Call to Artists for New Lamond-Riggs Library

From DC Public Library

DC Public Library is issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to engage individual artists, designers, and art/design teams for the design of a permanent work of public art for the new Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library, located at 5401 South Dakota Avenue, NE, Washington, DC.

The Artists shall respond with professional qualifications in addition to proposals for the artwork, which will be a permanent installation on the “Heritage Wall,” a two-story partition that frames the main staircase and will be highly visible to customers entering the library as well as pedestrians and drivers along South Dakota Avenue.       

The new Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library will open in Spring 2022. The new building is being designed and built by the team of Hammel, Green & Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA) & Consigli Construction.                                    

RFQ Submission Deadline: February 7, 2022, by 2 p.m. EST
Award Amount: $7,500 

Learn more about the Lamond-Riggs Library project.

January 26: ANC 5A Public Meeting

ANC 5A Monthly Public Meeting
January 26, 2022
6:45 pm

Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/84468779532?pwd=VGJCRGhlQUxTdldqbDU2RXVEd2ZUUT09

Meeting ID:  844 6877 9532   Passcode: 097050

Dial In: 301 715 8592

Agenda Items

  • Commission Business
    • New Commissioner Orientation
    • Q1 FY22 Quarterly Financial Report
    • ANC Security Fund
    • 2020-2021 Annual Report
    • Grant Guidelines Update
  •   Community Updates
    • MPD Carlos T. Heraud- Commander, Fourth District Introduction
    • Mayor’s Office
    • Councilmember McDuffie’s office  
  •  Reports & Presentations
    • CUA Introduction of new Associate Director of Government and Community Relations
    • DC Trail Rangers – WABA
    • Lamond-Riggs Library construction update – Robert Oliver

January 24: ANC 4B Public Meeting

ANC 4B Regular Public Meeting 
Monday, January 24, 2022, 7:00 p.m. 

Virtual Meeting Details: 

For video participation via Zoom on a computer or mobile device, click this link: https://bit.ly/ANC4BmeetingJan2022. Meeting ID: 838 5511 0535. Passcode: 907742. 

For voice-only participation on a telephone, dial (301) 715-8592. Meeting ID: 838 5511 0535. Passcode: 907742.  

Agenda 

1. Call to Order & Roll Call  

2. Administrative Items: 
A. Instructions re Participation in Virtual Meeting 
B. Election of Officers 
C. Appointment of Representative to Walter Reed CAC 
D. Consideration and Approval of January Agenda 
E. Approval of November 2021 Regular Public Meeting Minutes 
F. Approval of 2021 Meeting Schedule (4th Monday, except September; recess in July, August & December)
G. Approval of ANC Security Fund 
H. Treasurer’s Report and Quarterly Financial Report for First Quarter FY2022  

3. Commissioner Updates (if applicable) 

4. Community Concerns: *Please use the “Raise Hand” button via Zoom or *9 via telephone to speak during community concerns. The Commission will provide additional details regarding how to present community concerns via the virtual meeting at the start of the meeting.* This is the time for questions or statements from members of the public about issues on the agenda or other areas of concern. Please limit your statement or question to one minute. You may also contact members of the Commission before and after Commission meetings. 

5. Reports: 
A. Anthony Mitchell, Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services (3 minutes)  
B. Tamira Benitez, Office of Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George (3 minutes) 
C. Frazier O’Leary, Ward 4 State Board of Education Representative (3 minutes) 
D. Metropolitan Police Department, 4th District (3 minutes) 
E. Housing Justice Committee (2 minutes) 
F. Vision Zero Committee (2 minutes) 

6. Presentation: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (20 minute presentation; 10 minute discussion)

7. Presentation: Michael Alvino & Charlie Alexander, District Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Branch Trail, Blair Road to Piney Branch Road (10 minute presentation; 10 minute discussion) 

8. Presentation: Stephen Akyereko, Outreach Coordinator, DC Water, Lead Free DC (10 minute presentation; 5 minute discussion)

9. Consent Calendar:  

Letter: Oversight of the District Department of Transportation (Commissioner Yeats, Commissioner Palmer & Commissioner Brooks)  

Resolution 4B-22-0101: Supporting and Providing Feedback on the Walk Without Worry Amendment Act of 2021 and the Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act of 2021 (Commissioner Palmer & Commissioner Yeats) 

Resolution 4B-22-0102: Supporting Construction of the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Fort Totten to Takoma (Commissioner Yeats) 

Resolution 4B-22-0103: Requesting the District of Columbia Provide High-Quality Masks to Schools and Other Communities in Need (Commissioner Yeats) 

Resolution 4B-22-0104: Reauthorizing Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B’s Housing Justice Committee (Commissioner Palmer) 

