REPORT: How Green is the District’s Development Future?
July 29, 2010
How development projects at Poplar Point, Ft. Lincoln, McMillan Park and other sites around the District will shape our communities.
- Jim Dougherty, Conservation Chair, Sierra Club (DC Chapter)
- Tony Norman, Chairman, McMillan Park Committee
- Dottie Yunger, Anacostia Riverkeeper and Executive Director
- Chris Weiss, Director, DC Environmental Network
We had a good turnout of about 37 including 7 on the phone. Organizations represented included the Environmental Health Group, Global Green USA, Defenders of Potomac River Parkland, Urban Solar Solutions, Surfrider Foundation, Anacostia Watershed Society, Just Economics LLC, DC Statehood Green Party, Friends of the Earth, University of Maryland, Casey Trees, Sierra Club, McMillan Park Committee, Anacostia Riverkeeper, League of Women Voters, Restore Mass Avenue and Ecolocity.
We began our meeting with introductions. We then started the presentations. We then followed the presentations with a 30 minute open discussion. Below are summaries of the panelists’ presentations and key conclusions from the luncheon:
Jim Dougherty: Overview of development projects of the last 70 years. Special emphasis on Anacostia River development proposals. Some highlights:
- “I have a well polished rant of 70 years of environmentally unjust land use development along the Anacostia River.”
- Outlined numerous damaging development projects including Benning Road Power Plant, Kingman Island Theme Park (defeated), Barney Circle Highway Expansion (defeated), Grand Prix Race (defeated).
- Outlined potential green space issues that may come when new proposals for Poplar Point are made public.
- Outlined numerous historical plans that were much greener proposals then what is currently being discussed.
- Discussed Clark Realty plans and other proposals that hardly respected required green space.
- Explained how 70 of 110 acres of land at Poplar Point have to be green spaces.
- “Planning documents as a rule are not worth the paper they are printed on!”
- Point was made that developers and some in government seem to want to continue to throw inappropriate “stuff” at the Anacostia River.
Dottie Yunger: Overview of proposed development at Ft. Lincoln, Shops at Dakota Crossing. Some highlights:
- 44 acre project with retail development (Costco and other shops.)
- This development project had a history. This project was defeated some time ago when there was an inadequate mitigation plan to deal with wetland and forest loss. A few years later the project is back and the same issues are being revisited.
- A proposal for 30 acres of impervious surface on top of forests and wetlands.
- Not only removing the tree cover that is controlling stormwater but adding 30 acres of impervious surface.
- “There are always lots of different sides and perspectives. “
- The environmental community found out about a comment period at the last moment and scrambled to come up with comments to help protect wetlands and forests on this proposed development site.
- We did not have time to communicate with community. Community wants this project. We had to take a step back and say we support the development but not as proposed.
- Development plan that is completely contrary to stated policies.
- Mitigation plans are inadequate to protect trees and wetlands.
- We have to take community concerns seriously.
- “Show us the data that proves that protecting the environment is so expensive you have to go to Maryland.”
- We have submitted comments to Army Corps of Engineers and are waiting to see what their decision is.
- The developer has reached out to the environmental community to explain his project.
- “If we can just get to the point where all of the different agencies within the District are all addressing development in the same way. That in and of itself would be a huge milestone.”
Tony Norman: Overview of the McMillan Park Committee and campaign. Some highlights:
- “Fight has been going on since the 90′s its sort of like Star Wars series, one when the empire struck back and then the green Jedi returns and after we won that it became the Never Ending Story.”
- This site is part of the McMillan Plan.
- City has not gone forward to place McMillan Park on the National Registry.
- McMillan used to purify DC water without chemicals.
- Site is stable except on the southern end.
- Another thing that makes the site stable is the natural petrification.
- Being on the site is a very moving spiritual experience.
- Great views in every direction.
- We have gone through lawsuits and now we have a developer who never went up for an official public bid. The District seems to be trying to do everything in their power to protect the interests of this developer who does not have enough money for this project.
- The city is going to commit millions to this project.
- McMillan Park Committee (MPC) is made up of many groups and community members.
- MPC is okay with some housing on the site.
- The site can pay for itself. Many potential museum projects have been interested in the site but the city has not been interested.
- NPS has been willing to keep much of the site green.
- During the Williams Administration the DC government and community were interested in developing a land conservancy at McMillan. When the baseball stadium project was being developed McMillan was given to NCRC which opened the project up to private development again.
- The environmental community should work to develop a vision for new developments that protect our air, water and quality of life while at the same time promote growth in our central core and discourage sprawl in the region.
- During hard economic times we need to be watchful for hastily developed and sloppily planned projects that end up costing us more over time. Well designed, environmentally sustainable developments can create jobs, improve air and water quality as well as improve the quality of life of District neighborhoods.
LINKS & DOCUMENTS:
- Anacostia River Development Challenges
- Jim Dougherty, Sierra Club – Powerpoint Presentation
- Ft. Lincoln Shops at Dakota Crossing:
- McMillan Park: