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Arriving in the inbox this morning is notice that a historic landmark nomination application has been filed for the Lincoln Playground Field House, one of the little red brick buildings just to the east of Van Ness Elementary on L Street, SE at the Joy Evans Recreation Center site.
It was built in 1934, and the application's "Statement of Significance Summary Paragraph" (page 10 of 30) is probably the best place to go for the explanation:
"The Lincoln Playground field house qualifies for listing in the National Register under Criterion C as a good example of the city's recreational buildings, designed according to an established building type during the tenure of Municipal Architect Albert Harris (1921-1933). The field house, designed in the Colonial Revival style followed a standard plan for field houses from that period. The Lincoln Playground field house remains a notable example of its type and is the product of Municipal Architect Albert L. Harris, whose work is closely identified with civic architecture in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, it is the only example of this type located outside of NW Washington -- in this case, located in SE -- the only example constructed entirely of brick, and the only example constructed on a "colored" playground during the period when Washington playgrounds were segregated. It is also one of two examples of this type constructed as a Civil Works Administration project.
"The Lincoln Playground field house retains its integrity of location, setting, design, craftsmanship, materials, feeling and association. The field house is a purpose-built recreational structure of the District of Columbia; it was constructed according to an established design model and embodies characteristics illustrating the evolution of recreational architecture in the District; it stands on its original site; and it retains its original building massing and materials."
There's considerable additional detail in the filing, if you are looking for more. Note that the other two smaller red brick buildings surrounding the playground are not part of the application.
The application was filed by Kent Boese on behalf of "Historic Washington Architecture," the same group that prepared a similar application in 2011 for the Market Deli at 1st and L, which was eventually rejected.
This now goes through the city's landmarking process. The fact that this was filed at about the same time that the plans are going forward for renovating Van Ness Elementary right next door would seem to be more than a coincidence, but I have no background on this yet. Once an application is accepted by the city's Historic Preservation Office, the building becomes protected, and no building permits can be issued for the building until the Historic Preservation Review Board votes on the application.
(In case you're wondering, the overhead photo showing the building in question at lower right was taken in 2007 from the roof of the Old Capper Seniors building, just before it was demolished.)
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More posts: lincolnplayground, preservation, Van Ness Elementary
 

As part of the path toward the planned reopening next fall of Van Ness Elementary School at 5th and M streets, SE, DCPS has scheduled public meetings on Nov. 18 and Nov. 20 for residents in Near Southeast and Southwest to learn about the plans for the school, and to be able to provide feedback on those plans.
These sessions follow a meeting back in September between parents' groups and Dr. Nathaniel Beers, DCPS's head of specialized instruction, in which the parents were displeased with some of the information coming from the school system, specifically the plans to not have a principal in place during the planning process, and also DCPS's intent to open the school with only two PK-3 and two PK-4 classrooms, and no kindergarten.
A subsequent communication from Dr. Beers to the Van Ness Parents Group indicated, however, that an "Executive Director" will be put in place in early 2015, a person "whose primary responsibilities are to functioning as the leader of Van Ness, including engaging deeply with future parents and community members and actively recruiting students to ensure Van Ness opens fully enrolled."
In addition, the plea from parents for kindergarten offerings in the initial 2015-16 school year was not fully ignored, with DCPS agreeing to review community analysis data again before making a final decision. This has the parents' group working hard to find kindergarten-age children who could be sent to Van Ness in 2015.
These meetings should also have some information on the School Improvement Team process for the school going forward.
The meeting schedule:
* Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 6 to 8 pm, at Van Ness Elementary; and
* Thursday, Nov. 20, from 6 to 8 pm at the James Creek Resident Council Office, 100 N St. SW.
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More posts: meetings, Van Ness Elementary
 

