Saturday, March 10, 2018

DC TAXES: D-40, Schedule H Individual Tax Benefit Expires April 15, 2018 for 2014 [Don't loose $1,000]

                          $1,000 BENEFIT for 2014

Schedule H of the D-40 dc income tax form was greatly improved for tax year 2014 (filing year 2015).  Sadly, almost nobody knows this.  Spring (2018) is the last chance to collect this benefit for tax year 2014.  Forms for 2014 must be filed by the deadline for filing (either April 15, 2018 to be safe, or possibly April 17, 2018.  [For earlier link, see:

DC GOVERNMENT could be holding more than 1/4 $billion dollars ($250,000,000,000 +) that we are eligible to receive but have not applied for.


Am I eligible?
     a. Usually if you rented or owned and lived in your own home and paid DC  property taxes.  Click "print, fill out and mail" form for 2017 below, instructions are on last 2 pages.
     b. Check the age and income limits below at "Computing Your Property Tax [or rent payments] Credit Worksheet.  You will need Adjusted Gross Income from your Federal 1040 Form.  AGI is the amount on the bottom line of page 1.
     c.  Determine your Family Unit.  "Were you an individual or married couple [or domestic partner] ...residing in the same household."  "Unit also includes any persons...claimed as dependents on that tax return."
     d.  Standalone Filers  "If you are not required to file a DC individual income tax return because you are below the income tax filing threshold, you can file Schedule H as a standalone return.
Link for D-40X Amended Return:  [Form good for tax years 2014 - 2017]

What do I do next?
     e. Find your old tax year 2014 federal 1040 (2014 form) and DC D-40 (see links below) forms for filing year 2015.  If they are lost or you did not do them fill them out as accurately as you can and submit the D-40 and Schedule H.  Also submit any money owed after deducting your calculated Schedule H benefit by the April 15, 2018 deadline.  Procedures are similar for 2015, 2016, and 2017 but you have more time to act.
     f.  If you DID submit your tax forms for tax year 2014, but DID NOT do the Schedule H but were eligible, decide if you want to submit the Schedule H for 2014 on line, or by mail.  Select the 2014 Schedule H link below for "fill in" or "print, fill out and mail."
     g. Then fill out the D-40X Amended Return and submit with (f. above) before the 4/15/18 deadline.  If you don't have the computer skills, get someone to help you print the forms, then fill out by hand and mail in time to get postmarked by 4/15/18.

     h.  Mail to:  Office of Tax and Revenue, PO Box 96145, Washington, DC 20090-6145.
"If you are required to file a DC income tax return, attach Schedule H to your DC income tax return."  Address is good for "standalone" Schedule H as well.

     i.  Don't stop now, go to work on 2015, 2016, and 2017 Schedule H benefits for which you are eligible.  Especially if you have property taxes you could get back as much as $4,025 altogether.

     j.  Tell/show your friends and neighbors who might be eligible before it is too late.  [Amended return D-40X]
"Generally, an amended return may be filed any time within 3 years from the date when the original return was due."  In 2014, due April 15, 2015

Original filing of the D-40 and Schedule H for tax year 2014 must be filed on-line (fill-in) or postmarked (by mail) no later that April 15, 2018.  Otherwise you loose the CREDIT forever.  There is more time to file for the tax year 2015, 1016, and 2017.


    "This credit may not be claimed if you live in a property owned by a government, a house of worship or a nonprofit organization."
    " The credit equals a percentage of the property taxes paid or the portion of the rent paid that is equivalent to property taxes (20% of rent paid) in excess of the applicable percentage of the total federal adjusted gross income of the tax filing unit. The maximum credit amount is $1000."  For tax year 2017 it is increased to $1025.
     If you are under age 70 and the Federal AGI of your tax filing unit is: $0 - $24,999, use the percentage amount of property tax that exceeds 3.0% of the adjusted gross income of the tax filing unit.     
     For $25,000 - $40,000, use the percentage amount of property tax that exceeds 4.0% of the adjusted gross income of the tax filing unit.  For tax year 2016 & 2017, $40,000 has been increased to $50,000.
     If you are age 70 or older and the Federal AGI of your tax filing unit is: $0 - $60,000, use the amount of property tax that exceeds 3.0% of the adjusted gross income of the tax filing unit.

1. Enter federal AGI of tax filing unit (Line 1, Section A, Schedule H or Line 8, Section B, Schedule H).
1. __________________________

2. Enter property taxes paid in 2014 or 20% of rent paid in 2014.
2. __________________________

3. Multiply Line 1 by the applicable percentage (.03 or .04).
3. __________________________

4. Balance (Subtract Line 3 from Line 2).
4. __________________________

5. Property Tax Credit Limit.
5. _______$1000.00___________

6. Enter the smaller of Line 4 or Line 5 here on Line 6 and on Line 3 of Schedule H, Section A for credit based on rent paid, or Line 9 of Schedule H, Section B for credit based on property tax paid. Round to the nearest whole dollar.
6. _________________________

The exact line number to use when filling out the Schedule H will vary slightly depending on whether you are filling out Schedule H for 2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017.  These refer to the years when money was actually earned or benefited.  And are normally filed the following April.  There is a 3 year time allowed to file an Amended Return.

