We are about five weeks out from the last day of voting in this primary election - but voting begins in a couple of days when your ballot arrives in the mail as early as this week! I hope I can count on your vote and your support.
Over the last eight years, I've demonstrated the leadership and ability to deliver for Ward 6 neighbors and communities. One of the ways I do that each year is through the budget - working with you to outline our goals, holding a Ward 6 Budget Town Hall annually, building the coalitions to win, and then putting it all together to deliver for our communities. We're wrapping up another budget for the District and I want to share with you some of the budget highlights I've secured and protected for Ward 6.
This impressive list is just for for next year's budget alone. It doesn't get close to including everything we've done over the last few years or other projects in progress already, but it highlights what vision and leadership can deliver for Ward 6.
Bringing Eastern Market Metro Park to Life: Less than one year ago, we cut the ribbon on Eastern Market Metro Park, a jewel of Capitol Hill, completing a years long effort to transform the space from a place people walked through to a place they walked to. But I want to see these spaces activated to serve the community. I'm proud to share that there is now recurring annual funding to program Eastern Market Metro Park to activate the space and bring neighbors together - music, arts, events, you name it!
Protecting Historic Eastern Market: I've always viewed one part of the job is to be a steward of Eastern Market and to protect this treasure in our city. The Mayor's proposed budget didn't fund Eastern Market's maintenance and repairs, but I'm proud to share we've secured all of the funding needed for the entire six-year financial plan, including fire alarm system upgrades, regrouting the exterior walls, repairing walkways, and much, much more. It's incredibly important that we take care of Eastern Market as it serves our community for generations to come.
Ward 6 School Modernizations: I've always made modern, great school buildings a priority for Ward 6. Facilities should meet the moment for our students. To date, I've been able to add more than $700 million to modernize our schools, their playgrounds, and overall facilities. Over my two terms, I've been able to modernize Jefferson and Eliot-Hine Middle Schools, Maury, Payne, Watkins, and Van Ness Elementary Schools, School-Within-School, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, and more is on the way. Here's what's in the budget moving forward today for our Ward 6 schools:
1) Peabody Elementary School Playground: After it was eliminated in the proposed budget, I identified $1.5 million to put this work back in and accelerate to FY24 to completely upgrade the playground at Peabody Elementary School - including play structures, creating shade areas, and installing a much more friendly play surface for little feet managing the heat.
2) Brent Elementary Modernization: I'm very pleased to share the budget includes an additional $60 million to lock in a full modernization for Brent Elementary at a total of $94 million, set to begin in FY25. Brent was an early, partial modernization. It's now well-past capacity (to say the least) and this funding is critical to helping the school community plan and build a new facility ready to serve all of the students.
3) Tyler Elementary Modernization: A couple of years ago, I was able to add funds for the rebuild of the playground and outdoor space, but now it's time to do more. Tyler Elementary School has secured $89.8 million for a full modernization, set to begin in FY26.
4) Amidon-Bowen Elementary School: There is $50 million set aside for the renovation for Southwest's elementary school, with planning set to begin in FY27; in the coming years, we'll find additional funding for this project as it gets closer.
5) J.O. Wilson Elementary School: The budget includes a fully-funded modernization of J.O. Wilson at nearly $91 million, with planning set to begin in FY24.
6) Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School: We also have $9.5 million set aside to begin a renovation of Ludlow Taylor in FY24, with a need to identify more funding in the coming years.
Food Prints: Many Ward 6 students have enjoyed having Food Prints in their schools - with gardening, healthy eating, and science. I have pushed DCPS to fund Food Prints in their budget, but it's a constant struggle. The budget we're moving today restores and protects funding to allow Food Prints to continue!
Fort Dupont Ice Arena Upgrades: While this isn't in Ward 6 (Fort Dupont is a Ward 7 institution), many, many Ward 6 families have learned to skate, play hockey, and enjoy time out on the ice. The Council's budget has $9 million set aside to add a second sheet of ice to the rink.
Rumsey Aquatic Center: Anyone that uses Rumsey knows it needs a lot of love. I'd like a little more than love, and really believe we need a full scale modernization. To that end, the budget includes $15 million spread over the next two years to upgrade the popular and very busy swim center at Eastern Market. I've worked closely with neighbors to address various states of disrepair, but I think we need to think bigger about major renovations.
Rosedale Pool Improvements: While Rosedale is now outside of Ward 6, I know it will remain an important source of recreation and cooling off for Ward 6 neighbors. But if you've stood in the sun waiting to get in like I have, then you know we need a bigger pool. I'm happy to report we secured funding to improve and expand the pool to give it greater capacity and functionality with $6.8 million in the budget spread across FY23 and FY24.
