Empower DC takes over Union Station Master Plan Open House

By Luke Kuhn, Crossposted from DC’s Independent Media Center.

The multi-billion dollar redevelopment plan for Union Station includes an ugly extra: an “Interim plan” to park idling inter-city buses at Crummell School, in Ivy City. Many residents there already have asthma. On the 15th of August, over half of participants in an “open house” at Union Station about the proposed “master plan” were from Empower DC.

This was not a speaking presentation, but rather a collection of tables with information about the planned project. As usual, they were not soliciting any real public input, just saying “here’s what we have already decided to do” while meeting legal technicalities required of such projects.

Children wore dust masks as a symbol of diesel smoke from idling buses. Empower DC T-shirts were everywhere, as were tough questions about parking “Chinatown” buses in an African-American residential neighborhood.

One of the tough questions was my own: where’s the money, an estimated $7 billion, for the project going to come from. The answer was that they don’t know-nobody is admitting to a funding source for the project. Artwork for the proposal shows office buildings built in the “air rights” over the tracks, but relying on the demand for office space for funding is chancy at best in an uncertain economy. If funding evaporates partway through the project, the proposed 10 year “interim” bus parking at Crummell School could become permanent.

Kids in masks, hopefully they won’t have to wear them for 10 years of “interim” bus parking!

Empower DC marches in, security says no but gives up after being ignored.

Who’s in the (open) house? Empower DC dominates event as not many other DC residents show up.

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