If you sent an FR-127 Extension of Time to File, you can submit the Schedule H  when you file the D-40. Instructions are unclear as to whether you should submit the Schedule H with the FR-127 or only with the final tax submission. This should be fixed. The Schedule H Instructions say it is due by April 15, 2015 [or later years. The FR-127 only says to submit full payment of any taxes due by April 15, 2015 [or later years.  [OTR told me submit Schedule H with the D-40, NOT with the FR-127.  Even if you don't have enough income to file the D-40, you still may be eligible if you pay rent or property taxe   [2016 Schedule H]

Here are links for the print, fill out and mail versions of Schedule H   [2014 Schedule H]

If there are 3 or fewer people in your Tax Filing Unit, then you only need print pages 1, 2, and perhaps 5 (the Computation Worksheet).

Here is the link for the D-40X Amended Individual Income Tax Return.

Good luck, and please pass this information on to as many of your friends, neighbors, and lower and middle class earners that it could benefit.

The DC government has given some people difficulties when they tried to claim the Schedule H benefit.  Contact your Councilmember for help, and leave a comment with information below.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Trump, Donald: Surviving the Trump Year(s?) McMillan Park Fallout & Emergency Shelter

Especially the last half on disaster preparedness.

Those who follow my blog and care about the issues covered here have already been upset by many of President Trump's actions.  For example appointing major oil executive, Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State (actually not the worst of his picks); former Texas governor, Rick Perry, as Secretary of Energy; or an avowed anti environment and climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  This is just a sampling, but the rest can be seen at this site which includes links to their former jobs and connections.

[4/11/18]  As if worries about North Korea are not enough, now the Russians are talking civil defense preparations for their people.  We have no idea what Trump may do regarding the reported Chlorine attack in Syria, but given the Russian presence there it is very worrisome.  What preparations, if any have our own city and national governments taken???

[1/13/18]  Terror strikes the hearts of Hawaiians as mistaken missile warning causes panic in the streets.  Escalating war talk by North Korea  is taken very seriously in Hawaii.  What are our leaders doing about warnings in DC?  This Washington Post article has over 700 comments.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of Trump's reigning style is his wild use of "tweets" to set forth new policies or describe new plans.  Others have noted that during his three installment tweets on his new anti transgender military service "directive" there was a nine minute gap between the first and the second tweet.  The first tweet stated:  "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......"  One can imagine military men sitting in rapt attention wondering if he would declare war on North Korea, followed by sighs of partial relief as he continued:  "....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military", etc.  Capped by the third tweet complaining about the burden of tremendous medical costs, etc.

The "9 minute gap" link also points out that transgender health care would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year, about 0.1% of active military medical spending.  Subsequently it has been shown surgery and medical treatment costs for transition and maintenance are considerably less than the cost of erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment and medication.  This Army Times article reports that in 2014 the Defense Health Agency spent $84.2 million on ED medication for active-duty troops, eligible family members and retirees.  In addition are the 1.18 million ED prescriptions since 2014 and the total cost of $294 million for ED meds since 2011.  So, when is Trump going to outlaw paying for Viagra by the military???

As if what we have seen already isn't bad enough, now our Dear President is trading threats of nuclear holocaust with North Korea's equally belligerent Dear Leader.  Trump warns the North to fear "fire and fury like the world has never seen."  I guess "shock and awe" in Iraq was no big deal, except the consequence was a 9 year war.  Nor was the terrible slaughter and destruction of the static trenches of the Western Front in WW1. Now the North's military has claimed planning for an attack on Guam where we have military bases.  Do they believe the only way to top those horrors is to go nuclear?  Unfortunately both men love political theater and spectacle.

[11/30//17 -  North Korea has now successfully launched a missile which US Defense Secretary James Mattis says had the ability to hit "everywhere in the world."  David Wright, Union of Concerned Scientists, says such a missile could "reach...any part of the continental US," including Washington, DC, although it's range would be affected by weight of it's payload.  Additional photo and video analysis indicates that the missile test represents an even greater advance in capabilities than analysts first thought.  Earlier in May, estimates were given regarding how long it would take for a NORK missile to reach the US.  The west coast was estimated at at less than 30 minutes.  New York and DC were estimated to have between 30 and 40 minutes.  President Trump would have about 10 minutes to make a strike decision.

[10/16/17] - The situation between President Trump and North Korea, if anything, has heated up even more as the NK deputy ambassador to the UN says "War May Break Out Any Moment."  He further declared that "The entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range..."  While these threats are somewhat routine for that government, given equally inflammatory rhetoric by our President it is seriously worrisome.

[9/3/17] - North Korea detonated a powerful explosive device this weekend, which many believe is a hydrogen bomb with 10 times the power of the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima.  Then to add to the excitement, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had a few choice words.  He warned the escalating NK crisis could cause a "planetary catastrophe" and huge loss of life, further describing US proposals for further sanction on NK as "useless".  Putin says, "Ramping up military ysteria in such conditions is senseless; it's a dead end."  Are either Trump or North Korea paying attention???

This past week (before 8/18/17) we were even informed that North Korea's missiles might now reach as far as Boston and New York, which means DC could also become a target.  They feel that Andersen Air Force Base on Guam could serve as the base for a potential US invasion.  Thus they are developing plans to neutralize the island.  Guam has been the target of their threats for some time now, but the language and official sources of these threats is becoming of greater concern.  NORK's long vowed threat to reduce Seoul to a "sea of fire" adds additional spice to the rhetoric.

