Thanks to Ms. Blalock of CAPCS for pulling notes together from this recent meeting– the “Armstrong Working Group” is simply the folks who signed up in February to meet from time to time with CAPCS as a way to keep our community better informed, and to communicate our concerns to CAPCS.
The initial meeting of the Armstrong Working Group was held on March 9, 2009, in the Amos 3 school cafeteria.
Mr. Butler opened the meeting by presenting an overview of CAPCS’ acquisition of the Armstrong property and the issues raised at the earlier community meeting which led to the organization of the working group. The main issue was Metropolitan Baptist Church’s use of the school building.
Mr. Butler reported on a meeting he’d had with the Director of the DC Office of Property Management on March 6, 2009, in which they reviewed CAPCS’ renting space to the church. In attendance were lawyers representing CAPCS and the city. OPM had received reports of concerns by neighbors over the use of the school by the church. Mr. Butler suggested that it would be in the best interests of all parties to work together to come up with satisfactory solutions to issues and that any solutions should have the concurrence of the ANC and the Civic Association.
Below is a general summary of the major points of the discussion that followed:
· Kathleen Davis was selected to head the working group.
· Neighbors are generally glad to have the school in the neighborhood and are pleased with the renovation.
· Neighbors have concerns about the use of the school by the church but like the idea of community use of the building. Mr. Butler reported that the school has had a number of requests from various groups for use of the auditorium, including requests from CAPCS faculty.
· Neighbors wanted to know the length of the agreement between CAPCS and the church, whether or not it can be shortened and whether CAPCS can handle any compensation due for early termination (the lease agreement has not been made public, but Mr. Butler stated that it did specify a financial penalty for terminating within the next two years. Mr. Butler promised to provide a full explanation at the next meeting.
· The immediate concern of neighbors is parking and traffic issues associated with the church and why the church has not taken steps to address these issues. The representative of the church could not adequately explain why the church has not taken more action. Both neighbors and CAPCS felt the church has not taken these issues seriously enough.
· The working group wants to ensure that as long as the church is using Armstrong school, the underground lot at Dunbar is the primary parking area for the church and that the school parking lot is used for the overflow. The group recognizes that the church cannot control those who decide to park on the street.
· The working group wants to be sure that church attendees are aware of the problems that have been created and the neighbors’ concerns. It was suggested that the church inform its members and remind them of the need to park at Dunbar.
· The working group wants to make sure that CAPCS has liability insurance that covers the parking lot and the cars. Mr. Butler will report back on insurance at the next meeting.
· With regard to the planting of trees for aesthetic and environmental purposes, Mr. Butler stated trees are not included in the CAPCS budget, but that the school would consider donations of trees.
· The working group would like to be informed when events are planned at the school. Mr. Butler said CAPCS will do a better job of notifying neighbors of upcoming events. This may involve use of the sign in front of the school, posting notices on the CAPCS website (www.capcs.org) and a notice for a neighborhood listserv.
The next meeting of the working group will be held on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at 6:30 p.m. at in the school cafeteria.