Category Archives: General Neighborhood Topics

Brookland History Lives! Dr. Charles Drew Bridge

Charles Drew stamp Brookland NE Washington DC
Dr. Drew was honored with a US Postage stamp in 1981

I recently found out that the bridge I have been referring to as the “Michigan Avenue Bridge” is actually called the Charles Richard Drew Memorial Bridge.  A DC native and surgeon, Dr. Drew was the first African-American to graduate from Columbia University’s medical school with a Doctor of Medical Science degree. Most notably, Drew pioneered techniques for preserving blood plasma that saved countless lives during World War II. I spoke with long-time area resident Ralph Bucksell, who vividly remembers when the bridge was dedicated in Dr. Drew’s name. He told me about the bridge’s marker so I decided to check it out. I took the photo below of the marker. It is mounted at the west end of the bridge across the street from Catholic U. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t recommend checking it for yourself unless you enjoy playing in traffic. It is very easy to miss, and is situated facing traffic. So your moment of private reflection better be limited to the seconds it takes for the light to change, and be prepared to speed-read. As I left the bridge and headed home, I pondered a few things. Why didn’t they at least place the marker facing the pedestrian walkway on the other side of the bridge? Why isn’t the bridge’s true name more widely used? What can be done  to bring more awareness to the bridge’s true name? With the millions being poured into the Catholic U development, just steps away from the marker, wouldn’t it be great to overhaul the whole concept? I, for one, will be referring to it as the Drew Bridge from here on forward. The marker says the following:

CHARLES RICHARD DREW
MEMORIAL BRIDGE
Named in honor of
Dr. Charles Richard Drew, 1904-1950
esteemed citizen
of the
District of Columbia
athlete, scholar, surgeon, and
scientist whose discoveries in
blood preservation saved
thousands of lives.

Thinking About Going Solar? One Brookland Couple’s Experience

Solar Energy Brookland NE Washington DC
Solar Panels – Eco Friendly and Cost Effective!
Remember Mary and Greg, the super-smart couple who saved a bunch of money with the Riversmart program? We got back with them to talk about the solar panels on their roof and learn about another program they took advantage of – the DC renewable energy grant program. This program provides rebates to applicants to offset the cost of  installing solar (or other renewable) energy systems. The program is what iniatially motivated Mary and Greg to investigate going solar. Greg told us that they “applied the DC grant funds to a one-time lease payment which is much cheaper than buying a system.  The installer guarantees a minimum production level and is responsible for all maintenance/repairs.” According to the program’s web page:

Solar Thermal incentives are based on a flat rate percentage of installed system cost:

  • Solar Thermal (water heating) system 20% of total installed cost up to $5,000
  • Solar Thermal (space heating) system 20% of total installed cost up to $2,000
  • Solar Thermal (combination) system 20% of total installed cost up to $5,000

Rebates for solar thermal systems are capped at a maximum of $5,000 for residential and $7,000 for nonresidential. Only one REIP rebate may be requested per unique installation address, per program year.

Photovoltaic incentives are based on the combined system rating in kilowatts of Direct Current (DC) output:

  • $1.50 for each of the first 3,000 installed watts of capacity
  • $1.00 for each of the next 7,000 installed watts of capacity
  • $0.50 for each of the next 10,000 installed watts of capacity

Rebates for all systems are capped at a maximum of $16,500 (at 20 kilowatts capacity or greater) for each applicant site per program year.

So, does it pay off? Greg tell us “We’re saving about 25% on our electric bill after our solar installation!”  Be warned, it is a long process – it took Mary and Greg about 18 months to complete. The photo above shows their south-facing roof with the solar panels. Unfortunately, their roof structure didn’t meet the installer’s standard so they had to reduce the system they wanted significantly. But in the end, they told us they are glad they did it. Great job Mary and Greg!

Little Ricky’s Cuban Restaurant Coming To Brookland Soon

Ahmed Gomez Brookland NE Washington DC
Ahmed Gomez’s “Riding a Fibonacci Sequence”

We spoke with Lola and Chase, owners of Little Ricky’s, a Cuban-American restaurant coming to 3522 12th St NE. Like with most new restaurants in the District, the various bureaucratic hurdles have made it difficult to predict an exact opening date. When pressed, they said to expect a hard announcement in the coming weeks, with a probable opening date in late September or early October. What we know for sure is that it will be a sit-down restaurant and that they will initially be open Friday through Sunday; till the kinks are worked out and they are able to establish their optimal hours of operation. One of the more exciting aspects of the restaurant is their commitment to bringing the artwork of established Cuban and Cuban-American artists to their space. The first artist featured will be Ahmed Gomez. His website describes his works as:

“An ongoing relationship between my personal history, the formation of my early years in an environment surrounded by art influenced by Social Realism and the iconic illustrations of the 1920’s-50’s. They are a juxtaposition of pictorial layers, coexisting with several realities, a dialogue between the ideas of the vanguards and the Pulps Comics & Pin-Ups. They connect in an intertwining game. I want these ideas to trigger new reference points, and stimulate critical commentary on the painting as either an element of value or a visual interpretation of cultural representation.”

One thing is for sure – this is a great indication of Brookland’s promising future. Many Brooklanders are clamoring for a variety of options in dining, so we are sure the restaurant will be well supported. We will keep you updated as we get closer to Little Ricky’s grand opening!

