GT Neighborhood Updates
ANC2E: Too Many Events Closing Streets?
The Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E met Nov. 1 at Visitation Prep.
Commissioners spoke about the many street closures in Georgetown lately and said they would contact the Mayor’s Special Event Task Force as well as other DC neighborhood groups to see how things could be better coordinated.
Noting that the police probably needed some rest after such a busy weekend, Ed Solomon gave his crime report: “A spike in crime,” with nine thefts from Thursday through Saturday. Solomon also mentioned how M Street was jammed, making egress tough for residents.
Aaron Golds recapped the drug busts at the Georgetown University campus, adding that some alarms did not sound at the Harbin Hall dormitory as they should have.
The presenter for the Lawyers Have Heart 10K in June 2011, while supported by the commission, was asked to keep the ANC informed of any last-minute changes to the race route because of traffic concerns.
With some 35th Street parking spots being lost for ease of turning lanes, the ANC said it would ask DDOT to examine if any spaces on the north side of the 3400 block of Dent Place could be allowed. It is currently a no-parking zone, as it lies directly across from the fire station.
In applying for liquor license renewal, the Third Edition (now run by Capital Restaurant Concepts) faces criticism for its backyard tiki bar. The bar’s noise disturbs condo dwellers at 3251 Prospect Street. Late-night rabble and nearby parking lot gatherings continue; additionally, Georgetown Court’s hang-out, George, seeks to increase its legal capacity to 200. Ed Starrels said he would set up a meeting with the residents, Third Edition and Paul Cohn of CRC.
Yet another restaurant is on the horizon: This one at 1010 Wisconsin Avenue, called the International House of Pong. Its owner is David Sakai, a table-tennis hall of famer. It will have a ping-pong theme, of course, with a capacity of 300 persons in 8,000 square feet, and may be also run by CRC.
Briefly noted: Hook and Tacklebox bought the old Champions building in the alley off Wisconsin Avenue near the Third’s tiki bar; Merriment of Georgetown will be on Dec. 5; signage approved for Camper at 3219 M Street.
Also, Karen Cruise of the Citizens Association of Georgetown was publicly thanked for helping to represent the ANC at ABC hearings.
Drug Busts at Georgetown University Shocks Students and Neighbors
At 6 a.m., Oct. 23, authorities ordered an immediate evacuation of Harbin Hall, a Georgetown University dorm, where an alleged drug lab was discovered in a room on the ninth floor. Freshmen Charles Smith and John Romano, both Georgetown students, along with visiting University of Richmond freshman John Perrone, were arrested early in the morning after officials found the suspected lab intended to produce DMT, a hallucinogenic drug, in Smith and Romano’s dorm room. Romano was released and cleared of all charges at a hearing on Monday, Oct. 25th, in U.S. District Court after Smith told officers that Romano was not involved in any illegal activity, according to The Washington Post. Smith and Perrone are facing federal charges for conspiracy to manufacture and possession with intent to distribute DMT. They were then released into the custody of their parents until their next court date in DC on Jan. 24.
Also arrested on Oct. 26 for possession of and intent to distribute marijuana was Georgetown freshman Kelly Baltazar, whose roommate wrote about her knowledge of Smith’s plans to make DMT, according to the student newspaper, The Hoya.
What is drawing equal criticism is the manner in which the police handled the dorm evacuation. Police evacuated Harbin Hall room-by-room that morning, after the fire alarm system failed to go off, frightening many students initially, but worrying them further that their residence lacks a working alarm system. However, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, the residence hall’s alarms underwent an inspection the previous week and passed fire safety standards, which was confirmed by authorities.
The drug busts took students by surprise. “It’s completely shocking. I would have never have thought that something like this would happen at Georgetown,” student Andrew Strunk told The Hoya. But for many Harbin residents left outside their dorm, The Hoya added, school considerations during a stressful midterm season were at the top of the agenda. “I didn’t get to get my homework and I have a midterm on Monday,” said student and Harbin Hall resident Erica Lin.
Indeed, the Hoya’s lead editorial on Oct. 29, headlined “Damage Control,” lamented the bad press and bad rap for Georgetown and expressed worry that the “drug busts have the potential to harm the long-term reputation of the university.”
Dimethyltryptamine—DMT—is an endogenous hallucinogen, which can be inhaled, smoked or ingested, resulting in dream-like sensations as well as feelings of a near-death experience. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, punishment may involve up to 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million.
Burleith Citizens Agitated Over G.U. Plans and Increased Crime
The Burleith Citizens Association met at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Oct. 28, to discuss Georgetown University’s campus plan, safety and noise issues, rat and trash abatement, as well community tree planting.
