March 29, 2021
Contact: Linwood Norman
Save McMillan Action Coalition
Residents Sue Over Asbestos
Danger at McMillan Park
Ward 5 Councilman McDuffie Ignores the Issue
Washington, DC – Thirty-one DC residents have filed with the DC Court of Appeals a petition to hear claims about how the Mayor and city administration have disregarded fundamental safety concerns in their handling of McMillan Park, the site of a proposed 2+ million square feet redevelopment project. https://efile.dcappeals.gov/public/caseView.do?csIID=65259
McMillan Park is a publicly owned historic site consisting of 25-acres of open green space and a 20-acre underground water cistern located at North Capitol Street and Michigan Avenue NW that hosted tours until 2015.
On March 18, 2021, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) ruled that the McMillan Park complainants’ environmental concerns “were not ripe” even though the permitting regulations show that safety planning and testing must be on record at DCRA before demolition and construction permits could be issued.
In this case, residents are deeply worried about the release of airborne asbestos, that according to experts is likely woven into the concrete within structures at McMillan Park. Without appropriate abatement and containment procedures, demolition of these historic structures is likely to plume dust into the air and into DC’s reservoir just across the street from McMillan Park affecting residents and even the demolition workers on site.
OAH dismissed claims the city isn’t taking seriously the likely disruption of the oldest waterway in the District, Tiber Creek, and how the demolition and proposed development at McMillan Park may lead to flooding of neighborhood homes. Tiber Creek is the principal reason why a portion of the McMillan Park water filtration structure has been damaged over time due to shifting of the creek and soil below. OAH said while these concerns are real, they have been adequately looked at for permit issuance. However, records obtained through the course of proceedings with DCRA show barely a cursory review of the effect on the project by Tiber Creek.
“Our concerns are ripe. They are real serious questions of law that we expect the Court of Appeals to help the city understand; Safety first for residents who live nearby, or who drink DC’s tap water,” said Peter Stebbins, lead appellant. “Even if you support the luxury overdevelopment of McMillan Park, isn’t it fair to believe demolition and construction be done safely according to the environmental safety requirements so we aren’t harmed by asbestos and other air and water impacts.”
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie has had a case opened against him at the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) by Ward 5 residents who have begged him to intervene for the safety of his constituents. However, these residents have been ignored for months by Mr. McDuffie, leading to the BEGA complaint and a recent protest.
See Appeal filing here.