The one good result of all the saber rattling is that China is finally expressing interest in dialing down this escalation.  They have just announced trade sanctions against North Korea in reaction to the most recent threats against the US.  These are reported to restrict the export of coal, iron ore, gold, titanium, and rare earth metals to China, their biggest client.  On paper this looks good, but China fears illegal immigration just as much as we are troubled by Mexican border illegal immigration.  In fact China has been a busy wall builder.  A 2007 study suggested as many as 3 million of the North's 23 million population might flood China if the North's government suffers a major collapse.

Meanwhile, Guam is busy working on their problem based on the most recent North Korean threats to direct "enveloping fire" in their direction.  This article: details some of their recommendations.  Guam Homeland Security has released a fact sheet on preparedness for an "imminent missile threat."  It advises the 160,000 people who live there to do the following:
     *  Don't look at the flash or fireball--it can blind you.
     *  Take shelter as soon as you can.  Radioactive fallout can be carried by wind for miles.
     *  Remove your clothing to keep radioactive material from spreading.
     *  Shower, or if you can't, use a wipe or wet cloth to get rid of radioactive material.

Now, thanks to two seriously angry, ego driven leaders, Washington, DC faces a similar problem.  And the question is: WHAT HAVE OUR CITY LEADERS DONE TO PREPARE???

I don't yet have the answer to that question.  Personally, I am not convinced that even if North Korea launched a missile toward DC, that it would come all that close, but I can easily imagine a miss that would create huge clouds of radioactive dust.  What do we have left of our old cold war bomb shelters and supply caches to allow staying sheltered for 4 or more days of fallout.  Last November, the Washington City Paper answered that question in very pessimistic terms.

While the original fallout shelter planning and public mania was directed toward fears of very large Soviet nuclear bombs, today's threat is somewhat different.  After 9/11's terror attacks considerable worry was directed at the danger of dirty nuke explosions in downtown areas.  Not necessarily atom or hydrogen bombs, but even conventional explosives packed with radioactive materials.  Also NORK missiles would have a smaller payload, and could easily land miles from our city.

The most important key to survival is good protection from radiation and radioactive fallout.  The consensus is that 3 feet of soil provides good radiation protection.  This article answers many questions about bomb/radiation shelters and lists things to do to survive.  In a fallout situation staying underground a minimum of 4 days is recommended, and even up to two weeks depending on how powerful and nearby was the blast.  I was very interested to learn that McMillan Park has 3 feet of soil above it's 20 acres of underground filtration galleries.

In the 60's, my aunt and uncle in Gettysburg were proudly showing us their new well-equipped fallout shelter.  After admiring all the little details and conveniences, my Korean War veteran husband asked, "Where do you keep your gun?"  They responded, "We don't have one." "So, how do you expect to keep all this food and medicine," my husband exclaimed.  No answer, befuddled looks.  On the way home, hubby said, "Well, if worse comes to worse, we'll pack all our food and my firearms, and head fast for Gettysburg."

In addition to the Guam recommendations above, I would add:
     *  Imagine needs if there is no electricity, running water, heating--candles, batteries, blankets.
     *  Keep emergency box(s)--bags with a sealed changes of clothes, canned and dried food, several gallons water per person, flashlight, radio, wet-naps, among other things.
     *  Agree on what well sheltered place to reunite with loved ones, bring box(s).
     *  If sheltering at home choose lowest, most central site.  Provide food, water, bedding, medicine, human waste containers, and other essentials in or next to this space.  Quick trips to adjoining space to bring in essentials won't add much radiation.
     *  For possible underground shelter in yard, this site has much info.
     *  To avoid breathing radioactive ash use face mask/water moistened bandanna.
     *  Iodine and/or fresh chlorine bleach to kill germs and purify water.

Given the various kinds of emergencies we may face including flood, storm, explosions, etc. This list for fallout shelters also provides much other emergency situation information.  One of the important things to have is iodine pills to protect the thyroid from radiation, or liquid iodine which can also be used on cuts to kill germs. When traveling in Central America, a former Peace Corp volunteer told me to put a drop of liquid iodine in a glass of water, let it sit a half hour then drink.  We did this the rest of our trip and my husband and I never got food poisoning once.

After Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people suffered from lack of safe water.  They could have filtered dirty water through cloth, and when clear used the above method to purify with a drop of iodine per glass.  Also effective is fresh chlorine bleach or for long term emergency supply storage, calcium hypochlorite.  This link has detailed instructions.  Calcium hypochlorite is especially good for large shelter use.  Potential public shelters should keep a supply on hand.

Hurricane Katrina was a major citywide disaster with a central emergency meeting point.  The New Orleans Superdome eventually held 30,000 people for five unsupplied days.  This nightmare is well described by manager, Doug Thornton, who was there the whole 5 days with his wife Denise.  Their subsequent struggles to bring back New Orleans and how it almost destroyed their marriage is movingly  documented by Denise Thornton.

He devoted ALL his energy to rebuilding this essential infrastructure symbol for their city's home team.  She felt the important need was to bring back the people and rebuild community.  Eventually they agreed both kinds of work were essential.  Nevertheless the huge noisy gathering to celebrate the NO Saints opening game a year later in a rebuilt clean-smelling Superdome was more than she could bear.  She left, but her single handed effort to establish communication had brought the people back.

