Wednesday, October 5, 2016

McMillan Park, Further Updates and Legal Action--Summer/Fall 2016

One of the serious issues with the entire McMillan Park process is that for at least 7 years, we taxpayers having been giving a NO-BID contractor $1million a year to plan their development which the community has vigorously protested.  Even Kathy Patterson, the DC Auditor, has expressed concern with the lack of proper bidding processes in her Oct. 19, 2015 letter to Chairman Mendelson.
     I have been told that the Auditor is independent, but one of the many suspicious things the Mayor's new Constitution does is put the Auditor directly under control of the Mayor, oops, I mean Governor.  The Chief Financial Officer and the Attorney General also fall under control of the Governor in the Mayor's new Constitution.  The Mayor has already tried to take approval for city development deals away from the Attorney General.  These are additional reasons to vote NO for Statehood which vote  includes accepting her Constitution on Nov. 8, 2016, unless the Council makes important changes in the Constitution as a result of the Sept. 27 and Oct. 6 hearings. 
     [Important changes were made, and on Nov. 8th the people vote 83% for Statehood while, with this same vote, being forced to approve the somewhat revised and improved Constitution.]

[12/8/16] A day after the Mayor held a symbolic "groundbreaking", we won the lawsuit against the VMP monopoly.  It is still possible that they may be able to turn this win around, so we must keep fighting and being creative.  Since then at least one well attended meeting has been held by people planning to develop better ideas.

This site has the best color photo of the underground galleries I have seen:

[12/4/16] Mayor Bowser plans to hold a kick-off of the VMP, taxpayer subsidized, NO-BID, unpopular plan to destroy most of the underground historic water purification structure to build a Tyson's Corner type project at this already rush hour bottlenecked intersection.  It is scheduled for 11:00 am, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 at the McMillan site, near the intersection of North Capitol St. and Michigan Ave.

McMillan Press Update May 22, 2016 :: SAVE MCMILLAN ACTION COALITION ::
McMillan Park Legal Cases Reveal Startling Facts Not Considered by City Council or Planners During Park Giveaway Proceedings
Legal filings demonstrate overwhelming traffic conditions, millions of gallons of wasteful sewage and water use, and serious air pollution & displacement factors
May 23, 2016, Washington, D.C. -- District of Columbia residents and several DC citizen groups[1] have filed legal briefs with the DC Court of Appeals to save their historic McMillan Park. Their legal teams are awaiting responses this week from attorneys representing the city and a cadre of well-heeled developers, all paid for by DC tax dollars.  
The appeals seek to defend McMillan as a national historic landmark, to protect a key water-source feature (20-acre cistern) to help the  capital city resist increasing climate chaos, as well as to safeguard the surrounding working-class community from a myriad of adverse impacts.
Residents are challenging what they describe as "arbitrary" decisions made by DC zoning and historic preservation officials which show an "absolute disregard of fundamental planning protocols."  
For example, the filings show the Zoning Commission chose to upzone the site from a low-rise community to that allowing massive downtown-sized development to serve the developers interests in bringing online over 2 million square feet of dense commercial and residential buildings and paving over two-thirds of the open public space. This upzoning flies in the face of city planning documents that call for more limited moderate community-minded development that preserved most of the open park space. 
Evidence on the record shows that just on a Saturday alone, the proposed "McMillan Town Center" will generate nearly 25,000 vehicle trips, and 40,000 "person" trips to and from the site.  And, the project will push 3 million gallons of water plus an equal amount of sewage through aging city pipes on a daily basis. 
No analysis was done to determine if the city's infrastructure can even handle a project of this size, and who would pay for upgrades, nor did anyone take into account the more than 50,000+ vehicles already coursing around McMillan everyday and how adding thousands of more cars will affect the air quality and emergency services of the surrounding communities.
Moreover, local residents are deeply concerned that the amount of luxury housing proposed for the site (more than 500 market-rate units) will "accelerate gentrification pressures" in the surrounding community.  The staffers with DC's Office of Planning provided no evaluation of displacement effects brought on by this project.  
Local developers and architect design teams (Jair Lynch E.Y.A.; Trammel Crow; Perkins Eastman DC; Robert Silman Associates; EHT Traceries; and others) are getting cover from city officials who are eager to get started on the project.
These developers are anticipating a 2+ billion dollar windfall to come at the expense of DC taxpayers who are paying for the vast majority of pre-development costs, including a PR firm hired to discredit those in opposition, as well as paying for architects, designers, and for the legal help.
 The city has recently released a Request for Proposals for the so-called horizontal development, which means the demolition of the site, as well are shopping preliminary plans for the “park” in spite of the legal battle unfolding in Court.  
This legal battle follows on from mounting public dissent to the project (More then 8,000 people have signed the petition to Save McMillan park; and DC's independent auditor, Kathy Patterson has asked that the McMillan project be competitively rebid because competition was minimized for these favored developers under the banner, Vision McMillan Partners. 
Holland and Knight, the lawyers for the developers who are being paid with DC taxpayer monies, may be submitting responses to the residents' initial legal claims this week.
[1]    Appeals of the DC Zoning Commission to destroy McMillan Park have been brought by Friends of McMillan Park (, the DC Preservation League (, the Committee of 100 (, DC for Reasonable Development ( and the McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture.
Posted by: "d.c. forrd" <>
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Historic Preservation articles and contacts on McMillan, for follow up and letters of support.  [from Daniel Wolkoff]

