Advisory Neighborhood Council (ANC) District 1A has been selected as a test site for a federally funded project to find more efficient methods of providing city services to residents without adding dollars to the budget.
ANC 1A chairman Samuel Carson said commission members will help city officials organize workshops and survey the attitudes of residents of the upper northwest district concerning the physical conditions of their neighborhoods and the delivery of city services in the area. The first workshop has been scheduled for Saturday, April 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army building, Sherman Avenue and Morton Street N.W.
District 1A is bounded by Columbia Road NW on the south, Spring Road to the north, Park Street on the east and 16th Street NW to the west. The Neighborhood Service Improvement project is being coordinated by the resource management and improvement division of the District's office of budget and management. It is funded through a $197,000 federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Larry Bonner, program analyst with the budget office, said the project will concentrate on finding ways to improve services such as the maintenance of streets, alleys, parks and recreational areas, collection of garbage and litter, the care of trees and the inspection of dilapidated and vacant housing for code violation.
At the April 16 workshop, Bonner said, residents will be asked to describe "what they would like their neighborhood to look like. Then we will look at why these aspirations have not been realized."
A second workshop scheduled for the following Saturday at a site yet to be selected, will involve city employees responsible for providing the services to the area because, Bonner said, "employees are the key to productivity." A third workshop will hear both employees and residents.
After the workshops are concluded, Bonner said, random surveys of 250 residents of the test site will be conducted to determine if the problems and priorities cited at the workshops coincide with the opinions and needs of the residents. The final phase of the project, he said, will be the development of a plan to improve services. The plan will go to city agencies for review and adoption. Bonner said he hopes to have the plan developed by "sometime in June."
Chairman Carson says he is having problems getting enough members together to conduct regular monthly business, and he is unhappy with the performance of some of his fellow commission members during 1A's first year of operation.
"A little under half of the commissioners are ready, willing and able to conduct the business they were elected to do," Carson said in an interview recently.
He said the 12-member commission failed to get a quorum for about half of its meetings during the past year, has had difficulty finding places to schedule meetings and has not yet located a permanent office and hired staff "to deal with day-to-day business." The commission failed to get a quorum at its March 15 meeting to discuss the Neighborhood Services Improvement project, but Carson went ahead with the meeting anyway. He said he merely discusses business without a quorum.
Margaret N. Johnston, chairwoman of ANC 1D in the Sheridan-Kalorma area, said she has an entirely different problem. She and William J. Hoff are the sum total of 1D, the smallest of the 35 ANCs.
At the moment, she said she is excited about the appearance of 1d's first four-page newsletter commemorating the commission's first year of operation. During that first year, Johnston said she has spent a lot of time getting trash cans for area streets.
"When I first started in office, I began trying to get trash picked up and more trash cans for the neighborhood," she said. "Pride Environmental Services Inc. has the contract for trash cans but the city has not been picking them up. And Pride, because its reputation is at stake, won't put out any more cans."
Jim Miller, operational manager for Pride, termed Johnston's assessment "partially true." He said Pride's main source of revenue comes from the sale of advertising on the sidef of the trash cans the company provides to the city. The city is responsible for emptying the cans, he added.
"It's very difficult to sell advertising to a customer when he drives by and sees the can overflowing," Miller explained. "Until the city can show us they can adequately handle the number of cans we have on the street right now, we're not putting any more out."
Johnston and Huff are still working on the trash problem. One project they have had much more success with during their first year is the renovation and restoration of Mitchell Park for recreational use.The two commissioners have been helped by six committees involving nearly 40 residents of 1D.