Resolution 4B-22-0105: Reauthorizing Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B’s Vision Zero Committee (Commissioner Brooks & Commissioner Yeats) 

Resolution 4B-22-0106: Reauthorizing Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B’s Community Safety and Support Committee (Commissioner Tiffani Nichole Johnson) 

Letter of Support to Rename Lamond-Riggs Library in Honor of Lillian J. Huff (Commissioner Huff) 

Resolution 4B-22-0107: Supporting Rapid Tests to be Delivered to Seniors and Homebound Residents (Commissioner Huff) 10. Resolution 4B-22-0108: Supporting Renovation of 145 Kennedy Street, NW (Commissioner Brooks)  

11. Adjournment  

Next Regular Public Meeting: Monday, February 28, 2022, 7:00 p.m.

Contact your Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner: ANC 4B01 Evan Yeats (4B01@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B02 Erin Palmer (4B02@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B03 Jocelynn Johnson (4B03@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B04 Brenda Parks (4B04@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B05 Graham Button (4B05@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B06 Tiffani Nichole Johnson (4B06@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B07 Geoff Bromaghim (4B07@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B08 Alison Brooks (4B08@anc.dc.gov); ANC 4B09 LaRoya Huff (4B09@anc.dc.gov)

Chick-fil-A Signage is Up

Chick-fil-A under construction at 220 Riggs Road NE, January 14, 2022

A neighbor told me last night that the Chick-fil-A signage was installed so I took a quick picture today from the 3rd Street side. It is a little hard to tell from the picture, but there is bit of landscaping installed behind the construction fencing.

ANC Redistricting

Now that the new ward boundaries for DC are in place, it is time to turn to redistricting for Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) boundaries. (Note that the ward map signed into law keeps the northern Ward 5 boundaries intact). The DC Council Redistricting Subcommittee has released information about the ANC redistricting process, available at https://www.elissasilverman.com/redistricting. Each ward councilmember is responsible for putting together a ward level task force to recommend ANC boundaries. According to the information listed on the redistricting website, each ANC single member district (SMD) must have between 1,900 and 2,100 residents.

Expected Timeline

  • January 2022: Ward task forces begin meeting
  • April 1, 2022: Ward task force reports due to the Council
  • April 2022: Council hearings on ANC and SMD boundaries
  • May/June 2022: Subcommittee vote on ANC and SMD boundaries bill
  • June 2022: full Council votes on ANC and SMD boundaries bill

Task force meeting dates are already listed for Ward 5, but not Ward 4 just yet.

  • Ward 5 (watch all meetings live at https://www.facebook.com/KenyanRMcDuffie)
    • Tuesday, January 11, at 6pm
    • Tuesday, January 25, at 6pm
    • Tuesday, February 8, at 6pm
    • Tuesday, February 22, at 6pm
    • Tuesday, March 8, at 6pm
    • Tuesday, March 22, at 6pm

It is not clear who is on the Ward 5 ANC redistricting task force.

In December, Greater Greater Washington published a piece about potential Ward 5 ANC configurations. We shall see what the task force comes up with.

DC Council Oversight Hearings

The DC Council has begun performance oversight hearings for District government agencies. This is a good opportunity to let the Council know both the good and the bad with respect to agencies and offer suggestions for improvement. The schedule is available at https://dccouncil.us/2021-2022-performance-oversight-fy-2023-budget-schedules. You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the hearing notice to find out how to testify live or submit written testimony for each committee.

As an aside, I sometimes question the extent to which Council staffers actually read written testimony that is not accompanied by oral testimony. A couple of months ago, there was some discussion about the extent to which having virtual hearings during the pandemic increased public participation. It is nice having virtual hearing options. What would also be nice and a means to facilitating public participation is making sure the Council reads written testimony that is submitted for the record. It is probably easier to pay attention to oral testimony, especially when it comes from repeat players and questions can be asked. But I also think well done written testimony can be really valuable if people pay attention to it. And also, while it does take time to write, one can do so without having to take leave from work, unlike with live testimony.

In any case, go ahead and check out the performance oversight schedule and comment to your heart’s delight.

January 19: ANC 4B Vision Zero Committee Meeting

From ANC 4B

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B’s Vision Zero Committee will meet on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The Committee will be meeting virtually. Details about participating in the meeting are included below:
ANC 4B – Vision Zero Committee (January) Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82130002786?pwd=SzV4cW9Cc0ZKRmJLSFZSL3ZmRWxWdz09.

Meeting ID: 821 3000 2786. Passcode: 054243.

One tap mobile +19292056099,,82130002786#,,,,*054243# US (New York) +13017158592,,82130002786#,,,,*054243# US (Washington DC) Dial by your location +1 929 205 6099 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) Meeting ID: 821 3000 2786 Passcode: 054243 Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kyz2FU9uY.