     One of the great dangers of all gentrification all the time is our loss of the many lower income people who work daily in restaurants, hotels, and hospitals.  Equally problematic is the fact that teachers, police and firemen can no longer afford to buy in DC.  This was brought home to many last year when a record winter storm stranded many workers in the city.  Businesses scrambled to house their workers so their businesses could stay open or because Metro had been forced to close.  Meanwhile, ordinary people enjoyed nearly empty roads and snow fun, or struggled to clean unplowed alleys and side streets.  This link has over 400 comments.

Last summer (2016) while running At Large for DC Council, I was very concerned to find some way to save McMillan Park for all our DC residents.  I heard our Mayor was planning to sell it to a NO-BID developer for $17 million when it's appraisable worth is at least $100 million.  I realized we pro-park people would need to come up with a plan having economic benefit for DC's tax structure.  My detailed illustrated plan (shown elsewhere at this blog) explains how parts of the underground space could be used for high end wine cellars, and other economically useful and entertaining businesses.

Another idea by the McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture (MCSA) proposes growing hydroponic vegetables and fish culture.  There is no need for poorer people in DC to suffer the deprivation of local food deserts when so much could be grown and distributed at relatively low costs.  In addition, underground production could provide some of the needs of the restaurants and food related businesses described in my blog post.

This 8+ minute video shows how fish is being farmed indoors in Baltimore at Univ. of MD's Inst. of Marine & Environmental Technology.  They are growing salt water fish which is harder than producing fresh water fish like tilapia.  MCSA's combined system recirculating water between fish tank and hydroponic vegetation is highly efficient.  Fish waste feeds the plants and the plants clean the water.  Very little water is wasted.  McMillan's underground space helps regulate proper temperatures.

I have asked others about the economic potential for growing fish and plants.  One estimate was growing 50 metric tons of fish per month per well designed acre.  If only $1 a pound were received, that would be around $1.32million per year, around $4million for 3 acres.  Given the prices suggested here, $10million or more might be possible. Today Harris Teeter was selling tilapia for 5.95 a pound.  Since tiers of plant growing racks could be constructed above the fish tanks, that is another significant amount that could be earned.

The two main styles of combining fish and plants are called Media Bed Systems and Raft Bed Systems.  This link has a 7 minute video and 2 dozen linked articles to the right as well as other useful videos after the first one ends.  Aquaponics is a young technology, and there is much creative experimentation going on.  This view of "Vertical Farming/Vertical Gardens" most resembles a likely configuration for McMillan underground.  Perhaps the most valuable contribution for DC would be  the opportunity to hire young people and help them learn STEM subjects and good incomes.

There could still be plenty of space available for other uses such as emergency shelter for people stranded in the city by another snowmageddon or as a fallout shelter should President Trump and North Korea do their worst.  Existing food supplies from ongoing food related businesses would supplement emergency supplies.  For more conventional emergencies like severe snow or storms, or the needs of employees who work very early or late shifts, basic bunk bed dormitories and bathrooms could be set up with lockers.  Some would be used regularly by workers, and others as emergency reserve units.

When asked how soon North Korea might have missiles able to reach the US, the answer was probably months, not years.  This detailed article with maps shows threats to us and our allies.  Washington, DC (Pentagon) is on the North's official target map.  As to how soon east coast cities like DC, NY or Boston could be targeted, five years was one suggestion.  If true, WE HAVE TIME TO PREPARE, but we should not be wasting time, and we certainly should not destroy our biggest and best potential fallout shelter--McMILLAN PARK's 20 acres, underground.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

McMillan Park - A Finer Vision for Pro-People Development & Major Court Decision

I felt deep concern over DC's plans to help destroy the only pre-WWII park open to African Americans.  The NO-Bid developer our taxes have subsidized for the past 7 years want to destroy most of the 20+ acres underground and build an inner city Tysons Corner above.  I concluded that politicians must have received a lot of financial support to do something so foolish, but that one solution is to interest a different group of developers in making use of all this underground space scheduled for destruction.  Fortunately the DC Court of Appeals has ruled unanimously that alternative designs must be considered.  [See the letter to Friends of McMillan Park posted in this article.]

The Administration should want to receive long term benefits of taxes generated by employing people, sales and use fees, and long leases as they are doing with the Old Post Office Building (Trump Hotel) for 60 years.  Instead the MAYOR intends to sell OUR park to VMP for $17million when it is valued at $100million.  Surely we could find a better way to use this space that would open it to all DC residents and visitors, and also generate income to the city.

Then I saw the picture reproduced on page 3 below in the Sept. 2001 Wine Enthusiast Magazine whose lead article was "Ultimate Wine Cellar Dining".  The ceiling of that restaurant looked almost identical to the ceiling of McMillan's underground space.  Bingo, a new idea was born and I prepared the document below.  Unfortunately it did not transfer with clarity from Libre Office, so I will write out what is hard to see for your easier reading.  Please add your Comments for ideas that are not listed here.


