Today, the Council of the District of Columbia took its first vote on the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget. Importantly, the Council’s budget delivers significant investment in Ward 5 and maintains Councilmember McDuffie’s pledge to return funds to several public safety programs such as restoring the more than $5 million in cuts to social and legal services for victims of crime, including domestic violence, sexual assault victims and abused and neglected children. Moreover, the Council’s budget provides the capital necessary to implement the plan to close DC General but does so by using District owned facilities, ensuring that the sites are located in safe areas conducive to housing children and families, and saving the District millions of dollars.
W Street Trash Transfer Station
One of the most noteworthy investments made in Ward 5 is the Council’s proposal to locate the District’s Archives facility at the current location of the W Street Trash Transfer Station. A decades old nuisance and blighted property, the W Street Trash Transfer Station has caused Brentwood and Ward 5 residents as a whole to suffer from noxious fumes, vermin, dust and trash. The Council’s budget invests a total of $77.5 million in the Archives project and similar to Councilmember’s previous efforts once again authorizes the Mayor to acquire the property by eminent domain.
“I want to thank my colleagues on the Council for supporting my efforts to shutter the W Street Trash Transfer Station,” said McDuffie. The District’s Archives is sorely in need of a new facility, and the site of the W. Street Trash Transfer Station is ideal for its relocation. Ward 5 residents deserve investments in government facilities such as the Archives which can attract visitors and spur economic investment along Brentwood Road.”
Today’s legislative action authorizing the use of eminent domain for the acquisition of the W Street Trash Transfer station does not guarantee that property will be acquired. The Executive must either negotiate a price with the current owners or initiate a civil action in Superior Court to acquire the property. “I urge the Executive to move forward with the Council’s plan to locate the DC Archives on the site of the W Street Trash Transfer Station,” stated McDuffie.
New G9 Bus Route
Another important investment made by the Council is the $1.04 million in funding for a new G9 Bus Route. Travelling from downtown to the neighborhoods and businesses along Rhode Island Avenue has long been a challenge. As residents, WMATA and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) have noted, there exists a “gap in bus service between the entrance to the Rhode Island Avenue Metrorail station and 4th Street NE. This gap means current riders east of the Rhode Island Avenue station are not able to take a single-seat transit ride into downtown Washington.”[i]
“The proposed G9 bus line will service Rhode Island Avenue from 14th Street, NW to just beyond the District’s border at Eastern Ave, NE, thereby filling that gap and alleviating congestion on the G8 and other bus lines that offer partial service to the Rhode Island Avenue, NE corridor,” stated McDuffie. “Additionally, a G9 line will allow public transit users easy access to the many retail businesses and restaurants that are opening along Rhode Island Avenue, one of the District’s Main Streets. Finally, there is the potential that a G9 line may alleviate some of the traffic on Rhode Island Avenue by providing residents with a new direct option to reach downtown.”
Edgewood Recreation Center Expansion
Edgewood Recreation Center, another project championed by Councilmember McDuffie also saw increased funding. In 2014 the Council advanced the Edgewood Recreation Center project from Fiscal Year 2019 to Fiscal Year 2015. At the initial community meetings the Department of General Services presented proposals for the new facility, but indicated that additional funding would be needed if the residents wanted a gymnasium. Today, the Council approved the proposal to add an additional $4 million to the project to ensure that the facility will also include a gymnasium, ensuring that the District will finally deliver on the more than a 10-year-old promise to build a suitable recreation center for the residents in and around Edgewood.
North Capitol Street and Florida Avenue Triangle Park
The Council’s budget also sustains the proposal by Councilmember McDuffie and the Committee on Transportation and the Environment to create a new capital project at the North Capitol Street and Florida Avenue Triangle Park. As residents know the park is often a mixed scene of alcohol consumption, drug use and litter. This new project provides DDOT with funds that can be used to creatively enhance the park, and allow for DDOT to enter into a memorandum of understanding with a community serving group to program the space.
Committee on the Judiciary
As it relates to our judiciary and public safety agencies, the Council’s budget makes critical investments by supporting victims of crime, taking a public health approach to crime prevention, intervention, and response, and enacting groundbreaking fire and emergency medical services reforms.
To address crime, the Council’s budget adds more than 70 new sworn officers and civilians to the Metropolitan Police Department; and, restores more than $5 million in cuts to social and legal services for victims of crime, including domestic violence and sexual assault victims and abused and neglected children. Moreover the Council’s budget funds several provisions of the “Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2016”, including:
- Felony crime data collection;
- Stop and frisk and use of force data collection and the Comprehensive Homicide Elimination Strategy Task Force at the Metropolitan Police Department;
- Analysis of officers’ use of force and body-worn camera operations by the Office of Police Complaints; and
- A public health information campaign on the impacts of violent crime at the Department of Health’s new Office of Violence Prevention and Health Equity.
The budget additionally supports the Department of Corrections’ efforts to assume control of the Central Treatment Facility and provide transitional services to returning citizens.
In supporting this budget today, the Council will also be taking significant strides toward fire and emergency medical services reform by:
- Funding a significant portion of the District’s presumptive disability law for our fire and emergency medical services personnel, including cancer treatment costs;
- Creating a new task force to analyze gaps in EMS delivery, 911-call volume and diversion, and community-based paramedicine strategies;
- Requiring regular certification of all fire and EMS apparatus according to national standards and training for all 911 and 311 call takers and dispatchers; and
- Requiring stringent reporting on the privatization of ambulance transports by the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department for basic life support.
The budget will go for its next vote before the entire Council on Tuesday, May 31, 2016.
[i] Metrobus Priority Corridor Study: Rhode Island Avenue and Baltimore Avenue Lines (2014), available at http://www.metrobus-studies.com/Rhode%20Is%20Ave/Rhode%20Island%20Avenue_Final_Report.pdf