After a “Dream Girls” selection by Elliington students (performances begin Dec. 2), BCA president Lenore Rubino echoed her neighborhood’s frustrations at the university. Signs that read “Our Homes, Not GU’s Dorm” state Burleith’s position succinctly. “We want G.U. to reverse its trend of turning houses into dorms,” she said, citing best practices and adding, “We know G.U. can do better.” Even with the residential backlash, the campus plan might provide a 10-year opportunity for conciliation, Rubino said. “Together, we could do great things.”
Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans offered his view of the District’s budget woes. “We have enormous problems financially but are still better than most municipalities,” he said. While Evans said he opposed the university’s campus plans, he noted that the City Council “doesn’t have a role” in such zoning issues and directed residents to the D.C. Zoning Commission to fight the plans. As for the university’s request for $90 million in tax-free bonds, Evans said that because of the larger financing program for other institutions, he would leave it alone, adding that Congress would probably step in to fund it anyway. “I will never allow G.U. to build an 85-foot smokestack,” Evans said. Burleith’s neighborhood commissioner Ed Solomon has likewise stated his opposition to the university’s campus plan.
Lt. Hedgecock of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District addressed the group, saying he has seen “more violent and property crimes across the line.” Hopefully, more headway will be made in the near future.
Georgetown Public Library Shines Anew
The Georgetown Public Library on R Street held an open house for the Citizens Association of Georgetown, Oct. 25, as library officials welcomed a large, curious crowd marveling at the library’s rebirth, and its increased space from 19,000 to 26,000 square feet. Jerry McCoy, historian at the main branch as well, talked about the April 2007 fire and displayed fire-damaged objects such as the weather vane and the clock (stopped at 12:38 p.m.) and added that he needed copies of The Georgetowner and Georgetown Current newspaper from 2006 and 2007 to complete his sets. With an iPad on hand, Richard Levy of the D.C. Library Foundation asked the audience to “advocate for all the other libraries of the District.” During the presentation, Marcia Carter, owner of the renowned used and rare bookstore, Booked Up (now closed), donated two books from the 18th century to the Peabody Room’s McCoy. Friends of the Georgetown Library also joined CAG and seeks members and volunteers to help with programs and other events at the library. For more information, visit www.dclibrary.org/georgetown
‘Adopt-A-Block’ Catches On
Here’s the scoop from a worthwhile public effort: “Clean City’s Adopt-A-Block Program helps beautify our neighborhoods and allows citizens like you and your families to take an active role in cleaning and greening the District. As a part of the Clean City Initiative, Adopt- A-Block offers a hands-on project for people and organizations. The program allows participants to make a noticeable contribution to their communities.
Citizens said that the government must do its part to keep the city clean, but recognized that government can’t do everything. Teamwork between government and citizens is key. Success begins with one citizen and one community deciding to make a difference.”
Each group adopts a minimum of 2 square blocks of a residential or commercial area, agrees to conduct a quarterly, clean-up day and weekly litter pickup in the adopted area, and maintains this agreement for two years. Want more info? 202-724-8967 CleanCity@dc.gov, www.CleanCity.dc.gov
New Businesses in Town
The fun, elegant, perfectly constructed housewares of Alessi now have a showroom in Cady’s Alley, right next to L2 and across from Leopold’s Kafe & Konditorei. (See the pages of Le Decor for more info.)
It’s back to the future for at least one business category in town. Evoking memories of the long-gone Georgetown Coffee, a new shop, The Spice & Tea Exchange of Georgetown, offers many scents. It is on Wisconsin Avenue (near Blues Alley), touting, “A huge selection of gourmet spices…including a huge selection of chili powders, cheese powders, smoked powders and more. Our selection of fresh gourmet spices is second to none. If you can’t find it here, it probably does not exist.” And there are bags of tea, too. Also available: mortars, pestles, spice racks, mills, grinders and other kitchen items for tea. Check with owner Keith Campbell-Rosen at: email@example.com, 202-333-4540.
Wait, there’s another back-to-the-future feeling coming on. Remember Maison de Crepes? A new crêperie has opened, right next to Spice & Tea on Wisconsin Avenue—Muncheez Mania. Its interior is electric with street art and music, serving up crepes, wraps and other low-priced snacks with American and Lebanese tastes, especially those wrapped in saj, and window service, too. Beginning next week, closing times on Thursday, Friday and Satursday will be 4 a.m. As this eatery is part of Capital Restaurant Concepts, Neyla’s executive chef Abdul Hash Housh is involved along with Muncheez’s founder David Nammour. www.MuncheezMania.com
Commander Salamander Gone by Year’s End
With its going-out-of-business signs getting faded, Commander Salamander, that funky clothing and accessories shop on Wisconsin Avenue, will indeed close soon—for real. Chris Peterson, a store manager, told the Washington City Paper that Commander Salamander employees got word of the closing last week. “There were lawyers going in and out of the store all week,” Peterson told the City Paper.