NoMa Metro Tunnel Funding Locked In: We've secured $50 million to create a direct entrance to the metro station connecting directly to Florida Avenue and the Union Market District. This is one of the fastest growing and most active new neighborhoods in the District, but access to the Metro Station is challenging. This is a big investment in ensuring public transit remains a great option to get to and from NoMa and Union Market District.
Kingsman Field, Basketball Court, and Dog Park: After meeting with neighbors to walk through the long-neglected space, I identified $1.25 million in FY23 to make long-overdue upgrades to Kingsman Field, basketball court, and dog park.
Old Miner Early Childhood Education Center: In the past eight years, DC has turned a corner in helping families stay in the District and care for young children. But we need to do more. In this budget, we will transform the old Miner school (currently boarded up, sitting vacant, and crumbling inside) to create a new early childhood education center that will make more desperately needed seats available in the neighborhood for families.
Southwest BID Expansion into South of M St.: I've been able to add funding in the budget to give the Clean Team of the Southwest BID the ability to work south of M St., SW. The BID's Clean Team has been critical in so many ways, big and small, for the Southwest community - not just with traditional work, but with providing food, services, emergency care, and even trained to respond to opioid overdoses. They serve as neighborhood ambassadors, and bring a passion and level of expertise to their profession that is unrivaled. This extension will allow for more than just regular cleaning and beautification, but a new type of investment in the neighborhoods south of M Street for neighborhoods close to so much economic activity, but not seeing the benefits the way they should.
First Responders in Southwest: There are two big investments I'm proud of that will expand the ability for Fire and Emergency Medical Services first responders in Southwest and beyond.
1) Fireboat-1: Activity on our rivers is increasing as we remember we're a city on the water. That's great to see, but it means we need to be prepared. Critical to protecting our waterfront is a new, state-of-the-art fireboat with improved speed and functionality, and the budget includes funding to replace the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department's John H. Glenn, Jr.
2) Engine Company 7: You might know this as the fire engine repair shop, but Engine Co 7 is located around the corner and serves the surrounding communities. It's one of the smaller fire stations, but the growth of population in Southeast and Southwest means we need to plan now for additional capacity. So as I've worked with the city to build a new FEMS repair and maintenance shop near their Training Academy, I've also pushed to ensure the budget includes full funding for the design and construction of a new Engine 7, currently at 1101 Half Street, SW, with additional capacity to serve neighbors into the future.
CCNV Homeless Shelter Tax Debt Relief: The Center for Creative Non-Violence is one of DC's most unique shelters for our unhoused neighbors, located at 2nd and E St., NW. When CCNV was established in the early 90s, it was incorrectly assessed property taxes for several lots it owns before its nonprofit status was properly recognized. Unsurprisingly, as a nonprofit providing shelter to the homeless, there never was extra money to pay off a tax debt that should never have been assigned. So it just added up over 30+ years. I worked with shelter leadership to identify the exact amount needed to ensure CCNV can control its future and property.
H Street "Hop Scotch" Bridge: The redesign of the H Street bridge that connects H Street, NE to Union Station is fully funded at $215 million. This is a big deal. You've probably read about the long-term plan to completely revitalize Union Station and ensure better connections across the District for this major transit hub. The upgraded Union Station is a once-in-a-century chance to expand rail, transit, housing, and job creation - but the H Street Bridge has to be tackled first so that all the other pieces fall into place.
11th Street Bridge Park: Funding for the 11th Street Bridge Park, connecting historic Anacostia and Navy Yard and southeast Capitol Hill as a park built on the old 11th Street bridge over the Anacostia River, received an increase of $5 million for next year and $15 million in FY26, for a total of $30 million. This is an important step forward as we are getting closer and closer to beginning work on what will be a stunning park on the eastern half of the city and over the Anacostia River.
Stabilization of Wharf Fish Market Piers: Also of note, there's funding included for FY23 to repair and stabilize the piers at The Wharf Fish Market. I think we can all agree that's a good idea to ensure those piers stay strong as we grab our fresh seafood.
Overall, this is only a small sampling of what is in the budget that will benefit Ward 6 neighbors. There are increases in funding for at-risk students, the full funding of public safety for our communities, an expansion of the Monthly Basic Income I helped champion for working families, and a large-scale pilot program to bring curbside composting to the District, just to name a few more items.
But I hope this shows you that as your councilmember, I am focused on improving Ward 6 block-by-block and making sure it can be a place everyone can call home.
Keep an eye out for your ballot in the mailbox this week, and I hope I can count on your continued support and your vote.