These are all items I had hoped to write about more fully, but at this point I'd better just pass them along.
* FLORIDA ROCK: MRP Realty is now in control of the land at the Florida Rock site that will become the 350-unit apartment building that is the first phase of RiverFront on the Anacostia. A $65 million loan is expected to be finalized soon, and the developers say that the project will "commence construction by late summer 2014." (WBJ)
* BEVY OF PERMITS: If you browse the teeny type in the right margin of the JDLand home page, you'll already know that building permits have been approved in the past few weeks for the apartment projects at 1111 New Jersey and 1331 4th Street (aka Parcel N at the Yards, aka Arris). A tenant layout permit has also been approved for CBS Radio's first-floor performance studio at 1015 Half Street. Also, fresh off its zoning approvals, developers of the Homewood Suites at 50 M have filed for shoring/sheeting/excavation permits.
* LATEST ON 1333 M: Late last year plans were filed with the Zoning Commission for a three-building, 673-unit residential project on M Street east of the 11th Street Bridges. After some delay, a Dec. 1 hearing date has been set, and WBJ takes a look at recent filings, including some new renderings.
* THE YARDS, ONE PIECE AT A TIME: "Rather than purchase all 42 acres up front, Forest City buys each parcel from the General Services Administration as it is ready to build. The latest: The $28.37 million acquisition of 1331 Fourth St. SE, site of the 327-unit Arris apartment project." Total land costs so far across the Yards? $46 million. (WBJ)
* TUNNEL LATEST: With a council hearing about the project coming on Aug. 26, the Federal Highway Administration has postponed its final decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel until at least Sept. 15. But the delay is affecting residents and businesses. (WaPo)
* SCHOOL BOUNDARIES: The planned reopening of Van Ness Elementary next year passes another milestone, as its boundaries get included in the city's revamped map, released earlier this week. The final boundaries cross into Southwest south of M Street, shifting some students over to Van Ness from Amidon-Bowen, "to better align school building capacity with population and with boundary participation rates, and to support racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, where possible." (WaPo)
 

* FILLING WATER: After the flooding a few weeks ago took out the pumps, the Yards Park folks are now reporting that the basin is starting to be re-filled. Though it's still in a testing phase, officials are optimistic that the wait is almost over and the basin and fountains should be back in operation soon.
* MANAGING WATER: The EPA has released the case study about Canal Park entitled Integrating Stormwater Management and Public Amenities through a Public-Private Partnership, saying that the park "exemplifies how a public-private partnership can be used to create a public amenity that enhances the community and provides environmental benefits."
* FRONTING WATER: I came *thisclose* to posting a link that just popped up in my RSS reader about how the developers of the Florida Rock site just said that they expect to begin construction on Phase I of RiverFront on the Anacostia in "mid-2014"--but then I thought to look at the date on the release, and it was May 7. So I guess could still technically be considered news, but we're now reaching "mid-2014" with no sign of movement....
* CROSSING WATER: A reminder that tonight at 6:30 is your chance to meet the four finalists in the Bridge Park design competition. The event is at 1801 Mississippi Ave., SE.
And in the No Water Connection At All Department:
* COMMUNITY CENTER: Tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 11, is the public meeting on the results of the Capper Community Center survey.
* VAN NESS: Greater Greater Education looks at the drive to reopen Van Ness Elementary School.
(and no, the headline isn't a typo)
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More posts: bridgepark, Canal Park, Community Center, Florida Rock, meetings, Van Ness Elementary, Yards Park
 

* RESULTS: Last week I mentioned how concerned parents and neighbors were organizing a drive to call David Catania's office on May 1 to impress upon him the importance of opening Van Ness Elementary as scheduled in 2015. It didn't even take until the end of the day to get results, as evidenced by this quote sent to the Van Ness Parents Group from Catania's office: "[Councilmember Catania] supports the on-time opening and modernization of Van Ness. And while the Committee does not finalize and markup its budget until May 15th, it is the Councilmember’s intention to keep Van Ness’ $15 million FY15 renovation in the budget as proposed. Thank you again for your hard work and advocacy!"
* AWARDS: The US Green Building Council has officially awarded LEED Gold status to Canal Park, thanks to its sustainable development design that includes electric car charging stations, an extensive storm water collection and reuse system, as well as tree boxes and bio swales that provide filtration for street-level runoff surrounding the park.
* SPOTLIGHTS: The spring edition of the 11th Street Bridges newsletter is out, without any actual news on the project but instead spotlighting the small and local businesses that have partnered with DDOT on the project.
* TWEEPING: If you are wanting to keep up with the ever-growing lineup of nearby businesses and organizations, feel free to bookmark my Near Southeast Businesses Twitter list, as an easy way to quickly scan their latest missives in one spot.
* PROPERTY FOR SALE!: Over the years I've had a lot of people contact me desperate for leads on available property. I finally have acres of empty land to offer, but the commute might be a bit rough.
* BETA TO THE MAX: I've been down the rabbit hole over the past few days, as I have finally begun to redesign the interior pages of JDLand, which have needed a refresh since about 2006. (I already mentioned my first cut at redesigning the home page.)
It's a pretty mammoth undertaking, and will take a while to implement, but if you want to see an early prototype of what I'm going for, you can look at the Community Center page, or the Square 701 page, or the Akridge Half Street page, or my Past News page for Yards Parcel A. Note that some stuff will be broken as of now, but the pages do respond to different screen sizes, which also means that the non-blog portion of the site should become much more mobile friendly. As of now it's probably a bit screwy in older browsers, but should be okay if you're using up-to-date Chrome, Firefox, or IE. And the irony isn't lost on me that I haven't been posting much work on JDLand over the past few days because I've been working so much on JDLand.
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More posts: 11th Street Bridges, Canal Park, JDLand stuff, Van Ness Elementary
 

