Fwd: PRESS RELEASE: DC Mayor’s Office Alters Official Record In An Attempt to Justify Illegally-issued Demolition Permit to Destroy McMillan Park

Fwd: PRESS RELEASE


October 13, 2020
Contact: Linwood Norman, Save McMillan Action Coalition
smac.dc@gmail.com, 202-656-3012
DC Mayor’s Office Alters Official Record In An Attempt to Justify Illegally-issued Demolition Permit to Destroy McMillan Park
 McMillan Supporters Want False Information Explained or Stricken from Court Records
 
Officials in the DC Mayor’s Office submitted false testimony under oath and presented substantially altered, unapproved design plans to justify their illegal issuance of demolition permits to destroy McMillan Park, park supporters assert in a new filing (attached) with the DC Office of Administrative Hearings.
 
Park supporters compared DC officials’ latest misrepresentations as “an unnecessary go-fish expedition” for establishing accuracy in the public record.
 
The Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) “is looking to backfill the record, and post facto insert administrative reviews [into the record] after already issuing permits unlawfully,” park supporters state in a new court filing.
 
The filing asks for the inaccurate information either to be explained by DC officials or stricken from court records.
 
“These DC officials now seek to ‘cover their tracks’ by adding new information to the public record in order to justify the premature and unlawful issuance of permits to demolish and begin construction activities at McMillan Park,” said Peter Stebbins, a Save McMillan Park advocate. “These blatant and outright misrepresentations by the Mayor’s staff should be alarming to every citizen.”
 
Inaccurate information inserted by DC officials into the public record includes:
 
·         Mr. Hugh Green, a DC government attorney, testified under oath that no demolition or construction activity had begun at McMillan Park until November 2019. However, overwhelming public evidence shows that demolition activity began in August 2019, soon after the permits were illegally issued. (Earlier this year, in a separate legal action, the DC Court of Appeals halted all construction activities at McMillan Park until further notice.)
 
·         Design plans keep changing – without public notice or following standard protocol — for the McMillan redevelopment. DC officials recently submitted substantially altered design plans to the Commission for Fine Arts for approval, although those changes have not been reviewed and approved by the DC Zoning Commission.
 
·         The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) issued the demolition and construction permits without following its own “Permit Approvals Checklist,” which requires obtaining approvals in advance from agencies such the Commission for Fine Arts.
 
DC officials and developers of the McMillan project are proceeding as if all legally required administrative approvals have been obtained, when there are many more reviews remaining, as well as legal cases before the DC Court of Appeals.

Despite a court directive to do so, McMillan project developers have yet to independently document their ability to finance and complete the entirety of the redevelopment plan. As proposed, the plan includes 2+ million square feet of trophy offices, condos, retail, and a recreation center. No tenants have been secured for the office buildings.
McMillan Park, a 25-acre park located at North Capitol Street NW, and Michigan Avenue NW, is a locally protected and nationally recognized historic landmark on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places. The District of Columbia acquired the open park from the Army Corps of Engineers in 1986 after the underground water purification facility was decommissioned.

Local citizens have long opposed the privatization and demolition of McMillan Park. More than 8,000 citizens signed a
petition for the DC Council to preserve the park for public use.
 
Park supporters also said DC government officials have failed to ensure that existing McMillan deed historic preservation covenants are included in any new McMillan property agreements.

The controversial project also has been questioned due to irregularities made by the D.C. Council in selecting the developers.
Citing the need for open competition, the D.C. Auditor urged the D.C. Council in October 2015 to competitively rebid the entire McMillan project in this scathing letter to the D.C. Council Chairman. See the Washington Post article about the City Auditor’s concerns about the project.
There was essentially no competition for the project, the auditor’s letter pointed out to the DC Council Chairman, warning that the entire project should be rebid. However, in April 2016, the DC Council Chairman authored an “emergency” bill that retroactively waived the requirement for bidding out the project.
 
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DC for Reasonable Development
(202) 656-5874
www.dc4reason.org

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