Additional information is available on the Commission’s website: https://anc4b.com/committees/vision-zero-committee/.

New Ward 5 MOCR

There has been a bit of turnover with the mayor’s office community liaisons (MOCRs) for Ward 5. Christopher Ingram has replaced Kyla Woods. Nokomis Hunter remains with the office. The MOCRs are there to assist residents with issues with District agencies. They are often a helpful, pleasant group of people to work with. Contact information for both Ward 5 MOCRs below.

Nokomis Hunter
Email: nokomis.hunter@dc.gov
Cell phone: (202) 251-5049

Christopher Ingram
Email: christopher.ingram@dc.gov
Cell phone: (202) 394-4399

January 2022 Development Roundup: Gym is Open

Here is a new year roundup with the status of a few neighborhood development projects to the best of my knowledge.

1. Art Place at Fort Totten

Onelife Fitness is open at 5198 South Dakota Avenue NE as of today January 10, 2022. I am excited both to have a pretty nice gym in walking distance and to finally have an anchor in place for the first phase of Art Place at Fort Totten (called the Modern at Art Place) that was completed in fall 2017 (hooray!).

Pictures of the gym below

As for the second phase (called the FEZ at Art Place), at a public hearing on December 13, 2021, the DC Zoning Commission voted (5-0-0) to approve the developer’s application for a modification of significance (this was filed after Meow Wolf dropped out of the project). Just waiting for the official order to come down and then we can expect to see construction activity begin for the second phase. The second phase will consist of a food hall, Aldi grocery store, Explore! Children’s Museum, immersive arts space and performance venue, additional retail, 294 residential units (with 30 reserved below market-rate for artists and 3 additional units reserved below market rate for other individuals), and 494 vehicle parking spaces. The developer is also extending 3rd Street NE in front of the Aventine apartment building.

2. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A under construction at 220 Riggs Road NE, January 2, 2022.

Construction continues for a Chick-fil-A on the corner of 3rd Street and Riggs Road NE. Last update we received on this was that the restaurant will open sometime in March 2022. There has been talk about having a job fair. Stay tuned.

3. Riggs Park Place

Riggs Park Place under construction at South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road NE, January 2, 2022.

Anyone passing by the corner of South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road NE can see the townhomes at Riggs Park Place under construction. The 90 townhomes make up the first phase of the project. Just a few homes remain to be sold, and the first move-ins should be coming this spring. The second phase will consist of a multifamily building with approximately 90 rental units reserved as affordable housing for seniors and a few units of permanent supportive housing, along with about 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail. The second phase is not expected to get started until 2023. See this December 2021 update from EYA.

4. Lamond-Riggs Library

Lamond-Riggs Library under construction at 5401 South Dakota Avenue NE, January 2, 2022.

DC Public Library officials have been keeping us up to date with periodic construction reports on the rebuilding of the Lamond-Riggs Library. The new library should be opening sometime in spring 2022. The interim library is open at 395 Ingraham Street NE.

I have heard rumblings that some residents want to name the rebuilt library after a longtime resident who passed away in 2018. Interesting fact: The original library was designed by African-American architects who were brothers, Charles Bryant and Robert Bryant. Their firm Bryant and Bryant lives on in successor firm Bryant Mitchell. It is my understanding that Robert Bryant and his wife Shirley Bryant lived in Riggs Park on 4th Street NE (and Mrs. Bryant still lives there today).

From DC Public Library:

https://www.dclibrary.org/localblackhistory

Local architects Bryant and Bryant designed the current Lamond-Riggs Library in 1979. The $2M library opened in 1983. Both Bryant brothers, Charles and Robert are now deceased and their legacy lives on through Charles Bryant II, also an architect.

If the library is going to be named after anyone (and I have my thoughts about naming buildings after people), how cool would it be to be named after these two historical figures who are responsible for the original library as well as a number of other buildings around the city (see Washington Post obituary and The American Institute of Architects obituary of Charles Bryant).

5. Metropolitan Branch Trail

The extension of the MBT from Brookland to Fort Totten is almost complete. View the project website at https://www.metbranchtrail-forttotten.com. The last little (and most complicated) bit that will curve around the green line tunnel at Fort Totten Metro still needs to be done.

In late 2021, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented on the full design for the next phase, the Fort Totten to Takoma extension. The project website for this phase is https://metbranchtrail.com/met-branch-trail-fort-totten-to-takoma. A traffic signal was installed at 1st Street and Riggs Road NE just before the end of the year, but it is not clear if it is actually operational, as it remains a blinking red. This traffic signal was expedited ahead of the rest of the Fort Totten to Takoma extension. A bike signal will be added later.