* RANDOM PHOTO 1: Progress on the new exit ramp from the eastbound Southeast Freeway down to 11th Street SE, which is expected to open this summer. A lot nicer than getting off at 6th Street for anyone needing to get to the eastern end of the neighborhood.
* VAN NESS LOBBYING: Members of the Van Ness Parents Group are urging interested parties to pick up the phone on Thursday, May 1 and call councilmember David Catania's office to urge that the full $15 million earmarked for the modernization of Van Ness Elementary be kept in next year's budget. Back on April 17, Catania, who chairs the Education Committee, commented that he would consider reallocating all of the Van Ness funds to other schools, postponing the school's reopening until Fall 2016, which would be a significant blow to the parents who have been working for a number of years to get the neighborhood's elementary school reopened. The Hill Rag has more on this issue, along with other current issues affecting nearby schools.
* RANDOM PHOTO 2: It seems hard to believe that construction of the long-delayed Capper Community Center could actually be about to start, but this sign erected at 5th and L last week would appear to be another step in that direction.
* TASTE OF 8TH: It's a little outside the JDLand lines, but since hunger knows no boundaries, I'll mention that Taste of 8th is back, on Saturday, May 3, from 1 to 4 pm. For $5 for a single taste or $20 for a five-pack, you can get an appetizer-sized "taste" from many of the restaurants along Barracks Row.
* TINKERING: In my quest to never leave well enough alone, I'm doing some work on the site that may cause things to look (unintentionally) odd. Hopefully if that happens, I'll notice relatively quickly, but I'd be happy if you'd let me know. And, if you're brave, feel free to test out a beta version of the home page that resizes various elements based on your screen width. (Rejoice, ultra-big-screen users!) Just remember that "beta" means I may break it while working on it.
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More posts: 11th Street Bridges, Community Center, JDLand stuff, Van Ness Elementary
 

Here's what's come across the transom events-wise this week. And remember to keep an eye on my Events Calendar down the right side of the JDLand home page to be sure you're not missing anything coming up.
* VALENTINE'S LOOMING: On Saturday, Feb. 1, there's a Speed Dating at the Yards shindig being held at the Boilermaker Shops from 7 to 9 pm. Tickets are $30, and can be purchased here, though the site notes that they have more men than women women than men currently signed up, so dudes, get moving. (But points are deducted for the location being listed as "Washington Navy Yards," which is off-base in so many ways.) It's being run by Professionals in the City.
* VAN NESS ES: A reminder that the new Van Ness Parent Group is holding a community meeting on Feb. 1 to get supporters together to talk about the elementary school's scheduled reopening for the 2015-16 school year. The meeting is at 11 am at Capitol Hill Tower, 1000 New Jersey Ave SE.
* CAPPER COMMUNITY: I'll be writing more about this next week, but the DC Housing Authority is having a community meeting on Feb. 8 at 10 am at 200 I St. SE "regarding the opportunities and resources for the continued development of the neighborhood." Look for the "programming" for the long-planned community center and the possible condo building at 3rd and K to be a big part of the discussion. Tommy Wells is expected to attend.
* NATS TICKETS AND PROMOS: The team has announced that single-game tickets go on sale on Feb. 27 at 10 am. The lineup of promotional events has also been released, with the three NatsLive post-game concerts scheduled for June 5, July 19, and Aug. 16 (acts to be announced). There's also four Pups in the Park dates. (Charlie and George are once again not amused about the lack of a Felines at the Field day.)
Have an announcement? Send it here. Or you could always take out an ad to be sure your event gets noticed. I wouldn't mind.
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More posts: Capper, Community Center, Events, Stadium Events, Van Ness Elementary
 

