President's Message

By Eric Langenbacher,


Here we are in the middle of a typical Washington summer with heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. I hope that everyone has a chance to escape the city for a little while. I, personally, have just gotten back from a wonderful week in Detroit and will be off to Argentina to teach for two weeks in August.

It has been just over a month, but, wow, was that a great summer picnic on June 17. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who volunteered their time, but especially to Liane Jones and Kay Twomey for their countless efforts that made it probably the most extensive and well-attended picnic ever. It was great to see Mayor Bowser and Councilmember Evans and all the neighbors—new and old—who were able to make it.

Despite the summer lull, there have been some happenings. The BCA has been in constant communication with the ANC and other entities about the service changes proposed for the Union Station-Georgetown Circulator route as part of the 2017 Transit Development Plan. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to would like to keep the route as is (i.e., terminating at Whitehaven and 35th Streets rather than at Wisconsin and M). This will be even more important once the redevelopment of the old Holiday Inn on Wisconsin is completed. We have strongly expressed our position to maintain the current service to the relevant policy-makers and hope for the very best outcome for the neighborhood. A draft report that will incorporate the results of the online survey about service changes will be ready for public comment later this summer.  

Various construction projects have continued or will start soon. The old Fillmore School, now owned by the S&R Foundation, has been under renovation for the last several months. This project has necessitated limited access to the Tot Lot, but I hope that this has not inconvenienced young families. As alluded to above, the old Holiday Inn is another active site. It will be a while until the new condos and retail are completed. (I heard that a Trader Joe’s, but more recently a Harris Teeter, would go in there). This may have parking and traffic ramifications for Burleith, so we will monitor that. The plans for the new MedStar Georgetown University Hospital appear to have been approved by all relevant authorities and construction should start in early 2018.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is on schedule to be finished in August in time for the new school year. Progress has been visible in recent weeks, especially the beautiful new lawn on 35th Street. They have been hurrying to finish, especially the back wing, so there may be a little spillover of the work into the fall. Neighbors around the site have had many bad experiences with workers, parking, and blocked streets, but this should be over soon. I plan to draft a letter to city officials summarizing the complaints over the months and years of the project and pointing out how ineffective and unresponsive the city has been. We need to start thinking of a plan now to mitigate the parking impact once the school starts hosting performances in its new space. I am also apprehensive about the MedStar project. But, seeing as it is a private project, we can hope that the city will be more responsive to our issues.

I hope that everyone has had a chance to process the findings from community survey about options to manage change. There are obviously many diverse opinions about ways to move forward. But, almost all respondents want more information. The BCA will decide on ways to provide this information in the fall. Most certainly, we will need to have some community meetings on issues like customized zoning, economic impacts of various choices, etc. You will hear more from us in early September.

Finally, as per our bylaws, the BCA is already looking forward to 2018. We will have some openings on the Board and a nominating committee headed by Nan Bell will convene after August 1 to deal with these issues. As always, we are looking for neighbors to volunteer their time and expertise for the betterment of the neighborhood.

Enjoy the August lull before a busy autumn starts!