Letters to the editor: April 12, 2017

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Plans for a pool at Hearst Park have sparked debate in the community. (Brian Kapur/The Current/March 2017)

Tenley library needs glass roof replaced

On Thursday, April 6, I was in the Tenley-Friendship Library during a heavy rainfall. The library staff had set out two rubber trash cans and three wastepaper baskets to catch the rain leaking into the children’s room. Unfortunately, this was not a new problem.

In January 2011 the Tenley Library reopened in a completely new building. Beginning soon after, water poured into the building through the glass roof every time it rained. The leaks were particularly bad over the children’s room, where water streamed in from the roof two stories above, and over the staircase, which was rendered unsafe. There were short-term fixes on the roof, but when one leak was plugged, another started in a different place.

On Feb. 23, 2016, at a D.C. Council performance evaluation hearing, D.C. Public Library executive director Richard Reyes-Gavilan testified that there was a design flaw in the Tenley-Friendship Library’s roof. He further testified that a membrane had been installed over the roof a week earlier, and that the membrane might stop the leaks for three to five years. While this membrane has decreased the leaks, it has not stopped them. Again, over the past year, some leaks have been fixed, only to have others pop up.

It’s been six years since the new library opened for business, and it’s been six years since the roof started leaking. It’s time for the D.C. Public Library system to replace Tenley’s glass roof.

Mary Alice Levine, Tenleytown

Connections don’t show impropriety

What exactly is David F. Power implying in his March 22 letter to the editor by highlighting that Patricia Stonesifer, CEO of Martha’s Table, serves on the Amazon board of directors and sold Amazon stock?

Power darkly notes that her Martha’s Table profile doesn’t cite her service with the Federal City Council; her council profile “conceals” her role with Amazon; and the D.C. Fair Budget Coalition — which includes Martha’s Table — “conceals” her role with the Federal City Council and Amazon. Then he asks, “Did Ms. Stonesifer, the millionaire Amazon director, or the Federal City Council induce [D.C. Council] members to sabotage paid family leave?” The plot thickens: “We know that Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, which published venomous editorials against the paid family leave law and against the mayor personally for not vetoing that law,” Power writes.

Power insinuates that Amazon has bought Ms. Stonesifer and the Post editorial board to spread its nefarious tentacles across D.C. to further enrich itself at the expense of working moms. The Post departed from its usual liberal media bias that conservatives love to hate to shill for a big corporation. Martha’s Table, the Federal City Council and the Fair Budget Coalition (which “advocates for budget and public policy initiatives that address poverty and human needs”) conspired to hide this insidious web of corruption.
Good thing Power Googled public records to blow the lid off this scandal.

Yet, in spite of Amazon’s riches and puppet mastery, the D.C. family leave bill is law. (A pyrrhic victory, given that the city’s ability to come up with the $40 million to $80 million cost to implement the family leave bill — above the new $250 million tax on business — is surely complicated by calls to offset federal budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.)

By the way, Bezos doesn’t “own” Amazon, as Power states. Shareholders — including a leading labor pension fund — own Amazon. Bezos is the founder and chief executive. This is not a technicality. Corporate founders and CEOs are tossed by their boards and shareholders all the time. Like Apple once did with Steve Jobs.

I have no personal or financial ties with Amazon, Stonesifer, Bezos or others Power mentions.

Reasonable doubts about the D.C. family leave act don’t make me an enemy of the goals. But the implication that Stonesifer put personal enrichment ahead of public service is an insult to her and our intelligence.

As a 30-year D.C. resident and lifelong progressive, I ask proponents of the law to stop smearing people as morally or ethically bankrupt for questioning a costly and controversial policy.

Jeffrey Denny, North Cleveland Park

Federal parcel still best site for pool

The Current’s excellent April 5 article on Hearst pool funding includes a quote from Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh saying, “the National Park Service confirmed with our office that they would not permit or transfer NPS land to be used for a pool.” More needs to be said on this.

Last fall, Cheh asked the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation to contact the Park Service to see if that agency would accommodate a D.C. pool at the Van Ness Street NW trailhead for Glover Archbold Park. This followed a meeting between Cheh and representatives of Neighbors for Hearst Park. At the meeting our real estate consultant reported that the trailhead site looked like a promising alternative because it is not being maintained and, moreover, is sandwiched between a McDonald’s restaurant and a parking lot. Her written report showed that the site, and 11 others on National Park Service land in the ward, would accommodate a much larger pool than is possible at Hearst.

Also, the site is within the area designated for a pool in the Department of Parks and Recreation’s master plan, which Hearst is not.

It came as no surprise that the Department of Parks and Recreation’s staff inquiry was rejected by the Park Service’s staff — thereby permitting Cheh to rebuff our proposal. Getting the Park Service to enter into a management agreement with D.C. would take more time and effort than putting the pool at Hearst. Apparently, Cheh, who arranged the $6 million budget allocation for the pool in 2014, favors Hearst because it would be quick and easy.

What needs to be done, and what we have been urging, is a principal-to-principal approach to the National Park Service.

As reported in The Washington Post on March 30, this is the approach Mayor Muriel Bowser is taking in requesting that President Donald Trump and the Interior Department ask the Park Service to execute a management agreement with D.C. covering Franklin Park at 1330 I St. NW.

Hearst itself, which is on Park Service land, is subject to such a management agreement with D.C. Ward 2’s Francis pool at 23rd and N streets NW, which is three times larger than the pool proposed for Hearst, was constructed in Rock Creek Park on Park Service land and is under city management. Given this record, our elected officials can and should take steps, even if they are difficult, to get the much larger pool that Ward 3 needs.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton will help in this effort if site selection is reopened. We think the mayor will, too.

According to The Current’s April 5 article, we now have until 2020 to achieve that result.

Harry Martin, Vice President and Board Member, Neighbors for Hearst Park

Local Meal on Wheels uses no federal funds

Every weekday for almost 40 years, the local Ward Circle-Georgetown Meals on Wheels has been delivering meals to residents living west of Rock Creek Park. Despite the recent threats to cut the budget, we will still be here!

We receive no federal funding. We are a true nonprofit organization with an all-volunteer staff of drivers and deliverers. We deliver to people’s residences when food preparation becomes difficult for them to manage. Meals on Wheels may also help people to stay in their homes longer, and lessen the worry and burden on their families and friends who care about their well-being.

Eligibility for meals is not limited by age, income, health condition or professional status. Some of our recipients order meals for only a short time during an illness or recovery period. Many continue the service throughout the years. While we expect clients to pay a nominal fee for their meals, we are able to provide limited subsidies to those who cannot afford to pay.

Recipients receive both a hot and a cold meal each day. Often we are the only ones they see or talk to that day, so we take the time to greet them and “chit-chat,” if only for a few minutes.

Call Meals on Wheels at 202-966-8111 to order meal delivery or for more information. Our clients report that the food is delicious.

Donna Beuttell, Dupont Circle