DDOT has also started design of the final piece of the MBT from Blair Road to Piney Branch Road. View the project website at https://metbranchtrail.com/blair-rd-to-piney-branch.

6. 6101 Sligo Mill Road NE

We covered this project in these posts. The plan was for the developer to tear down the existing vacant building and construct a new one with 50 rental units. The developer started holding community meetings, and then DC’s Office of Planning (OP) said not so fast. Apparently, OP does not want the building torn down and has asked the developer to see about preserving at least some of the building (it is an attractive old building). The developer previously stated it has taken so long for this building to be developed into housing because its layout is not conducive to housing. In response to OP’s concerns though, the developer is reworking its plan to see if they can preserve some of the building. For right now, things are in a holding pattern.

Take the Met Branch Trail (Blair Road to Piney Branch Road) Survey by tomorrow January 7

The design survey for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) from Blair Road to Piney Branch Road will close tomorrow January 7, 2022. Take the survey here. The project website for this part of the trail is https://metbranchtrail.com/blair-rd-to-piney-branch.

You can read comments from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association on this part of the trail at https://waba.org/blog/2022/01/metropolitan-branch-trail-blair-road-to-piney-branch-road-design-survey.

January 12: ANC 4B Housing Justice Committee Meeting

From ANC 4B

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B’s Housing Justice Committee will meet on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, beginning at 8:00 p.m. The Committee will be meeting virtually. Details about participating/watching the meeting are included below:

ANC 4B – Housing Justice Committee (January) 
Hosted by ANC 4B 

https://dcnet.webex.com/dcnet/j.php?MTID=m03c2c95cf97fb2c147bba09c0c8ebd4a 
Wednesday, Jan 12, 2022 8:00  
Meeting number: 2311 681 1915 
Password: pkMFiRuV247 

Join by video system 
Dial 23116811915@dcnet.webex.com 
You can also dial 173.243.2.68 and enter your meeting number. 

Join by phone 
+1-202-860-2110 United States Toll (Washington D.C.) 
1-650-479-3208 Call-in toll number (US/Canada) 
Access code: 231 168 11915 

Additional information is available on the Commission’s website at https://anc4b.com/committees/housing-justice-committee/.

CM Lewis George Ward 4 Virtual Listening Sessions

Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George is holding a series of virtual listening sessions for Ward 4 neighborhoods in the upcoming weeks. CM Lewis George held a series of listening sessions when she was running for office and I do think they were useful and productive for her team. I encourage neighbors to register and attend and to use these sessions as an opportunity to put forth ideas for legislation and focused action from the Councilmember’s office.

The listening session for Riggs Park is on February 10, 2022, at 6:30 pm. Ward 5 Riggs Park residents should also sign up to share ideas applicable to the neighborhood.

Register at janeeseward4.com/listen or (202) 724-8052.

Full schedule:

  • Thursday, Jan. 13 at 6:30pm: Shepherd Park, Brightwood & Walter Reed
  • Thursday, Jan. 20 at 6:30pm: Crestwood & 16th Street Heights
  • Thursday, Jan. 27 at 6:30pm: Takoma & Manor Park
  • Thursday, Feb. 3 at 6:30pm: Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods & Hawthorne
  • Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30pm: Lamond, Riggs Park & South Manor Park
  • Thursday, Feb. 17 at 6:30pm: North Portal Estates & Colonial Village
  • Thursday, Feb. 24 at 6:30pm: Petworth & Brightwood Park

New Police Commander for MPD Fourth District

Last week, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) announced that Carlos Heraud will take the reins as commander overseeing MPD’s Fourth District (4D) from Randy Griffin, who assumed a command position in MPD’s recently created Technical and Analytical Services Bureau. Riggs Park sits within the boundaries of the Fourth District. Below is the message Commander Heraud shared with residents on MPD 4D’s google group:

Good Afternoon 4th District Residents,

I’m very excited about my new assignment as Commander of the Fourth District. My time as a sector captain in the Seventh District and as Summer Crime Initiative (SCI) Captain in 2018 and 2019 gave me great insight into crime trends in different parts of the city. That experience, coupled with my earlier patrol assignments, gives me the tools I need to work with our community partners as we identify ways to use traditional and non-traditional methods to address and prevent crime in the Fourth District. I welcome community input and encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns that may arise.

The Fourth District leadership team looks forward to working with the community during this transition.

Residents can always contact Commander Heraud about issues in the neighborhood. His email address is carlos.heraud@dc.gov. Riggs Park sits in Sector 2 of the Fourth District. The MPD captain for Sector 2 is John Terry. He can be reached at john.terry@dc.gov. Officer Robert Hamrick is the community engagement coordinator for the Fourth District. His email address is robert.hamrick@dc.gov. The full roster of Fourth District key personnel is available at https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/fourth-district-roster.

