City Paper Widget

Monday, May 19, 2014

CORRECTED: Kenyan McDuffie Said He Wanted to "Voice My Opposition" to McMillan Development, But He Didn't Mean It

CORRECTION: The Zoning Commission has added another hearing on McMillan on May 27 at 6:30pm. It will be held in Room 220 South at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street NW. Thanks to the anonymous commenter below for bringing this to my attention. 

At the last second-to-last in a series of hearings by the D.C. Office of Zoning May 13 about the development of the McMillan Sand Filtration Site (also known as McMillan Park), City Council Member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward Five) said he had come "to voice my opposition" to the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the site as negotiated by Vision McMillan Partners and Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 5E/Bloomingdale. Then he praised the project. Under questioning, he confirmed he was not, in fact, opposed to the project.

Screenshot from Office of Zoning video
Later McDuffie said he meant to say "state my position" but misspoke.

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


  1. I was sitting a few feet away, and I balked for a second, too. Like any normal speaker of English, Kenyon slurred some words, so the elided and diphthonged "y" in "state my position" sounded like "state maahhpossition".

  2. Actually, that wasn't the last zoning meeting. There were so many people testifying in opposition to the development that they added an extra night. It's amazing how many people are opposed to this project fo so many different reasons.

  3. The City government kept the site fenced off in blatant racial and economic class discrimination for 28 years, so what has the successive administrations done to this community. We have 1/5 the park and open green space than the upper income sections of NW. We need the park, all 25 acres, and can adaptively re-use the 20 acres underground for "indoor agriculture". Join McMillan Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture. Five times the yield of surface farms, no pesticides, a food ,n nutrition and exercise hub...where is the city council, selling us out to the VMP Conglomerate? Why do they need Fontaine Company and Carmen Group to sell the development, not enough community support?