This is the first of our Life on RIA series that will be small essays from contributing bloggers from all of the areas along Rhode Island Ave NE. I felt we should begin this series with a foreword from Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. who represents Ward 5 and has been a supporter of redevelopment. Please check back on a weekly basis for more and more contributors’ views and reflection on living along Rhode Island Ave NE. Also, if you would like to participate, please send me an email.
and now…on to the series:
Delivering Change to Rhode Island Avenue
By The Honorable Harry “Tommy” Thomas, Jr., Ward 5 Councilmember
The end of my first term in office is fast-approaching, presenting an ideal time to reflect on what we have achieved for Rhode Island Avenue since I was sworn into office in January 2007.
Keeping true to my word, one of my first priorities as your Ward 5 representative on the Council of the District of Columbia was to add Rhode Island Avenue to the Great Streets initiative. And we succeeded.
Securing the Great Streets designation was important because it elevates the level of city resources the corridor can receive, from infrastructure improvements to TIF financing to bring economic revitalization. Since adding Rhode Island Avenue to the initiative in 2007, we have moved on to complete the land use study, which this summer the executive will submit to the Council for approval. Once approved, the plan will provide the road map for future development along Rhode Island Avenue.
Improving the cleanliness of Rhode Island Avenue to attract potential businesses was another priority of mine, so I ensured the District’s budget has included funding for a Green Team that cleans the street daily. The members of this team are recruited from Ward 5, so that we are creating jobs for residents as well with this program.
And just this week, we broke ground for the Rhode Island Station project, which will bring 70,000 square feet of much-needed retailed to Ward 5, as well as 274 new units of housing. I helped ensure the viability of this project by championing the legislation authorizing the tax revenue bonds used to finance this project.
Without doubt, we have made great strides in delivering resources to Rhode Island Avenue. I am confident that more will follow in the years to come, and I look forward to doing my part to ensure that happens.