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In December, I wrote several times about the McMillan Sand Filtration Plant site, a 25-acre parcel of land by the intersection of North Capitol Street and Michigan Avenue, Northwest. Recently, a development team unveiled plans re-imagining the land as a mixed-use community with up to 1,200 housing units, a grocery store, retail—-the works.

Soon after, Bloomingdale resident Paul Andrew Kirk launched a blog—-“No Drilling at McMillan”—- attacking the developers’ vision, and hopefully appealing to locals’ gnawing inner environmentalist. As Kirk writes at the top of his blog: “While people who say they care about the environment are outraged about drilling in the northern tundra of Alaska, there seems to be little concern for turning 25 acres of green space in the nation’s capital into concrete and asphalt.”

Thus far, his blog has ignited a vibrant dialogue (read: brutal keyboard lashing) on Greater, Greater Washington. And Kirk has been right there responding to every claim…which made me wonder: Who is this man? And why was he writing this blog in the first place? He responded in e-mail, and later gave me permission to publish said response:

I live right on Channing.  I’ve lived in DC for 20 years, on Capitol Hill for 14 years and here since 2002.

With regard to McMillan, I would like to see some leadership.  This is such a unique piece of land.  It overlooks the reservoir and the city.  Having the benefit of overlooking the property for six years, I can tell you there is abundant wildlife there including migratory birds and birds of prey.  If it is to be developed, there should continue to be some connection between the reservoir and this site.  The fence around the reservoir does nothing really from a security standpoint.  Someone with vision should look at the bigger picture, including the Armed Forces Home and the great need for fixed rail at the Hospital Center (which includes 4 hospitals and is the  most densely populated commuter destination in the city).  

I could go on and on.

Bloomingdale is a nice neighborhood.  First Street is the heart of Bloomingdale.  Adding thousands of cars a day to First Street will forever change the feel you get now walking your dog up and down First.  Developing the land north of Channing will eliminate the safe zone that exists between Channing and Michigan.  Criminals hate this stretch because there is a good chance if they run in that direction, they have no place to hide and they will be caught. 

Mostly, I am against the process being left to a private developer whose profit is dependent on the amount of square footage produced.  That’s why they don’t say the Channing Street rowhouses will be the same as the South side of the street, they say they will be somewhat like them.  This means duplexes of low-income housing.  This means two houses for every one on the South side, greatly decreasing the number of parking places on the street and greatly increasing the number of people you find around public housing projects.  I support public housing assistance for those truly in need.  I just think the Howard/Shaw area has more than its share already.  

I have been to the “listening sessions”.  At the first one, they spoke at us 45 minutes, then broke us into smaller groups and use every opportunity to sell the idea of this utopia they were building that would have a Trader Joes and sushi restaurants.  At the first listening session I was told I couldn’t ask any (not any more, any) questions.  By the way, where the heck did they get the idea to build an amphitheater?  I certainly haven’t heard anyone in my neighborhood, rich or poor, black or white, young or old clamoring for a community amphitheater.  Maybe Childrens Hospital requested it for puppet shows?