Members of the community met again at Paul Charter School for ongoing discussing about traffic management and parking concerns surrounding the opening of the Walmart store on December 4th. Fielding questions with Councilmember Muriel Bowser were officials from DDOT. The sparse attendance at last night’s meeting was likely due to the short notice (same day), and at least one neighbor expressed dissatisfaction about that. Although FGC also received a last minute phone call, late yesterday afternoon, two board members were able to attend.
DDOT officials, James Cheeks, chief of the Traffic Signals Safety Standards division, and Derrick Hardy addressed the matter of RPP (Residential Permit Parking); installation of a left turn signal light at Georgia Avenue and Peabody; a new traffic light at Georgia Avenue and Quackenbros; and general restructuring of most streets in proximity to the store. Residents should expect a sudden flurry of street activity and significant changes in traffic patterns prior to the store’s opening in 4 weeks.
DDOT revealed that the 4th District Precinct has requested that all parking on the north side of Peabody Street be reserved for police officers. One displeased resident pointed out that 4D already has its own parking lot. But apparently the force is flexing its muscle. If 4D is granted exclusive parking rights on the north side of Peabody, that will leave only seven parking spaces on the south side of the street for FGC residents and others drivers. If FGC is not granted residential parking privileges co-op members will have to jockey for any public spaces which will be available on a first come basis. If, however, DDOT grants RPP to FGC members, all credit and gratitude is due to Bettye Straughter who worked determinedly to get signatures on the petition and followed procedure to file the petition which was delivered a few weeks ago to DDOT. She also hand delivered a second copy of the documents to Mr. Cheeks at last night’s meeting.
Long-time Brightwood residents will remember when a Metrobus stop was located directly in front of the former Curtis Chevrolet dealership. It was removed during the late 1970s. That bus stop will be reinstalled in front of Walmart prior to the store opening.
Meeting attendees listened attentively as Councilmember Bowser patiently answered all questions, but she drew closer attention when she announced that the Walmart property will include an Andrews Federal Credit Union and a sit-down soul food restaurant.
Regardless of the conciliatory news, the fear that Walmart would change the complexion of our neighborhood is already being revealed. Some of Walmart’s employees-in-training are assembling in small groups and taking their smoking breaks outside of the store close to and directly across the street from FGC. This practice if it continues will put an unsightly blemish on a street previously unobstructed by people hanging about. This board member raised that issue with Bowser following last night’s meeting. The council member said that she became aware of the matter yesterday and has discussed it with the store’s manager who said that he will instruct employees to take their smoke breaks at the store’s loading dock. What are the chances that the employees will comply? Post your comments about that question or any FGC issues below.