The neighborhood has come so far that a more specialized type of Tidbits post is now being added to the lineup, to better handle upcoming event announcements. I'm also reconstituting my Near Southeast Events Calendar, down the right margin of the JDLand home page. (And it's a Google calendar, if you want to subscribe to it.)
* NEW/OLD CONCERTS: The Nationals announced this morning that Billy Joel is playing Nats Park on July 26, his second appearance at the stadium (the first being his joint appearance with Elton John in 2009). Tickets go on sale to the public on Feb. 1 at 10 am.
This is the third stand-alone concert scheduled for the ballpark for 2014, along with the already confirmed appearance by country star Jason Aldean on a date to be announced and the big One Direction show on Aug. 11.
* NEW/OLD TUNNEL: On Saturday, Jan. 25, at 2 pm, there is another neighborhood meeting with DC Delegate* Eleanor Holmes Norton about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, this time including representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the project's potential impacts. The meeting is at 200 I St. SE (the old Post Plant) - a photo ID is required to attend. More details at DCSafeRail.org.
* LOCAL ART: The social committee at Velocity has collaborated with the Capitol Hill Art League to display "Signature DC," a collection of art by local DC artists. There is a reception on Jan. 25 from 5 to 7 pm, with proceeds from the sale of the $15 tickets going toward a Community Artists Fund for the condo building to purchase local art for permanent display. Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite.
* CANDIDATE, MAYOR: The "All Politics is Local" series of forums with mayoral candidates kicks off with Tommy Wells at the Hill Center at 9th and Pennsylvania SE on Jan. 27 at 7 pm. The series, hosted by NBC4 reporters Tom Sherwood and Mark Seagraves, continues on Feb. 10 with Muriel Bowser and March 10 with Jack Evans.
* CANDIDATE, COUNCIL: On Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 6:30 pm, there's a meet-and-greet with Ward 6 council candidate Charles Allen in the Velocity Condo meeting room. The primary election is on April 1, which suddenly isn't really all that far away. UPDATE: Non-Velocity residents should sign up in advance here.
* NEW/OLD SCHOOL: The new Van Ness Parent Group is holding a community meeting on Feb. 1 to get supporters together to talk about the elementary school's scheduled reopening for the 2015-16 school year. The meeting is at 11 am at Capitol Hill Tower, 1000 New Jersey Ave SE.
If you've got a neighborhood event you want mentioned in a To-Do Tidbits post, you can contact me with the details and I'll try to get a capsule up. I will aim to post them each Thursday, if there's enough content.
(* Despite perpetual billing to the contrary, Ms. Norton is a delegate, not a congresswoman representative (UPDATE: see comment thread below). She doesn't have voting rights on the House floor, as she would if DC had full congressional representation. I can't believe there still isn't a catchy Schoolhouse Rock song about this.)
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Events, Stadium Events, Van Ness Elementary, Velocity Condos
 

Via Charles Allen, news that is music to the ears of the parents who have been hoping for a reopening of Van Ness Elementary School at 5th and M, shuttered since 2006: on Thursday, the DC Council's Committee on Education approved the DC Public Schools budget, and it includes $9.8 million for modernization, which is "consistent" with a plan to reopen Van Ness for the 2015-16 school year.
In a letter shared with the "Parents on the Capitol Riverfront" mailing list, DCPS's COO Anthony deGuzman described what will come under this plan: "The Phase 1 modernization focuses capital funds on renovating academic spaces (classrooms) where we upgrade lighting, acoustics, technology, ergonomics/furnishings, and climate/air quality. Additionally front entrances, front offices, corridors, and student restrooms are targeted. Other building upgrades are evaluated on an as needed basis."
The letter goes on to say that the community will be asked to be involved in the planning process along with school administrators and staff, on a team called the School Improvement Team, which will be "formally convened just prior to when the funding will be available which is this case would be towards the end of the summer of 2014." deGuzman also says that the SIT has a "great deal of influence over priorities, aesthetics and whether the design is meeting the programmatic needs of the school."
Neighborhood parents have been working since 2010 to get the school reopened--you can read more about what's been going on during Van Ness's years in the wilderness in my previous blog posts.
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More posts: Van Ness Elementary
 

As part of a release outlining the impacts on Ward 6 of today's School Consolidation Plan announced by DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, Tommy Wells said this:
"The Chancellor again committed to reopening Van Ness Elementary in near Southeast for the 2015-16 school year and expects to share further details of the academic curriculum and planning later this year."
No details beyond that morsel, but it should be welcome news for the parents of the neighborhood, who long for an elementary school close by. Van Ness, at 5th and M SE, has been closed since 2006, as the number of neighborhood school-aged children dwindled with the closing of the Capper/Carrollsburg public housing project to make way for the mixed-income Capitol Quarter townhouse development.
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More posts: Van Ness Elementary
 

