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New council legislation: Third Church, WMATA compact, and more

Last year, Councilmember Jack Evans introduced a bill to exempt recently-designed churches from historic preservation. I and others argued that it could exempt other properties that might be, at the very least, less controversial. Evans withdrew the legislation amid criticism and the primary election; Marion Barry later reintroduced it, but it didn't come to a vote.

Photo by kimberlyfaye on Flickr.

Now, as promised, Evans has introduced new legislation (PDF). This time, it specifically only exempts this one property from the historic preservation law. I'd suggest that the bill specifically clarify that if the church ceases to own the property, the exemption would end. Barry also reintroduced the broader bill once again.

Jim Graham introduced a bill to amend the WMATA Compact under the terms of the deal worked out between the federal government and DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Each jurisdiction must contribute $50 million per year to WMATA, and the feds will match the $150 million total. Under the bill, as promised in the deal, they also get two board seats, appointed by the General Services Administration, as long as they're holding up their end of the bargain and contributing their share.

In addition, the bill requires one of the federal representatives to be a regular rider of Metro services. Good idea; how about demanding that of all board members? It also adds a position of inspector general.

Other measures introduced recently include a resolution to confirm Gabe Klein, and this bill by Barry and Harry Thomas, Jr. that seems to seek to reestablish a Museum of the City of Washington, DC at the Carnegie Library building in Mount Vernon Square. The museum closed in 2004 from low attendance, and now the Historical Society occupies the building including some public exhibits.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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The church is arguing that landmarking would infringe on their religious liberty. But you're suggesting that church buildings, once no longer owned by a congregation and owned by a developer should not be landmarked either.

So which is it: no landmarking while a church or no landmarking after it's a church?

by egganddart on Jan 30, 2009 7:59 am • linkreport

Oops strike that. Now I see what you're saying. You propose a church can do whatever they want with their church: rip off a steeple, rip off the front, etc., then sell to a developer, THEN the landmark protections would go into effect. But the congregation has already destroyed the landmark, so I don't see how your suggestion works as a preservation policy that way either.

by egganddart on Jan 30, 2009 8:03 am • linkreport

The Virginia legislature is also considering two versions an amendment to the Metro compact bill. One would strip the feds of their seat if they don't hold up their end of the deal and pony up with cash, the other would not.

by BeyondDC on Jan 30, 2009 9:30 am • linkreport

Oh, and the problem with adding a bunch of other riders to the Metro compact bill is that DC, MD and VA all have to approve the same bill. If DC writes one that's different than VA and MD, we may have to wait until the next legislative session in those states to address the difference, which means we don't get the federal $ for at least another year.

The riders you suggest are well-intentioned, but at this point we just need a bill.

by BeyondDC on Jan 30, 2009 9:32 am • linkreport

i don't want to play gotcha here, but there's a bit of hypocrisy that needs to be pointed out.

how can jim graham introduce a bill requiring a federal representatives for the wmata board be a regular wmata rider when he himself, as chair of the board for this year, is well-known for riding everywhere in his VW bug, and not on transit? it seems like he could help set the example as well.

by IMGoph on Jan 30, 2009 11:38 am • linkreport

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