President's Message

By Eric Langenbacher,

2016 promises to generate quite a bit of drama, especially now that the electoral cycle has begun in earnest. “Snowzilla” is already a distant memory, and let’s hope that there will be little more inclement weather before spring truly arrives.

Just this last month, the BCA hosted several events. On Sunday, February 7, Linda Brooks and Ross Schipper hosted the 5th annual Gløgg party at their house. As always, a good time was had by all. Attendance seemed to increase, and we were delighted that other community leaders like our ANC representative Ed Solomon and Ward 2 councilmember Jack Evans attended.

On Saturday, February 20, Linda and Ross also held a small ceremony with approximately 20 attendees to formally unveil the last restored callbox at 37th and R (“Shorty”). This is an extra-special call box, with the commissioned bas-relief by local artist Jeanie Murphy. I would like to extend my gratitude to Linda and Ross for all that they have done for our neighborhood.

Finally, on Thursday, February 25, the BCA hosted a special meeting. After hearing presentations from Charlie Volkman who was advocating to change the name of Ellington Field back to its original name, the Western High School Stadium, and from Desepe DeVargas, Ellington’s head of school, the members present voted not to support a name change. Most voters did support an alternative commemorative effort by Western alumni such as a plaque or a mural. We also heard talks from Paul DonVito of Foxhall Village and Kim Williams from DC's Office of Historic Preservation about possible historical designation for Burleith. These are preliminary discussions only. Were neighbors supportive, the process would likely take several years and there is a cost involved in conducting an architectural survey of the community. You will all surely hear much more about this initiative in coming months.

As many of you have no doubt heard, 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 project 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), 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 local and city-wide stakeholders and decision-makers. 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 rather stringent conditions are fulfilled. Next steps should include the promised open community meeting once several possible sites are finalized. The BCA will communicate via email as soon as we hear anything. On a related note, Georgetown University has a donor who has offered to re-do the track and make other improvements to the space.

Regarding airplane noise, there is movement on two fronts. On February 8, the DC Fair Skies Coalition (of which the BCA is a founding member) filed a powerful brief contesting the FAA’s motion to dismiss the complaint. Politically, Mayor Bowser and other DC officials have expressed support for the communities’ efforts. Specifically, the mayor 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 making a tax-deductible donation to aid these efforts. 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 on the Citizens Association of Georgetown's website. Please be sure to indicate that you live in Burleith.

Much else is going on. New water pipes are being installed on 35th Street between Reservoir Road and Whitehaven Parkway and also on Whitehaven Parkway from 35th Street to Wisconsin Avenue. Until May, there will be parking restrictions and construction activity. We are also looking forward to the planned re-paving of 37th Street. Burleith will also likely get green infrastructure. Test borings will occur until the end of March in several alleys throughout the neighborhood. If the sites are deemed suitable, permeable pavement will be installed starting in 2018. Finally, the S&R Foundation, which bought the Fillmore/Corcoran site last year, will submit plans later this year for the redevelopment of this site into an arts incubator. Representatives have assured the BCA that the tot lot will be retained, perhaps even upgraded. The school building will be used as studio space, but housing for 10-12 artists-in-residence will likely be built on the current parking lot off 34th Street.