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Mount Pleasant Mainstreet President Says Mt. P in Jeopardy of losing $242k for Streetscape Improvements

by Prince Of Petworth June 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm 39 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user ewilfong

Thanks to a reader for sending. While the following is from the Mount Pleasant Main Street, perspective I’d be happy to post the ANC perspective if they’d like to comment (I can be reached at princeofpetworth (at) gmail (dot) com). MPMS President, Adam C. Hoey, writes in the Mt. P Forum:

“In October 2009, MPMS was thrilled to learn that it won $242,000 for a Transportation Enhancement Grant (TEG) from DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) for minor streetscape improvements to Mount Pleasant St. and Lamont Park. The TEG grant program is run annually and funding is typically $2M city-wide for small-scale streetscape improvements that meet specific needs and criteria for the enhancement of thoroughfares. Mount Pleasant is in jeopardy of losing these funds and having them diverted by a possible resolution from ANC1D Commissioners Edwards and McKay. This would be tragic. To date, money has been allocated but the project has been delayed while DDOT waits for the ANC to comment. It seems absurd that a representative or resident of our community would be willing to squander and reject federal grant funds for basic community enhancement projects awarded to a local and respected non-profit organization through a city-wide competitive process.

To get more information or voice your concern beyond this forum, you may contact me directly at [email protected] You may also contact the ANC to express your opinion at [email protected] and/or Wilson Reynolds, Dir. of Constituent Services for Councilmember Graham’s office at [email protected]

Lots more detail after the jump.

A team of MPMS volunteers and board members including professionals in urban planning, architecture and economic development worked on the grant in July of 2009 and filed the application in August. Prior to filling out the grant application, our team solicited feedback from residents, business owners, ANC members, and neighborhood groups. It received letters of recommendation from the Mount Pleasant Business Association, Historic Mount Pleasant and the Latino Association of Mount Pleasant.. The priority goals of the application were to attract residents & patrons to the commercial strip, enhance neighborhood brand & identity, increase park usage and improve access and safety for pedestrian and bikes. While projects such as streetlight replacement are popular, such projects are highly expensive. The TEG is traditionally intended for smaller enhancement projects with awards by neighborhood typically ranging from $50-$300K. MPMS took a strategy for F2010 to apply for multiple small and well-justified projects instead of “shooting the moon” on one large one. The application addresses needs and improvements identified in several reports and public forums held over the last 5 years including the 2005 MPMS Design Charette, the 2008 DDOT Transportation Study and the 2009 RHI and Office of Planning Small Area Study

Specific projects include:

– Enhanced Lighting: Up-lighting in Lamont Park (solar or wired), seasonal string-lights across Mount Pleasant St in 2 locations and Cobra lights painted black. (Cobra painting is a gap solution until new streetlight replacement is possible.
– Black metal circular park benches with arms in Lamont Park around trees
– Pedestrian crosswalk from Heller’s Bakery & Pfeifer’s Hardware to Lamont Park,
– Bike sharrows (“share the road signs”)
– New trees planted along Mount Pleasant St. from Lamont St. to Park Rd.
– 2-3 permanent park tables along the outside of Lamont Park pending budget and DDOT approval, checker/chess or backgammon style like tables in DuPont Circle.

Following the grant award MPMS (VP – Alejandro Yepes and Design Chair – Ari Goldstein) formally met with the ANC in November 2009 and received a positive response with an agreed goal for more communication on project details and implementation and to collaborate more on the next TEG grant and future projects. MPMS provided a project summary in PowerPoint as well as the full application and budget. No specific suggestions were given at this meeting or following.

Ari and I met again with Commissioner Lepanto supporting the grant and Commissioner McKay in February 2010 to listen and address their concerns. MPMS and Commissioner Lepanto offered to review TEG items 1-by-1 and propose to update Lepanto’s resolution in favor with a line-item edits and consider contingencies for a vote at the March ANC meeting. Jack’s comments again were limited to the location of trees on Mount Pleasant St. and the sharrows (share the road signs) for bikes leading to Park Rd.

I met Jack in April for a friendly meeting discussing mutual community interests and the need for us to work as a team. I received no specific modifications or action items except for us to consider their Pedestrian Encounter Zone (PEZ) project. I met Jack most recently in May to solicit his and Gregg’s specific feedback and questions and much to my dismay, Jack demanded that MPMS provide written support of their PEZ project before working with us further.

Although the PEZ idea is out of scope of this discussion topic it should be noted that this project was first mentioned to MPMS in mid-Dec 2009 and early 2010 well after the TEG award and its plans were submitted to the ANC. Commissioners Edwards and McKay have aggressively attempted to replace the MPMS TEG with their own PEZ initiative over the last several months which has caused delays to the project. DDOT, its legal teams and MPMS have explained multiple times that federal grant rules prohibit major changes of scope or re-direction of funds post-award.[/u]

MPMS incidentally reviewed PEZ ideas with various neighborhood partners over the last several months and agreed with McKay and Edwards to help explore their ideas. The scope over the last few months has changed and the current resolution seems nebulous. Some elements have been controversial such as re-routing of busses and providing curbless sidewalks with periodic loss of parking on Mt. Pleasant St. from Lamont to Park, an issues which has been paramount to the MPBA sensitive to a huge loss of revenue since the Deauville fire. Overall, the PEZ project requires more definition and evaluation of impact, cost, implementation and maintenance among neighborhood stakeholders.
Neither McKay nor Edwards have demonstrated after pointed questions that this plan has been fully explored beyond just “ideas”.

Overall, based on the chronology of events and my past experience, I’m convinced now more than ever that urban planning and community development have nothing to do with Commissioner Edwards and McKay’s position to support our grant. Their position represents a general disdain for neighborhood organizations and our business association and a desire to dominate all things Mount Pleasant. I hope that our ANC1D commissioners do what’s right for Mount Pleasant and think independently and with fairness on every issue. I’ve repeated time and time again that although we all don’t all agree 100% of the time that community development should be a team sport not a competition. I hope at some point that MPMS can work together with an ANC that is more transparent, fair and supportive of local organizations as partners willing to share in the community development process.

Much thanks to everyone who has helped support MPMS over time and on this particular issue. MPMS is a transparent organization that actively participates and communicates ideas and issues with all community stakeholders. To get more information about MPMS, the TEG or voice your concern beyond this forum go to www.mtpmainstreet.org or you may contact me directly at [email address removed – log in to view] .You can also contact your ANC representative and Wilson Reynolds, Dir. of Constituent Services for Councilmember Graham’s office.

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