DEVELOPER DOUBLE CROSS? Cheh and McDuffie Grill, But to What Avail?



This just in. Finally, Councilmembers seem to be paying attention to the community, instead of developers.  Whether this will bear itself out in real action or results, or if it's "showing" that they care for the community and then they and the whole council let the developers get their way - - time will tell.  Our last press release commented that the election results mean business as usual, which one can say also mean, "Don't worry, the developers will find a way around it."

TENAC Co-Chair

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From: Nicholas DelleDonne [DupontForum] <>
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Sent: Friday, June 29, 2018, 12:41:21 PM EDT
Subject: [DupontForum] Cheh and McDuffie Grill DMPED for Answers on disposing of Crummell


CM Cheh and McDuffie Grill DMPED for Answers

On disposing of Crummell Land

As residents and community leaders jammed the hearing room at the Wilson Bg., Wednesday, June 27, Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Kenyan McDuffie heard the testimony of 45 witnesses overwhelmingly in protests of the Mayor’s development plan that would surplus (grant a 99 year lease to the developer for $1/yr.) land around the historic Crummell School in Ivy City, opening the community to further gentrification and displacement of its minority residents. Overwhelmingly, they spoke in favor of a community-led development plan the Mayor rejected that would have provided parks and play space, day care, a community center and affordable housing desperately needed in one of the poorest minority communities in the city.

Empower DC Executive Parisa Norouzi lead witnesses to urge the Council not to dispose of the green space surrounding the Crummell School, but to reserve one acre for park and play space. One resident directly contradicted the developer who said there was not room enough for a basketball court.  

The surprise came at the end of a long day when Councilmembers McDuffie and Cheh grilled agents from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) asking them to defend the development plan chosen by the Mayor. One of the critical points was over the size and shape of public land to be surplussed. DMPED testified that residents had not raised the issue of size of the green space at the time of the community engagement, but there would be future engagement where the size and shape of the space would be considered.

 “To increase the size?” Cheh asked over and over. And repeatedly the DMPED agent obfuscated, prevaricated and dissembled, in a scene that has to be seen to be believed. Here is the link. Look for 6:29 and following. (Joint Public Hearing, Committee on Business & Economic Development, Kenyan McDuffie, Chairperson, Committee on Transportation & the Environment, Mary Cheh, Chairperson - Jun 27th, 2018)


“So, community engagement would be on size?” Cheh asked. “It would be on size. . .” DMPED replied matter-of-factly. “Maybe I misunderstand. It will or it will not be on the size?” DMPED replied, “If you have community engagement, . . . size will be brought up. . ..” “So, this is not set in stone? It could go from half an acre to another acre with some post community engagement?” Cheh persisted. Finally DMPED confessed, “It would be very, very difficult . . .“ to change the size and shape of the green space.  “So we shouldn’t just say that then, because that is not realistic - what you say. Right?” Cheh coaxed. The DMPED agent nodded affirmatively, silently, in aural testimony for the record.

Former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who served three years in prison after being convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from city programs for children, testified with activists in support of recreation space. His mother, Romaine Thomas, who raised her family in Ivy City and served as teacher and principal of Crummell, also testified on behalf of the community-led development plan.

Crummell School is named after Alexander Crummell, the black 19th-century abolitionist and contemporary of Fredrick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois. He served as pastor at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 15th & Q Sts. NW in East Dupont Circle.

Nick DelleDonne

ANC Commissioner 2B04

202 667 9639