The big story coming out of today’s budget vote was the death and immediate rebirth of the H Street-Benning streetcar. But a few other items are worth noting.
First, Councilmember Jim Graham secured $1.5 million to construct the basketball courts, gardens, and other park-like amenities planned for the site of Bruce Monroe Elementary while it waits for a new school. That’s triple the amount that had earlier been budgeted, which Andre Byers—the mayor’s point person on the project—had repeatedly promised would be enough to complete the project, including demolition and a $200,000 fence. Graham, in an email just now to neighborhood listserves, says that wasn’t true.
“That was not enough for the basketball courts, night-time lights, fencing, tennis court, programming and other beautification items,” Graham wrote. ” The stakeholders challenged me to find more. We did.”
Also in notable budget restorations: $7 million for small businesses hurt by streetscape construction, particularly on 14th Street, which has dragged on for months now. The popular bakery Sticky Fingers had been hit particularly hard by the piles of bricks and blocked off sidewalks, and joined other businesses in protesting—some had discussed tax abatements while construction was ongoing, but a fund for reparations would seem to have a similar effect.