Eleanor Holmes Norton (Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton)A new bus shelter near Union Station, disposal of the former House Page Residence and turf restoration on Union Square are among the issues Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton would like the Architect of the Capitol to tackle in the near future.

Norton yesterday made public a letter she wrote to Stephen T. Ayers, U.S. Architect of the Capitol.

“D.C. is a unique jurisdiction that must work closely with the federal agencies that control much of the land in our city,” Norton said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Architect of the Capitol on these measures that will benefit our residents and those who frequent our streets and neighborhoods around the Capitol.”

Here’s what Norton wrote in her letter:

Dear Mr. Ayers:

Thank you for your continuing work on and attention to the impact that the Capitol complex has on the surrounding community.  I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss a number of issues related to the Capitol complex that affect District of Columbia residents, those who work near the Capitol, and visitors.  Among these concerns are construction of a bus shelter near Union Station, disposal of the former House Page Residence, and turf restoration on the National Mall.

Due to the reconfiguration of access to Union Station, Metrobus and the D.C. Circulator no longer pull into Union Station, and instead follow Massachusetts Avenue through Columbus Circle.  Six heavily used bus routes, including the 96, 97, D6, D8, X8 and Circulator Georgetown-Union Station line, pick up passengers at this location.  Now, waiting under the portico of Union Station is not permitted, nor is this area close enough to the bus stop for riders to catch their bus.  The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) constructs and maintains bus shelters for both Metrobus and the Circulator in the District, and they are supportive of building a shelter at First Street NE and Massachusetts Avenue NE.  However, until now, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has denied DDOT permission to build a bus shelter at this location.  Passengers are in need of a bus shelter to protect them from rain and snow and other inclement weather and to provide temporary seating to people with disabilities and senior citizens at the south corner of First Street NE and Massachusetts Avenue NE, which is on Capitol grounds.

Another issue is the now-vacant former House Page Residence Hall.  In 2011, the House of Representatives ended the House Page Program citing ongoing costs to maintain the program and technological advances that had made some of the page functions obsolete.  With the end of the House Page Program, the Page Residence Hall at 501 First Street SE was closed as well. This dorm, located on prime D.C. land, has been vacant for almost five years, and the AOC is responsible for maintaining this vacant building at a cost to taxpayers.  Disposing of the vacant property can save taxpayer dollars and help the site become an active part of the Capitol Hill community.  It also has been brought to my attention that there is continued construction outside this site that has closed one lane of E Street SE between New Jersey Street SE and First Street SE.  It is time to either find a new use for the former House Page Residence Hall or dispose of the property.

The National Park Service (NPS) is currently pursuing a turf restoration project on the National Mall that was intended to extend to Union Square, until jurisdiction for Union Square was changed to your office.  NPS’s turf restoration includes excavation and removal of 4-5′ of damaged soil, installation of irrigation drainage and cistern to collect and allow reuse of storm water, and installation of a compaction-resistant engineered soil.  However, the turf restoration project will only run from 14th Street to Third Street.  I am concerned that the area between First Street and Third Street will not see much-needed restoration.  I would like to discuss ways to achieve the needed restoration at Union Square consistent with AOC and Capitol Police jurisdiction.

My scheduler will follow up with your office to schedule the meeting.


Eleanor Holmes Norton

Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton


Morning Rundown

Residential street with homes and parked cars

Eastern Market Mental Health Services Provider Seeks to Add Primary Health Care Office — Community Connections, a mental health services provider at 801 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, is seeking to add a part-time primary health care office to its operations despite concerns from some about clients lingering near Eastern Market Metro Plaza. [Capitol Hill Corner]

Capitol Hill Eighth Grader Vying for Spot on U.S. Under-15 Boys National Team — Kalani Takamura, an eighth grader from Capitol Hill is one of 48 soccer players across the country competing for a spot on the under-15 national soccer team. [Hill Rag]

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton Supports Protected Bike Lane Between Union Station, National Mall — Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton joined Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen and local activists in calling for a protected bike lane to connect Union Station with the U.S. Capitol and National Mall. [Roll Call]

ANC Weighs Three Proposals for NoMa Development — Three development teams presented their proposals for a city-owned site at the intersection of 2nd and H streets and New Jersey Avenue NW to the local ANC. The proposals include student housing and a mixed-use building that would produce all of the energy it uses. [Urban Turf]


Proposed site for the "Bachelor Enlisted Quarters" within the Marine Barracks Annex property at 1053 7th St. SE

The U.S. military doesn’t plan to use several acres of privately owned or leased land in Navy Yard for new U.S. Marine Corps housing, setting its sights on federal land just south of the Southeast Freeway, the U.S. Defense Department announced last week.

