Speakers Table

Commissioner Bill Starrels on Georgetown

October 30, 2016

Written by Bill Starrels

It is an honor and privilege to serve as ANC2E05 Commissioner for the past 16 years. In that time, I have accomplished a great deal to make my single member district and all of Georgetown a terrific place in which to live. Is my work finished? No – because Georgetown has a changing demographic, prosperity, increased pressures of new development, and all that goes with those dynamic factors. Many people have endorsed me for re-election because they believe I am best suited to solve our problems and enhance the quality of life for my constituents. 

I am proud of all the endorsements I have received. These include the current President of the Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG), four Past Presidents of CAG, the three retiring ANC2E Commissioners, and the President of the DC Board of Education. 

I would like to address issues of great import to Georgetown today in this article. For my past accomplishments, and full list of endorsements, please visit my website.

Traffic in south Georgetown is a persistent problem over the years with the advent of three new condo buildings, two hotels and the House of Sweden. A new condo is now proposed over Gypsy Sally’s on Water Street which will only exacerbate current woes. I have been working on a task force with the Georgetown BID, CAG, and DDOT to explore options for relief. We must have a sensible plan that works. A neighbor has complained about all the street closures related to Taste of Georgetown, marathons, fun runs, etc, and she is quite right – we cannot have Water Street closed to emergency vehicles with residents trapped. I vow to work with fellow ANC Commissioners to say no to most proposed street closures.  DPW and MPD must be tenacious with parking enforcement of buses, food trucks so traffic flows as efficiently as possible. 

Residents want to see the West Heating Plant project move forward, and so do I – with haste. I have seen the most recent design that preserves the western façade of the building as directed by the Old Georgetown Board many months ago. I believe you will be as pleased with the design as I am, and I look forward to the developer unveiling these plans in mid-November. Supporting this project is critical, for beyond fixing an eyesore; we will also gain a world-class park for the community to use and enjoy.

Crime and homelessness are always issues in my Single Member District. We are home to most of Georgetown’s retail stores that attract and account for the majority of the criminal activity. In fact over sixty percent of the crimes in lower Georgetown are related to retail stores. There are safety concerns with some of the activity late night in the Waterfront Park. This is being addressed with Park Police. Overall the SMD is safe. You may be aware that MPD is currently understaffed by approximately 1,000 officers citywide. We must work closely with MPD leadership to correct this. I will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to bring more officers to Georgetown. 

I will continue to work with my fellow Commissioners and residents as we welcome new restaurants to Georgetown. We must preserve the right to use settlement agreements as needed to insure residents can enjoy the peace order and quiet that they deserve. The ANC is well respected by most in the restaurant community. We work well together.  

The homeless problem is critical as winter approaches. I work tirelessly on this chronic problem which is, in part, driven by mental health issues – it is not easy to solve, but progress is being made. I am working now on removing the tent city that has again cropped up in Foggy Bottom and directly affects us. We need to be compassionate but focused on everyone’s interests.  

Several years ago, I was PTA President of Hyde Elementary when my son was a student.  Our community must join me in rallying to finish the renovation and expansion to Hyde. We must stand firm and united in saying no to Meyer Elementary as swing space. Sending our youngest residents across town is not acceptable. The children and parents of Hyde-Addison deserve local swing space. There is no alternative.

I look forward to working with you as we move Georgetown forward.

I would appreciate your vote on November 8th.

 


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Update on Effort to Repair Streetlights in Georgetown and Citywide

September 29, 2016

Written by Bill Starrels, Commissioner, Vice Chairman ANC2E, Georgetown
 
It remains an on-going problem in Georgetown and citywide that too many streetlights are simply not working.
 

In response to calls to address this issue following recent sexual assaults in Georgetown at locations where streetlights were out, Mayor Muriel Bowser called for a week-long sweep by government staff across the city to identify streetlights that are out and that need repair.  She noted that all sections of the city have streetlights that need attention, and expressed concern about the associated safety and crime issues.


The mayor announced the launch of text to DC311 (32311) making it easier for residents to report streetlights that are out and need to be repaired.  Residents can also call 311 to report streetlights that need repair.  To ensure prompt service, Bowser announced the hiring of an additional thirty-one call center staff.  

 

On Wednesday evening, Terry Lynch of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, was able to survey part of the East Village prior to the rains coming in. Over a dozen streetlights were found to be out - 15 in all, along with a light in front of the Georgetown Post Office.  His list is below. These are being reported to 311 for repair.

 

The mayor also has called for reviewing and updating the system as a whole, to use the technologies now available so that when a streetlight goes out city managers know immediately and can speed repairs. There are over 70,000 streetlights citywide. An updated system will help with the maintenance of the streetlights and could also be more energy efficient.

 

The prompt response by the mayor and supporting agencies is encouraging in the quest to get the streetlights back on and improve the safety of the city.  

 

 

Georgetown streetlights out:

 

2500 Q Street NW - light on bridge entering Georgetown area, south side of bridge towards Georgetown

 

1245 29th Street NW

 

2 out at 30th and M Streets NW - se and sw corners

 

31st and M Streets NW on 31st at side of Potomac Wines - on and off

 

31st and M Streets NW, in front of Brooks Brothers store (on and off)

 

31st and M Streets NW, on 31st at side of The Walking Company

 

3111 M Street NW - by Urban Outfitters

 

3122 M Street NW

 

3140 M Street NW

 

3150 M STreet NW

 

1208 Wisconsin Ave NW by Abercrombie & Fitch store

 

3141 N Street NW

 

On 31st at Dumbarton, sw corner

 

3114 Dumbarton

 

US Post Office - 1 of  entry lights at 1215  31st Street NW - comparable to a streetlight for that block


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Streetlights In Georgetown Need To Be Working So The Village Stays Safe

September 18, 2016

Written by Bill Starrels, Commissioner, Vice Chairman ANC2E, Georgetown

 

There were five reported sexual assaults since August 3rd in the West Village according to published reports.  The latest was on early Saturday morning, September 17 at 1:02 am when a suspect was observed grouping a young lady on the 3300 block of Prospect Street, NW. The Metropolitan Police arrested the man shortly after the incident for third degree sexual assault.  

Terry Lynch (Photo by: 1400 35th Street NW) Terry Lynch

 

Thursday after hearing the reports of the first four assaults, I walked the area where the assaults occurred with Terry Lynch, Executive Director of the Cluster of Congregations, to check out lighting in the neighborhood. We discovered streetlights were out on the blocks where the assaults occurred - in some cases multiple lights in close proximity were out. In surveying just the streets were the assaults occurred (Potomac, 35th Street, and near the corner of 37th and T), and nearby alleys and blocks, over 20 streetlights were found to be out or to be so dim as to effectively be out. 

 

One could visualize a predator lurking in of these darkened areas waiting to prey on a victim who would not be able to see her attacker.

 

We are calling on the City Administrator to have a survey conducted of all of Georgetown, and for that matter, all neighborhoods across the city, to determine what lights are out and get them back on.  Ideally there should be a month long sweep across the city to get the lights back on. All neighborhoods deserve to have lighting that promotes safety.

 

The city needs to find and use 21st century technology that keeps the lights on. When a streetlight goes out there should be an alert to the city that a repair is needed. We have reports of constituents calling in locations more than once and the light remained unrepaired. We need the lights to be functioning.

 

Georgetown residents and visitors alike should be able to go about their routines safely. They should know that the lights are working and the streets are well lit. I will continue to work with Terry Lynch and the Downtown Cluster of Congregations showing the commitment to making the neighborhood, and city, better and safer.


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