The Council of the District of Columbia is putting the final touches on the city’s budget for next year. Certainly, there are still some big decisions to be made, but many of the plans for next year are now set and just await final approval when the second vote takes place on June 6.
Next year, the city will make a record investment in affordable housing, support several key aging-in-place initiatives, and fund healthcare to protect access for vulnerable DC residents. While I worked on those efforts, I was also able to secure funding for several Ward 6 priorities. Here are some of the highlights:
Eastern Market Metro Park receives funding to begin major redevelopment: Right now the metro plaza is a place people walk through – I want it to be a place we walk to. The community has worked for years to develop a master plan for the redevelopment of this area. The $4.5 million for this project included in the FY18 budget ensures we can finally start work on the much-needed improvements that will transform this area – from 7th to 9th Street – into the kind of vibrant, inviting public space the Capitol Hill community has long envisioned.
Public Safety: As Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I was proud to help shepherd through a comprehensive budget for our police, fire, EMS, and other first responders, as well as the agencies that oversee our elections, campaign finance matters, and government ethics. If you’d like to see more about that full budget, there’s a summary available on my website (www.CharlesAllenWard6.com). Here are a few specific items important to Ward 6:
- I made it a priority to fund the NEAR Act, an important law focused on a public health approach to reducing and preventing violence. I heard from a lot of Ward 6 residents who want to see this law implemented and I’m proud to have identified the funding required.
- We know that having officers and first responders live in the neighborhoods they serve can improve public safety and result in more community-based policing. With only 16 percent of MPD officers currently living in DC, I’m proud to have created a new program that creates significant housing incentives for first responders to make the District their home.
- To help prevent crime, and assist MPD in their investigations, new funding for additional neighborhood-based MPD crime cameras will be available to targeted PSAs.
- Public spaces help define public safety. Working with neighbors to revitalize some “pocket parks” in Hill East, I’ve secured $500,000 to renovate two park areas. A pocket park is the green, triangle-shaped space common to many District intersections with diagonal streets. When well-designed and maintained, these parks create inviting, lively public green spaces that help discourage crime and build community. The funding will cover a community-led design process, improved lighting, landscaping, and other updates.
- I am very happy to report the long-awaited and much needed modernization of Jefferson Middle School in Southwest has been accelerated. After many delays, this project is finally moving forward in 20XX, with $XX million to fully renovate the historic school for the first time since its construction in 1940.
- I’ve been able to add and protect funding for several other important school modernization projects, including Maury Elementary School and Eliot-Hine Middle School.
- Capitol Hill Cluster School shuttle bus – I was able to secure funding to keep the Cluster School bus running between Peabody Primary and Watkins Elementary after it was cut by WMATA. I know how important this service is to parents trying to get multiple children to different elementary school campuses at the same time, not to mention the number of additional cars on our neighborhood streets if this service wasn’t sustained.
- Southwest and Southeast Neighborhood Libraries will be renovated! I know Ward 6 loves our libraries. Southwest will receive a full renovation beginning next year and Southeast will be renovated starting in 2019.
- DC Public Library book budget – I also fought hard to restore funding for the library’s collections budget, ensuring we can access the full range of print and electronic materials and reducing wait times for popular items.
Parks and Environment
- Big News for the Anacostia Riverfront – Around $4 million was restored for the clean-up of toxics in the Anacostia River. We remain committed to making the Anacostia a swimmable and fishable river as soon as possible.
- Yards Park and Canal Park fully funded – Funding was added to the budget to operate, maintain, and program these great parks for the community for the next decade.
- NoMa Parks funding protected – Funding is in place for NoMa to add new public parks and spaces to the community.
- Streets, alleys, and sidewalks – This budget includes a significant investment in continuing the repair and reconstruction of our public roads, alleys, and sidewalks across Ward 6.
- Expanding Capital Bikeshare – With its continued popularity, we’ll fund another expansion of the size and operations of Capital Bikeshare to serve more users and more locations.
- Maryland Avenue Safety Project – Money has been included to continue work on this important effort to make Maryland Avenue a safer and more livable street. The project will focus on redesigning the corridor from 15th Street, NE to Constitution Avenue to calm traffic, reduce speeding, add new bicycle lanes, and improve pedestrian safety.
- Buzzard Point road infrastructure – This budget adds $7 million to prepare the Buzzard Point area of Southwest for new development by beginning construction of flood-resilient roadways to match the elevation of the planned surrounding buildings. This investment ensures the public road network will be protected from damage in areas identified as high-risk flood zones.
While this update is just a snapshot of the budget, I want to thank all of the Ward 6 residents who reached out to voice their priorities, as well as those who attended my Budget Town Hall and testified at Council budget hearings. Hearing from so many Ward 6 residents on what issues matter most to you really helped me and my staff focus on these important priorities.