ANC 4B Community Safety and Support Committee – Call for Committee Members

From ANC Commissioner Tiffani Nicole Johnson (4B06), Chair ANC 4B Community Safety & Support Committee

I am still on the lookout for additional members to join the ANC 4B Community Safety and Support Committee.  ANC 4B adopted my resolution establishing this Committee on Match 22, 2021. The committee has met a few times, but we need more members, a total of five (5), not including myself, in order to officially be constituted as a functioning Committee.  

So, while I am so grateful for the two constituents who have reached out to me and are on board (one still officially needs to be confirmed by the fully body of the ANC), we still need at least 3 more who will also need to be confirmed by the full body of the ANC.  

We are looking for individuals who live within the boundaries of ANC 4B, but also have an interest or background in holistic approaches to public safety. But our committee will also be focusing on the systemic issues related to public safety such as the need for quality social services (addition/recovery, employment/employment readiness/job training, mental health).  

The committee will also review and make recommendations regarding proposed police reforms, audits, etc. 

The full resolution is [here]. If interested, please reach out to me at 4b06@anc.dc.gov.

Thank you.

Ward 4 ANC Redistricting Task Force

From Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George newsletter:

The Council is set to finalize DC’s redistricted Ward boundaries on Tuesday, which will move us to the next step of the process: redistricting ANC boundaries. As part of this process, each ward Councilmember appoints a ward task force to make recommendations for how the Council should adjust the ANC and single-member district (SMD) boundaries. The Chairman of the Council and each At-Large Councilmember also get to appoint one person to each ward redistricting task force.  If you are a Ward 4 resident and a registered voter who is interested in serving as part of this task force, please email your name, contact information, and street address for consideration to my Legislative Director Joanna Blotner at jblotner@dccouncil.usTo prevent the potential of a conflict of interest, I plan for the Ward 4 task force to be independent from ANC-level elected office; please do not apply if you are a current ANC Commissioner or if you are considering running for an ANC position next year. Task force members will be dedicating a significant amount of time and serve without compensation. Their service will continue until the task force files its final report with the Council. ANC redistricting task forces will be finalized in early January, begin meeting on January 16, and submit their recommendations on ANC and SMD boundaries by April 2022.

Neighbor Profile: Grammy-Nominated Devin Walker

Devin Walker shown with his cabasa

One Riggs Park neighbor can add Grammy-nominated to his profile. Devin Walker, creator of The Uncle Devin Show, recently received news that he was nominated for a Grammy award for his contributions to a children’s album called All One Tribe by the 1 Tribe Collective. Neighbors might be familiar with Mr. Walker from his performances at neighborhood children’s festivals hosted by Explore! Children’s Museum. Or maybe neighbors tune into his WEE Nation Radio show on WPFW FM 89.3.

We caught up with Mr. Walker, chatting by phone and also getting written responses to questions. Born in DC, Mr. Walker spent his formative years in Prince George’s County, taking drum lessons during his youth. He went on to attend college at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and eventually worked for Metro for 20 years investigating discrimination complaints. He moved back to DC in 1997, choosing to settle in the Riggs Park neighborhood in 2000 because it was close to a Metro station and close to things happening in DC.

It was his love for his nieces and nephews that really inspired him to start making children’s music. He produced his first CD in 1997 and from there kept making music for children. He taught himself how to play other percussion instruments such as the congas and bongos. He keeps a recording device handy to record lyrics and ideas as they come to him. Once he comes up with lyrics, sometimes children help him structure the song. His wife and manager of The Uncle Devin Show, Lolita Walker, also assists in his creative process.

The Grammy award ceremony will take place in Los Angeles. The event will be streamed online on January 31, 2022. While the children’s music awards will not be part of the main stage ceremony, Mr. Walker will be able to attend all of the ceremonies. One of his goals in attending the ceremonies is to recruit more musicians into children’s music, even if that means just putting one children’s song on their album. Mr. Walker shared that this year’s children’s music nominees are a diverse group, reflecting the diversity in the genre. After observing that previous award nominees were all white, he and others formed a group called Family Music Forward and worked with Harvey Mason, Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, to better support diversity in children’s music.

In the new year, Mr. Walker looks forward to the launch of the Black Children’s Network with his other co-founders.

Find Mr. Walker online at The Uncle Devin Show and WEE Nation Radio and on social media: FB/IG/Twitter/YouTube — @uncledevinshow and @weenationradio

Read on for the written responses we received to our questions.

1. Tell us about yourself, how long you have lived in Riggs Park, and how you got started in music and specifically making children’s music.

