You can testify in favor of economic development on Rhode Island Avenue NE

By Stephanie Liotta Atkinson

On February 21, 2012, 6-9 pm, at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, Council Chairman Kwame Brown, on behalf of the Council’s Committee of the Whole, will host a Public Oversight Roundtable on Economic Development Projects and Programs in Ward 5.

The public oversight roundtable has two purposes:

  1. to allow the District government witnesses to inform Ward 5 residents about the economic development projects and programs occurring in their neighborhoods, and
  2. to provide an opportunity for Ward 5 residents to testify on economic development matters and recommend areas for improvement.

I plan to testify and will advocate for targeted economic development on Rhode Island Avenue NE.  If you’d like to testify, sign up HERE.  Registration will be open until close of business on Monday, February 20, 2012.  You also need to submit an electronic copy of your testimony (see the FULL NOTICE for details).

Things to think about if you testify on behalf of Rhode Island Avenue NE:

  • Streetscape improvement (provide money for facade improvement, tree-planting, green the medians that separate the lanes, repair cracked sidewalks, add trash cans and planters, replace the gray “cobra” street lamps with the new black lamps and add more lamps, repaint and add more crosswalks, etc).
  • Increase police presence to reduce violent crime, drug-related crime, prostitution, and illegal sign-posting.  Certain RIA business owners report that they won’t improve their facades out of a fear that a spiffy storefront indicates to thugs that the business has money, which will increase robberies.  Reduce crime, incentivize facade improvement.
  • Provide incentives for specialty grocers, restaurants, dry-cleaners, and other neighborhood-serving small businesses to locate on RIA.
  • Find a solution to the RIA parking issue that scares off potential business owners.
  • Create bike lanes on the Avenue and install Bikeshare stations.
  • Provide a more dedicated source of transportation from 4th & RIA to the Woodridge Main Street.  Move us up the street-car wait list. Or add busses.
  • Penalize cab companies that won’t serve Ward 5 residents.
  • Moratorium on auto-related businesses.
  • Improve the pitiful appearance of the RIA gateway at Eastern Ave.
  • Revise the zoning immediately surrounding RIA to allow for increased density.  Encourage developers to build reasonably-sized multi-family buildings along the Avenue (and make sure there’s adequate bus service to get these folks to the metro).

What else should we be advocating for?

Event: Public Oversight Roundtable on Economic Development Projects and Programs in Ward 5
Date: February 21, 2012
Time: 6-9pm
Location: Turkey Thicket Recreation Center 1100 Michigan Avenue NE, 20017

5 thoughts on “You can testify in favor of economic development on Rhode Island Avenue NE

  1. I don’t understand this: “Certain RIA business owners report that they won’t improve their facades out of a fear that a spiffy storefront indicates to thugs that the business has money, which will increase robberies.”

    Both Lace and Flip-it have facades that are not barred. Lace used to block its facade, but then renovated it. Carl’s had bars, and removed those a few years back. Art Enables doesn’t have bars. The buildings Menkiti got from Booker on the RIA mainstreet don’t have bars either. Have any of these businesses experienced an increase in robberies? The 7-Eleven is just a target for robbers, no matter where they are located. Nearly all the 7-Eleven’s in Ward 5 were robbed within a one week period.

    The business owners need to improve the interior of their stores, as well. I remember before the liquor store near Lace went out of business he had plans involving an architect for facade improvement for the main street businesses and plans to improve the interior of the liquor store.

    1. It’s not just bars… how weathered is the awning? what’s in the windows — something attractive or the backside of a box? And is the inside inviting or worn?

      Art Enables has a metal roll-down door, but what incentive do they have to make it look nice? So it catches the wrong eye when everyone can see the business is empty?

      This has to be the origin of the phrase “this is why we can’t have nice things” (or in our case “….yet!”)

  2. “Increase police presence to reduce … illegal sign-posting.”

    These signs are put up in Brookland weekly, and multiple residents complain to the district just as often. Once a week, someone vandalizes our entire community, AND LEAVES BEHIND A CONTACT NUMBER. If the police can’t figure out a way to stop that, they are either extraordinarily inept or they don’t think our community is worth protecting. I don’t think they are inept.

  3. These incessant and illegal postings are put up in Michigan Park as well, particularly along South Dakota and Michigan Avenues. As soon as they go up, I take them down, as the visual clutter and potential for litter makes me absolutely crazy.

    I also call and speak with the proprietors, politely noting that they are illegal and that the fine is $35 per first posting and $75 per subsequent postings. I ask them not to waste my time as well as their time and money by not posting. Generally, I receive equally polite and positive reactions (particularly from Hispanic tow truck operators), although the black lawyer in Beltsville who was putting “stop foreclosure” signs in the ground did hang up on me. His signs no longer mar our neighborhood, however!

    Are you letting the signs stay up? Unfortunately, MPD has far more pressing matters. Why don’t you remove them yourself instead of simply whining about it? It’s therapeutic, and will eliminate the appalling visual clutter and litter in your neighborhood!

    Tom in Michigan Park

    1. I take them down as art of my evening walk. The fact that “MPD has far more pressing matters” is exactly what frustrates me. Defacing enire neighborhoods is (to Ward 5 police) not a big deal. You don’t have to stop at stop signs here, or obey the speed limit. The police not only refrain from enforcing the little laws, they very rarely stop themselves and you will never see a cop car doing less than 45 on South Dakota. I don’t mind helping to keep my nieghborhood clean, but when the police have an attitude of, “if it isn’t a murder, we dont have time for it,” it hurts our community. I know the MPD has more important things to do than keep NE safe and clean, but I hope someday we could be a priority.

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