At its Special Call meeting on July 10th, ANC6B voted 6-0 to send a letter to DDOT and FHWA in response to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final EIS. I was there. I should have voted in opposition. In the light of day I regret not doing so.
Most of the letter is fine–continuing the same themes of 4 previous VAT letters–but at this meeting, I had voted in opposition to two amendments: the VAT Mitigation Fund and the Hazardous Materials clause. For very different reasons.
The haz mat clause was crafted on the fly and sub amended several times. By the end, I was not sure what the final clause said. I voted against it. I also felt that the clause–whatever it said–was sending a message to the entire DC Government and that our FEIS letter was the wrong place for it. A better place would have been as a follow up to the ANC’s March letter to Mayor Gray.
On the $250K: The FEIS provided this money to ANC6B (and another $250K to ANC6D) to use as mitigation payments to residents and businesses who end up “inconvenienced” during tunnel construction. Granted this offer is problematic. First ANCs can’t accept more than $1,000 per year from any one source. Second, imagine trying to define “inconvenience”. So, it is clear that the ANC couldn’t be the receptor but that is not to say that ANC6B could not designate that these funds go to a 3rd party.
I tried to soften the strident language of Commissioner Peich’s amendment on the funds. All I wanted was more time. The Commission in voting as it did denied me the opportunity to research options and to get feedback on the fund concept from my constituents who live and work near Virginia Avenue Park, right in the heart of the tunnel construction. I just needed more time. There was no reason for the ANC to reject these funds at this time. They wouldn’t have been paid out by CSX until “major construction activity” begins.
Any body want to guess how far away that is? Given that those who are opposed to this project in any form will probably sue once the Record of Decision is issued, major construction could be a year or more away. And, when it does happen, my ANC6B04 constituents won’t be able to apply to a migration fund for some relief. These are the same people, by the way, who have been directly inconvenienced by the building of the 11th Street Bridge in the last five years.
NOTE: Two of my colleagues reject my interpretation of the impact of the fund language in the ANC letter.