I moved to Riggs Park in 2000 and have lived at the same house on Oneida Street ever since. I got started in music early in life when I took over my older brother’s drum set when I was about 4 years old. My parents told me I was always beating on the table, floors, and so they fed my desire by keeping me involved in music all throughout school.

2. In what category are you nominated for a GRAMMY award? Have you ever been nominated for a GRAMMY award before?

I was nominated as part of the “1 Tribe Collective,” for a GRAMMY Award in the Best Children’s Music Album of the Year for our album, “All One Tribe”.  This is my first time being nominated for a GRAMMY.

3. What is the nomination process like? Walk us through it. How were you notified? What were you feeling/what thoughts went through your head when you received the news that this album on which you participate was nominated for a GRAMMY?

The nominations are made by voting members including artists and producers of the Recording Academy, which owns the GRAMMY’s.  I have been a Recording Academy voting member since 2014.

There are two different rounds of voting. Only members of the Recording Academy can submit an album for consideration. The top five albums with the most votes are nominated. The second round of voting, which started on December 6 and ends on January 4, 2022, will determine the winner.

We were notified via an announcement ceremony on November 23 via the Recording Academy’s website.  Actually, Jon Batiste who is also nominated for 11 GRAMMY’s himself, made the announcement for our category among others which you can see on my Facebook page (click Here).  What an honor it was to have the multi-talented musician, band leader and tv personality announce our project as a GRAMMY nominee.

I had already planned to spend the day with my parents and was running errands with my dad when my phone began blowing up with congratulatory texts and calls.  We couldn’t believe this was happening. When we returned to the house, my mom was so happy she began crying.  I attempted to call my wife several times to share the good news, but she was busy doing laundry at the time and missed my calls.  It was unbelievable, we laugh about it now, but she was ecstatic.  So, when I got home, we shared a celebratory toast.

4. Tell us about the 1 Tribe Collective.

I am a member of the 1 Tribe Collective, a group of 25-black children’s artists who came together after the death of George Floyd to address the issue of the lack of diversity within the children’s music genre. We all come from different backgrounds and music genres, including R&B, Hip-Hop, Folk, Country, African World Music, Funk, Reggae, Go-Go and more.  It was truly a Black Lives inspired project.

5. Tell us about the All One Tribe Album and why this album is important to you. What is the significance of the song “A Go-Go Fun Day” that you contributed to this album?

One of the important aspects of this album is that we did not wait for anyone else to give us permission to do for our community what we knew was our responsibility. We let the world know that not only do we exist, but that Black voices in children and family music matter.

A Go-Go Fun Day uses the official music of DC, “Go-Go Music,” to document the resistance movement by Black residents in the Nation’s Capital against racism when Blacks were not allowed to attend the Easter Egg Roll at the White House.  Instead, they were permitted to go to the National Zoo, and it became an unofficial holiday over the years.  It shows our ability to turn an adverse circumstance into a positive outcome that has lasted for over one hundred years in a city where DC residents are taxed without representation. It is about community control of everything we do.

6. What’s next for The Uncle Devin Show?

I will be releasing one of the first ever children’s Go-Go albums in early 2022 entitled, “Little Kangaroo in the Pocket.”  Additionally, I will continue conducting workshops, residencies and concerts for schools, libraries, museums, and other venues for children and families.

Also, as a DC Certified Business Enterprise (CBE), we look to develop short and long-term contracts with schools, parks and recreation and the DC Public Library where we will conduct professional development courses for their staff. I offer six different training programs including, “Racism in Children’s Music: Liberating Music for the Black Child,” “Think Local, Crank Global: A Go-Go Workshop for Educators!” and “A Family Involvement Workshop.

We will also continue providing the only children’s music radio program catering to the Black community entitled, WEE Nation Radio. WEE stands for Watoto Entertainment & Education, and Watoto is a Swahili word that means, “Children.”  We provide the best in family-friendly global beats for little feet and is a 24/7 online music radio station that streams R&B, Hip-Hop, Funk, Jazz, Go-Go and World music specially created for kids.

Met Branch Trail – Blair Road to Piney Branch Road Meeting Documents/Survey

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) now has a webpage for the part of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that will run from Blair Road to Piney Branch Road, available at https://metbranchtrail.com/blair-rd-to-piney-branch. This is the final section of the trail. DDOT states they expect construction to be complete by 2024/2025. The presentation on initial design/concepts from the December 7, 2021, meeting is available on the site.

For those interested, there is also a survey on design and alternatives for this part of the trail.

Art Place at Fort Totten: Documents Submitted for Phase Two Public Hearing

On December 13, 2021, the DC Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the Modification of Significance application submitted by the Cafritz Foundation for the second phase of Art Place at Fort Totten (known as Block B). The case number is 06-10G. To sign up to testify or to submit written comments, follow the instructions in the hearing notice. Written comments must be submitted at least 24 hours before the hearing.

