BNCA Meeting Minutes
February 18, 2020
Dan: Welcome. Most officers are here, that’s good. Annual officers election, we’ll do it in the latter part of the meeting.
We’re here at Casey Trees because our regular location is at DCTV at Brooks Mansion which is under renovation, we didn’t know about it until too late in January meeting, and we tried to find an alternative and gave up. This is much better.
Standing items, old business.
Our January meeting agenda included a discussion with the developers who are planning to develop where Old Town Trolley parking lot is. The owner has a number of properties from Rhode Island Avenue up to Franklin and they want to make contact with the community. I had some coffee with some of them and Commissioner Ra Amin from ANC 5B04 has met with them. It’s a very large project that will happen over a long time. There may be some initial points of opportunity for the community to weigh in. We may be able to start off on the right foot with them. My initial assessment is that they seem interested in our input, they seem like they may want to do a formal PUD process. I want to get them on the agenda for the March meeting. They don’t have exact plans for what they want to do yet, they’re still working conceptually and through the Comp Plan process. I’ve talked to some residents who live in the immediate vicinity and we’ll want to have a process to make sure everyone’s views are heard.
Question: What is the developer’s name?
Dan: Developer is Jack Sharf, he has been around for a while. He owns Tastemakers property.His business partner is Andy Ross and they are working with Metropolis Capitol Brokers and the architect is Kevin Sperry. His firm is Antonovich, he may no longer be there. He did the REI building at ULine Arena and Hecht warehouses.
Question: You’re talking about the place where the Trolleys park along the tracks up to Franklin?
Answer: Yes and the property where the auto body shops are. I initially have a favorable impression of these developers but we’ll have to see what happens.
Other old business. I have an update on our oral history project with Brookland Middle School–some of the people in this room have been participating, and will be interviewed next Tuesday and Thursday as part of our partnership with Woodridge Library. I will get exact information squared away. We hope to have a capstone event, with results from the oral histories, presented to the community at the Library.
One more piece of old business. Clyde has been the BNCA Treasurer for at least seven years. I wanted to present something to you in appreciation of your years of service. Thank you Clyde!
Clyde: Thank you, I’ve enjoyed working with everyone in the organization and living in Brookland. The February report reflects activity in November, December, and January. We started with $3,848.09 and ended with a balance of $4,591.37. We took in a lot of members. 87 new and renewed members for those three months, mostly through PayPal. And we received a significant donation of $200. We had expenses, including our paper statement fee of $3, tickets to the annual luncheon for DCFCA (one of two umbrella civic associations), and we made a $250 contribution to Mary House.
Ask that it be approved. So moved, seconded, accepted.
Dan: We make a contribution every year to an organization in the community. This year we donated to Mary House. They provide housing and do great work in our community.
On to new business. We have two sets of guests. The first group we had planned was DC Agency for Community Living but they couldn’t make it. So we have instead folks from the Office of People’s Counsel, they do work representing rate payers in DC, in issues related to utilities. That’s as much as I know. Turning it over to Jean Gross-Bethel.
Jean Gross-Bethel: Good evening. My name is Jean Gross-Bethel and I am with the Office of People’s Counsel. I would also like to recognize Valca Valentine, and Cheryl Morris, my colleagues. I come to you in several capacities. One is as a representative of the OPC Consumer Services division and as a Ward 5 resident, and a rate payer, and senior community liaison. We are your utility consumer advocate. We represent you in all matters related to gas, electric, local telephone and water. Saundra Mattavous Frye is our People’s Counsel. There are 50 people at OPC, all with different specialties. I’m with the the Consumer Services division. We have a litigation department to make sure your needs are met with DC Public Service Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Communications Commission, DC Court of Appeals, and other bodies.
A description of our service offerings is in your handouts. In your pamphlet you have a senior resources guide. Basic information about us, how to read your bill, insights on on energy efficiency, and resources primarily for seniors. All this information is useful to all residents. Highly recommend you take a look.
