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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: May 08, 2008
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From the greatest source of news ever: "An 8,976-foot foul ball off the bat of Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman crashed through the U.S. Capitol Building rotunda Sunday afternoon, prompting both the Nationals and the opposing Pittsburgh Pirates to gasp, turn to each other in shock, and immediately run full speed out of Nationals Park. 'As soon as I hit it, I knew it was headed straight toward Capitol Hill--I just kept saying to myself, 'Not the dome, not the dome, not the dome,' Zimmerman said.
"Both teams, all four umpires, and the 32,457 fans in attendance winced in horror, however, as the ball kept carrying, made a loud smashing noise, and left a gaping hole in the rotunda's neoclassical architecture. 'We are so dead,' Zimmerman added. As the teams grabbed the bases and scrambled out of the stadium, the Pirates yelled to the Nationals that they were in "big trouble." The Nationals refuted that claim, screaming that 'if [Pirates left-fielder] Jason [Bay] could run at all, he would've tracked down the ball and caught it' before it struck the 200-year-old structure, which stands 1.7 miles from the ballpark.[...]
"According to eyewitnesses in the Capitol, the ball smashed into the dome at about 3:35 p.m., tore through the Apotheosis Of Washington--a 150-year-old, 4,664-square-foot fresco painted on the inside of the rotunda--and broke the arm off of a National Statuary Hall sculpture of William Jennings Bryan. The ball then bounced into the Senate Chamber, where it interrupted a vote on a $542.5 billion defense authorization bill, and landed directly in the mashed potatoes of early-dinging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), covering him with gravy and prompting him to exclaim, 'Zimmermaaaaannn!'
"Although McConnell had no evidence at the time that Zimmerman was responsible for the damages, he was the chief suspect, as he is the only National able to hit the ball farther than 300 feet. Furthermore, Zimmerman dented McConnell's 1998 Buick LeSabre last week when he overthrew first base by 15,000 feet on a routine grounder."
(Read the entire thing, and don't miss the "photo.")
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The Post has a piece about last night's community meeting assessing the first 30 days of the new Performance Parking plan that restricts curbside parking in Near Southeast, Southwest, and southern Capitol Hill, so I get to skip the basic roundup (yay!); there were also reporters from other outlets there, so I'll link to those as they appear, though the ABC7 report is so full of errors that I will pretend I didn't see it. I'll just hit a few points that stood out for me (keeping in mind that my focus is south of the freeway):
* Some people don't like it, some people do. But I guess you want to know more than that.
* It sounds like the midnight end time for the restrictions will be gone within a few weeks--it's just a question of where they move it to (9:30 seemed to be the number that Tommy Wells came back to a number of times). It sounds like they're already making that move along Pennsylvania Avenue and Barracks Row, after the restaurant and bar owners reported a massive drop in their business in the past month. (On the other hand, businesses with primarily daytime traffic, such as Moto Photo, say that their numbers have improved with the new restrictions, since turnover of spaces is improving; apparently the double-parking has dropped off a lot, too.) Because the specifics of the plan weren't written into the legislation (leaving it up to the Mayor), changes can be made on the fly, without having to go back to the council.
* A lot of people want the restrictions to only be in effect on event days (ballgames, concerts, etc.), though there was then some consternation about how people would *know* it's an event day. Beyond that, Tommy explained a number of times that this plan isn't just about baseball, it's about trying to get ahead of the massive influx of visitors and development in the area over the next few years, and having strategies in place to prevent these neighborhoods from going the way of Adams Morgan or Georgetown. But, when people see that a number of the Nats parking lots are less than full during games, they feel that the entire parking plan is a "solution in search of a problem."
* Even though the signs say that restrictions are enforced starting at 7:30 am seven days a week, the director of DPW said that Sunday enforcement begins at 1 pm. Churches have been given a number of visitor parking passes, and the long-simmering battle between churches and residents over parking was a big undercurrent at this meeting. Tommy says he will meet with every church and its surrounding neighbors to hammer out ways for problems to be addressed.
* A lot of Capitol Hill Tower folks were at the meeting, but I've learned my lesson and will say little about their parking issues (since I get sniped at no matter what I say). As with most multi-unit residential buildings in the city, CHT residents do not get residential parking permits to allow them to park on streets. They do have an underground garage, but there is a battle between some residents and the building's developer over how the garage is being handled. Some have now been given visitor parking passes to allow them to park on nearby streets.
* Tommy says the parking lot under the freeway at 8th Street should be available for public parking by the end of the summer. (I will file this in my large I'll-Believe-It-When-I-See-It folder.) And he's definitely eyeing the little-used "W" surface lot at the old Capper Seniors site at 7th and M as perhaps employee parking for Barracks Row, though no specifics were mentioned.
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