ANC calls for community-wide response to D.C. rat infestation

Media Credit: Max Wang | Senior Staff Photographer

Commissioner Florence Harmon speaks Thursday at the first Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting of the academic year.

A local governing group passed multiple resolutions Thursday at its first monthly meeting of the academic year.

Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission approved a proposal to target trash and rat problems around the District, dedicated a park to a late commissioner and voiced concerns about the construction of 5G cellphone towers in Georgetown.

Here are the key takeaways from the meeting:

Targeting the District’s rat problem
Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution titled “Not in My Neighborhood” to promote community engagement in controlling rodent populations in the Foggy Bottom area.

The resolution calls on local groups, including GW and the Foggy Bottom Association, to dedicate a day when community members can gather to promote activities to clear rats from the streets. Residents could take photos of overflowing dumpsters, use dry ice on their homes or identify rat colonies around the District, the resolution states.

Residents said packed dumpsters on campus and food left on the ground in the GW Hospital courtyard often attract rodents.

“GW needs to be shamed into cleaning up the rat problem,” community member Gary Parker said.

Remembering a former commissioner
The ANC unanimously supported a resolution to dedicate a park to former Commissioner Rebecca Coder, who died in May after a 13-year-long battle with cancer.

Gary Griffith, the president of the Friends of Francis Field board of directors, proposed installing a plaque on the sidewalk of the park honoring Coder for her service to the community. During her tenure, Coder revitalized the architecture of Francis Field.

“We need a place to go and remember Rebecca,” Commissioner Florence Harmon said. “This would mean more to her than anything, and her husband too, and to all of her friends.”

New cellular towers
Commissioners also weighed in on the impending installation of 5G cellphone towers in Georgetown.

The D.C. Department of Transportation gave several cellphone companies, including Verizon and AT&T, permission earlier this year to install “dual-purpose” cellphone towers resembling standard light fixtures in Georgetown, said Joe Gibbons, the chairman of the Georgetown, Burleith and Hillandale ANC.

“The carriers want to use and occupy public right of way,” he said.

Gibbons said the last opportunity for community input is at a DDOT hearing Oct. 15.

Commissioners voted to submit a response to DDOT asking city officials to perform routine maintenance reviews on the towers and install fixtures with multiple carriers. They also called on officials to delay placing towers in Foggy Bottom until they enact further regulation about the towers.

Foggy Bottom and West End commissioners said they were concerned about the towers’ design and needed more information about upkeep and how the towers’ electromagnetic waves could impact health.

“This is a long-term issue being pushed through very quickly, and with a great deal of urgency, that actually precedes the actual technology it’s supposed to support,” Chairman William Kennedy Smith said. “The 5G technology is not ready for development.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.