At the DC Council’s hearing a few weeks ago on the Brookland Small Area Plan, a number of residents argued vehemently that the windswept traffic oval and chained-up empty lots around the Brookland/CUA Metro station are the pinnacle of good civic spaces, and creating housing, retail and public plazas would destroy their community. And some expressed incredulity that anyone could disagree.
When one resident was testifying for the plan, an anti-development leader on the same panel turned to him and shouted, “Who are you working for?” Another resident, Guy Durant, said, “If you can find neighbors who support this plan, I would be surprised.” I don’t know if he was surprised, but numerous supporters testified in person. Over 50 residents of the neighborhood signed our petition for the plan and the Office of Planning’s lengthy process to gather a wide range of public input. George Davis eloquently wrote of the need to break free of parochial knee-jerk opposition and dream of a better future:
I have been a resident in the Brookland area for eight years now and I fully endorse this plan. Brookland, without question, deserves more. It has a rich history of being a vibrant and dynamic part of the city where families can live, work and play peacefully. The transit oriented development efforts between Fort Totten and Catholic University are greatly needed not only to remove the industrial blight, but to show the world that DC is not just Capitol Hill and parts of Northwest. [Emphasis added] I don’t want to go to the suburbs anymore for everything. I would rather spend the dollars in my own city and neighborhood. This plan will allow for all of this and more.
Others spoke of the scary walk from the Metro station at night, and muggings that have plagued the area. Erin Hutson said, “I currently go shopping and dining elsewhere in the city because Brookland offers so few amenities. Brookland is a wonderful community that could benefit from more residents, more shoppers, and more businesses, and the natural location for all of that to occur is around the metro station.” And Michael Sauers summed it up succinctly:
I sincerely believe that the silent majority of Brooklanders believe that the plan is a good one. Please don’t let the extremely vocal minority of people push this off-track. Thanks.
Tomorrow, the DC Council will vote on the plan. They support the concept, but vocal groups of opponents have been making a last-ditch effort to flood the Council with emails. Please help keep them strong. Send a letter to Chairman Gray, Councilmember Thomas, and the at-large Councilmembers asking them to vote for the plan this Tuesday. Tell them that most residents, visitors, and potential shoppers are eager for a plan that imagines a better future instead of clinging to the past. Click here to send your letter now.