This morning, I read another blog post below:
Reading this was a disappointing way to start the day:
http://www.brooklan dheartbeat. org/may09_ streetscapes. html
Thanks to the Brookland Heartbeat for reporting on it. Now, does anyone have any ideas on what we can do about it? Or is there nothing we can do?
Having streetscape improvements doesn’t necessarily translate into businesses opening and thriving…but the lack of funding does feel like a lack of investment in such a huge ward. If the government doesn’t feel our ward is worth investing in, who else would?
So, naturally, I contacted CM Harry Thomas, Jr. and Derrick Woody from the Department of Planning. Here are their responses to me, respectively:
The Office of CM Thomas has been working closely with DMPED on the Rhode Island Avenue Great Streets initiative. The first step in the process is for a land use study to be conducted. The land use study is being drafted right now and should be completed in the next few weeks. The land use study will make the case for TIF financing and identify changes to be made in the transportation infrastructure. Allocating funding for transportation infrastructure planning and improvements is the next step, and CM Thomas will of course be involved identifying funding sources so that we can move forward with this next step.
and from Mr. Woody:
The Brookland Heartbeat article does not accurately capture what has been communicated several times now to that periodical and at public meetings regarding the process and next steps for Rhode Island Avenue NE.
The process was and is that the economic development and land use plan would come first so that we have a sense of what kinds of uses and improvements are proposed to happen on Rhode Island between 3rd Street NE and Eastern Avenue NE and between 2009 and 2025. The economic development plan has been drafted. My office is coordinating first and as promised at the last public meeting with the ten or so impacted Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners in 5A, 5B, and 5C on the contents of the plan. The draft final plan will be released more broadly to area residents, property owners and others within a couple of weeks.
Next, as it has been stated before, the funding source for infrastructure planning and improvements would have to be identified and would follow the economic development plan. This was needed as the economic development plan proposes some infrastructure changes to facilitate public safety and better sites for retail. At this point, I think that I have identified the infrastructure funding source, and I am working with relevant District staff and others to determine the process, exact amount and necessary approvals to finalize the source of the funding. (My fingers crossed, but I am confident.)
The capital budget was not anticipated as the place where the funding would be found as all the agencies have had to make deep cuts in their budgets, and no new capital projects could be proposed given the worldwide and local economy. Money is not available as it was three years ago. Also, the other Great Streets corridors were largely funded through an alternative method as well and were not for the most part within previous capital budget requests.
I hope this clarifies things more for all!