Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekend Roundup

With the recent spell of lovely weather — perfect for gardening and lounging — the Growler has been slacking off a bit. But it's time to get back into the fray, because the pace is picking up once again.

Saving Jefferson-Houston

The Inner City Civic Association and Upper King Street Neighborhood Association are co-sponsoring a meeting on Jefferson-Houston School on Monday. The meeting will be held at the Durant Center at 1605 Cameron Street on April 21 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Principal Kim Graves will attend following her PTA meeting and topics to be covered will include an update on the parents' group and listserve which has been very active lately and the latest news on the school district's capital budget and various proposals to deal with the Jefferson-Houston's aging building.

Buh-Bye!

Good news for those neighbors who have long been concerned about the unregulated halfway houses clustered at Princess and N. Fayette Streets.

In February, Indy Mac bank foreclosed on 1124 Princess Street and it's now being listed for sale through Weichert Realtors. A recent open house saw a steady stream of foot traffic, and at a list price of $399,000 the agents are confident it will soon be sold. Many of the interested visitors were young renters who like the neighborhood and want to find a way to buy in.

This week there was a bustle of activity next door at 1122 Princess Street, with the last of the tenants preparing to take their leave. No word yet on whether the house will be sold.

The Inner City's community police officer Michael Sprague has been much in evidence on Princess Street in the last few days, talking to the renters and working diligently on the issues surrounding these troubled properties. We are all grateful to Officer Sprague for his efforts and his strong commitment to the neighborhood. A tip of the Growler's fuzzy old ears in his direction!

Zucchini Madness!

Alert for moms and dads: legendary local performer The Great Zucchini, rated as one of Washington's top children's entertainers, will perform tomorrow (Saturday, April 19) at 11 a.m. at the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St.

The Great Zucchini’s 40-minute show exemplifies “the wonder of magic and silliness of comedy that keeps children on the edge of their seats.” Proceeds from the performance will help raise funds for the planned soft playroom at the Chinquapin Recreation Center. Tickets are on sale now at http://softplayroom.express.ts.com/.

The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten wrote a fascinating article in 2006 about this elusive character, who is known in civilian life as Eric Knaus. Read it and enjoy!

Raze the Roof

Some readers have suspected there's more than meets the eye to the recent revelations about the departure of former ARHA CEO William Dearman.

They may be right. Word on the street is that the $190,000 roofing contract which triggered HUD's investigation of Mr. Dearman was awarded to someone with close personal ties to a senior ARHA staffer.

Bland Land

Speaking of ARHA, we have several important meetings coming up regarding redevelopment of public housing projects in the Braddock Road area.

Tomorrow (Saturday, April 19) the City is sponsoring a bus tour of former public housing sites in Alexandria and Washington, DC that have been redeveloped into mixed-income communities. All seats are spoken for already and there's a waiting list.

At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23 there will be a community meeting at Ebenezer Baptist's Hargrave Collins Building (301 N. Patrick Street) on the redevelopment of the James Bland housing project. Attendees will be able to review and comment on the preliminary site plan.

Finally, the next Braddock East Advisory Group meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24 at Jefferson-Houston School. Planned topics include a review of the bus tour and the Bland community meeting followed by discussion of resident needs and appropriate site planning for successful mixed-income housing. Child care will be available for meeting attendees.

Paying the Piper

On Tuesday, April 22 the City Council will set the new real estate tax rates for calendar year 2008. Council is expected to boost taxes to make up for a serious shortfall in revenue.

The Growler should remind readers that the City budget nearly doubled in size from FY 2000 (the start of the housing market bubble) to the projected FY 2009 budget. And many homeowners' tax bills also doubled.

So do you feel you're getting twice the level of services for your taxes?

With that thought, the Growler wishes everyone a great weekend!