The 3rd 7th District Roundtable Meeting was held Monday night at the EDI center at 25th and M Streets.
About 20 people turned out for the meeting. Most of the people present for the main meeting were also present one of the 2 ad hoc meetings (education, affordable housing) beforehand. Residents from across the district were present, including familiar faces from Fulton, Chimborazo, St.John’s, and Fairmont. (Hello Union Hill? 🙂
Educational Ad Hoc Meeting
I sat in on the Education Ad Hoc meeting. Given the recent noises towards revamping the city school system, this seemed to be the place to be. Maybe someone from the Affordable Housing committee wants to say something about what went on there? The plan is, I think, that the committee will move ahead on various agendas and occasionally report back to the main meeting.
The Education Ad Hoc Committee is looking at what should/could be done with the schools in the district. This is not a discussion of budgets, current or future, but instead a look at how the schools should ideally be set up, given some constraints. This is being looked upon as an opportunity to try and make the area schools as functional as any in the area. The feeling seems to be that change is going to come, so we need to get our voice heard (and fairly quickly)
The main facts seem to be that the area is home to many schools, of which some will certainly be closed. There are too many schools for too few students. These schools cost too much money to maintain. Some of the schools will be closed, while there is the opportunity to probably have 2 or 3 schools either built new or refurbished. The question then is how should this go down?
One strong proposal is a new neighborhood school for Fulton/Fulton Hill. This school is proposed to be a pre-K through 8th, and to hold the roughly 900-1000 students from the area in that age range. Expectations are that more neighborhood kids would attend schools in zone in a neighborhood school.
Aiming to have 3 schools ‘made modern’, this leaves room for 2 more schools in the area to receive the treatment. This modernization is seen as a being able to play a vital role in the solidification of the neighborhoods. Schools seen as possibilities for refurbishment or a complete rebuild are George Mason, Woodville, or Chimborazo. These are proposed due to location, current capacity, or available land on the campus. Belleview and Fairfield look to be lost as elementary schools. Could Belleview be repurposed?
There was talk of developing a campus-type set up where a feeder elementary school and/or middle school/high school are located are on the same parcel of land.
There wasn’t much talk about Armstrong and MLK. The schools are not at capacity, allegedly, which leaves them vulnerable. What can be done with the old Armstrong building? Some people have proposed using this facility as an alternative school, like for bad kids, though there seems to be growing concern that is once again using the East End as a dumping ground.
The importance of an early introduction to vocational education (beyond hair: graphic design, etc.). Some voice was given to the special needs of the area — median income 9-10k, high proportion of identified exceptional education, more.
Year-round schooling was proposed, to a surprising unanimous positive reaction.
From the meeting proper…
The main meeting consisted of a presentation on future rezoning in the 7th district by Juanita Buster from Community Development. Her question is this — as a community, are we interested in rezoning?
Ms.Buster’s main point was that the neighborhood is mostly zoned at r-48 (medium-high) and r-53 (multi-family, high density), while the the actual use is mixed but mostly single-family. There is movement to change the zoning to more accurately reflect current use, at least partially in accordance in the city’s master plan.
Ms. Buster took several questions from the audience. When asked why not just implement master plan as written, it was offered that the master plan did not include much of original neighborhood input and should reflect “further study”.
She was asked “What does zoning have to do with parking requirements for local businesses”? This was in reference to provisions requiring that businesses have a specific number of off-street parking spots available. She replied that this is due to zoning and that things are being considered to alleviate this issue. Ms.Buster mentioned a specific “business zone” on Hull Street, but wasn’t able to clearly describe the difference between the requirements for restaurants in the Fan versus the onerous requirements for proposed restaurants on 25th Street.
She was also asked about zoning changes for long-term vacant properties that would have negative impacts if ever developed. The specific reference was to a quadplex on the 600 block of 28th Street that would probably overwhelm parking on the street if ever fully occupied. There wasn’t much of a resolution for this, either.