|Screenshot from Office of Zoning video|
Perhaps McDuffie's mind wasn't completely on the project because, as he said at the beginning of his statement, he had just come from City Council budget negotiations and was planning to return to them.
If any supporters felt they were witnessing a surprise change-of-heart, they were probably reassured by McDuffie's characterization of the McMillan Plan which followed:
It's a balanced plan. It's one that's been worked on for the last seven years by the development team, the city, and the community. The result, in my opinion, is a world-class project that achieves the objectives of the District, the comprehensive plan, and the community, including open space preservation, mixed income housing, jobs, an increased tax base, and the opening up of a wonderful historical asset for the city and all the residents of the District of Columbia.McDuffie said the community had not been able to enjoy the McMillan site "for the 38-39 years I've been on this earth" and previously in his parents' and grandparents' time. The opening up of the site presented "a unique opportunity... to develop a large parcel with no displacement and tremendous workforce development". He continued:
Let me be clear: We need these jobs, we need the retail, we need the affordable housing in the District of Columbia. We need the park space for our families and our children.He concluded by asking the Office of Zoning to approve the PUD.
Witnesses at an Office of Zoning hearing are subject to cross-examination. This allowed Silvia Pinkley, Chair of ANC5E, to ask: "You started out with saying you were in opposition to this project, do you realize that?"
McDuffie answered, "I did not realize that and if I said that I did not intend to say that."
McMillian Park is located in Council Member McDuffie's district.
The development of the site has drawn opposition from community groups, including Friends of McMillan Park and the McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture, who wish to see the site turned into a park and an urban aquaponic farm, respectively. The meeting at which McDuffie testified continued for several more hours, taking testimony from both sides. It was a continuation of an earlier contentious hearing about the project, reported here.
Council Member McDuffie's testimony can be seen here through the Office of Zoning's Video on Demand page, starting at time 1:01:55