     For seven years we in DC have paid $1million a year to subsidize a NO-BID developer named Vision McMillan Park (VMP) to plan destruction of this historic site to turn it into another Tyson's Corner.  Community action, pleading to our DC Council and other efforts have failed to stop this juggernaut.  Our prepaid DC government wants development at all cost, so we now need to consider better development that will provide the tax revenues they demand.  [This was written before the Court ruled unanimously on our case and said we must come up with something better than VMP's plan.]
     Since one strong argument against the current plan is that the intersection of North Capitol St. and Michigan Ave. is already a rush hour traffic nightmare, a better plan should focus on off peak hours.  The plan suggested here responds to those concerns.  Why not have Wolf Trap and Glen Echo type events here?  To enhance them and provide added revenue, why not have a mix of high and lower end restaurants, wine cellars and rathskellers in the underground spaces with their 15 foot ceilings.  DC already has thriving custom brewery businesses, and Virginia and Maryland can offer more and fine vintages from wineries.
     Custom foods like mushrooms, culinary herbs, and other specialties could be grown underground to supply them, and ceilings painted in spectacular art can attract visitors and paying customers while providing a venue for our artists.

Page 2:  Two restaurants in the article, The Westin Salishan in Oregon, and the Sardine Factory in Monterey, California, are described here in detail.  The top and bottom of the page reads:
     DC must have a score of restauranteurs, custom brewery owners and others who would be excited by this concept.  Now we must go out and find them, so they can add their voices to the fight to keep McMillan Park close to its original form and for uses that will be unique and attractive to visitors and residents.
     Let us contact and encourage such bold entrepreneurs to take part in creating a real vision for McMillan Park that will not resemble Tyson's Corner and its nightmare traffic and inhuman scale, a vision that very few in DC would desire.

Page 3:  Under this photo of the Federalist Restaurant/XV Beacon Hotel, Boston, MA, I wrote:
     This photo, which so resembles what could be built in McMillan's underground spaces, inspired this "Finer Vision."  G. Lee Aikin (DCSGP), December 2016.

Page 4:  Here is one view of the 20+ acres of underground space that could be developed without harm to the above ground park.  The VMP plan is to destroy most of it.  The ceilings are 15' high and the distance between columns is about 22'.  There is a total of nearly 1,000,000 square feet just waiting for imaginative use.  Below that photo are suggested uses for both below and above ground.  I will list them under page 4 and will be adding to them as new comments and ideas are suggested or found.

List of potential uses for the 20+ acres of underground space with 15' ceilings:
    * Unique wine cellar and rathskeller type dining and wining establishments
    * Brew pubs and possible small brewing capabilities
    * Underground farming of specialty herbs,mushroom, other foods for above businesses 
    * Underground fish culture [can provide nutrients for vegetable growth]
    * Ceiling space and columns used for murals and public art (our own Sistine Chapel?)
    * Other stores, social, and artistic spaces, as well as open area for public activities
    * You supply your ideas:  Place them as Comments at bottom of this blog post.

Above ground ideas not envisioned by the so-called VMP "Visionaries":
    * Wolf Trap, Glen Echo and Torpedo Factory type events and activities
    * Community gardens, including ones for busing in seniors and people from Wards 7 & 8
    * Solar installations to power below and above ground needs.
    * A jogging track and other small group sports spaces
    * You supply your ideas:  Place them as Comments at bottom of this blog post.

Major activities should be oriented to non rush hour times to avoid the terrible gridlock VMP's plan will invariably cause at this already difficult intersection.

A number of interesting McMillan photos are included in an article printed in this magazine for the Architectural profession.

The preceding material is oriented toward the concept of wining and dining establishments.  I developed this idea in the summer of 2016 while running for political office.  The rigorous exercise of fundraising made me aware of how important it is to have competing economic interests involved in any major DC project.  G. Lee Aikin, DCSGP

    We now continue with the complementary concept of providing food and gourmet specialties for such establishments and the general public.  The McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture (MCSA) is an unincorporated non profit organization under the laws of Washington, DC, and members are not developers.  This organization was formed in 2013 to provide a competing vision compared to the high-density development plans under consideration at that time.
    As active supporters of a people's park, MCSA testified and provided technical input to the DC Zoning Commission's multiple hearings and finally was part of the legal proceedings that reversed the PUD and the city's plans to destroy the park.  The DC Court of Appeals' Dec. 2016 decision determined that the high-density plans proposed by the DC government and the developers should be vacated and better ideas sought.
    The court specifically stated the VMP plan did not reach a level of “Special Merit,” required to destroy the historic park and the 25 acres of green space. This unanimous ruling by a distinguished panel of DC Appeals Court Judges Vacates and Remands decisions of both the City’s Office of Planning, and The Mayor’s Agent, effectively nullifying the DC Zoning Commission’s PUD (ZC -13 and ZC-14) and the entire plan put forward by VMP (Vision McMillan Partners) and the DC government. As of today, We are back to ground Zero.

To move forward, MCSA proposes a Project Theme: Food - The Soul of the City.  Our city is noted for it's elegant restaurants and the spread of ethnic cuisine, all fueled by the diverse, multi-cultural plurality of America's Capital City.  Contrast this with the the dismal array of food deserts that exist in many of our communities and neighborhoods.  MCSA sees an unprecedented opportunity to apply green tech solutions to real urban problems.  We can do this by designing a functional park that applies green technology to local food production, trains workers for real jobs with a future, engages returned citizens, teaches nutrition and STEM curricula to our children, and serves as a national demonstration project that draws tourists and urban planners from across the USA as well as from other countries.

