Commissioner Bill Starrels on Georgetown
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.