly supportive only if several conditions (like an environmental impact assessment) are fulfilled. Next steps will include a conference call with stakeholders and hopefully the promised open community meeting. There is some urgency here because DGS wants to make a decision on such swing space by the end of February. With all of the delays, I suspect this will be pushed back. The BCA will communicate via email as soon as we hear anything.

There are two up-coming BCA events. First, on Sunday, February 7, from 4-6 pm, Linda Brooks and Ross Schipper will host the 5th annual Gløgg party at their house. As always, this will be a nice opportunity to chat with neighbors and the VIPs who have been invited. Don’t worry—the Superbowl starts at 6:25.  This year, instead of light beer, you can pregame with mulled wine!

Second, on February 25, from 7-9 pm, at the Washington International School, we will host a special community meeting. There are two issues on the agenda: 1) the proposal from Charlie Volkman (long-time homeowner on T Street) to rename Ellington Field The Western High School Stadium. There will also be a presentation from Desepe DeVargas, Ellington’s Head of School, as well as an opportunity for community comment. BCA members will then vote on whether we endorse this proposal or not; 2) the re-development of Burleith and possible historic designation. Kim Williams from the District Office of Historic Preservation will present, followed by Paul DonVito from Foxhall Village who will speak about what this has meant for his neighborhood in practice. Please note that the BCA has not taken a position on this issue and will not do so at this meeting. This is intended to start a discussion about the various options at our disposal. 

Finally, regarding airplane noisethere is movement on two fronts. The legal petition’s fate will be clearer after February 8 when a decision is expected on the FAA’s motion to dismiss the complaint. Politically, Mayor Bowser and other DC officials have expressed support for the communities’ efforts. Specifically, she has agreed to finance the estimated $400,000 cost of a sound study. This is also a clear signal to FAA decision-makers that DC is united behind the effort to restore our quality of life. Please consider donating to the DC Fair Skies Coalition. Donations are tax-deductible and are being processed by the Citizens Association of Georgetown: a downloadable donation form with mail-in check and credit card options along with an on-line payment option for payment via credit card or PayPal can be found at the DC Fair Skies Coalition webpage. Please be sure to indicate that you live in Burleith.

I hope to see all of you at our February events.