In a hearing that could further delay GW’s attempt to open the academic portion of the new Elliot School building, Foggy Bottom community members testified against the University before the Zoning Commission Tuesday.
The main dispute revolves around a homeless feeding program GW offered the community as part of an amenities package the University was required to compile last year.
The West End Citizens Association, an area advocacy group, said GW failed to pay the $100,000 required by the Board of Zoning Adjustment as a condition for occupancy of the 1957 E St. facility. Under the zoning order, GW is required to pay a total of $500,000 to a joint GW-West End Foundation in $100,000 yearly installments.
General Counsel Charles Barber, representing GW, said the foundation was supposed to “establish its own feeding program or identify an alternative source,” but has failed to do so.
“When we saw the (Aug. 6 due) date approaching … we asked the foundation to identify an alternate source, but they refused,” Barber said, “We had no options. We gave the money to Riggs Bank, where it is currently earning interest.”
He said he wrote the foundation a letter in August, requesting the name of a program, but did not receive a response.
The money is currently being held under GW’s control.
WECA members said GW’s monetary commitment was due in August and they want GW to be fined for lack of fulfillment of the order because the feeding program is important to the Foggy Bottom community.
“(The $100,000) is important money to do good for other people,” WECA board member Sarah Maddox said. She also offered the names of five people she deemed capable of running the Foggy Bottom feeding program, including current GW employees.
Barbara Kahlow, also representing WECA, said GW has not yet paid the $100,000 and thus is “out of compliance with the order.”
“GW runs on its own sense of entitlement,” Kahlow said.
The BZA approved occupancy of the residential portion of the building in August, but GW is still awaiting Zoning Commission approval for occupancy of the academic portion of the facility.
Barber said he expects a Zoning Commission decision in the next month and is confident the University will receive approval to move into the building.
As staunch opponents to any GW use of the Elliott School building, Advisory Neighborhood Commission members also spoke at the hearing.
ANC Chair Dorothy Miller called the amenities package approved by the commission last year inadequate compared to the cost of the building. She added that the feeding program was unnecessary, given the existence of several other feeding programs currently located in Foggy Bottom.
Besides the feeding program, University officials agreed to provide more than a dozen amenities to the community, including 3,300 square feet of commercial space.