Third-party suppliers are an issue we hear about in the community. These are individuals licensed to sell you electricity. OPC supports competition. We support your right to choose who your energy supplier is. PEPCO is a distribution company. We had deregulation and now you can choose. If you choose to buy from PEPCO they are the Standard of Service provider. If you choose an alternative, a third party, please review the pamphlet. Tells you the questions you need to ask so you can make an informed decision. In most cases it’s not necessarily true that you can save with a third-party supplier. Most are supplying renewable energy and that’s great. You just need to have an informed choice and select one that meets your needs. If you want to save on energy billsf because you’re taking measures on energy efficiency but still want to lower your bill, PEPCO is offering the lowest rate and they have to meet certain environmental standards.
Many people are looking at solar. Solar for All is our program. Mayor has a very aggressive goal for the city to be a sustainable city by 2032. One of the ways is by investing in renewable energy. This pamphlet has lots of good information to help you walk through all of the choices.
If ever you have an issue regarding services that you’re receiving, don’t know how to read your bill, wires or poles are hanging too low, construction that hasn’t been cleared, static on the line, etc. you can contact us. We are your watchdogs, we’re your advocates. The Public Service Commission is different–they balance interests of consumer and company. We are on your side. We represent YOUR interest in utility matters.
Take command of your utility rights– you have rights! Did you know you don’t have to provide SSN when you apply? Did you know utility has to provide you reading every month? We have this brochure, it explains the steps you can take, when you’re filing a complaint with our office, what to expect.
There are programs to assist if you’re having difficulty paying utility bills. One through the DC Energy Office. Some are income-based. For those who live in a home, if your furnace dies, if there’s someone in home receiving SS, regardless of what income is, you may be eligible to get furnace repaired or replaced. If you are having challenges paying bills, seniors don’t often realize they are eligible to meet their needs, or for help with weatherization, etc.
Rene: I’ve heard people in the community express concern about the criteria used to determine the Clean River Impervious Area Charge (CRIAC). Roof is used to consider impervious area. Without the structure you wouldn’t have an impervious area. How can they be involved in determining the criter for what’s considered impervious?
Valca: Going to board meetings as advocates at DC Water, there is a process where you can come together as an organization to challenge criteria. Water was added to OPC’s portfolio by Congress and Council. DC Water is not a government agency. It’s a corporate entity. We are your bulldog. Any structure that does not soak water is impervious. Roof, sidewalk, carport, garage, pool, riveway. Pet waste etc. will go into the sewer once you wash it down. It will go into the river. That’s why we’re working on this $2 billion infrastructure to correct that.
Rene: Why do we pay property taxes and CRIAC?
Valca: City council designation, there is a process to work that through what a CRIAC is. If you are paying more than $25 in CRIAC, I suggest you call us. There are some things you can do. They don’t like to think of it as a tax. You can fill out your form online, submit it via email or fax. If you have a complaint about CRIAC charge, you can call us, we can start a conversation about it.
Valca: Did you know that with a sewer backup–DC Water doesn’t pay for sewer back up, even if it is the result of a public fault. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t always cover back up, it may be an add-on. DC Water will not pay for clean up of raw sewage backup into your home. There are also water saving tips in your home. Make sure the seal on the bottom of the toilet tank is not cracked–that can add to your water bill. If we are invited to come back we’ll talk more about water.
Tom: We haven’t been able to get fair representation through DC Water.
Valca: Allow us to be your bulldog. For example we can help with the High usage notification system. If there’s a leak or DC Water determines that usage is high, DC water will email or text. If there’s a leak, DC Water won’t accommodate, but if you call us we can help.
Question: I had a horrible leak that cost thousands of dollars. DC Water said if I used a certified plumber they would help out and there was a payment plan.
Valca: Yes they will forgive late fees and penalty. Again, If your PRIAC is higher than $25 for a regular home, give us a call.
Rene: In Brookland, we have single family homes with driveways,, we have stairs, walkways, etc.
Valca: They are using satellite images and sometimes they get it wrong. Call us. $60 is too high.
Question: We got a letter about the replacement of lead pipe. It would cost money because they replaced the public pipe.
Valca: There is a lead pipe replacement program everyone can benefit from. Call us and ask for the water department, we’d be happy to help.
Cheryl: I’m a Consumer Outreach Specialist and will talk about Project Pipes from Washington DC. Infrastructure in DC is very old. Project Pipes is a 40-year plan to go into all of neighborhoods, dig up the pipes, replace them. Every ward in the city will be replaced. Yellow color from Miss Utility. That’s what you need to look at. OPC feels that for your safety that needs and in a timely fashion. They’re doing it in phases and they’re behind. They are working on catching up. They come into the neighborhood and dig up the street- they’re to give you 30-day notice that they’re coming. IT is weather dependent. It will affect your parking. 48-72 notice on where you can’t park. If you smell gas call 911 and then Washington Gas. Gas leaks have increased and that’s part of it. Take a picture of your house before they come. They can’t do anything without you knowing and they have to fix whatever they put awry. Another group of contractors comes to do clean up. Another project is to move the meter from inside to outside. They own the meter and have the right to say where it goes. As a homeowner you can say to some degree where it goes–it can’t impede a staircase or something. Take lots of pictures.
Sometimes consumers complain about contractors being rude. We meet with Washington Gas every quarter. We talk about where they are, where they’re going, who’s complaining about azaleas and sidewalks. They will fix things up. We’re proud to be a thorn in their side.
Question: We’ve had two rounds of delays in Pipes program. What can be done?
Answer: They go in front of PSC and they have to validate extension and they want to include it in rate increase. We’re there to make sure it doesn’t happen. I can at least get an accurate status.
Dan: Thank you so much, that was very informative. Next up, we have representatives from the Department of Human Services who are here to talk about DC Doors.
Tamara Mooney: I’m from DC Dept of Human Services. We got money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services to ensure that everything we do is youth-focused and youth-driven. We’ve recently opened Zoe’s Doors, at 900 Rhode Island Avenue NE, in the Jimmie Muscatello building.
Zoe’s Doors is a 24-hour hub. We have two other youth drop-in centers in the city. Outside of normal working hours, our young people have nowhere to go, young people are in streets, have nowhere to go. City wants to give them a chance to get into a better situation. 24-hour drop-in center where they can get a meal, shower, nap, medical or dental help, haircut, case management, roving nurse. Version program, at risk of eviction, pay rent arrears, etc, reunification services to get parents and kids in sync, GED test and prep. Zoe’s Doors has lots of partners. We’re focused on youth aged 24 and under, focused on ages 18-24 but we won’t push away kids 16-17 years old. Focus there is connecting with parents.
Jenethe: My name is Jenethe Peña, I’m the ED. We want to welcome you to center, staff can give you tour, we’re getting things up and running. I’m glad we’re part of the community. Want to give you more details about how things are progressing. Open communication, we want to hear from you about things we might not being seeing about. My cell number is 202-352-7073 and my name is Jenethe, I’m the Executive Director.
Question: Are you a shelter?
Question: You’re next door to BARJ and CSOSA. Why did you choose that site?
Answer: We went to a lot of sites, checked them out. DHS is the largest funding stream for services for youth, 24 and over. We are serving 500+ a day. We talked to them about what they need. Pathways on Evarts iis for adults. Virginia Williams is for families. Lots of tension in the area to mediate. Training from MPD and gang prevention and violence interrupters. We’re doing a Youth Health fair on Saturday from 11-3 Please come by.
Question: Can we bring toiletries by?
Answer: Yes, please drop them by. We need toiletries. We also need clothing for youth and sanitary napkins for women. SmartTrip cards are also a constant need.
Question: What draws youth into the building?
Answer: Zoe’s card. Like a game card at Dave and Busters. As you do positive things, you scan card, you get points. You trade them in for tickets to game, for things you need or want. Incentive program. Every time you see a counselor. Everything in the center was picked by young people. All the design was done by them.
Question: How long will you be there?
Answer: We hope for a long time. Our lease is 5-10 years.
Question: Are your patrons too old for foster care?
Answer: Yes, our visitors have aged out of foster care. The building looks nothing like it did when it was a uniform shop. Jimmie Muscatello’s was relocated to Bladensburg.
Dan: Thank you very much. Now on to our Officer’s Elections. Ground rules. We do this every year. Qualifications for voting is that you are a voting member in good standing, dues are paid up, and you live in the boundaries of the area we serve. Tracks to Buchanan street to South Dakota to 18th to Rhode Island Avenue back to tracks.
Anyone confused about whether you are a voting member? None.