While there has been lots of news over the past few months about Near Southeast getting some of the amenities that it has lacked for a long time (restaurants, grocery), one service that the neighborhood continues to be without is an open elementary school within walking distance. DC Public Schools closed Van Ness Elementary at 5th and M SE back in 2006 because of a lack of school-aged children in the neighborhood thanks to the emptying of the Capper/Carrollsburg public housing project in advance of its reconstruction as Capitol Quarter, but kept the building in its inventory knowing that eventually the neighborhood would fill back up and a school would again be needed.
Fast forward a few years, and the neighborhood now has a number of families with small children, who get to look at unused Van Ness every day while sending their children across South Capitol Street to Amidon/Bowen Elementary in Southwest. So the Parents of the Capitol Riverfront organized themselves to advocate for getting Van Ness reopened, and put together a "delightful" public meeting with then-interim chancellor Kaya Henderson. But DCPS announced last March that the numbers didn't yet support the reopening of Van Ness, saying that it was most likely the school would not reopen before 2015.
But area parents have continued to try to find a solution, and when word got out a few months ago that the well-regarded School Within School at Peabody Elementary was looking to expand its program and would need a new and larger space, Near Southeast parents began to investigate what it might take to get SWS into the neighborhood, whether in the Van Ness building or in some other solution, perhaps even using the modular classrooms (i.e., trailers) that Capitol Hill Day School has been occupying at 5th and K during its building's renovation.
But today a statement from Henderson being sent out to various neighborhood mailing lists seems to put the kabosh on this movement. While the notion of using the CHDS trailers is "an interesting one," Henderson says that school system "already has too many schools that are too small to sustain themselves," and so it would be a "poor stewardship of the public's resources" to pay rent to put SWS in trailers or wherever if there are already a number of available facilities that could be used. Plus, those other facilities are located where placing SWS "could have an equally or potentially greater positive impact."
The statement doesn't specifically explain why Van Ness itself is not an option to house SWS, and perhaps someone who's been close to the many meetings that parents have apparently had with DCPS could explain that in the comments. It seems to still boil down to the neighborhood just not having enough students to support a school, whether it's SWS or a "normal" elementary school. Van Ness is currently home to some administrative offices, plus needs what has been rumored to be a couple million dollars in renovations to get it ready, and it does appear that DCPS is holding fast to its previous ruling that Van Ness won't be back in the system before 2015. But it's also not hard to imagine that neighborhood parents will continue to try to get a school, any school, as soon as they can.
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More posts: Van Ness Elementary
 

At a meeting Monday night, DC Public Schools announced that, despite the hopes of the parents of small children who have moved to Near Southeast, Van Ness Elementary will remain closed for a few more years, perhaps opening by the 2014-15 school year. I wasn't at the meeting (was watching McEnroe, Lendl, Sampras, and Agassi at Madison Square Garden), but I can pass along the handout from the meeting (page one and two) that provides the rationale and data behind the decision.
The next open question is whether DCPS will expand the boundaries of Tyler Elementary at 10th and G SE to allow Near Southeast children to attend, rather than continuing to send them to Amidon-Bowen in Southwest, a situation which has many parents unhappy. Also, parents' groups have meetings scheduled with various city officials in the coming days to discuss the situation.
Sorry this is brief; if you were at the meeting, please feel free to use the comments to highlight anything said that isn't in the handout. You can also read my previous Van Ness entries for more background.
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More posts: meetings, Van Ness Elementary
 

* I imagine most interested parties do not need to be reminded that tonight at 6 pm at 900 5th St. SE is the meeting with DCPS to find out what they plan to do with Van Ness Elementary. With laser-like precision, they picked a date when I absolutely can't be there, so anyone who wants to pass along the news as it's happening, please do. (I will be keeping an eye on Twitter.)
And, two recently Tweeted links that might be of interest:
* The Yards was named one of Five Projects that Will Transform Washington by the Washington Business Journal. "When completed, the neighborhood may finally achieve L'Enfant's vision for a bustling center of activity on the waterfront."
* The DC Fiscal Policy Institute takes a look at the possible $8 million tax break to bring Whole Foods to New Jersey Avenue, asking "why it makes sense for the District to continue putting money into an area that has seen tremendous public investments and is already on the cusp of development" and why the project would require a special subsidy to move forward, since they say that "Whole Foods already would qualify for a set of tax incentives on grocery-store development, including a 10-year property tax break on the store itself."
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More posts: meetings, WC Smith/Square 737, Van Ness Elementary, The Yards
 

