Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans repeated his familiar message at the Citizens Association of Georgetown’s annual meeting last week: that Washington is the most dynamic big city in America in spite of problems with the school system, homelessness and Metro.
Evans told attendees that the District’s finances are strong, crime is decreasing and exciting new businesses — including a Wegmans supermarket — are opening in the city.
The council member said that economically, one of the city’s biggest concerns is keeping retailers afloat who are losing sales to online competitors. He also said that Georgetown has been suffering due to increased competition from other areas of the District, including the 14th Street NW corridor, where Evans said there are now 87 restaurants.
More broadly, Evans said that 40 percent of the students who enter ninth grade in the District’s public schools fail to graduate. Meanwhile, he said there is significant homelessness in D.C. — particularly in Foggy Bottom — and housing affordability has been a persistent problem.
Evans, who also chairs the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s board of directors, said he routinely lacks confidence that taking Metro will get him to his destination on time. He said the system needs $18 billion in capital improvements, including $3 billion worth of replacement rail cars. The District already supports a 1 percent sales tax as a dedicated funding source for Metro, but Maryland and Virginia aren’t on board. Although Virginia “is difficult,” said Evans, “we’re going to get it done.”
D.C. Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney Snowden also spoke at the meeting, telling attendees that the Bowser administration is making a major effort to develop resident-owned small businesses. She also reported major reductions in unemployment in wards 7 and 8, and said a major problem is rising rents, particularly in areas with high poverty.
At the Georgetown meeting, the citizens association also presented Jennifer Romm with its Belin Award for Distinguished Service to the Georgetown Community. Romm, a former association president, helped bring the community and Georgetown University together through her work on two university campus plans. She has also been a frequent co-chair of the association’s fundraising gala.
The association gave the William A. Cochran Community Service Award to Lee Child, June Libin and Edith Shafer of the Georgetown Garden Club for their efforts to protect and enhance Georgetown’s parks and architectural resources. The group has raised more than $500,000 since 2000 from its Georgetown Garden Tour.
Meeting attendees re-elected the association’s current officers and directors: Bob vom Eigen, president; Jennifer Romm, vice president; Hazel Denton, secretary; John Richardson, treasurer; and Karen “Cookie” Cruse, Barbara Downs, Hannah Isles and John Rentzepis, directors.