Kim Williams, Architectural Historian, from DC Office of Miserable Planning, HPO, wrote the 2012 nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places------25 YEARS LATE!
      United  States  Department  of  the lnterior National Park Service 
National Register of Historic  Places  Registration  Form
      NPS  Form'10-900                        OMB  No  1024-0018                        (Exp¡res 5/31/2012)
      McMillan Park Reservoir Historic District                                  Washington,  D.C.
      Name  of  Property                                                          County and State

      9.  Major  Biblioqraphical  References
      Bibliograph!  (Cite  the  books, articles, and other  sources  used in preparing  this form.)

      D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board Application  for  Historic Landmark, McMillan  Park  Reservoir, 1991.
      Drutchas,  Geoffrey.  "Gray Eminence in  Gilded Age:  The  Forgotten Career of Senator James McMillan of Michigan,"
Michigan  Historical Review,  Vol. 28,  No.2  (Fall2002),  pp.  79-113.
      Drutchas,  Geoffrey. "A Capital  Design," Michigan History  (March/April2002), pp.30-38.

      EHT Traceries, "McMillan Slow Sand Filtration Plant, Historic Preservation Report for the Proposed Redevelopment  of the
      McMillan Slow Sand Filtration Plant," Prepared  for Vision  McMillan Partners, July  2010.

      Engineering-Science,  lnc. "Architectural  and  Archeological Survey, Eastern Portion, McMillan  Water  Treatment  Plant,"
      Funded  by  the Office  of  Business and Economic Development,1990.

      Goodwin, R. Christopher  &  Associates.  "Washington Aqueduct  Architectural  Survey, District of Columbia and Montgomery
      County, MD., Final Report Prepared for  the  U.S.  Army Corps  of  Engineers,  1998.

      Greenhorne  &  O'Mara. "Final Report and Recommendations,  McMillan Reservoir Sand Filtration Site," Submitted  to the
      District of Columbia Office  of  Planning,  2001.

      Quinn Evans Architects. "McMillan Reservoir Sand Filtration Site: Historic Preservation  Review."
      Prepared for  the  National Capital Revitalization Corporation. June  26,2006.
      Rosenberg, Elissa. "Public  Works  and Public Space: Rethinking  the  Urban Park." Journal  of Architectural Education,  Vol. 50, No.  (2008), pp.  89-103.
      Somma,  Thomas  P.  "The McMillan Memorial Fountain: A Short History of  Lost Monument."
      Washington History,  Vol.  14, No.  2 (2002),  pp.  97-107.

      Sweeney, Thomas  W.  "Sand Castles." Historic Preservation Magazine  42,  No.  4  (1990): 38-43,72.

      Ways,  Howard  C.  The Washington  Aqueduct, 1852-1992.  U.S.  Army  Corps  of  Engineers, 1992

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Link for Auditor's letter 10/19/15, to Mendelson stating need for rebidding McMillan based on significant changes in scope.
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[5/7/16]  Here is an update on the lawsuit action being taken by Friends of McMillan Park and other historic preservation groups.