The Marines are looking to put a “Bachelor Enlisted Quarters” within the Marine Barracks Annex property at 1053 7th St. SE. The almost 1-acre site currently holds a basketball court, gazebo and sports fields.

“The Marine Corps identified [the site] as the preferred alternative based on this agency and public input, as well as its proximity to the [Marine Barracks] main post and annex, the elimination of the need for land acquisition and the mitigatable environmental impacts of locating the [housing] at this site,” a Marines website says.

JDLand was the first to report the announcement of the complex’s planned location, which was first discussed in 2010.

Draft studies for the construction of a new quarters listed five proposed sites. Three of the properties are located on privately owned or leased land. The rest of the sites are owned and occupied by the federal government.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and area neighbors expressed concern about locating the complex on privately owned or leased land occupied by the National Capital Area Spay and Neuter Center and other organizations.

The Defense Department expects to issue a final decision on the location for the new quarters early next year.


Morning Rundown

NoMa sculpture

Hill Life Savers — U.S. Capitol Police on June 1 revived a man they discovered wasn’t breathing. The man, who was near the Library of Congress, appeared to have overdosed on heroin. [Roll Call]

Metro Safety — Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and other D.C.-area members of Congress called on Metro to quickly fix a safety problem concerning power cables for train tracks. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating whether the track-based cable flaw played a role in the electrical meltdown that left one person dead near the L’Enfant Plaza station earlier this year. [Washington Post]

NoMa Buses — The Council of Governments is considering using NoMa to stage commuter buses in the afternoon. [WTOP]

Southwest Ground Breaking — St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church officially has broken ground on its new sanctuary in Southwest. [Hill Rag]


Possible "Bachelor Enlisted Quarters" sites (Image via U.S. Marine Corps)

(Updated at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday) The U.S. Marine Corps would receive new housing on federal land in the Navy Yard neighborhood under a plan supported by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

The congresswoman has called on the military to construct a new “Bachelor Enlisted Quarters” for marines on one of two areas the U.S. government owns in Near Southeast. The military is considering the two locations and three privately owned or leased sites in the neighborhood for the quarters, which would house marines stationed at the 8th Street SE barracks.

Released by the Marine Corps in April, the plan calls for the new quarters to replace the existing housing at 8th and I streets SE. All five locations under consideration are located between 5th and 11th streets SE, south of Southeast Freeway.

Putting the new housing on any of the privately owned or leased sites would cause “significant negative impacts” on D.C. residents, Norton wrote in a letter to the Marine Corps released today. Those locations include Site C just west of the Washington Navy Yard  and Sites A and B, adjacent to the Virginia Avenue Park.

Site D within the boundaries of the Washington Navy Yard and Site E within the Marine Barracks Annex property at 1053 7th St. SE are the “best options” for the new quarters, Norton wrote.

“The Marines cannot now swoop in and take these prized sites in a city that has almost no land left for development for the benefit of its growing population and businesses,” she wrote.

Capt. Diann Rosenfeld, a Marine Barracks spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Image via U.S. Marine Corps


Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Councilman Charles Allen and others help break ground at Capitol Crossing

Construction of the $1.3 billion Capitol Crossing development over I-395 officially began this morning, with the assistance of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Muriel Bowser and other shovel-wielding dignitaries.

The three-block development, which is just west of the Georgetown University Law Center, will feature 2.2 million square feet of office, retail and housing space. Capitol Crossing will span between Massachusetts Avenue NW to the north and E Street NW to the south and 3rd Street NW to the west and 2nd Street NW to the east, bridging the Capitol Hill and East End neighborhoods.

The development’s first building at 200 Massachusetts Ave. is expected to be finished in 2017. Construction on Capitol Crossing’s four other buildings is slated to conclude in 2019.

Norton said there has “never been a project of this complexity” in D.C. In addition to the buildings from Property Group Partners, the construction also will bring new ramps to I-395 and reconnect G and F streets NW over the freeway.

Bowser asked locals to be patient as work on Capitol Crossing continues. Since construction started earlier this year, D.C. has closed lanes around the area to help builders. A contractor working on the project also struck an 8-inch water main in March, snarling traffic.

“There will be challenges ahead,” Bowser said. “We invite all of our neighbors and commuters to pardon the dust while we’re making progress.”

