It has been a long year for everyone, and I hope that the next few weeks will offer you space to enjoy precious time with friends and family.
I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the work that the Eckington Civic Association has done over the last year and preview some of our plans for 2022. Sometimes I hear residents express frustration about how long it takes to address some of the problems we witness daily. While I frequently share that frustration, I also find it important to recognize progress when it happens—not to mention the importance of the persistent and patient work it frequently takes to achieve that progress. In many cases, it is a virtual certainty that nothing will happen unless folks get together, organize, and plot a path forward.
In Eckington, we’re fortunate to have a lot of neighbors who take on that burden and are working in ways big and small to improve our community. I’m particularly grateful for the contributions of my fellow ECA officers—Neil Shah, Ben Colbert, Dana Samuels, Daniel Agold, and Taylor Kennedy—who worked tirelessly this year on the accomplishments listed below. I’m also grateful for our partnerships with Eckington Parks & Arts, Langley Elementary PTO, North Capitol Main Street, the NoMA BID, and the NoMA Parks Foundation as well as to the many individuals and small businesses that helped make Eckington Day a success. I’m also grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to collaborate with ANC 5E03 Commissioner Denise Wright and for the pink hard-copy updates those of us in Commissioner Pinkney’s district receive. And I’d be remiss if I did not mention all of the critical help that we get from Silas Grant at Councilmember McDuffie’s Office as well as Nokomis Hunter at the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services.
I especially want to thank all of you who found the time to join one of our meetings, give thoughtful feedback on one of our proposed letters, make Eckington Day a success, or participate in our end-of-year celebration. A community is nothing without the many wonderful people who give it life.
I hope reading about our recent achievements and plans for the coming year will encourage you to participate if you’re already a member, join the civic association if you are not (it’s free!), and support our advocacy and community-building efforts with a one-time or recurring donation if you are able.
Eckington Civic Association
Major accomplishments of 2021
Strengthened the association’s organization and engagement
- Implemented shift to free membership and created a simple process to join (Thanks Ben!)
- Provided regular “highlights” of every meeting with action items for members and residents (Thanks Taylor!)
- Sustained a high level of engagement on our 2021 virtual meetings
- Launched an Instagram presence (Thanks Ben)
- Record number of visitors to our website and donations (thanks to all of you!)
- Recruited a full set of seven officers for 2022 (Please welcome Brandt Witt, our newest VP!)
Relaunched Eckington Day
- Eckington Day returned for the first time since 2018 and was a smashing success!
- We organized a community festival at Tanner Park featuring tons of activities, music, small businesses, neighborhood orgs, and more. (Many thanks to Dana, Taylor, Sara, and the many others who helped make this happen.)
Secured budget wins for Eckington
- In this year’s budget cycle, we helped secure:
- $24.5 million for the construction of an Edgewood/Eckington DCPL library in FY 2024
- $19 million for the renovation of Harry Thomas Recreation Center in FY 2024
- Additional funding for violence interrupter programs, which will soon be launched in Edgewood, Shaw, NoMA, and Ivy City (in addition to existing programs in Truxton/Eckington and Trinidad).
- $1 million for an upcoming study of North Capitol Street, which will include safety improvements and concepts for the future design of the corridor—including the “deckover” and multimodal alternatives.
- We congratulate Eckington Parks & Arts in securing funding for a Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD) “clean team” to assist with trash and litter removal in Eckington.
- We also congratulate Langley PTO in securing funding for an HVAC system at Langley Elementary.
Hosted a forum on the future of North Capitol Street
The forum featuring presentations by proponents of two alternatives: the Deckover and Community Boulevard. If you missed that forum, you can watch the event and take a look at some of the forum materials here.
Advocated for safer streets and responsible land use
- We got the District Department of Transportation to make important improvements to its final plans for Dave Thomas Circle and Florida Avenue NE. When these projects are completed, Eckington residents will enjoy safer, more-direct pedestrian and cycling routes to NoMA and Union Market. Construction on both projects will begin next year.
- We reiterated requests for safety improvements to neighborhood streets and supported a new effort to improve safety along Lincoln Rd. NE.
- We encouraged residential and commercial uses of land adjacent to 5th street NE through the adoption of one of our proposed amendments to DC’s Comprehensive Plan. (We unfortunately did not prevail in securing the adoption of a second amendment that would have done the same for a larger portion of land adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.)
- The Zoning Commission approved the rezoning of several parcels along Rhode Island Avenue with our support. (Thanks to Daniel for leading our work on this!)
What we plan to focus on in 2022
ECA members hold the power in our organization. Our officers don’t take a position on an issue without asking for your input and buy-in first. That said, we want to give you a preview of the issues we expect to focus on in 2022. As always, please reach out to us at email@example.com if you have thoughts about matters that the ECA should prioritize or–even better–help us organize a constructive way for Eckington residents to do something about it!
- Conduct more in-person events as it becomes safe to do so
- Experiment with hybrid in-person/virtual meetings (though virtual meetings will continue until we announce otherwise)
- Organize and host Eckington Day 2022
- We intend to make environmental issues in Eckington and across Ward 5 a major focus of our work in 2020. We believe that Ward 5 communities deserve better monitoring of air quality near industrial facilities like the asphalt plants in Brentwood and Eckington; investments in neighborhood streets that lack sidewalks tree boxes; and better bus service that would help neighborhood residents move around the city more sustainably.
- We will continue to advocate for preventative approaches to safety—whether it is traffic violence or gun violence.
- We will help coordinate community feedback with respect to the design of development along Rhode Island Avenue. In the past, we have emphasized the need to incorporate deeply affordable housing with family-sized units, streetscape improvements (including access to the trail), and community-facing retail spaces. There may also be an opportunity to advocate for the inclusion of a DCPL branch library to fill the Edgewood/Eckington service gap.
- We will consider weighing in on ANC redistricting. Eckington nowhas approximately 7,000 residents who are served by only two neighborhood commissioners. DC’s apportionment laws require one commissioner for every 2,000 residents, so Eckington will have at least four single member districts by the end of the year (at least one of which will probably extend into another neighborhood). It is also likely that ANC 5E (the Commission that Eckington’s commissioners are in) will see some changes.
- Help educate voters about Ward 5 and ANC elections
- Help residents understand and engage on future of North Capitol Street
- Build stronger relationship with McKinley Tech PTO
- Create two standing committees to help us reach more Eckington residents and plan for Eckington Day
- Recruit officers for 2023 (we anticipate needing to recruit candidates for at least two positions in 2024)