October 1 Schmooze and Views

On October 1, Ward3Vision hosted a “Schmooze and Views” get-together at Bread+Salt, a new Mediterranean bistro in Tenleytown.  Many thanks to our friends and neighbors who joined us to hear perspectives on smart growth from several speakers who presented birds-eye, mid-range, and street level views of what methods, organizations, and design principles all come into play to achieve smart growth.  Afterwards there was a chance to exchange ideas with Ward3Vision members — we want to hear from you!

Greater GreaterWashington editor and Arlington County transportation planner, Dan Malouff, spoke of the general trends in DC’s demographics and the need for smart growth.  He recounted how concerned citizens successfully lobbied for a DDOT study  of bus lanes along 16th St. and encouraged grass-roots organizations such as Ward3Vision to persist in testifying on behalf of transit-oriented development.

ANC3F Commissioner and President of the Van Ness Main Street project, Mary Beth Ray, provided an overview of how the Main Street application was an outgrowth of Van Ness Vision, which began over two years ago.  She foresees that the city seed money along with the input of committees composed of members representing both residents and commercial will be a true impetus for revitalizing the commercial heart of Van Ness.

Joe Bous and his partner, Kurt Weierstall, from Valor Development spoke about smart growth principles guiding and shaping the development for a proposed mixed-use project at the former SuperFresh site in Spring Valley.  They emphasized the need for permeability through the project to increase the connection with Massachusetts Ave., and to encourage greater walkability with interior pedestrian streets lined with shopping.

We see a role for Ward3Vision for all three levels of commentary, from policy setting to critique of design elements (more for their contribution to the quality of the urban experience than purely aesthetic preferences).  We spoke to many supporters who wondered how best they could become more involved and contribute to the mission.

  • A young couple are interested in finding ways to encourage more retail and restaurants along Wisconsin Ave and ways to beautify the section from Friendship Heights to Tenleytown viewing the GDS project as a good first step.
  • A retired economist is interested in finding ways to incentivize the Comprehensive Plan to increase the development of projects embodying smart growth principles.
  • Two IT guys have a model for interactive community participation which they hope to sell to subscribers but might also be available for crowd-sourcing and other forms of information that would assist Ward3Vision in reaching out to the general public.
  • A participant of the Ward3Vision charrette held last June has major concerns about affordable housing for middle income earners in DC.
  • One attendee is concerned about the Western Bus garage and the commercial value of the land at the Friendship Heights location thinking that Ward3Vision might get involved in seeking alternative locations (possibly under the playing fields of Fort Reno?).
  • Another attendee is an active supporter of aging-in-place and the health benefits of the physical activity available in parks and through gardening.
  • Among the many others are those with concerns about biking and pedestrian safety, the proposals to modify the bus stops along Fort Drive, concerns over how to improve the residential parking permit system, and those excited by the possibilities of creating destination public space (such as the Davenport Steps or a skate park) in Tenleytown.

    We hope the success of this first event of this kind will lead to similar “Schmooze and Views” occasions in different locations throughout Ward 3.  We are continuing to work with the Georgetown Day School submission for approval of their proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) and foresee many other projects (SuperFresh and along Wisconsin Ave. from Fannie Mae to former AU commercial holdings). If you have particular issues that interest you or particular skills you would like to contribute to our efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@ward3vision.org.

    Looking forward to hearing from you and working together for a visionary Ward 3–

    Susan Kimmel
    On behalf of the Ward3Vision Steering Committee