Anyone confused about whether you are in good standing? None.
I do this on honor system and will take you in your word that you are in good standing We have 7 positions open. Every position is up for election each year. Myself, President, Vice President, Kathy Jacquart, Treasurer was Clyde Blassengale, Recording Secretary Helen LaCroix, Rene McCray, Membership Secretary, Member-at-Large Fred Jackson, Communications Coordinator Elise Scott. I’m naming people because they are incumbent. In the history of the organization there haven’t been any contested elections. I welcome a challenger. A few years ago we introduced voting by acclamation. We go through each position and if we get through and there are no challengers, we can approve the whole slate. I want to have a procedural vote on whether we want to do that. Are there any questions?
I move that we vote by acclamation. Seconded. Is anyone opposed? None.
All in favor. Ayes have it, no nays or abstentions.
- President: Dan Schramm is nominated, seconded. Accepts. No other nominations.
- Vice President: Kathy Jacquart nominated, seconded. Accepts. No other nominations.
- Treasurer: Terrance Hardy is nominated. Seconded. Accepts. No other nominations.
- Recording Secretary: Helen LaCroix nominated. Seconded. Accepts. No other nominations.
- Membership Secretary: Rene McCray nominated. Seconded. Accepts. No other nominations.
- Member-at-Large: Fred Jackson nominated. Seconded. Accepts. No other nominations.
- Communications Chair: Elise Scott nominated. Seconded. Accepts. No other nominations.
Elise: Regarding communications: We’re on Instagram. @BrooklandCivic.Lots of cute stuff and news and happenings relevant to the community. Good for small businesses.
Dan: Ok we can go ahead and proceed by acclamation. No objections. All in favor of this slate of officers. None opposed or abstentions. Unanimous vote by acclamation.
Nolan Treadway from CM McDuffie’s Office: No announcements We are in Budget season, we wrapped up community engagement on budget, CM will be sending a letter to Mayor, she will create budget and send to Council, they will vote in May.
April 30th will be DC Water Town Hall for Ward 5. OPC does a great job of advocating and getting answers.
CM McDuffie did his own outreach. We had handwritten forms, there was an online form, and we will be compiling feedback into a letter to the Mayor. Come talk to me about the form. Mayor does her own budget engagement. She’s doing one tonight at Edgewood Rec Center and one by phone for seniors. Her budget will come out mid-March. Will trigger a round of budget oversight hearing. Agencies will go before the budget committee and talk about what the mayor has proposed. Residents can testify in these hearings. Ask for more money in this or that program.
Fred: Did we get money for closure of W Street trash transfer station?
Nolan: We passed eminent domain legislation a year or 18 months ago, and the city was working with property owners, now just trying to take property and pay them. We passed legislation with a few changes a few weeks ago. OAG will initiate the takings in the few months, then that process takes a few months. Then the owner has 6-12 months to move out.
Dan: what are plans for that property?
Nolan: Warehouse plans for City Government. Enclosed building, not trucks. Various storage needs.
Rene McCray: Is it open for discussion?
Nolan: It’s not determined yet. I don’t want to say yes, you can intervene, and then it turns out you can’t.
Dan: thanks to CM for his efforts but what comes next is of concern.
Rene: don’t want a warehouse with trucks coming in and out.
Nolan: There shouldn’t be that kind of traffic.
Dan: Comp Plan — last day was last week for ANCs to submit comments. CM hosted an event with civic leaders in Ward 5 to provide feedback on priorities and concern. I reiterated comments we’ve submitted in writing, protecting Brookland Green at Brookland Metro, protections for green space, public space, amenities. Community wants to see Plan express public interest and the public good.
Nolan: OP is getting final feedback from ANCs, they will revise and it will go through Council, she’ll send it down as legislation, there will be a hearing, council will vote to approve it.
Dan: There will be an opportunity to fight these things in the Council with CM as our ally hopefully. The things we’re interested in are doable.
Clyde: Thank you for the nice mug.
Dan: The mugs are made by a local artist, we bought them at Procrastinators Holiday market.
Fall Prevention Workshop GBIV at Woodridge Library, targeted to seniors, Feb. 20th. Info in email.
Meeting adjourned, 8:37 p.m.
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