David Catania and Carol Schwartz told Southwest and Navy Yard residents that if elected mayor they would manage the area’s rampant development and work to fund a community center in the Navy Yard.
Catania and Schwartz laid out their plans for the neighborhoods at a forum held at Arena Stage Monday night.
Muriel Bowser (D) was invited to participate but said “her schedule did not allow for it,” moderator Shannon Vaughn said, indicating a seat left empty for her.
Both Independent candidates said they would aim to fund the operational costs of the Navy Yard community center at 5th and K streets Southeast, which is slated to open in late 2015.
“This has got to be an amenity that’s supported by the city,” Catania said, citing expected population growth and growing demand for public space.
Schwartz she didn’t “know all the details” on the center but wondered whether locals could pay fees for activities or membership.
On the future of the Southwest Neighborhood Library, Catania said he would commit to keeping the facility at its current location, rather than incorporating it into a mixed-use building.
Schwartz said she would have to evaluate the plans. “I really want to support what communities want for themselves,” she said.
On the redevelopment of the Greenleaf public housing complex, Catania said he would work to create and maintain acceptable housing for locals.
“We have to make sure that the units that are planned are comparable to the units taken off-line,” he said. “We have to build first, before we demolish.”
The city must use “every nickel” of federal funds for affordable housing, he added.
Schwartz agreed on the need to get all available federal funds for affordable housing and said she would push for tax credits to encourage displaced residents to move back to the area. She said she would support looking “a little farther from the city” for public housing and affordable housing sites.
On the proposed expansion of the CSX rail tunnel that runs along Virginia Avenue, Catania said he would fight for a community benefits package “commensurate with the imposition” on residents. Locals need more information on the safety and speed of the trains, he said. Schwartz was not asked the same question.
Catania is falling just 4 points behind Bowser, according to polling results published Tuesday by Washingtonian. Pollster Ron Lester showed Bowser commanding 34 percent of the vote to Catania’s 30. Schwartz received 16 percent, and 19 percent of those polled were undecided.