ANC approves construction of library study space

Media Credit: Max Wang | Staff Photographer

James Harnett, a member of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission and a rising junior, supported a University plan to construct a new study space outside Gelman Library.

Students will soon be able to study on an outdoor patio next to Gelman Library.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission on Wednesday approved plans for a deck on the H Street side of Gelman Library. Susi Cora, the director of campus planning, said the current space adjacent to Starbucks is “barren” and “unused,” and a deck complete with tables and chairs would provide a welcoming study space for students.

Officials have been brainstorming ways to increase the amount of study space in Gelman over the past few months after a Faculty Senate report noted last year that the library can only seat about 6 to 7 percent of the student body at one time.

The deck will be the same height as the sidewalk, making the area accessible for wheelchair users, Cora said. She said officials haven’t decided yet whether the area will feature power outlets.

The proposal was largely noncontroversial and was passed unanimously.

“Any opportunity we have to expand study space is well taken on me,” James Harnett, a rising junior and commissioner, said.

The plan now heads to the District Department of Transportation for approval, which is reviewing the University’s permit application. The proposed construction would occur between Aug. 24 and Sept. 30, Harnett said.

Cora also updated commissioners during the meeting about plans to install new crosswalks on the 2100 block of H Street NW. She said the project likely will not be completed before the academic year as officials had initially hoped because the University is still waiting for a go-ahead from DDOT.

“My optimism of getting this construction company to get this done before the school year starts again is diminishing,” she said. “We’ll keep at it.”

Commissioners also decided to hold off on a proposed $5,000 study of H Street traffic until after the crosswalk is implemented. Harnett, who proposed the study, said that while the crosswalk will alleviate some concerns about crossing on H Street, students still fear for their safety because of other issues, like food trucks creating blind spots on the street.

“The sentiment that has been expressed to me is that the safety crosswalk, while a step in the right direction, doesn’t necessarily answer all of the questions students have about how to safely navigate that street,” he said.

The ANC also passed a resolution 6-1 calling on the D.C. Council to drop proposed legislation repealing Initiative 77, a controversial ballot measure boosting tipped workers’ wages that voters approved during primary elections last month. The council introduced the bill without discussion at a July 11 meeting.

“What’s the point of having a ballot initiative?” Chairman William Smith said. “I mean, you turn right around two days later and flip it. It just seems to me not a great precedent.”

Commissioner Florence Harmon, who was the sole ‘no’ vote, said the council showed leadership by repealing a misleading initiative that would ultimately hurt small restaurant owners.

“I think there needs to be a balance between this kind of thing and business interests,” she said. “We’re going to be left with a city of Subways and Domino’s Pizzas.”

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