McMillan Sand Filtration Plant Site
McMillan Sand Filtration Plant Site

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The McMillan Sand Filtration Plant site is a 25-acre plot of land north of Bloomingdale. In the mid 1980s, the plant closed, leaving the city to determine how to redevelop the land. In December, Vision McMillan Partners, a group of developers, unveiled plans to transform the parcel into a mixed-use community with housing, retail, office space, and park land. Since that time, rumors, conspiracy theories, and chatter about the project have sparked huge debates about the project.

CONSPIRACY THEORY NO. 3: Developers may be paying off the local ANC commissioner.

Barrie Daneker is the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for an area that includes all the residential areas bordering the McMillan site. He’s among those responsible for shielding his constituents from high-rises that threaten to puncture the Bloomingdale bubble of tranquil Victorian row houses, neighborhood barbecues, and quiet dog-walking. But is Daneker properly executing his duties or simply a pawn in the hands of Vision McMillan Partners?

Former ANC commissioner Allison Defoe, for one, finds his behavior distrustful. In the two years she’s served with him, Defoe says her colleague repeatedly rebuffed her on questions about the development. She’d ask him about gatherings of the McMillan Advisory Group. He’d provide less than illuminating responses, like “‘It was a private meeting,'” end of discussion, recalls Defoe.

To rounds of gentle nodding and open ears, Defoe relayed these exchanges toward the end of the Tuesday night meeting.

“My thing is: If I’m your fellow commissioner, and you can’t even provide information to me, how are you passing that information to your community?” she said. “I know a lot of the residents would come to me and I would not have any information to tell them, and couldn’t-because he wouldn’t pass it on.”

At this point, Defoe was interrupted by another resident.

“He’s getting paid!”

Defoe would not dip to that accusation: “You said that. I didn’t. I don’t know what the motive was,” she immediately responded.

But the next person to speak also had his suspicions: “I will say, he’s very invested in this developer.”

Daneker was not at the residents-only meeting to defend himself. But in an interview on Saturday, he refuted the claims. Daneker, who has been involved with the McMillan Advisory Group since late 2006, says he’s reported four or five development updates at ANC meetings in the last year. In addition, he says, he attends monthly meetings of the Stronghold Civic Association, which represents residents across North Capitol Street, who face the McMillan site.  The group’s leader, India Luckett, backs his claim.

“Barrie’s been a faithful ANC,” she says, though she adds there haven’t been many meetings called for his entire district.

Overall, she gives Daneker high marks. “We get information that we should get,” says Luckett.