Block B will sit on South Dakota Avenue NE between Ingraham Street NE and Kennedy Street NE. We have covered the modification process extensively on the blog the past several weeks. The proposed changes, resulting from the loss of Meow Wolf from the project, were previously submitted as part of a Modification of Consequence application in case number 06-10F. The Zoning Commission determined that a limited scope public hearing was necessary and withdrew case 06-10F. The development team resubmitted the proposed changes in the Modification of Significance application.

A few updates on what has happened in late November/December, as documents are being submitted on a weekly basis.

Developer’s Supplemental Statement

Previously, in the withdrawn Modification of Consequence case (06-10F), DC’s Office of Planning (OP) and the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association (LRCA) submitted filings requesting additional information from the development team. On October 1, 2021, OP requested the team to submit information about the proposed color palette changes, clarifications on the architectural details of some of the uses, and information regarding negotiations with the new operator for the family entertainment zone (FEZ), grocery store, and children’s museum. OP also strongly urged the developer to consider making some of the additional 23 housing units dedicated below market-rate units, even though the developer is not legally required to do so. On October 11, 2021, LRCA requested information about changes to 3rd Street NE and pedestrian safety measures and also requested that certain conditions from case 06-10F apply to the new case.

The developer submitted an initial statement in support of the new application on October 19, 2021.

On October 26, 2021, the Office of Planning submitted an updated report for this matter. In the updated report, OP also evaluated the proposed changes through a racial equity lens, again requesting more dedicated affordable units.

On November 22, 2021, the developer submitted a supplemental statement to address the issues raised by OP and LRCA. It looks like the team has abandoned its plan to change the color palette. The developer proposes to reserve 3 of the 23 additional housing units as Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) units (dedicated below market-rate units).

In response to OP’s question about the FEZ, the developer stated:

The Applicant has signed an operating agreement with the Venue Group to manage and program the food hall and performing arts spaces. The Applicant is finalizing its lease negotiations with Explore! Children’s Museum. The Applicant continues to meet with numerous groups/organizations that will lease the immersive arts space(s). However, the Applicant is not yet in a position to definitively state which of these groups/organizations will be coming to Block B. Pursuant to the terms of the lease with Aldi, the Applicant is required to provide the grocery store space to Aldi by January 2024. In order to meet that deadline, the Applicant will be starting Foundation to Grade work on the site in January, 2022.

As part of its filing, the developer also submitted a racial equity analysis. The developer also provided an updated trip generation analysis and analysis of the 3rd Street connection, stating the new road segment will have a de minimis impact.

DDOT Report

On December 3, 2021, DDOT submitted a report stating the agency does not object to the application for a modification, with two conditions: (1) Conditions related to transportation demand management, loading, and transportation improvments remain in effect. (2) The developer will fund and construct the 3rd Street segment, subject to DDOT approval.

Office of Planning Final Pre-hearing Report

On December 6, 2021, the Office of Planning submitted a final pre-hearing report. In that report, OP encouraged the developer to make more than 3 of the additional 23 units IZ units. In addition, OP has requested a description of the type and distribution of the IZ units. OP’s final report contains a handy chart comparing what was previously approved to what is being proposed now.

Here are the proposed changes at this point (as reflected in OP’s final report):

  • Add a northern extension to the wing on the west side of the former 4th Street, to contain an additional 23 residential units. 20 would be market rate and, as of November 22, 2021’s filings, 3 have been proffered as Inclusionary Zoning units;
  • Change the interactive entertainment provider from Meow Wolf to the Venue Group and reduce the square footage and volume of the venue;
  • Reduce the height of the glass “drum” enclosure in the FEZ area by about 22 feet while maintaining the approved maximum height for the wings containing residential units;
  • Modify the internal layouts and space allocations for the entertainment, retail and cultural components;
  • As of the November 22 filings, the applicant is no longer proposing changes to the previously approved colors of the façade of the western “residential” wing;
  • Relocate the planned dog park to the corner of 4th and Kennedy Streets;
  • Eliminate an open-air, stone-faced gazebo (a.k.a the “fort”), expanding both the FEZ footprint and enlarging the adjacent plaza;
  • Add a terrace level above the South Dakota Avenue retail;
  • Reduce parking spaces from 717 to 494, a 34% reduction for this phase, consistent with what the applicant states is the changed parking demand resulting from the change in the FEZ’s interactive entertainment provider;
  • Add a loading berth to the east wing, accessed from of[f] the closed 4th Street;
  • Reduce FAR by 0.32.

There are a lot more details in all of the documents, updated renderings, and the like, available on the Zoning Commission’s website, case number 06-10G, for anyone interested.

