On August 3rd, Harry Thomas Jr. held a “Blogger’s Breakfast” for Ward 5 bloggers and the Rhode Island Insider was there to hear Councilmember Thomas’ vision for Ward 5 and on current issues. Along with this blog, we were joined by a member of the Brookland Listserv, Totten Life, and InBloomingdale.
The meeting was very laid back and gave us the opportunity to ask the Councilmember several questions about the concerns of residents we hear from. Here are some of the topics (T) that were discussed and some of the Councilmember’s (C) responses (for the focus of my blog, I will mainly talk about issues regarding redevelopment and RIA):
T: Brookland Metro crime and nuisance issues lately.
C: Partnering and engaging the Metro Police to take a more active approach to the issues, not just at the actual station area, but at the bus stop areas (which is their jurisdiction as well).
T: Rhode Island Ave NE
C: Improve the streetscape programs along the Corridor, which he recognizes as the oldest street in America (Route 1). Placed a moratorium on social service developments in the Ward to address the increase the number of halfway houses, etc. Wants to bring a Farmer’s Market to the Safeway Shopping Center to increase the ability for residents to shop locally, nearby.
T: Overlay district for RIA
C: Is interested in an overlay district as a means to attract small businesses (restaurants, etc) to the corridor. He would not commit on proposing an overlay district (such as Neighborhood Commercial), like on H Street, but he did say he was interested in it.
C: Is happy that Costco is coming and that it will keep dollars local to DC (notice he did not mention Target, who has not confirmed their store). He has ensured that the wages will be “livable” wages and their will be more restaurants in the shopping center. Regarding Wal-Mart, he said that their is no deal yet with the retailer but he understands the traffic concerns of the area. He said that traffic improvements come mainly with private investment to improve it (such as adding an auxiliary road to NY Ave to access the store).
T: RIA Trolley
C: He mentioned the possibility of bringing a trolley type of system for the RIA corridor so that residents can easily access the new developments at the RIA Metro. Exciting news about this, to say the least.
In regards to what the Councilmember thought Ward 5 was missing were (1) more coalition/partnerships with other Wards and civic groups, (2) more resources – which he said will come with increased partnerships, and (3) more greenspace with development.
The “Blogger Breakfast” was held at the Capital City Diner on Bladensburg Road, which I would recommend to anyone. Good food and a relaxed diner which operates 24 hours on the weekends….plus, its owned by a local Ward 5 resident.
Don’t forget that early voting is to take place at Turkey Thicket starting this Saturday, Sept 4 for any resident who wants to participate.