Mayor-elect Adrian Fenty hosted a town-hall meeting Thursday for all of the residents of Ward 2, which includes Foggy Bottom, at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Shaw.
Ward 2 City Councilmember Jack Evans and Fenty’s future City Administrator Dan Tangerlini assisted Fenty in running the forum. The meeting was one of seven separate town halls in each ward this month that are intended to gauge residents’ opinions about issues ranging from education to business development.
“We didn’t want to leave anyone behind,” Fenty said after the meeting. “We’ve been getting great feedback at all of them.”
Over 100 residents participated. They were placed in groups with a facilitator from Fenty’s transition staff and were asked to comment on six issues. After 10 to 15 minutes of discussion, different tables were asked to share feedback with all of the groups. In addition to verbally communicating input which was recorded with a camera, residents were asked to fill out sheets with their opinions.
Although Fenty was not present for the entire meeting, Foggy Bottom Association President Joy Howell said that did not mean residents’ input would not be heard.
“He’s capturing all of the input; he doesn’t need to be here,” Howell said. “I have every confidence knowing him that he will read every single page.”
Evans said he thought the idea of an entire Ward 2 meeting was a unique and positive event.
“It’s useful to get a bunch of people across the ward,” Evans said, as residents discussed development. “What is always so specific and special about the issue we’re talking about (is) that people tend to want the same things.”
Evans said he is thinking of using the same format – of splitting residents into groups with a facilitator – for future community meetings he holds.
“Whoever thought of this, it was a great idea,” he said.
Foggy Bottom/West End Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Dorothy Miller said she was impressed by the organization as well. She said previous meetings run by Mayor Anthony Williams were not as well thought-out.
The issue of development was discussed in the meeting and Evans asked residents to comment on development of GW specifically. ANC Chair Vince Micone spoke for his group on the topic.
“In terms of economic development we felt, in Ward 2, that we’d like to see that spread to the other communities,” Micone said. “We need to look more closely at the restrictions on development before it becomes so dense.”
The ANC has opposed all of GW’s development applications this fall because they believe there is too much development, among other reasons. At the meeting, Evans said Ward 2 has grown much more than any other area of D.C. and has done so only in the last four years.
Ruth Connolly, a resident of Dupont Circle East, said she has also been frustrated by the rapid development in the city. She believed a lot of the problem stems from corruption, which allowed developments to be approved without enforcing the laws.
She said, “We’d like more transparency and less corruption in the city government.”