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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 08/09/2008

Cheh Joins the Opposition to Tenley Project

The group of critics of the development project at the site of the former Tenley-Friendship Library has a new member: Councilmember Mary M. Cheh.

She has serious reservations about the current proposal, which might reduce green space at the neighboring Janney Elementary School.

Cheh (D-Ward 3) had strongly supported construction of a building that would have incorporated a library, shops and apartments. But she said she believes that the proposal that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) selected in early July would cause problematic delays in the library's construction -- up to two years -- and would also take space away from the elementary school.

"I'm hopeful that there's still room to have elements in this to have an acceptable proposal," Cheh said. "But I made it very clear to [the deputy mayor and the developers] that I was disappointed."

Cheh sent a letter to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development late last month outlining her concerns.

According to the plan announced in July, the LCOR development firm would build about 130 housing units over a new library. A parking garage would be underground. And city funds gained from the development would be channeled toward a renovation of the Janney Elementary School.

But Janney would lose part of a soccer field, something Cheh had opposed. She also said the amount of money the city would earn from the development "seemed low."

And many in the community had protested the plans, asserting that they had not been involved in the planning processes and that the library system -- which had already drawn up its own plans for a stand-alone building -- should be allowed to build without delay.

"When I'm losing the support of the different groups who were told we would get this advantage and that advantage, it makes it completely untenable" for her to back the development, Cheh said.

She emphasized that the plan was not yet set, and held out hope that her objections would be addressed.

"I am completely for transit-oriented development," she said. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

The deputy mayor's office and LCOR have not yet responded to calls for comment.

Michael Birnbaum

By Marcia Davis  |  08:00 AM ET, 08/09/2008

Categories:  D.C. Council, D.C. Council, D.C. Council

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