D.C.'s newest councilmember is asking the city to find a new location for a proposed streetcar barn instead of the Ward 5 site that he says neighbors oppose.
Kenyan McDuffie, who was elected in May to represent Ward 5 after Harry Thomas Jr. was convicted and sent to federal prison, wrote a letter to the mayor dated on June 29 asking for an alternative, the councilman's office said Monday.
The city is planning to build the storage and maintenance facility for the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line on the campus of Spingarn Senior High School at Benning Road and 26th Street in Northeast.
But the Democrat had held an emergency meeting on June 25 in the ward about the proposed "car barn" after neighbors had said it shouldn't be built there.
"Many residents have indicated that they found the justification for the Spingarn site to be one of expedience, rather than necessity," he wrote. "More broadly, many residents believe that the city uses Ward 5 as a 'dumping ground' for undesirable facilities, the car being another example of such a practice. In short, many Ward 5 residents feel disrespected."
He noted that the city held only three of its 16 community meetings on the streetcar line in his ward. He added that residents are worried the Carver Langston neighborhood won't see any benefits from the site and that it could jeopardize the safety of students during and after it is built.
But last month, the city awarded a $50 million contract to Dean-Facchina LLC contract to build the facility. The city doesn't have much leeway with the timing as the trolley line is supposed to be running by July 2013.