Before I get into talking about the good work the City is doing, I would like to address the statement the City released on Friday concerning the results of an independent investigation into sexual harassment in the police department. I received several questions following this statement, and tried to address as much as I could here. I appreciate the patience so many of you are showing for the City as we work through this difficult time.
While the news concerning our police department is difficult to hear, I hope you are beginning to see the City turn a corner for the better. Our City Manager continues to impress me. She has now uncovered underperformance or misconduct in four of the City's most crucial departments - Public Works, Code Enforcement, Finance and, now, the Police Department. For the first three departments, she has brought in a leadership team to help reform practices and performance expectations for all staff. For the Police Department, we are beginning a nationwide search to find a new chief who can help lead the Department forward.
In addition, I hope you are starting to see a return on the investments you helped make possible with your vote just over a year ago. To put it simply, the legislation and budget we passed last year are starting to pay dividends:
New sidewalks are being laid on 32nd Street with upgrades to ADA compliant sidewalk ramps. We are also pouring permeable pavement (rather than cement) around our City’s trees to allow water to drain through the pavement to the roots, which is healthier for the trees and encourages downward root growth (rather than upwards, which pushes up the pavement).
During the week of September 24-28, we will deliver new trash and recycling containers to each home. Read more here.
Last week, I met with a landscape-design graduate professor at the University of Maryland who is trying to arrange for graduate students to redesign (at little cost) Memorial Park and the adjoining streetscape surrounding the new Menkiti development on Rhode Island Avenue. On September 20, we are hosting Secretary Kenneth Holt of the Maryland Department of Housing of Community Development (DHCD) to tour him around this new development. The plan is to then apply for DHCD's Community Legacy grant in the spring and convince the State to pay for the construction of the streetscape redesign.
In July, I presented a near, medium, and long-term vision for stormwater management in this City. After receiving support from the Mayor and Council for this vision, Public Works helped to deliver on its goals by applying for a grant this summer to install a bio-retention structure over one of our storm drains. These installations filter stormwater through several layers of plants, soil, and rocks, removing pollutants while slowing down the water's flow before letting it trickle into the storm drain. Through these efforts, we are doing our part to leave the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River a little cleaner than we found it, helping us move towards a future where the Anacostia River itself is swimmable and fishable.
And that is not all on the sustainability front. I am continuing to work with the Green Team on ways to invest in solar power as a community. Towards that end, please join us on Thursday, October 18, from 7-9pm at Joe’s Movement Emporium. The Green Team will be hosting a Solar Party to see how we can invest in solar as a community and as individuals. There will be several solar vendors on site to explain what they do and how you can go solar. This event is not just for homeowners with no trees, as some of the options are geared towards renters or shaded houses. There will also be music and refreshments,including free beer!
On the economic development front, I am hopeful we can finally make a deal this fiscal year to redevelop 3200 Rhode Island Avenue after the hiring of seasoned real estate attorneys to negotiate its sale to Landex Corporation. Landex has a proven track record of successfully building new developments (they are the ones responsible for the new construction in Brentwood at 38th and Rhode Island Avenues), and generously supporting the arts in our community while doing so.
Finally, as we move into a new legislative cycle, I’ve identified a few issues to address this year with tax reform at the top of my list. Specifically, finding a way to lower the tax burden on our single family home owners. If you have an opinion on that or any other matter, please shoot me an email.