ANC 4B Report

The development team attended ANC 4B’s public meeting on November 22, 2021. The ANC voted to submit a resolution in support of the modifications to Block B, with recommendations.

ANC 4B is an affected party in this matter. The project sits across the street from ANC 4B. The boundary between ANC 4B and ANC 5A is Kennedy Street NE east of South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road NE west of South Dakota Avenue. ANC 4B had previously chosen not to participate in proceedings regarding the second phase.

ANC 4B’s Housing Justice Committee reviewed the project at a meeting on November 8, 2021. The Committee submitted a number of questions requesting information from the development team. See the development team’s responses here.

ANC 4B’s resolution builds upon OP’s and LRCA’s previous submissions and makes several recommendations:

  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports the proposed Modification of Significance, but asks that the Zoning Commission and the developer improve the project as to both affordability and stree safety.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports the reduction in parking for the Block B Planned Unit Development.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B generally supports the additional 23 units of housing with the addition of at least three income-restricted Inclusionary Zoning units, but the Commission urges the development team to consider additional income-restricted Inclusionary Zoning units in light of the length of time that has transpired since the original Planned Unit Development; the increased need for affordable housing, particularly in this area; and the overall legacy of racial discrimination as to affordable housing and home ownership.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B requests the development team and the Zoning Commission require that the additional Inclusionary Zoning units be family-sized, as the thirty artist units will not support families who need affordable housing.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B requests the development team and the Zoning Commission require that the additional Inclusionary Zoning units be at the 50% Median Family Income level, the most deeply affordable level in the Inclusionary Zoning program.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B requests the development team and the Zoning Commission require that the 84 Riggs Plaza leaseholder apartments be permanently designated as affordable, senior housing in perpetuity.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B requests that the Zoning Commission and the developer significantly improve the physical traffic calming on 3rd Street, NE and adjoining streets beyond just paint and signage to include street treatments, chicanes, raised crosswalks or other physical treatments designed to reduce vehicle speeds and create a shared space for vulnerable road users.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B requests that the Zoning Commission and the developer require the creation of a comprehensive school zone safety plan developed in cooperation with the District Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program for the schools located in the Planned Unit Development. The plan should at a minimum include pick up and drop off planning for students; crossing guard placements; flashing school zone speed limit signs; an examination of crosswalks and intersections for additional treatments including raised crosswalks, rapid flashing beacons, pedestrian hybrid beacons, and flashing stops signs; and consideration of speed humps and speed tables.

By family-sized units, the ANC means units with three or more bedrooms.

ANC 5A

ANC 5A previously supported the Modification of Consequence application in case 06-10F in a resolution with one condition requesting protected bike lanes on 3rd Street. At a public meeting on November 17, 2021, the ANC did vote to support the new Modification of Significance Application. I do not see an ANC report in the record for 06-10G and I do not know if the ANC plans to submit a report.

Aside on the discussion regarding income-restricted units

It is interesting to me that in its October 26th report, OP referenced a 2018 analysis of dedicated affordable housing by ANC when ANC/SMD boundaries are political boundaries that do change (ANC 5A’s boundaries for example did change after the 2010 Census). I know this project is sometimes treated as if it is on an island by itself separate and apart from an existing neighborhood, but it really is not. And if one looks at the income-restricted units in the neighborhood, such as the Milestone Apartments on 2nd Street NE, less than a half-mile north from this project that just happen to be located in ANC 4B, one gets a different story. But that is just an aside.

Also, when this project was first considered way back when, LRCA at that time requested that the income-restricted subsidized units be income-restricted subsidized in perpetuity and submitted testimony to that effect at a public Zoning hearing in 2009. With respect to the Riggs Plaza tenants, citing project economics, the developer instead offered an affordability covenant that would last for the life of the tenant or 20 years, whichever is longer. For the other income-restricted units, the affordability covenant would run 20 years. In 2010, the Zoning Commission approved the entire multi-phase project with the affordability commitments proferred by the developer at that time (Order No. 06-10). (This is one of the documents I was referring to in a previous post talking about the history behind wanting to connect some of the disconnected streets; it includes reference to connecting 3rd Street to Riggs Road). The Zoning Commission could have ordered stronger commitments then.

Fast forward to today and similar conversations about income-restricted units are taking place again, now with respect to the new units being proposed for Block B. The developer could of course agree to revisit its previous affordability commitment.

Again all just an observation.

Statements Regarding Building A

At the ANC 4B meeting on November 22, the development team addressed the amount of space still available for leasing in Building A, the first phase that was completed in 2017. Sean Cahill, a consultant on the project, stated that the development team is looking at ways to activate the old warehouses near 4th and Kennedy Street NE, as well as some of the retail space in Building A.

(And of course, finally having an anchor in place for Building A should help a lot).