Welcome to my blog!

I used to blog here mostly using local photos about my neighborhood or Washington DC or other places I visited. But I took a break from the blog for a few months and then found myself posting about crafts and sewing projects I have done or are doing. More recently, my spare time is taken up with selling collectibles and things on Ebay as a seller called Mugsim7. Having a lot of fun with it so far! May your days be blessed with miracles, surprises and creativity too!

Friday, February 24, 2012

McMillan Park as it is Now Before the Deal is Done

I learned recently that the city is moving forward with yet another plan to develop McMillan Park and fearing once again that I will forget to photograph it before the developers move in and wreck it I snapped these photos with my handy cell phone camera as I walked by last Sunday. There's just something about these strangely shaped towers, the vista with the manhole covers, the cobbled brick ramp and how we just don't recognize this sand filtration water cleaning technology anymore. That it was once powered by donkeys is also interesting. We hardly remember the number of lives that were saved by the clean water it produced. Of course, this new plan might be another plan that doesn't happen as there have been charges that the development office didn't follow procedures and once again the DC taxpayers are being bamboozled.  See this blog for the most recent challenge to the bureaucrats. I've lived nearby this site for over 25 years and remember when it was sold by the US government to DC in 1987. There's been years of talk and proposals and political grandstanding and everyone seems to forget that it was paid for by us taxpayers and we should have some say in what happens to it and it should be developed with open and transparent processes. After all, WE bought the site from the federal government in 1987 with $9.3 million of OUR money.
Here's  the history of McMillan Park taken from the BloomingdaleDC history site. The site is bounded by North Capitol Street, Channing Street, First Street and Michigan Avenue, NW.  The historic McMillan Park sand filtration site and McMillan Reservoir are part of a chain of public green spaces established in Senator James McMillan's 1901 plan for beautifying Washington. Following the death of Senator McMillan in 1902, the grounds of the site were renamed McMillan Park. In 1905 the sand filtration plant to purify the city's drinking water was built. The grounds of the site were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. The site was designated a historic landmark by the DC Historic Preservation Review Board in 1991.


  1. Fittingly, development of this site was led by Harry Thomas, Jr., recently convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from needy children in the District, his own constituents. That is why there was no honest bid process and the developer was pre-selected at a brief one-night beauty pageant disguised as a competition. This event, which I attended, passed as a mockery of a process that resulted in contributors to Harry Thomas Jr's luxury lifestyle being awarded with this $775 million development project.

    Since then, neighborhood residents have been fighting for information. The McMillan Park Committee has had to sue for access to documents as though this publicly-owned development project was a CIA operation. While we have begged for significant contiguous park space, the developer has been drawing up plan after plan that maximizes commercial square footage.

    If you live in Stronghold, you will miss the sunsets. If you run or walk your dog, you will miss the opportunity to have a running path that circles the newly developed property and the reservoir. If you had high aspirations for the world-class landscape architecture that could result from building on property with views of the Capitol, reservoir and Washington Monument, that is another opportunity missed as the developer simply wants to build another Shirlington.

    There has been no honest, data-informed assessment given to describe the impact that a $750 million development project will have on traffic in Bloomingdale. (The developer has suggested construction of traffic lights up and down First Street; so, if you like the charm of North Capitol Street, we can enjoy timed lights on First Street) (and maybe more enforcement cameras as well)

    We have already been told that trees on the property will be assessed by EYA's in-house arborist and many look healthy but need to be cut down. We are also being told that removing 25 acres of water storage will have no adverse impact with respect to stormwater runoff. Instead, the City is licking its chops looking at campaign contributions and tax revenues that will be generated by our new Shirlington, traffic, trees and stormwater be damned.

    The new Ward 5 Councilmember will have a significant role in this project. Now is the time, before the election, to get a commitment to hold an honest competition of ideas and solutions that will make the best use of this publicly-owned property.

    If we continue down the road of this corrupt process, we will get what EYA wants, not what is best for this neighborhood.

  2. In the UK, one of the ways to slow down and stop this sort of venture-capitalistic-land-grabbing is by getting a local archaeological group to find some ancient remains, either pre-historic or maybe amerindian or pre-colonisation (as the case for this particular geographic region).....but sadly, this happens too little and too late, even in England. Then they always sell a 'new development' for all the jobs it will generate, is anyone fooled ?

  3. Thanks for this great blog post. McMillan Park is a treasure. I can't think of another city in the country that would contemplate developing an Olmsted Park--developing any public park, but especially an Olmsted Park. It could only happen in a place that was utterly and completely controlled by the local manifestation of The Growth Machine.