Bloomingdale Civic Association’s Response to Steven May’s “Open Letter to the Community”

Bloomingdale Civic Association’s Response to Steven May’s “Open Letter to the Community”

                                                                                                            May 12, 2011

Neighbors,

The Bloomingdale Civic Association (“BCA”) has read Mr. Steven May’s “Open Letter” dated today.  While the BCA looks forward to working with Mr. May as he works toward the opening of Engine Company 12, it is necessary to clarify a few things about the BCA. 

First, the BCA fully supports Bloomingdale-area businesses and their efforts to serve the Bloomingdale community. This includes supporting restaurants that seek liquor licenses.  Recently, we supported the applications of Big Bear Café and Boundary Stone, and we hope to support future applications from businesses that will add value to our community.

Second, our policy concerning support of liquor licenses is that we consider all requests for support during a duly noticed public meeting after the business owner has filed the license application.  Big Bear Café and Boundary Stone followed this process and the BCA supported them.  The principal reason for this policy is that Bloomingdale residents deserve to know what the business owner is asking them to support and the official record of that information is found in the filed and accepted application (acceptance occurs before the licensing board issues the placard for posting). In fact, Bloomingdale residents already have approached us regarding Engine Company 12’s intended use of the patio. While Mr. May has likely discussed this issue in prior meetings, the use of the patio will be governed by the request in the application and the terms of the license. 

Third, the BCA is not delaying Engine Company 12’s opening. To be clear, the liquor licensing process does not require that a letter of support from a civic association (or ANC) be obtained prior to the submission of a liquor license application or at anytime thereafter.  Likewise, there is no requirement that such letter must be submitted with a liquor license application. We were pleased that Mr. May sought our support and offered to consider his request once he filed the application. Any claim that the BCA is the cause of Engine Company 12’s failure to open for business on July 1, 2011 is disingenuous – at best. Even if the liquor license application was filed today, in a best case scenario, the application could not be approved and issued before July 1, 2011. Further, I have found no support in the District’s regulations and through a call to the licensing board for Mr. May’s claim that not acquiring a letter of support prior to the submission of an application would cause a delay in application process. Therefore, assuming that the lack of a liquor license is the only reason Engine Company 12 is unable to open on July 1, 2011, the blame for not opening on time would seem to fall at the feet of the person(s) responsible for filing the application in a timely fashion.

Mr. May’s letter this morning was the first time we have heard Mr. May suggest that the BCA is preventing the opening of Engine Company 12.  Mr. May first requested an opportunity to request a letter of support via an email sent Thursday, April 14, 2011, three days before our April meeting. In my response I asked if the application had been filed and indicated that there would not be enough time before the April meeting to alert neighbors that the issue would be discussed and that a vote may be taken. Mr. May said the application had not been filed and that he would “move ahead without the letter at this point….” Perhaps if the person(s) responsible for filing the application had in fact moved ahead without the letter and submitted the application there would not be a delay in Engine Company 12’s opening date, again, that assumes liquor licensing is the sole reason for the delay – but I digress.  During the April meeting, Mr. May stated that the BCA would not consider a letter of support until the application was filed and indicated that he would file the application shortly thereafter. On Wednesday, May 4, 2011, in preparation for the May BCA meeting, I emailed Mr. May to find out whether the application had been filed and his response was “I am dropping it off on Friday”, which I took to mean last Friday, May 6, 2011. The application was not filed last Friday. Yesterday, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Hugh Youngblood informed me that the application would be filed this Friday. Even if the application is filed this Friday, it will have to be reviewed and accepted before the placard is issued. At no point have I or any other Bloomingdale Civic Association board member indicated that the BCA will not support Engine Company 12’s application for a liquor license.  The fact is that there is currently no application for us to support.

We at the BCA are pleased to represent Bloomingdale and to assist Bloomingdale business owners with their entrepreneurial dreams.  Despite Mr. May’s “Open Letter,” our offer to him still stands; we would be pleased to consider his request once the application is on file. 

 Best regards,

Teri Janine Quinn

President, Bloomingdale Civic Association


4 thoughts on “Bloomingdale Civic Association’s Response to Steven May’s “Open Letter to the Community”

  1. In response to the Bloomingdale Civic Association`s letter I have the following concerns.

    First, the Bloomingdale Civic Association should understand it is imperative for organizations seeking a stipulated ABRA license (ANC Stipulated) to garner as many letters of support from local area civic associations, area leaders, and residents as humanly possible. For anyone who has worked their way through the ABRA licensing procedure before can tell you, working towards a stipulated license vs. a standard issue license cuts the wait time from 90 to only 45 days. Thus ensuring an opening of Engine Company 12 by July 1, 2011.

