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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Jeffrey Caves.

A group of Foggy Bottom neighbors met this weekend to talk about ways to eliminate some unwanted city residents: rats.

Marina Streznewksi, president of the Foggy Bottom Association, stressed that cleanliness is the key to keeping the pesky rodents at bay.

“Sanitation is rat control,” Streznewski said at the meeting, which was held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on 24 and K Streets. She added that even innocent acts like leaving out bread for birds can draw other more unwelcome visitors.

Neighbors have increasingly seen rats scurrying across neighborhood sidewalks as construction sites spring up around campus.

The meeting comes several days after Council member Jim Graham proposed a bill requiring businesses to include rat prevention methods in their business licenses.

“Rats prosper on battery cables. Pizza is much better. Dog poop – can I use that word? – is like an energy bar to rats,” Graham said at the Council meeting.

The meeting, one of eight across the city sponsored by the D.C. Department of Health, included rodent control experts and representatives from the Department of Public Works and Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

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Dusty Horwitt , a senior analyst with the environmental group Earthworks, told a group of Foggy Bottom residents to urge their lawmakers to speak up against fracking.  Dan Kolonay | Hatchet Photographer

Dusty Horwitt , a senior analyst with the environmental group Earthworks, told a group of Foggy Bottom residents to urge their lawmakers to speak up against fracking. Dan Kolonay | Hatchet Photographer

Environmental experts warned Foggy Bottom residents Tuesday that D.C.’s water supply could soon be contaminated by a hydraulic fracking project two states away.

Fracking, which allows for deep drilling into shale reserves, can allow toxins to seep into city water supplies, said Dusty Horwitt, a senior analyst for nonprofit organization Earthworks.

Horwitt told about 20 Foggy Bottom locals that the city’s water supply could be at risk because if the U.S. Forest Service allows a fracking project to begin in a West Virginia national forest later this month.

That forest, called the George Washington National Forest, sits at the top of the Potomac Watershed, which would mean polluted runoff would spill into the source of D.C.’s water.

“It would be a big victory if we could convince the Forest Service not to adopt fracking in next year’s plan.” Horwitt said. “It is not a wise decision to allow fracking until more information can come out about how to do this process safely.”

Three local water and sewer organizations, including D.C. Water, Fairfax Water and Washington Aqueduct, have pushed the U.S. Forest Service not to approve the drilling, which pushes sand, water and toxic chemicals into reserves to release natural gas.

It’s also been heralded as a way to decrease America’s reliance on coal and oil.

Horwitt added that fracking in West Virginia could impact the water supply of at least 4 million Washington-area residents.

Jessica Edwards-Brant, an employee of D.C. Water, said fracking is dangerous because “there are so many unknowns with fracking,” pointing to the lack of government oversight and fracking’s exemption from the Clean Water Act.

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GW’s plans to construct an office building on a block of Pennsylvania Avenue called Square 75A were met with some opposition Thursday at a D.C. Zoning Commission hearing.

The West End Citizens Association and the Foggy Bottom Association arguments against the construction of the new complex, while GW tried to appease concerns by offering a $100,000 for a real-time Metro transit information board and $100,000 in office space for community organizations.

West End Citizens Association Secretary Barbara Kahlow said the package was not enough, comparing the project to the expansion at the Renaissance Hotel on New Hampshire Avenue, which gave over $400,000 in community perks, Kahlow said.

GW presented its plans to develop Square 75A along Pennsylvania Avenue at a D.C. Zoning Commission hearing Thursday. Scott Figatner | Hatchet photographer

Junior Patrick Kennedy spoke on behalf of the Foggy Bottom Association – of which he is a director – calling the amenities insufficient. He said the proposed retail space could include banks, drug stores, or chain restaurants – establishments Kennedy found detracting for the neighborhood’s uniqueness.

Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia Knight responded saying that the amenities provided by GW also included seven units of affordable townhouses costing $4 million that would be placed on F Street across from South Hall.

“GW wants to make this work, we really do,” Knight said.

The proposed office buildings and retail complex hit a roadblock last month when leasers at the President Condominium protested GW’s plan to move an alleyway next to Rice Hall. The University and the condo complex announced at the meeting that they reached an agreement to widen the alleyway instead of move it. The President Condominium withdrew their opposition to the project from the zoning board.

The zoning board will meet again with all parties January 14, 2013 at which a decision will be announced as to whether the university can start work on the complex.

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President Steven Knapp speaks with Foggy Bottom Association President Asher Corson at one of the group's meetings Wednesday. Shannon Brown | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Cydney Hargis

University President Steven Knapp addressed community concerns about the 2007 Campus Plan at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday.

