Everybody loves a fight—the press in particular. Loose Lips, not known for shying from controversy, is to be commended for pointing out the all too frequent failings of our municipal government. However, corrections are needed to inaccuracies in the column about building a Fresh Fields grocery store at either 13th and V or 15th and P Streets (6/26).

Some of the inaccuracies: 1) suggesting that there has been a proposal to build a “free building” for Fresh Fields with taxpayer money, 2) implying that an isolated car burglary at 13th and Florida somehow makes the case that crime is worse in the U Street area than at 15th & P, and 3) picturing the old Children’s Hospital building as if it were still standing, when, in fact, it was torn down six months ago.

Tax-increment financing is an established tool for funding inner-city development. The city has received no tax revenue on the Children’s Hospital site for at least the last 13 years. The city would merely give up a portion of the future tax revenue as a way of financing the development—not giving Fresh Fields a free building. Whatever the cost to taxpayers, we would net more revenue out of this site than the goose egg we get while it lies fallow. This is a good investment for taxpayers.

In addition to a property producing some tax revenue, Ward 1 would get only its second full-size supermarket, a dynamic economic boost for the fledgling U Street corridor, and lots of relatively low-skill good jobs for its residents. Even in this city of polar opinions, can’t we agree that this is good public policy—an appropriate use of city resources?

The city is appropriately trying to steer Fresh Fields to the V Street site, the site that makes the most sense, because it offers: 1) greater economic impact where it is sorely needed, 2) the moving of property long held by the city to the tax rolls, 3) Metro accessibility, 4) convenience for 75,000 people living within a one-mile radius, and 5) immediate availability.

Very few people live south of the P Street site; building Fresh Fields on V Street would put more D.C. residents in proximity to a major supermarket than building it on P Street. People farther north and east in this city, including people with lower incomes, like quality groceries too. Furthermore, ground can be broken immediately on the V Street site. There is no need to acquire the property and tear down existing buildings, as on P Street.

There are enough fights to write about in this city without stretching facts to create new and bigger ones. LL should make the best of the “Mayor for Life,” while we still have him to kick around. When the city does the right thing, as it is trying to do with Fresh Fields, LL should either acknowledge that or find something else to write about.


via the Internet