Gray cools neighborhood tensions over alcohol issues
November 23, 2010 | by G'town Saucer
Photo by The Georgetown DishBilled as a “chat” with soon-to-be-mayor Vincent Gray, Monday’s “members only” meeting of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association proved to be a love-fest when over one hundred members warmly applauded the Mayor-elect for his support of continuing "voluntary agreements" between establishments that sell alcohol and the neighborhoods they inhabit. The agreements, mutually agreed-upon accords between the businesses and their communities over noise, trash and crowd control, are considered highly successful by neighborhood groups in Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom and across the District.
But concerns have arisen in several neighborhoods over indications that current administration officials have ignored or given lip-service to neighborhood concerns while favoring business interests over all else.
The Dupont meeting took place in the Belmont Mansion with its the magnificent Christmas tree and full holiday decorations. Gray was clearly impressed and asked whoever did the décor to “be at my place in a week.”
Gray quickly adjusted to the grandeur and launched into a talk on citywide issues, followed by a Q & A session led by DCCA President Robin Diener. Diener specifically asked Gray about a statement by Charles Brodsky, chair of the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, that he, Brodsky, did not know how to “value” a family’s sleep “over the revenue that would be generated” by a liquor-serving business. “He actually said that?” Gray asked. “They’ve really lost sight of who we are,” he added to a round of applause. “Our residents are the heart of our city….I don’t support attacks [on voluntary agreements]. We need revenue but at what sacrifice,” he said to more applause.
On other citywide issues, Gray stressed his messages that everyone will have to sacrifice in the face of the District’s dire financial state, that he is committed to education reform, that he looks forward to a productive working relationship with his successor, D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown, and that the Council is encouraging development in eastern areas of the District through changes in the Comprehensive Plan.
The meeting adjourned but Gray continued to chat informally with the attendees as the warm, holiday mood spread to the wine and refreshments served in the spacious dining room next door.