Knapp’s attendance marked his first visit to the Foggy Bottom Association, a local neighborhood group, since his introductory appearance at a 2008 meeting after he assumed his role as the University’s 16th president.

Multiple Foggy Bottom residents voiced apprehension regarding the University’s plans to keep tabs on its student enrollment cap, a population limit outlined in the campus plan.

“We monitor that obsessively throughout the entire admissions process,” Knapp said. “It’s a very tricky process every year because you can never be sure of who is going to come after we offer them admission.”

Foggy Bottom resident Michael Dudich asked that GW consider buildings’ appearances while redeveloping old structures.

“What happens inside the building doesn’t really affect us,” Dudich said. “The exterior of the building affects us as a neighborhood.”

Knapp said though he does not have a personal opinion on building appearances, he is happy to take suggestions.

Relations between GW and its Foggy Bottom neighbors were strained under former President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s 19-year tenure, when Foggy Bottom transformed from a quiet residential area into a bustling college neighborhood but have become less fractious in the last two years.

FBA President Asher Corson said the meeting did represent an improvement in relations between GW and the Foggy Bottom residents.

“I think fundamentally a lot of the same issues in terms of development are still there, but I do think the tone has improved,” Corson said, referring to large campus construction projects.

Matthew Kwiecinski contributed to this report

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Thursday, April 29, 2010 9:01 a.m.

Evans will not seek D.C. Council chairman seat

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans confirmed he will not run for chair of the D.C. Council during Tuesday night’s Foggy Bottom Association meeting.

Evans was asked by an audience member about running for the seat, but he said his decision was firm not to run.

“I’ve made a decision not to run. So you’re stuck with me,” Evans told FBA members.

Though he said he thinks he would do well as chair of the D.C. Council, Evans said he would be getting married in September and noted that his children – triplets – are just 13 years old.

“I certainly looked at it very carefully,” Evans said. “Again, I would love to do it but it’s just not the right time in my life to do it.”

Evans will remain on the Council as his seat is not up for re-election this year.

Evans told the audience that council member Kwame Brown and former Ward 5 council member Vincent Orange are in the running for the chairman position. Orange resigned from his job as a vice president for Pepco Tuesday,  The Washington Post reported.

As for the mayor’s race – in which GW alumnus and current chairman of the D.C. Council, Vincent Gray, is running against incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty –  Evans said he thinks it will be a “very competitive race.”

Evans also addressed budget issues and the city’s development of Stevens Elementary School, like he did at last week’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting.

“My advice is pull the plug, because we’re not ever going to agree to Equity building there,” Evans said, referring to the Stevens project.

Evans said his advice to the Fenty administration was to re-bid the project, saying that three of the five members of the Council – Evans, Kwame Brown and Marion Barry – would vote down the decision to approve Equity.

During the meeting residents also brought up issues concerning GW, specifically about the University’s construction in the neighborhood and how students are counted on campus.

Britany Waddell, director of community relations for GW’s Office of Government, International, and Community Relations responded to FBA members who were concerned about GW’s record number of applications and the pressure of expanding to house more students.

“We are under an enrollment cap, so the University cannot expand from the current cap we’re under, a 20,000 student cap,” Waddell said.

She explained that under the campus plan, property purchased off campus has to be used for its current purpose. Though in the past, hotels were bought by the University and converted in to residence halls, GW can no longer do this under the current campus plan, she said. Any hotel bought would have to operate as a hotel, for example.

“The only development we can do to grow has to be on our campus in our already established boundaries,” Waddell said.

Previously the FBA sued the Zoning Commission because, resident Barbara Kahlow said, “GW changed the way it counted the people. And they decided to exclude the people in Mount Vernon from the headcount, exclude the people who were overseas on a semester.”

FBA President Asher Corson said the issue wasn’t completely settled yet, but the FBA won in the appeals court on the issue, and the case was remanded to the Zoning Commission.

“It’s still currently in remand,” Corson said. “The headcount issue is still very much in play.”

Applause erupted at the meeting when Evans told about 25 FBA members in attendance that stadium lighting in Francis Field would be taken down.

“I went in on Tuesday as I said I would and met with the mayor and the city administrator and the head of the Department of Parks and Rec, and they have committed to me that they are going to take the lights down and not put any new lights up,” Evans said.

The bright lights that have been the cause of complaints by neighbors of Francis Field are expected to be removed by the end of June.

Evans said Ximena Hartsock – a GW graduate – was helpful to him in getting the Francis Field lights down. Hartsock is the former interim head of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“She really understood the issue,” Evans said of Hartsock.

“The next thing is we have to make sure it gets done, and I will stay on it…and hopefully these things will be gone for good,” Evans told FBA members about the lighting.