During the groundbreaking ceremony, representatives of Property Group Partners didn’t say which retailers will fill the 70,000 square feet of retail space the developer has set aside for them. But Mario Batali’s Eataly Italian market may come to Capitol Crossing, Washington City Paper reported last year.


Sledding at the Capitol (Photo via Flickr/smarta)With 4 to 8 inches of snow expected in the District tomorrow, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and others are making a last-minute push to give kids a chance to sled near the Capitol.

This afternoon, Norton asked the head of the U.S. Capitol Police, Frank Larkin, to temporarily allow sledding on the grounds of the Capitol.

“This could be the last snowstorm the D.C. area gets this winter, and may be one of the best for sledding in years,” Norton said in a statement. “Children and their parents should able to enjoy sledding on one of the best hills in the city … Have a heart, Mr. Larkin — a kid’s heart that is.”

Norton requested the sledding ban be lifted Thursday through Sunday.

Previously ignored, the sledding ban that dates back to the early ’80s, according to Norton’s office, was enforced again starting in mid-February. Capitol Police reportedly shooed away would-be sledders, The Wall Street Journal reported. A “Congressional grump” is to blame for requesting enforcement of the ban, a source told Roll Call.

In addition to Norton’s plea to let families coast down the Capitol’s hills, a petition was started this morning to urge officials to support the “children of D.C. (including those who are children at heart).” More than 251 people had signed as of 2:45 p.m. today.

Norton asked late last month for a lift of the sledding ban, calling it “Scrooge-like.”

Photo via Flickr/smarta


Sledding at the Capitol (Photo via Flickr/smarta)(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is fighting for D.C. kids’ right to sled near the Capitol.

Calling the sledding ban enforced last week “Scrooge-like,” Norton is urging the U.S. Capitol Police board to overturn the prohibition on sledding on the Capitol grounds.

“Americans should be able to sled on America’s front lawn,” she wrote to Capitol Police board chairman Frank Larkin. “Because of high residential density, there are few places to sled in the city, and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol … provide a perfect sledding venue.”

Previously ignored, the sledding ban that dates back to the early ’80s, according to Norton’s office, was enforced Tuesday, Feb. 17. Capitol Police reportedly shooed away would-be sledders, The Wall Street Journal reported. A “Congressional grump” is to blame for requesting enforcement of the ban, a source told Roll Call.

Norton asked that Capitol Police review the ban within 30 days.

Photo via Flickr/smarta


Eleanor Holmes Norton (Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton)(Updated at 4:45 p.m. Friday) The National Park Service needs to consider Capitol Hill residents’ concerns about a new federal monument in the neighborhood, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton says.

Norton announced this afternoon that she has asked NPS Associate Regional Director Peter May to halt plans for a statue of Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion until May meets with her.

“Parks owned by the NPS but used by neighborhood residents require respect and deference,” she said in a statement. “After hearing from constituents, an increasing number of whom have children and make maximum use of our parks, I am concerned that NPS is rushing through this process without sufficient courtesy and respect for the affected community.”

NPS staff will meet with Norton next week to give an update on the project and multiple public comment sessions, an NPS spokeswoman said Friday afternoon.

Congress authorized NPS in 2008 to create a memorial to Marion. As Capitol Hill Corner reported, six locations on Capitol Hill are being considered as possible sites for the memorial, including Marion Park and Garfield Park.

Hill residents said another federal memorial in the area would take up valuable park space, and some objected to creating a monument to a plantation owner and slaveholder, as The Washington Post reported.

“We appreciate that Francis Marion is a hero to some, but he has a controversial past for others,” Norton said.

Once a site for the monument is chosen, the design selection process will begin, with more opportunities for public comment.

Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton


Eleanor Holmes Norton (Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton)The developer of the Capitol Crossing project and the Federal Highway Administration are discussing temporarily closing part of I-395 to speed construction.

But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton says they haven’t appropriately sought input from local members of Congress and the public.

Norton said in a statement issued today (Monday) that she had not received notice of the proposal that could clog the commute.

“Impacts of a closure would fall directly not only on the District, whose streets in the area are already saturated, but equally on regional and D.C. residents, who need participation, time and planning before a major highway is closed,” she said in a statement.

Norton demanded a meeting with the FHWA, the District Department of Transportation and regional members of Congress. That meeting was scheduled, her office said in an update.

The developer, Property Group Partners, says closing the highway between New York Avenue and D Street NW for 15 to 18 months would cut part of construction time in half, The Washington Post reported. The long-planned project will create residences, retail, offices and the Mario Batali restaurant and store Eataly, according to Washington City Paper.

Photo via Facebook/Congresswoman Norton


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