Recent advances in urban green technology create exciting potential to grow literally tons of wholesome green food, along with high quality protein from fish and seafood, efficiently and effectively in the thermally stable underground spaces of McMillan Park.  This combined system is called aquaponics.  
    We see the opportunity to create an exciting combination of the aesthetic and the practical in a single functional space. Expanding upon the food theme, this existing space is perfect for the growing trend favoring small boutique artisanal restaurants that are unique and are creating dishes with local food. Wineries, local brewing, and artisanal cheeses can all be included in a permanent and tasteful concept design and produced underground as well.
    The loss of Green Space is a major issue for DC. Functional green space is an asset to the city and the community. It is not necessary to pave over every inch of land within our city in order to achieve a balanced budget. Historically green space is known to be a major part of a city's infrastructure and a financial asset. Moreover, restaurants can provide significant municipal revenues through long term leases, food and entertainment fees, taxes on business profits, and the individual income taxes of DC resident employees.
    We are quickly erasing all green space throughout the city on behalf of developers, and particularly in Ward 5.  Compared with the rest of the city, Ward 5 is virtually without decent parks.  The feeble attempt to placate citizen opposition with their laughable mini-park highlights the growth machine's need to exploit maximum density development.  Furthermore as a large park space that belongs to DC, it should become our Central Park, which the federally owned Mall and Rock Creek Park can never be.
    Rather than support the citizens, our DC government is both complicit and compliant with this high density philosophy.  There have been multiple attempts to obliterate McMillan Park and turn it into an extension of tasteless urban sprawl.  The People have rejected them all, yet our DC government continues on their short-sighted path, ignoring the will of the people and common sense.
    Now, that must change.  While much of the Park's topography has been erased by years of neglect, the Park's location and proximity to Bloomingdale and other thriving areas of the city make it a potential magnet for young families, children, and young people seeking recreational opportunities and open space in the heart of a major urban environment.

MCSA's Adaptable Reuse Plan seeks to address those needs.
    The great Olmsted himself envisioned and designed it as a "People's Park," to be open and accessible, not the exclusive province of the affluent and the privileged.  And given the theme and content of our proposals--for Tourists.
    To be clear, please understand we are NOT considering the surface of the park in this document.  We are addressing the 20 acres (almost 900,000 square feet) of space 3 feet below the green surface of the park.  The term "caverns" comes to mind, although in fact the space is a cistern, now drained and dry, ready for adaptable reuse.  A related plan that includes the park surface will be prepared subsequently when we have a clearer picture of how legal issues raised by Federal covenants and regulations on historical site modification are resolved.   
    In order to achieve the dual  goals of creating a world-class people's park, and an economically  viable alternative to mindless overbuilding and gentrification, MCSA has decided to focus on the Park's hidden asset.  These "Caverns at McMillan" are unseen by Motorists fighting traffic and dodging Emergency Vehicles on North Capitol St. and Michigan Ave. during rush hours--a problem to be made far worse by overbuilding daytime offices and large numbers of market rate dwelling units with residents mostly working 9 to 5 schedules.
    Three feet below grade and covering 20 acres there lies a linked world of haunting subterranean "caverns" designed by master masons of the early 1900's.  The vaulted ceilings stand from 15' to 20' high and are marked with the parallel board lines of poured concrete, aged with a mellow gold patina, and evocative of ancient wine cellars and Underground Atlanta.  That 12 acre place was developed from space created when early railroad tracks were roofed over.  It rovides an instructive example of Adaptive Reuse of urban industrial space, although lack of diverse public offerings has hampered it's potential.  We should do this better with our more diverse concept.
    For 80 years these cisterns provided fresh drinking water to Presidents and common residents, black and white together.  They are beautiful and are an intrinsic asset of McMillan Park, and should be used creatively and not destroyed for greed and short-sighted planning goals.

G. Lee Aikin, DC Statehood Green Party (DCSGP) (
(My photos are from Wine Enthusiast Magazine,Sept. 2001)
Jerome Peloquin, McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture (MCSA)
1231 Randolph St., NE, Washington, DC 20017, (410) 227-0498

Additional material on aquaponics from G. Lee Aikin
This 8+ minute video shows how fish is being farmed indoors in Baltimore at Univ. of MD's Inst. of Marine & Environmental Technology.  They are growing salt water fish which is harder than producing fresh water fish like tilapia.  MCSA's combined system recirculating water between fish tank and hydroponic vegetation is highly efficient.  Fish waste feeds the plants and the plants clean the water.  Very little water is wasted.  McMillan's underground space helps regulate proper temperatures.

I have asked others about the economic potential for growing fish and plants.  One estimate was growing 50 metric tons of fish per month per well designed acre.  If only $1 a pound were received, that would be around $1.32million per year, around $4million for 3 acres.  Given the prices suggested here, $10million or more might be possible. Today Harris Teeter was selling tilapia for 5.95 a pound.  Since tiers of plant growing racks could be constructed above the fish tanks, that is another significant amount that could be earned.

The two main styles of combining fish and plants are called Media Bed Systems and Raft Bed Systems.  This link has a 7 minute video and 2 dozen linked articles to the right as well as other useful videos after the first one ends.  Aquaponics is a young technology, and there is much creative experimentation going on.  This view of "Vertical Farming/Vertical Gardens" most resembles a likely configuration for McMillan underground.  Perhaps the most valuable contribution for DC would be  the opportunity to hire young people and help them learn STEM subjects and good incomes.

