East Side News

September 2018

Councilmember McDuffie speaks with constituents at Ward 5 Movie Night at Union Market. Photo: Office of Councilmember McDuffie

Ward 5 Celebrates Summer in Style
Taking advantage of beautiful weather, Ward 5 residents of all ages came out to enjoy an outdoor screening of “Black Panther” for the first-ever “Ward 5” movie night, sponsored by Ward5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s (D) office. The event, held at Union Market, brought back many elements that evoked the drive-in days, with ping-pong tables and the beloved movie-night popcorn.

From the littlest of little ones to Billy and Martha Montgomery, a couple in their 70s who reminisced with the councilmember about the real drive-ins of the 1950s, everyone was able to come together on their lawn chairs and enjoy 2018’s biggest release so far.

“The opportunity to laugh with the community, share family stories and see so many residents of Ward 5 in one place was amazing,” said McDuffie. “Our community needs more moments like this, and as the leader of Ward 5, I commit to providing those opportunities.” McDuffie added, “The presence of our local business community, youth organizations and Ward 5 community leaders all in one place made the night extremely special.” McDuffie hopes this will be the first in a series of events that bring together the neighbors of Ward 5.

The drive-in movie nights are a staple of the Union Market neighborhood. Shows run into the fall. Upcoming movies include “The Lion King” on Sept. 7, “Cool Runnings” on Oct. 5 and “Hocus Pocus” on Nov. 2. Tickets are $10 per car and free for walk-ups. The lot opens for parking at 6 p.m. and the movie starts when the sun goes down enough to see it.

My Substation, My Neighbor
For the last three years, Pepco has been planning the next in the line of substations needed to power the central drag of northern DC – growing neighborhoods like Shaw, NoMa and Mount Vernon Triangle. Pepco has been laying the foundation (figuratively) for a new station that, for the sake of the science behind powering cities, must lie within the middle of the area it is supposed to power.

The site for the proposed station on the 100 block of K Street NW was city property until 2015, when ownership transferred to Pepco as part of a land swap that allowed the city to purchase the site for Audi Field. Pepco has been allowing K Street Farm, a community garden that provides fresh produce, to operate on the field and will continue to allow it to operate until 2023 when they plan to break ground.

Although Pepco has been engaging with the community since its first presentation at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6E meeting in June 2016, a new group of parents has filed a petition about the substation’s proximity to the Walker-Jones Education Campus and concern about the possible health effects on children. To add fuel to the fire, The Washington Post wrote a story with the headline, “Pepco is building a substation next to a school. Residents want to know: Why here?”

Pepco, while used to pushback, is confident in its community outreach and ability to answer the concerns of neighbors. “Pepco values the important input of our customers and the community regarding this and other facilities essential to the delivery of safe and reliable energy service in the District,” said a Pepco statement. “As a result, Pepco began meeting with community leaders, elected officials and neighbors in the early stages of this project to explain the need for this work and solicit valuable feedback. Pepco has been engaged with community leaders and others in the Mt. Vernon area since early 2016 to share the robust process by which the site was selected, as well as the need and many benefits of the new substation to the community.”

Kenyattah Robinson, president of the MVT Community Improvement District (CID), and Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID), submitted a joint letter stating that Pepco has been a fair and honest partner throughout the process and has accepted changes proposed by both organizations in good faith. The letter states, “Pepco has proven itself to be a reliable and credible partner in this design exploration, working closely with the MVT CID, NoMa BID and the diverse stakeholders we represent since the project’s commencement in 2015 … Pepco senior leadership, public affairs staff, engineers and consultants consistently demonstrated a sincere commitment to listening, engagement, collaboration and follow-through.”

Pepco is committed to continuing to educate the public on the health concerns, or lack thereof, regarding electric and magnetic fields as they relate to substations. While the project is not slated to break ground until 2023, the Post article and subsequent community conversations have pushed this issue to the forefront of community meetings in both NoMa and MVT. Pepco and community stakeholders will continue to make their case as the process progresses.


Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: taylor@midcitydcnews.com; @rtaylorb.