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A community group’s challenge to a zoning board’s approval to develop Square 54 was denied by the D.C. Court of Appeals, a University spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Court of Appeals order upholds the D.C. Zoning Commission’s approval of the development, spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said in a statement. A reversal could have potentially halted construction on the project, which is now several grades above ground level in some spots.

The Commission approved both the University’s 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan and Square 54 in 2007. The Foggy Bottom Association, led by a GW alumnus, appealed both orders. The Campus Plan was upheld in September, but the University’s methodology of counting students was sent back to the zoning commission for review.

FBA President and alumnus Asher Corson said it was too early to comment on the decision without consulting the rest of the community group, but expressed disbelief the University was advertising the decision during a snow day.

“GW should focus its resources on cleaning up its campus so students and professors can get to class. Instead they are churning out press releases declaring victory over Square 54, a site that current students will never benefit from,” Corson said.

Square 54, located across the street from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop, will feature office space, apartments, retail space and a full-service grocery store upon its expected completion in 2011.

“While we have long believed that we had a strong case in support of the Zoning Commission’s decision, it is gratifying to us and our partner, Boston Properties, to receive the Court’s decision and have the matter so firmly decided,” said GW President Steven Knapp in a statement. “We look forward to sharing the amenities of this wonderful project with our neighbors in Foggy Bottom and beyond.”

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D.C. City Councilmember Jack Evans, D-Ward 2, spoke to concerned community members about Foggy Bottom issues that included the pending K Street Transitway, the controversial Stevens School decision and the Circulator bus Tuesday at the Foggy Bottom Association’s monthly meeting.

Evans spoke of his decision to fight the deputy mayor’s office’s choice of Equity Residential to develop the Stevens School site at 21st and L streets. Residents had long expressed concern that Equity, the company behind 2400 M, would create a building that students would use for off-campus housing, and Evans said he immediately spoke to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty about the issue.

“I called the mayor and said it was unacceptable and to cancel the news conference, which he did,” Evans said. “We don’t want another residential building here that’s going to turn into a dorm.”

Evans also urged residents to participate in the process when the developers present proposals for the West End Library and fire station, saying “You should participate because it gives you the high ground.”

Evans spoke of a desire to expand the Circulator bus service, and called for a new plan for the K Street transitway.

“When I drive on K Street, the serviceways are always blocked,” Evans said. “What we have just doesn’t work.”

Evans said bikes and buses should both be accomodated in the new plan and that “Nobody is happy with what [DDOT] has put on the table.”

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Asher Corson, seen here as a senior in 2006, was recently named the new president of the Foggy Bottom Association. Hatchet file photo.

L. Asher Corson, seen here as a senior in 2006, was recently named the new president of the Foggy Bottom Association. Hatchet file photo.

A GW graduate and current GW student have taken the helm of the Foggy Bottom Association, a community group that meets monthly to inform Foggy Bottom residents of current affairs and promote the residential quality of the area.

L. Asher Corson, a 2007 graduate, currently serves as president of the association. No stranger to the community, Corson has also served as the chairman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A, and works as a communications director for D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3).

Lev Trubkovich, a current student, was selected last week as vice president. Born in Moscow, Trubkovich immigrated to New York as a political refugee after the fall of the Soviet Union, and expects to graduate this semester after taking last spring off to get a head start on job hunting. He said he decided to take the three-year position after being asked by Corson because of an interest in politics and an appreciation for the neighborhood.

Trubkovich said that his unique position as both a member of the Foggy Bottom community and a member of the GW community will allow him to foster a better relationship between the school and its neighbors.

“I think that there’s definitely going to be a much more symbiotic relationship with the entities around us and that’s a great thing,” Trubkovich said. “I think an antagonistic relationship with anybody in the neighborhood is not progressive. I think we’re going to foster a good relationship.”

Both Corson and Trubkovich said the FBA’s biggest concern at this time is a membership drive to both increase participation and the number of members paying dues.

“Since Asher and I are both younger, and we definitely were members of the student community at GW, I think one of the biggest new things that we want to do with the FBA is get a lot of student members,” Trubkovich said. “We’re going to try to get more students involved, we’re going to try to raise our membership, we’re going to continue great things that we’ve done.”

Corson said he also hopes to use his relationships with the community and GW to further communications between the vastly different residents of Foggy Bottom.

“I do think I have a better understanding of both GW’s needs and the neighborhood’s needs, just because I can see the needs from both perspectives,” Corson said. “In the past it’s been an unhealthy, uncommunicative relationship, and I hope that we can move forward, keep the lines of communication open on both ends and further the progress in the relationship that my predecessors started.”

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