There could still be plenty of space available for other uses such as emergency shelter for people stranded in the city by another snowmageddon or as a fallout shelter should President Trump and North Korea do their worst.  Existing food supplies from ongoing food related businesses would supplement emergency supplies.  For more conventional emergencies like severe snow or storms, or the needs of employees who work very early or late shifts, basic bunk bed dormitories and bathrooms could be set up with lockers.  Some would be used regularly by workers, and others as emergency reserve units.

If you wish to contact Council members and other key city officials to urge support of these and other ideas to be developed, below is a list of email addresses, mostly of Council members and their staff assistants:
     Email:  *,, 
*, Ward 1
*,, Ward 2
*, Ward 3
*, Ward 4
* (McMillan Park is in his Ward 5),
*, Ward 6
*,, Ward 7
*,, Ward 8
*, At Large
*, At Large
*, At Large
*, At Large
* (Council Chair), 
* (Attorney General), and 
     Please invite your friends to do the same.
Why was Mayor Bowser having a "groundbreaking" on Dec. 7, 2016?  [The following day, Dec. 8, the DC Court of Appeals said she and the developers could NOT do what they wanted.  Specifically they could not violate Covenants DC had signed with the Federal Dept. of the Interior.]  Suggested reasons by Friends of McMillan Park:

We learned late last week without notice that Mayor Bowser will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the city's planned development of the McMillan site on Wednesday, December 7th at 11am (see announcement here).  [Surprise:  next day the Appeals Court decided in our favor!]  

So what's up with that?  The D.C. Court of Appeals has not yet handed down a decision on the case, and no building/demolition permits have been issued for the site, right? 
 That's correct.  The Friends of McMillan Park is the lead plaintiff in that challenge of the D.C. zoning and historic preservation decisions enabling the project, and we'd know right away if the court had handed down a decision.  It hasn't.  We think the decision may come in January 2017.  

So why is the Mayor doing this?  DMPED and the Office of the Mayor are not exactly on speaking terms with the Friends of McMillan Park, so they haven't confided in us what's behind all this.  But we suspect that what motivates the permit applications and this groundbreaking event is the fact that a number of key entitlements that the city awarded to enable the project are about to expire.  The zoning order that approved the first stage Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the site in November, 2014 (zoning order in case 13-14) and the land disposition and surplussing legislation from the D.C. Council dated December 2014, and perhaps other subsidiary documents, expire after two years from issuance, which is right about now.  So, we presume, these actions -- groundbreaking and permit application -- are formal gestures sufficient to make sure these entitlements don't expire.  Looking at this from the city's point of view, if the court were to rule in the city's favor (which we of course do not want nor expect), but the PUD and other key entitlements had expired, the city would have to redo all the expired entitlements supporting the project.  If you'd like to see the permits the city has applied for, visit the DCRA permits page and look for 2940 North Capitol Street, NW, the mythical address of this yet-unbuilt project. For those of you anxious to have a look tonight, DCRA has taken down the page for maintenance but it should be back up Monday. 

So if that's the case, that this is not actually the beginning of demolition/construction on the project, why didn't DMPED and the Mayor say so in the event announcement?We wish we knew. The Washington Business Journal immediately picked up on the fact that this matter is not even out of court yet.  The city's announcement did not say that construction would begin right away, but it led a lot of people to assume that. The city has not been too open or transparent in this process, so at least they're consistent.   Other than extending the life of the entitlements and sowing widespread confusion, the city is doing nothing of substance with this groundbreaking ceremony that we know of.  Have a good time, RSVP for the event, and please extend to her honor the Mayor continued assurances of our highest consideration. 

Thank you for your continued interest and support, 

John Salatti, Kirby Vining, and Hugh Youngblood
Board of Directors, Friends of McMillan Park, Inc. 

----------------------- Links supplied by Kirby's 12/17/16 email:

Tour the magical spaces of McMillan Park in this lovely video in the PBS Digital Library. Please consider donating to our legal fund to stop the city’s plans to demolish our park.

District investigative journalist Jeffrey Anderson has done an   authoritative series of articles on many aspects of McMillan for the Capitol Community News:
See also the following from Street Sense and the New York Times:

The InTowner also has a wonderful series of articles: 

Detailed comments on the Court victory - same day as above list of links:

The Court of Appeals Ruled in Our Favor, but the War Goes On 

Dear Friend of McMillan Park, 

            We are still euphoric over the D.C. Court of Appeals' decision in our favor, issued just one week ago. That court decision frankly was more favorable to our side than we had dreamed. This court decision is the first time that there has been any official look at the city's plans outside of the Wilson Building. With the notable exception of the D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson, everyone else in the Wilson Building apparently sees no problem with the proposed development and thinks it's a great idea. 

This court decision vacates (cancels or nullifies, in ordinary language) the District's one zoning and two preservation orders that enable the proposed development.  We were hoping that the court would at least remand this case back to the city to revise specified aspects of the plan, so cancellation of the three entitlements is more than we'd hoped for. Without those three orders, nothing can be done on the site at this time.  Not legally, anyway. The court order obligates the District to rethink this whole project, and it actually recommended that something else entirely might be considered.  Although those words sound rather innocuous, this is pretty strong language in a court order. The court stated that all the things the city wants to do could be justified, but they have not been justified, and was so firm in that position that it cancelled the three orders.  