What is the Save McMillan Park Lawsuit All About?

Dear Friend of McMillan Park,

      Friends of McMillan Park and other historic preservation organizations have joined in filing a legal appeal of the District of Columbia Government’s zoning and preservation decisions that would allow for demolition of 80 to 90% of the historic, below-grade vaults and numerous other historic features combined with high-density commercial development on the 25-acre, DC-owned portion of historic landmark McMillan Park. The appeals also challenge the proposal to subdivide the historic site into several parcels for sale to commercial high-rise developers who aspire to turn McMillan Park into a suburban office park reminiscent of Tysons Corner.

The Friends organization has been working with legal counsel since 2014 before the case went before the DC Historic Preservation Review Board, the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation, and the Zoning Commission under the assumption that these District government agencies would approve this commercial development proposal that has plagued our community since at least the Fenty Administration.  That assumption proved true.

After the Mayor’s Agent and Zoning Commission decisions for McMillan became public in April 2015, we immediately began the appeal process by filing petitions for review with the DC Court of Appeals. The court accepted our preservation and zoning appeals and consolidated them into one case. We filed our opening brief for the case this past week. We currently have no date for the first appearance in court on this matter although we expect that it may be some months away.

Here are our main arguments, in plain language:
  • High-density zoning for McMillan Park is inconsistent with the DC Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map recommendations of low-to-moderate density zoning. 

  • Because McMillan Park has been a DC Historic Landmark since 1991 (and also is listed in the National Register of Historic Places), demolition of a significant portion of the site’s protected historic resources is inconsistent with the protections afforded by the DC Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act.

  • The Mayor’s Agent decision to permit demolition and subdivision of this DC Historic Landmark did not consider alternatives that could achieve the “special merit” objectives of the proposal, as required by the Preservation Act. 

  • The proposed development project does not satisfy the “high standard” required of a project of “special merit” (required in order to waive the statutory preservation restrictions) because the majority of the development proposal, such as the commercial medical office buildings has no demonstrated special merit.

McMillan Sand Filtration Site is a unique and irreplaceable landmark that should be developed in a manner consistent with the site’s historic character and within existing zoning guidelines. The project should also align with the concerns and wishes of the surrounding community expressed consistently for decades.  As such, McMillan Park needs a competitive, open bidding process or a Request for Proposals (RFP) solicitation like the District government used for the St. Elizabeth’s, Walter Reed, and Franklin School redevelopment projects. The McMillan Park redevelopment deal before us today devolved long ago into the current no-bid, sole-source plan that violates DC Government procurement law. McMillan Park deserves an open design competition like the one used for The High Line redevelopment project in New York City.

What might the Court do if it agrees with us?  We hope that the Court of Appeals will grant our petitions to review and vacate the DC Government’s zoning, demolition, and subdivision decisions.  We hope that this will happen and that a new ethical, community-driven development process will begin — consistent with the District’s existing rules, regulations, and laws, and with the wishes of the people of the District of Columbia,


John Salatti, Kirby Vining, and Hugh Youngblood
Board of Directors
Friends of McMillan Park
If you have any questions, please or call 202.213.2690.

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"From the record" by Daniel Goldon Wolkoff [this is an ironic critical objection to the process being forced upon us by DEMPED.  I will also include a few comments of my own in brackets.]

Now we know how critical the Trammel Crow 1,000,000 sq. ft. medical office towers will be, impressive!
 From Testimony to the ZC 13-14

from Janice Posey, Manager for the Higher Education and Healthcare Sector
in the Office of the 
Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

"My role is to engage, collaborate and assist with real estate and programmatic challenges for all 19 colleges and universities located in the District of  Columbia and the 14 hospitals that serve the general public in the DC region. My specific involvement with the McMillan Project originated from Vision 5 of Mayor  Grays Five Year Economic Development Strategy which aims to create a first class, global medical center at the McMillan site.