DC Public Schools has scheduled a public meeting on Feb. 28 to announce its decision on the reopening of Van Ness Elementary School. Parents were already told back in December that the school won't reopen for the 2011-2012 school year, but residents hope that DCPS could decide to get the school back online for fall 2012.
If the school isn't going to be reopened in the near future, there might be the possibility of expanding the boundaries of Tyler Elementary (at 10th and G SE) to allow Near Southeast children to go there, rather than to Amidon-Bowen in Southwest, their current assigned school. (I don't know whether a decision on that would be announced at this meeting.) The meeting is at 6 pm at the Arthur Capper Seniors building at 900 5th St., SE. You can read my previous posts on Van Ness for more information.
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More posts: meetings, Van Ness Elementary
 

At Tuesday night's ANC 6B meeting, two south-of-the-freeway issues were voted on (remember, the section from 7th Street to M Street eastward is 6B04, not 6D07):
* By a 7-3 vote, 6B will now support the liquor license application by the Bavarian Beer Garden at 8th and L streets, SE, provided the Voluntary Agreement hammered out by 6B and BBG is approved by ABRA. (Back in December, 6B had voted to not support/protest the license until a VA was agreed to.) Under this agreement, the beer garden's overall hours of operation will remain from 11 am to 1 am Sunday through Thursday and 11 am to 3 am Friday and Saturday, but there are now slightly amended hours for entertainment. Entertainment indoors is approved from noon to midnight on Sundays, 6 pm to midnight Monday through Thursday, and noon to 2 am on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays. Hours for "summer garden entertainment and dancing" are from noon to 11 pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and 11 am to 1 am on Fridays, Saturdays, and Holidays, with none allowed outdoors on Mondays.
Kirsten Oldenberg, the 6B04 rep in whose single-member district the beer garden will be located (and who now has a blog!), expressed lingering concerns about allowing a tavern license in this location, while David Garrison reminded the meeting that there are residences on 7th Street whose backyards will be directly across from the outdoor garden. Norm Metzger mentioned that this establishment doesn't exactly fit in with the ideas for revitalizing the area as seen in the Lower 8th Street Visioning Draft Report. But despite the concerns, the liquor license application will be moving forward, with only new 6B chairman Neil Glick, Garrison, and Metzger opposing.
The commissioners still have not been shown any designs for the beer garden; however, while the lot's co-owner, Mark Brody, told the commission last month that he planned to build a temporary structure as quickly as possible with a permanent building coming (perhaps) in a few years, it's now been determined that since the block is in the Capitol Hill Historic District a temporary building is not allowed. So there will have to be a "real" building, and its design will be subject to historic review by all applicable organizations before it can move forward.
* New 6B02 rep Ivan Frishberg brought to the commission a draft letter to DCPS in support of reopening Van Ness Elementary, since interim chancellor Kaya Henderson said last month that the school system is "committed" to making a decision on the school this month. There was a lot of discussion, and a lot of questions brought up by David Garrison about the boundaries of the school, how it might impact the schools on the Hill, costs to get the school reopened, and more, but in the end the commission voted to approve the letter. (I *think* the vote was 7-2-1, but am trying to get it confirmed.) UPDATE: Oops. The vote was 9-0-1.
UPDATE: Here's another wrap-up of the meeting from The Hill is Home, who could hear what was going on a lot better than I could....
 

Tonight the interim chancellor of DC Public Schools Kaya Henderson met with a large and very involved group of parents (and a lot of toddlers, some of whom showed off their impressive lung capacity) who want to see Van Ness Elementary reopened.
DCPS told those assembled that it is committed to making a decision on Van Ness in January, and that the decision will be based on "whether the numbers work out," both in terms of whether there are enough school-age children to support the school and whether the economic realities of a budget-crunched city government can get scarce dollars shuffled to pay for getting the school reopened (which would require taking money from other schools that are in need as well). DCPS handed out an information sheet with some numbers in terms of children in the area and enrollment at nearby schools--I'm going to plead injury (thumb. ow.) and let you read it instead of summarizing.
Henderson mentioned many times the "positive energy" DCPS feels from the parents of the neighborhood, who clearly want a school opened immediately. There is no chance that Van Ness will open for the 2011-12 school year, the room was told, but one idea DCPS is looking at is possibly redrawing the boundaries for Tyler so that some of the Near Southeast children who live closer to Tyler than to Amidon (which is in Southwest) could go there. (One parent responded to this by saying that they hoped that all of Near Southeast could be included in a Tyler boundary redrawing "to keep the community together", and it's clear that many parents are not big fans of sending their kids to Amidon.)
At the end of the meeting, Tommy Wells said that with Van Ness in pretty good shape, capital funds shouldn't be a barrier to getting the school reopened if the necessary enrollment numbers are there. (Earlier, it had been announced [first by meeting organizer Bruce darConte and then a company representative] that EYA is pledging to undertake "buff and scrub" renovations at Van Ness if it'll help get the school reopened.)
Other than these items, the meeting was basically a "listening session," to allow parents to tell DCPS (again) their priorities and concerns. At the risk of being flip, I think I can boil it down to this: parents (and parents-to-be) in Near Southeast want Van Ness reopened. But it was a very collegial session--Henderson called it "one of the most delightful meetings I've been to."
So now the residents will wait to see what DCPS tells them---whether the school could reopen in 2012, or whether the numbers aren't quite there yet. It seems clear that DCPS expects Van Ness to reopen eventually--it's just a question of whether the timetable they come up with will be disappointing to the community.
[If this is less than complete, I apologize--I have to stop typing, I'm dying here! Feel free to use the comments to fill in what I didn't cover. You can also see Tommy Wells's tweets from the meeting for more.] For more background, browse my previous posts.
UPDATED to fix my Tyler/Brent mixups. As a non-parent, they're all the same to me. ;-)
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More posts: Van Ness Elementary
 