             We are not so naive as to think that the District is not right now looking closely at that order and trying to figure a way to push the project forward anyway. The Mayor has said as much in the few government statements her office has made. But this is a game changer, and just tweaking some details of the existing plans aren't sufficient. Alternative designs are REQUIRED, both by the District's preservation law and specific mention of that in the court decision. The court found the District's plans not in compliance with its own rules and regulations.  
              So we are gearing up for another fight.  But we don't yet know what the District plans to do, or how, or when.  Most likely the District will hold new hearings to try to justify some modified form of its plans. The District government would like to characterize us as interfering.  On the contrary, we would very much like to work WITH our government and see a request for proposals for an open bidding and design competition (never happened) that is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan's recommendations for the site, the historic designation of the site, and community opinions and wishes.  If our government would just work WITH existing rules and regulations, we'd be with them, helping. But they're not even close yet.  Not even close. High rise buildings and demolition of 80-90% of the site? Traffic?  Not even close. 

               We are planning a gathering sometime in January, a time to celebrate this wonderful judicial ruling and talk about the future, and of course we hope to raise some additional funds with our new credibility.  We will advise you when we have a time, date, and place for this event.  On the fundraising side, so many of you have been extremely generous, but at this moment we have covered only about one quarter of the costs accrued in the lengthy zoning, preservation, and court challenges. It is certain that there will be additional battles. 

               In the meantime, if you would like a copy of the court's decision, please contact the email address at the bottom of this message and we'd be delighted to get a copy to you as an email attachment (it's not very large).  And we're always looking for volunteer help with a variety of things that help us keep going, so please let us know if you're interested.

               Please spread the word of our success, even though FINALLY we are getting a bit of press coverage on who we are and what we have done.  
Thousands of persons like you have done something, minor or major, even if only to mention to a friend or neighbor that there's something wrong with what the city's doing at McMillan, and that has helped this effort succeed.  That is what this is about: a community focused on the revitalization of something of astonishing beauty. Keep it up!  Christmas has come early for those of us who want a beautiful McMillan Park in our future and you are angels, helping us bring our park back to life.  

John Salatti, Kirby Vining, and Hugh Youngblood

Board of Directors, Friends of McMillan Park, Inc. 

If you have any questions, please contact or call 202.213.2690.

Links from Daniel Wolkoff, Dec. 18, 2016

Daniel Goldon Wolkoff, McMillan Park links

Peoples Plan for McMillan Park 
Prof. Miriam Gusevich Catholic University of America with Collage City Studio You tube power point 
National Register of Historic Places McMillan nomination 
( /places/13000022.htm ) by DC Office of Historic Preservation architectural Historian Kim Williams. She describes a remarkably intact, fascinating, even charming engineering marvel slated for demolition in violation of federal law.
 Bowser and PR Firm Fontaine lied "it was never a park", The High Line in NY was never a park, it was an elevated Railroad. They had the foresight to save it, and a fabulous success for NY.

Bloomngdale elder Ms.Ella relates her childhood spent in the PARK, the children called McMillan "our beach".

To ram the development down our throats the DC govt. hired Jamie Fontaine PR firm to "neutralize opposition", a violation of the Constitutional right to "petition the govt. for redress of grievances". When exposed to Bowser, Mendelson , they have covered this up and Deputy Mayor Miller lied about his office paying for Fontaine! 
The community struggle to Save McMillan Park, preserving the ENTIRE "GREAT PLACE", Olmsted designed surface-park and existing 20 acres underground, creates the exciting potential for Sustainable large scale "indoor agriculture", numerous adaptive re-use that is allowed with Historic Preservation and building real careers, parks are economic development.
Different than Kojo and Roger K. Lewis  model.                        
DC Wolf Trap at McMillan outdoor concert stage with sunset vistas, Glen Echo arts/performance campus, Wine cellars,
City Bazaar, Breweries, performance space, public land for the public use, and ownership, start the Conservancy NOW!
                                     Pope Francis
"we have created new idols. The worship of the ancient Golden Calf
has returned in a new ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and
the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose"

How did Pope Francis know about "the Monstrosity on Michigan Avenue"?

DC administrations collude with VMP,their development partners to steal 25 acres of public recreational land, the biggest land theft since Manhattan!

Given that tourism is a major DC source of income, and given that government employment could suffer during a Trump administration, we should consider ways to enhance the tourism potential of McMillan Park.
     I recently watched a Japanese TV show about mushroom culture in Japan.  They have 21 species of mushrooms used there for culinary purposes.  We could have an underground store featuring international goods and foods. Unusual Japanese style mushrooms actually grown in the underground area could be a product sold there.  Perhaps we could approach the Japanese Embassy to see if this is a project that would interest them.  The same could be done with other embassies and food or cultural products like cheese and pasta.
     Having observed the popularity of watching products and food being made through a store window, I believe craft and food production showcases should be a popular addition.  Examples near 14th and U Sts., NW are the Cupcake Factory on U St., and another baked goods store on 14th south of U St.  Studio and craft space for artists and artisans could be provided at a low cost, with the opportunity to draw people by actually producing items before a window by the walkways.  The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria is a nearby place where this sort of activity has taken place.

If we have to build a big building, here is one of the better ideas I have seen for putting in a park.

     Please be sure to add any ideas you may have at the Comments below.