Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Give and Take

As we prepare for the next round of meetings on the Braddock Road Metro small area plan, here's something to keep in mind.

It is likely that the City's consultants will attempt to sell us on high density development in exchange for neighborhood improvements.

But this begs the question why the City has invested its own funds in capital improvements for some neighborhoods but not in ours.

Case in point: undergrounding of utilities. The City is paying for long-term projects costing millions of dollars to underground utilities — not just in the Old & Historic District but also along Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray and Arlandria.

As far as the Growler can tell, these programs are being paid for from the City's annual budget, not from developer contributions or special tax districts.

And the City's investments have not been limited to underground utilities, but have also involved streetscaping and other cosmetic improvements.

Since 1985, the City has spent over $2.5 million to underground utility wires and poles along Mt. Vernon Avenue and to implement streetscape improvements. ... As part of this project, the City will also continue the streetscape improvements by planting trees, repairing curbs and gutters, installing pavers, street furniture and signs.

Additionally, there have been improvements made to the crosswalks along Mt. Vernon Avenue between Uhler and Bellefonte Avenues in Del Ray and in front of George Washington Middle School. These improvements include stamped asphalt crosswalks and bulb-outs designed to make pedestrian crosswalks safer and slow down traffic. Along Braddock Road, between West Street and Mt. Vernon Avenue, the City proposes landscape improvements to the medians and adjacent rights of way. (Potomac West Small Area Plan, 1992, pp. 38 and 47)

So why do other neighborhoods take but only Parker-Gray has to give?