This is a painful post for me to write. (No, seriously--I hurt my left thumb last week, and typing doesn't help.) But I will power through to bring you news of upcoming events, all while wondering why Decembers are always so busy with public meetings--because it's not like we don't we have enough to do already....
ADD: Oops. Tonight (Dec. 6) is the 4th Annual Livable Walkable Community Awards, at Arena Stage at 6:30 pm.
* Tuesday (Dec. 7) is the second Marine Barracks site search public forum, in Eastern Market's North Hall. I can't find the agenda for it, but the CIMP web site describes it thusly: "Session 2 will begin with at 5:00 pm with an open house where information will be provided in displays, and subject matter experts will be present to discuss various aspects of the CIMP with a facilitated discussion to authenticate community development objectives to begin at 7:00 PM." You can see the draft community objectives handed out at last week's meeting, and read my summary of that session, as well as the scads of posts through the past year of this process.
* Wednesday (Dec. 8) is the neighborhood meeting with DC Public Schools interim chancellor Kaya Henderson on the movement to reopen Van Ness Elementary at 5th and M, SE. The meeting is at 6 pm (note the time change) at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, and while no decision on reopening the school will be announced, DCPS will be talking about the preliminary findings from the survey they did this fall about whether there would be enough students to justify reopening the school. Read my previous posts for details.
* On Thursday (Dec. 9) the ANC 6B ABC Committee will meet at 7 pm at the Southeast Neighborhood Library at 403 7th St., SE, and it will be taking up the new liquor license application for the Bavarian Beer Garden at 8th and L, SE. It's looking to be a 99-seat tavern, with an additional 200 outdoor seats in summer, and would operate from 11 am to 2 am Sunday through Thursday and 11 am to 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays. There's also apparently the possibility of live entertainment. The application will also be taken up by the full ANC at its regular meeting on Dec. 14 at 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE.
* Monday (Dec. 13) is ANC 6D's monthly meeting--the agenda should be out later this week.
* Tuesday, Dec. 14 is the BID's Annual Meeting, at 11:30 am at 100 M St., SE. There will be a keynote address by George Hawkins, general manager of DC Water, plus the BID will release its 2010 Annual Report and State of the Capitol Riverfront.
* The BID also launches its Holiday Market on the 14th, running daily through the 18th on the sidewalk outside of 1100 New Jersey Ave., SE, across from the Navy Yard Metro station. "Shop the market for wool sweaters and mittens, homemade soaps, jewelry, antique maps, wreaths and holiday greenery, paintings, and much more!" See the flyer for more details, or the latest BID newsletter.
* Also on the 14th is the aforementioned ANC 6B monthly meeting, which includes a report by Michael Stevens of the BID on the Lower 8th Street Visioning Process report that's being submitted to the Office of Planning. (This will also be presented to the ANC's Planning and Zoning Committee on Dec. 7 at 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE.)
* Finally, on Dec. 17, the James L. Brooks movie "How Do You Know" opens--this is the one that was filmed at Nationals Park (and all around DC) back in 2009, and stars Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson.
Ow.
 

Most parents probably already know this, but a meeting has been set up by the Parents on the Capitol Riverfront group with Kaya Henderson, DC Public Schools' interim chancellor, to discuss the future of Van Ness Elementary. Henderson will be there to talk about the results of the survey that was done back in September to gauge the potential pool of students for a possible reopening of the school, and there will also be a question-and-answer session. It's scheduled for Dec. 8 at 6:30 6 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, SE.
As I wrote a few weeks back, the parents group has been told by DCPS that, in order for a viable elementary to be opened (grades Pre-K3 though 5), it needs to have 250 students. The group says that they've been told that "it might be possible to phase in the school, starting with Pre-K3, Pre-K4 and Kindergarten for the first couple of years and then slowly expanding up through 5th grade," so they are trying to determine exactly how many school-aged children are in the neighborhood, along with possible projections of how many more might arrive over the next five years. They are also looking at whether a large number of parents currently on the waitlist for Brent Elementary might be willing to send their children to Van Ness out-of-boundary, to help increase the number of potential students.
UPDATE because of some confusion as to who exactly set up the meeting.
UPDATE II to note the start time having been moved to 6 pm.
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More posts: Van Ness Elementary
 

A group of neighborhood residents organizing as "Parents on the Capitol Riverfront" have come together over the past few months to lobby the DC public school system and city officials to consider reopening Van Ness Elementary School, which was caught up in the DCPS downsizing at the end of the 2006 school year, after most of its student body moved away with the closing of Capper/Carrollsburg. Elementary school-aged children who live in Near Southeast are now in the boundaries for Amidon-Bowen Elementary School across South Capitol Street in Southwest, which is a bit of a hike from locations like Capitol Quarter.
In a recent e-mail to me, representatives of the group explained their motivation: "A quality school is not only good for the kids, it's a necessary amenity for retaining existing and attracting new residents to our neighborhood. We love our neighborhood and are dedicated to living in DC, but that dedication rests upon the opportunities available for our kids. The amazing Canal Park planned for the neighborhood is great and will be well-used by kids and adults alike, but it takes a school to keep the community of families here."
Over the past few months, the group has met twice in small targeted meetings with Michelle Rhee, as well as with Tommy Wells, and are working to get another meeting scheduled with Rhee that could include all neighborhood parents. There is also apparently a survey from DCPS being distributed by e-mail regarding Van Ness and the number of children in the area, and the parents' group is wanting to be sure that the survey gets to everyone with kids.
DCPS has told them that, in order for a viable elementary to be opened (grades Pre-K3 though 5), it needs to have 250 students. The group says that they've been told that "it might be possible to phase in the school, starting with Pre-K3, Pre-K4 and Kindergarten for the first couple of years and then slowly expanding up through 5th grade," so they are trying to determine exactly how many school-aged children are in the neighborhood, along with possible projections of how many more might arrive over the next five years. They are also looking at whether a large number of parents currently on the waitlist for Brent Elementary might be willing to send their children to Van Ness out-of-boundary, to help increase the number of potential students.
The parents' group now has a Google Group set up, where any interested neighborhood parents can request membership.
The school's location at 5th and M, SE, is one that has been being eyed for a while by various interested parties, and there have been talks in the past about perhaps selling the land with a requirement that the purchaser build a new school close by. Another discussed option has been co-locating a new school building with the long-delayed Capper Community Center. And the Marines have also been looking at the school's land, either as part of their space needs for the new barracks or as a place where other landowners (like the Housing Authority) could relocate planned uses if the Marines were to take their land for the barracks.
The original Van Ness Elementary School, on M Street between 3rd and 4th, opened in 1909, and was for much of its life a segregated school for black children. (You can see it at far right in this photo from 1939.) It was replaced during Integration by the current building at 5th and M in September of 1956, although the old school building at 4th and M (eventually known as the Lenox Annex) remained on the city's property rolls under varying uses. In the 1970s it was a special education school, then an adult education center in the 1990s, but finally the building was demolished in the late 1990s for what has since become the 300 M Street SE office building.
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More posts: Capper, Community Center, Van Ness Elementary
 

With many thanks to reader S. for doing all of the legwork on this, I'm passing along the news that neglected the three-foot deep pool on L Street SE between Fifth and Seventh (between Van Ness Elementary and the parking lot that was once Old Capper Seniors) has been renovated, and is now open as the Lincoln Capper Children's Pool. The DC Parks and Recreation web site has the hours, which are noon to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays until June 20, and then 11 am to 5 pm Mondays through Fridays from June 21 through August 20. It may not be as swinging as the scene at the Capitol Skyline Pool, but for parents looking to dunk their children (I mean, get their children some swim time), it's a nice addition to the neighborhood tableau.
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More posts: 600 M/Square 882/Old Capper Seniors, Capper, Van Ness Elementary
 
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