Ward 5 Happy Hour – Great Art & Good Times At Brookland’s Menkiti Group

Vanessa Monroe’s “Providing Rhythm for the Environment”

Tonight the Menkiti Group hosted over 50 Ward 5 neighbors and friends for a joint Ward 5 Happy Hour and Art Enables event. A good time was had by all. Some of our favorite pieces of work are pictured below. The fabulous art will remain on display for some time, so stop by the Menkiti offices at 2600 12th Street, NE and support a great cause.

 

Expect Metro Delays All Weekend – 5 Red Line Stations To Be Shut Down

If you have plans to use the Metro this weekend, you should check out this announcement from WMATA. Beginning Friday at 10:00 pm there will be major trackwork done that will require shutting down the Red Line between NoMa and Dupont Circle (meaning Farragut North, Metro Center, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, and Union Station will not have Red Line service). There is also work being done on the Orange Line so that will add to Metro train delays. Free shuttle buses will be available, but in my experience, you are better off finding some other form of transportation because the delays will be really long.  This is a real bummer for those who were expecting to ride Metro to check out the Union Market, opening this Saturday.

Casey Trees – Transforming 12th St. In Eco-Friendly Ways

When we moved to Brookland a few years ago, we were skeptical about the abandoned gas station at 12th and Irving – less than a block from our new home. Then, we were beyond delighted to find that not only did Casey Trees establish their headquarters at 3030 12th street, but they began turning the old gas station into a “tree annex” for trees waiting to be planted. Their transformation of the gas station is nearly complete, and we couldn’t be happier.

As you can see from the “before and after” photos below, Casey Trees has truly beautified and revitalized a good stretch of the 3000 block of 12th St NE. But more than that, their headquarters is a showcase for water retention and green design. With the help of  the District Department of the Environment  they have reduced water run off by capturing and redistributing water. The new tree annex, still under construction, will utilize solar electricity for more than half of its needs. Most importantly, Casey Trees  provides a model for small-scale commercial development right here in Brookland that others can follow. Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the new development below.Casey Trees Tree Lot Brookland NE Washington DCCasey Trees Headquarters Brookland NE Washington DC

Casey Trees Headquarters Brookland NE Washington DC

Why did Casey Trees decide to be headquartered in Brookland?

 Casey Trees looked in all eight Wards for over four years to find a suitable home – over 50 properties in total.  We were having a difficult time locating a spot that offered convenient access to all parts of the city for our tree planting work, the right amount of space with room to grow, and most important for our staff and class and program participants – suitable public transit.  Fortunately we found all that and more on 12th Street.

 Now that you have settled in, has anything surprised you about the Brookland community?

 The neighborhood has proven to be a great place to locate an organization like ours. Neighbors have been extraordinarily friendly and generous; people are very respectful of our work and our mission, and; many of our staffers have found homes right in Brookland – we couldn’t ask for more.

 Tell us a little bit about the transformation of your tree lot on the east side of 12th St. Did the fact that it used to be a gas station pose any issues?

 When you purchase a former gas station property you’re faced with some very tough choices.  While restoring such a property is a huge benefit to the community and CT wanted to do its part, it’s an expensive proposition and you never know what you’re going to find.  After several months of thoughtful deliberation we decided to take a calculated risk, and with a lot of pro-bono legal assistance from a lawyer who eventually joined our board, we were able to make it work – and work very well for us I might add.  When I look at what that lot is like now, with our new Tree Planting Annex almost compete, and think about what it used to look like when we first moved in – I’m amazed. 

When can we expect the construction to be complete and what will the space be used for?

Completion is slated for late October. Our new Tree Planting Annex will house our entire Tree Planting Department and all their tools and equipment and temporarily hold the hundreds of trees our team plants every spring, fall and winter.  It will house 15 staffers, and more than 50 percent of its electricity needs will be satisfied from solar power generation. A special thanks goes to the District Department of the Environment for helping us pay for those panels! 

If you could get one message across to our readers about the importance of the DC tree canopy what would it be?

In our data-driven world, we have come to think of trees in regard to their environmental benefits and that’s great.  But trees are more than just energy-saving, pollution controlling and storm water management “devices”.  They represent a part of our communities that enrich our lives in ways we are still only learning about. They encourage human interaction, calm our nerves, reduce stress and make our homes and streets beautiful places for ourselves, our friends, neighbors and children.  Without them we lose not just cooler streets and cleaner air, but beautiful neighborhoods and inviting spaces for weekend walks and quiet moments on a porch swing.  And it’s up to all of us to preserve this identity that D.C. has had since its founding.  Nothing is permanent – not even a tree – and we need everyone’s help to keep them healthy and abundant for generations to come.

Union Market Opens Saturday, Deliciousness Awaits!

Union Market Brookland NE Washinton DC
A rendering of the Union Market

The Marketplace at Union Market, situated just south of Brookland at 1309 5th St NE (next to Gallaudet University) is set to open Saturday, September 8th. The Marketplace is the first phase of a redevelopment project by developer EDENS . According to the snappy video on their website, the market will be reminiscent of New York’s Meatpacking District and Portland’s Pearl District. They have described the market as:

“An urban village born from the diversity of the dreams and energy of the nation’s capital. An authentic market of culture and commerce. A true gathering place that serves as an inviting melting pot of old world heritage and new world opportunities.”

Eventually the project will include housing, a hotel and the renovation of a nearby 26,000-square-foot warehouse for food production and wholesale distribution. The market plans to house 40 vendors when at capacity. Currently the impressive line up of vendors is as follows: