November 28, 2016 members of the Advisory Neighborhood commission 4B met for their monthly town meeting. Here, members of the community and town representatives discuss the wide range of policies and programs that affect the concerning district. The most heated topic of tonight’s discussion surrounded Resolution #4b-16-1104, the permit for the impending reconstruction of Delano Hall (building 11) by adding raingardens to the surrounding area.
Delano Hall is a historic 1930’s Georgian style brick building which is a part of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center District, and the proposed resolution focused on the building of storm water retention features in the form of raingardens and work needed to get this project off the ground. The Historic Preservation Review Board’s (HPRB) drafted design guidelines for the project, which emphasized an open landscape, back in July of this year when the project was first introduced.
Initially when the project was first presented, both the HPRB Staff Report and Recommendation and the ANC 4B Design Review Committee, along with the ANC 4B Public Works/Infrastructure Committee Member Paul Schwartz, agreed that the sites existing architecture and existing historic landscape plan were formal in concept yet was not accompanied with a presentation that reflected the full capacity and detail of the idea. This brought upon many concerns including but not limited to: the placement of the raingardens could cause premature foundation failure, guidelines did not accurately reflect the amount of water certain areas would receive resulting into an adverse accommodations, limited maintenance budgets that affect the attractiveness of buildings, maintaining the historic integrity Delano Hall.
The project’s architect was present at this meeting, and came with a complete renewed presentation in hopes of persuading the council to approve the project. The power point presentation was pictures and data meant to address all the concerns from the previous presentations.
Although tonight’s presentation acknowledged disquiets of the past, it arose new ones as well. Many commissioners had a problem with the phrasing and wording when it came to explaining the work that will need to be done on certain streets. The presenter kept referring to the impending construction as “minor.”
Commissioner Judi Jones was not pleased. “Can you stop saying minor, this work is not minor and will take time. There is nothing you can do that will convince me these changes are minor.”
Many commissioners agreed as the project representative and architect struggled to fully express the project’s impact on the community and the full process needed to bring this project to fruition.
The ultimate decision led to the vote that ANC 4B would support the initial HPRB Staff Report and Recommendation, “against a permit for the proposed storm water features as incompatible with the character of the property and the historic…” ANC 4B ask the applicant to explore other stormwater management alternatives that eliminate risk to the building and require minimal maintenance for the school. The ANC also offered alternatives for future applicants including recommendations on drainage placement, adding trees to for aesthetic purposes and minimizing heating and cooling cost.