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August 11, 2013

Attracting Families Back Again

Dear Families:

In the last issue of themail (August 7), I wrote about "Attracting Families Back" to DC. I wrote that, "Here are the top three things families look for: safety, schooling, and personal green space. Living in DC, you can get one or two out of three at an affordable price." Larry Lesser had some questions about that, and in this issue I reply to his questions rather than write an introduction.

Gary Imhoff


McMillan Park Update
Cecily Kohler,

Efforts continue to save historic McMillan Park in Washington, DC, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.The DC government owns the twenty-five-acre decommissioned underground water purification facility and its accompanying parkland but seeks to privatize and destroy the park to make way for commercial development.As part of this privatization effort, the park was the subject of a land-surplussing hearing in June, required by law to gather community opinion before the city council can vote to declare the park "surplus public real estate" and offer it for sale to the private sector.Of the more than forty members of the community who testified at the hearing, all but three spoke against the proposed privatization, with many arguing that McMillan Park is a valuable community asset that should be reopened as a public park rather than sold. As of late July, Mayor Gray has yet to submit his formal report on the surplus hearing, and he has yet to submit a resolution to the council to formally propose the surplus designation.

Friends of McMillan Park, a community organization dedicated to preservation and adaptive reuse of the historic park and to facilitating an open and transparent process for deciding its future, anticipates four major government meetings in September.First, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board will hold a hearing to review whether the Gray Administration’s development plan respects McMillan Park’s historic character.Additionally, the DC council will hold two important committee meetings and one critical vote pertaining to McMillan Park, as follows: Committee on Government Operations, McMillan Park Surplus Hearing; Committee on Economic Development, McMillan Park Disposition Hearing; city council vote on McMillan Park Surplus Resolution and Land Disposition Agreement.

In September, Friends of McMillan Park will hold a town hall meeting and tour of the park to engage community members in fighting the mayor’s development plan.All are cordially invited to attend the Town Hall meeting on Saturday, September 14, at 3:30 p.m., in the basement of St. Martin’s Church, corner of T Street and North Capitol Street, NW. For more information, please visit


Clyde E. Howard, Jr.,

Who gave the DC city council the authority to authorize the erection of overhead wires in the Federal City of Washington? Have they redefined the boundaries of the Federal City? Only the US Congress can grant authorization to erect overhead wires on the streets of the Federal City. The DC city council should be held in contempt of the federal statue that forbids the erection of overhead wires on the streets of the Federal City. Do we want the city to look like Baltimore, Maryland, when it had electric buses, dark and dingy? If the city council wants overhead wires, then it can do that in the Territory of the District of Columbia. (Learn the history of Washington and the Territory of the District of Columbia; apparently the DC city council doesn’t know it).I am of the opinion that the so called planners have put the cart before the horse without first learning the reasons why streetcars were placed in the middle of H Street, NE. I don’t intend to help them here, but they are hell bent to build a streetcar line without learning why things were done in the manner that they were built in the first place back before the 1960’s.

Let’s go back to the authorization erecting overhead wires in the Federal City. The DC city council only has implied authority regarding traffic and such. They do not have direct authority. The US Congress has not surrendered total authority over the Federal City. The closing of Streets on Capitol Hill should have given all some idea as to who is in charge.

I am sure this rash act by the city council has placed a pin in the idea of statehood. How can you consider this option for the citizens of DC when they continually put people in office that have the brains of a gnat and their agency directors have less. Maybe we will survive ten or twelve years down the road.


InTowner August Issue Content
P.L. Wolff,

The August issue content is now posted at, including the issue PDF in which will be found the primary news stories, museum exhibition reviews, and community news — plus all photos and other images. Not included in the PDF but linked directly from the home page is the What Once Was feature (this month on hiatus), as well as Recent Real Estate Sales, Reservations Recommended, and Food in the ’Hood.

This month’s lead stories include the following: 1)"Public Now Being Introduced to Various Options Proposed to Amend 1910 Height Act to Allow for Taller Buildings; Developers Would be Winners"; 2)"Annual Adams Morgan Day Festival Plans Complete; Set for September 8"; 3) "A New "King of Instruments" Coming to the Neighborhood; First Baptist Church Organ Soon to be Heard." Our editorial this month comments on the mayor’s outrageous plan to give away to developers the historic McMillan Reservoir site and park. Your thoughts are welcome and can be sent by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the web page or by E-mail to

The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of September 13 (the second Friday of the month, as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to or call (202) 234-1717.


Attracting Families Back
Larry B. Lesser,

I would you like to elaborate on the evidence that families want 1) safety 2) schooling and 3) personal green space in choosing where to live. The reason I ask is that it seems to me that 3) wouldn’t rank close to the other numbers in importance. And I guess I also don’t easily see how you can ‘get one or two out of three at an affordable price’. Can you give us specific examples?

[Families establishing themselves in cities definitely look first for safety and good schooling opportunities for their children. Then they look for the characteristics of the physical housing that is available. Some small percentage of parents, committed urbanists, think that letting their children play stickball in street traffic and taking them shopping by riding on the handles of their bicycles is adequate. A greater majority of parents want to provide their children at least what they would provide their dogs: a small private yard in which they would be able to run free or, as an alternative, a well equipped and convenient public park. Those are the parents who move to the suburbs if they can’t find what they want in central cities.

[Luckily, in Washington middle-class families can find two or three of those priorities at an affordable price. Cleveland Park’s housing prices may require high double incomes, but great swathes of northeast and southeast Washington have affordable single-family homes. Good schools can be difficult to find in those areas, but many neighborhoods are reasonably safe. Thirty years ago, Capitol Hill was considered a risky neighborhood by people who didn’t live there or know it well. Now it’s considered one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city. — Gary Imhoff]



Friends of McMillan Park Meeting, September 14
Cecily Kohler,

The Friends of McMillan Park will hold a town hall meeting on September 14, 3:00-5:00 p.m., at St. Martin’s Pioneer Room, 1908 North Capitol Street, NW (North Capitol and T Streets, NW).

The city’s plan to privatize and demolish historic McMillan Park as well as creative alternatives to it will be discussed. To familiarize yourself with the issues or to sign the petition to save the park, please visit We are also seeking volunteers. Please contact Kirby Vining at or 234-0427 to learn more.


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