"And why can't we just rely on the hospitals across the street to treat chronic diseases?
 The answer is this space could help eradicate not just treat diseases.
Pioneering healthcare research and innovation is the key to eradicating diseases.  If we only rely on the traditional approach to treating diseases, does that really make the disease obsolete?
McMillan Center of Excellence could provide the venue and space for revolutionaryadvances in medical treatment for chronic diseases."

Wow , we can have "revolutionary advances" at Trammel Crows Medical Office Towers,  close NIH($31.3 Billion) and CDC ($11.5 Billion), save $43 Billion. Why waste the money on those old traditional research institutes when we can have cutting edge, pioneering, avant-guard medical research, right here in DC at McMillan Town Center and eradicate diseases.

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from Comprehensive Plan Healthcare

1106--Healthcare facilities should be distributed in areas of the city underserved

The distribution of these facilities across the city is presently uneven, with most hospital beds on the west side of the city and only one full-service hospital east of the Anacostia River. 1106.10
1106.11 The health care facility policies in the Comprehensive Plan seek to provide a more equitable geographic distribution of community health care facilities throughout the city. The primary means of achieving this goal is the establishment of a comprehensive network of community-based health centers. While some centers already exist, they are often located in outmoded facilities that need to be renovated or replaced. 1106.11

Testimony of Michelle Webster, 100 block of Adams Street (resident)

  A space this massive in an area that already provides office space for the medical professionals
that are currently associated with the nearby hospitals is at great risk for a large number of vacancies.  
Also, the Applicant should be committed to "providing a community medical clinic on the site. At this time, the only sources for urgent care within the immediate area are the emergency departments" at the Washington Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center. Additionally, there are
few low-cost or no-cost medical clinics available for citizens of the District of Columbia. The addition of such a clinic would be extremely beneficial to the families, seniors, and other citizens residing in the adjacent neighborhoods and beyond, and would be a positive use of the large medical office space proposed by the Applicant.
Further, should the space be filled, the current studies indicate that employees of the complex and the visiting patients and guests will be the greatest source of traffic increase in the neighborhood.

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Michelle, don't worry about traffic impacts from the 3000 employees coming to McMillan Town Center each workday, don't worry. James Vloeltzki architect for VMP solves the traffic mitigation problem.

from James Vloeltzki architect for VMP from the testimony Twilight Zoning hearing  ZC 13-14
 "The garage allows employees to bike to work with eight secure bicycle storage lockers and a men's and women's shower and locker room with 2 showers and 20 lockers."  [Wow!  Eight bicycle riders.  That will help prevent gridlock at N. Capitol and Michigan Ave. gla]

Now your thinkin' Mr. Voeltzki, those high paid security guards, receptionists, and janitors [and lab techs (personal note, my first DC job was as a GS-3 lab tech at NIH while living near DuPont Circle)gla] will certainly bike in from the parts of the region they can afford, like Manassas, outer PG, and West Virginia. [Which illustrates just how important it is to increase lower income housing in DC.]

Thanks a lot!

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And now some serious concerns about McMillan as a back-up clean water source:

=== DC ENVIRO-ALERT: McMillan Park ===

Delirious actions and behavior by the Mayor and City Council is dangerous to your health, short-term and long.

Googling this,
This link shows a number of articles about Tiber Creek.  I am acquainted with Tiber Creek because I own a house in the 1700 block of U St. and have been told Tiber Creek runs under this area.  This was why a sump pump had to be installed to prevent flooding with heavy rain as the water table is close to the surface.

We come across this,
This is a very detailed article on Tiber Creek's history with photos, maps, and a painting.

And this,

Water is so important to this city and its history, let alone survival.

Other cities are drying up, while DC's "planning" officials are considering throwing out its giant underground water cistern to be replaced by more condos, office space, and short term developer profit.


When, not if, will DC be hit with the blinding light of persistent drought like the experience of our municipal friends around the world.  

From West

To East

Down South

Across To Africa

Then Asia

All over the dam world!

WHEN IS IT DC'S TURN?!? Do we really want to be surprised?Wouldn't it be nice to have a 20 acre underground   water cistern (protected from the elements and sun) that could actually store and clean hundreds of millions of gallons of water without electricity (McMillan) in case of emergency drought!  The other cities don't have this answer already built like DC does.

DC for Reasonable Development

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