Alarming Update on the Rosedale Community Center and Library

Below is a portion of an email thread discussing the status of the new Rosedale Community Center and Library project at 17th & Gales Street NE.  RCA requested Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) provide a project status report after many community members observed what seemed to be a stalled construction site.

Unfortunately, the response from DPR was alarming.  RCA immediately advised Ward 6 Councilmember Wells office of the newly found bureaucratic 'hurdles' which DPR would have to go through to obtain building permits to continue with construction.  The following emails explain the difficulty.

RCA would like thank Councilmember Tommy Wells and  his Chief of Staff Charles Allen for tenuously figuring out what pending problems must be overcome and finding quick solutions to hopefully allow the project to move ahead on schedule.  We would also like to thank David L. Janifer, Capital Projects Officer with DC Dept of Parks and Recreation for expeditiously providing RCA with the status report, even though it was disturbing and discouraging news.

RCA will keep the community abreast of this ongoing situation as new and important information becomes available.


Email from DPR's David Janifer on 11.10.10

Below please find a status update on issues for Rosedale Recreation Center.

1. Street Closing - The street closing application is for streets that were previously planned across the Rosedale site but never built. The fact that the streets are on agency plans requires that they be “vacated.” The street closing application was originally submitted in Fall 2009 (under Banneker) and languished until we became involved with the project and began pushing the issue. We received various agency approvals and have asked the Surveyor’s Office to finalize their report/package to continue the street closing process. Once the Surveyor’s Office finishes the report, the Attorney General will check for legal sufficiency prior to vacation of the streets and submission of new plats. Then, DC Council has to approve the street and alley closures through public hearing process and finally, Congressional review.

2. Foundation to Grade Permit - The Foundation to Grade Permit was submitted in mid-June. During the review process we have worked with several agencies to get conditional approval despite a street closing application not being approved. The final agency to sign-off on the permit is DDOT. In following up on progress, we learned that DDOT had lost the submission. We have resubmitted the plans, received comments back from DDOT and revised/resubmitted accordingly. We expect to have the Foundation to Grade Permit in the next week or two.

3. Building Permit - The Building Permit is awaiting the Foundation to Grade approval. However, the Building Permit may have more obstacles due to the street closing issue and the requirement of DC Council approval. Despite the delays in permits and the lack of observable activity on site, work has been ongoing. We have recently worked on minor floor plan changes due to scheduling concerns with pool hours and shared accessibility with the library. We also continue to purchase subcontracts.

David L. Janifer
Capital Projects Officer
DC Dept of Parks and Rec[reation]

Email from CM Wells' Chief of Staff Charles Allen on 11.16.10


Thanks for your email and I wanted to follow-up with a detailed email for the group to expand on the short conversation you and I had.

First, the bad news. The notice from DPR about the need for alley and street closings is the first time they’ve shared this information or that it was needed. I’ve spent the last two days digging into this, and here’s what I’ve found.

For reasons unknown, when the city built the original Rosedale Recreation Center many decades ago, they never closed the streets and alleys that exist on the official city map. It’s what we often refer to as a “paper alley”. In other words, on paper, the alley or roadway exists on the official city map and Surveyor’s Plat (from a planning process standpoint), but in the real world, it doesn’t exist. And in this case, there’s been a recreation center and fields on top of these “paper alleys” for a long time. I’ve attached the Surveyor’s plat to show you where the “paper” alleys and streets exist on the site.

From a process standpoint, the Council must approve street and alley closure requests.

According to what I’ve learned, DDOT submitted a request in early September to the Mayor’s office to have legislation introduced to close these “paper” alleys. However, the Mayor’s office has yet to sign off and send a closure request to Council. Thus, Council has been unable to act on this need. Adding to the frustration, DDOT reports that they cannot give final approval on the two pending construction permits until the paper alley closure is complete.

On a positive front, DDOT is meeting this afternoon with the permitting team specifically on the Rosedale permits to clear all other hurdles.

I briefed Tommy on the issue and the new information about the alley and street closures. He was upset to only just now be hearing about this problem, but has decided that we need to jump start this effort. Rather than wait for the Mayor’s submission, he plans to move emergency legislation next Tuesday at the Council’s next legislative session to close these “paper” alleys and eliminate this hurdle to the permitting process.

I’ve reached out to the Surveyor’s office to get their input and all the agencies appear to support these “paper” alley closures. In addition, because there has been the historical use of the recreation center on this site and an apparent oversight not to close the paper alleys in the first place, in addition to its intended use as a rebuilt Rosedale Center, we don’t expect to see any concerns from the various agencies that would normally sign off on the closures.

With this action, we expect that any remaining hurdles for the construction permits would be cleared, but we’ll be working with DPR and DDOT to confirm that.

Thanks again for the community’s ongoing advocacy and work. No matter what challenges are put in front of us, we’ll work together to tackle each one and ensure the Rosedale Community Center and Library remains a high priority and is delivered for the neighborhood.

Charles Allen
Chief of Staff, Councilmember Tommy Wells


Anonymous said...

So, they need to close alleys that don't exist, or receive permission to not close the alleys because they don't exist. Great.

At least it seems like Wells & team are on this. Go get 'em Tommy! And thanks to RCA for the update and for the followup on this issue.

Anonymous said...

The city needs permission from itself to close alleys that dont exist. Amazing. Someone tell the teabaggers!

Anonymous said...

I hope that this issue is addressed as soon as possible. Rosedale Community Center is vital for the neighborhood well being!

Anonymous said...

This project is long overdue. As a community member, our family would like to see all parties involved come to the necessary planning stages to complete this much needed project. It is also our hope that the tennis court will remain outdoors.