    From day one our intent has been to get the first floor restaurant and outdoor cafe online by July 1, and bring the the subsequent floors online slowly throughout the summer. It has become virtually impossible to meet this date with the bureaucratic stagnation involved in getting this project’s ABRA license support letters secured.

    I initially visited the Bloomingdale Civic Association on February 28, 2011 with Brian Brown, and we presented and updated the association as to our progress and notified them that we would be requesting a letter in support of our application in the following weeks. Throughout March and April I personally attended numerous neighborhood association meetings and held several meet and greets with local residents and gave tours of the building to anyone who wanted to view its progress or discuss any possible concern. I have consistently made myself available days, nights, weekends,etc to meet with anyone who had a concern about the project.

    The list below is a small snapshot of the outreach I have done;

    February 26, 2011 Bloomingdale Civic Association Meeting
    March 9, 2011 North Capitol Main Street Board Meeting
    March 16 & 17, 2011 I walked door to door on Quincy and R Streets talking to residents who were outside passing out business cards and discussing concerns
    March 19, 2011 Tours for North Capitol Main Street Board and several local residents
    March 21, 2011 Bloomingdale Civic Association Meeting
    April 19, 2011 ANC 5C Meeting Present and Update
    April 23, 2011 Meet & Greet AME Zion Church for local residents followed by a tour

    Most recently I emailed the Bloomingdale Civic Association on April 14, 2011 asking permission to not just present, but to request a letter of support for their April 18, 2011 meeting. This email was merely a follow up since I had already notified them I planned to ask for the letter of support at their February meeting and verbally on several occasions.

    The Bloomingdale Civic Association responded that they did not feel they would have enough time to get it scheduled for their April meeting and that I should present yet again and wait until the May meeting to request the letter. In May I emailed the Bloomingdale Civic Association again asking to come to this months meeting and request a letter of support I was told as long as I had filed my ABRA application with ABRA by Friday May 13, 2011 it would be acceptable to come to the meeting and request the letter. Then on May 11, 2011 I received an email from the Bloomingdale Civic Association stating that they didn’t feel they had enough time to properly digest our application and I would only be allowed to present at this months meeting as well.

    In my opinion it is this type of bureaucratic stagnation that is killing the more rapid revitalization of the Bloomingdale community. I have the luxury of managing two projects in two different wards in Washington,DC. The difference in community support, leadership, and communication between the civic associations and civic leaders in Ward 2 (Shaw’s Tavern) vs. Ward 5 (Engine Company 12) is night and day. I believe this is clearly reflected in the shear number of commercial projects revitalizing Ward 2 that are virtually non existent in Ward 5. The jobs alone created by these projects should dictate a more rapid review and response time by Ward 5 Civic Leaders, not to mention the increase in tax base, the positive impact of thriving businesses vs. large scale vacant buildings that knowingly attract nefarious activity.

    I have made the same statements over and over again on the specifics of the firehouse, when approached by an area resident about my hours of operation I met with her discussed the issue and modified the hours of operation to accommodate the resident. A copy of the speaking points (ABRA License Application Responses) is available to anyone who wishes to review it, I have handed it out at several meet and greets and at the ANC Meeting on April 19, 2011. Other than the modified hours of operation to accommodate the local resident not one item of our operations has changed since February.

    As always I am dedicated to getting this project off the ground, I am more than the Project Manager and General Manager for Engine Company 12, I am a resident of the neighborhood and I am committed to having a viable neighborhood where I can work, shop, and walk around with my children.

    Thank you for your time and thank you to those of you who have worked to support our project.

    Sincerely,

    Steven Michael May Jr.
    General Manager
    Engine Company 12

  2. Thank you Ms. Quinn for such a well-reasoned and diplomatic response to Mr. May’s “Open Letter.” He seems to have a pretty hefty sense of entitlement!

  3. Ms. Quinn’s response to Mr. Mays letter was too kind. Let’s face it, the firehouse project is nothing more than a nightclub clothed as a restaurant. Whatever peace and quiet nearby residents have during weekend evenings will be shattered once the place opens. Additionally, on-street parking will disappear altogether. We should be very cautious supporting such a project. Bar rooms and residential neighborhoods just don’t mix well. Look at the problems LaDroit Park is having with the Elks Club. We can now add to the mix an arrogant owner who feels the neighborhood should be working for him rather than vice versa. Those who live in the R St., Quincy Place area of the firehouse should give serious consideration to opposing this project. It is not a stretch to envision a purposely failed restaurant business being sold as a nightclub later down the line at a handsome profit.

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