I attended last night's meeting about the National Park Service's plans for the Carter G. Woodson project. I am very grateful that Shaw Main Streets and the National Park Service held this forum to update the community on the status of the project. Here are some of the takeaways from the meeting:
+ The NPS could not provide a firm date for when construction would commence or when they expect the site to be open to the public. That said, they think that there is a lot of motivation within the NPS to have it online by the NPS's centennial celebration in 2016 (as in NINE YEARS from now!), if not sooner. We all hope sooner. Much, much sooner.
+ Nothing atypically slow characterizes the progression of this site. A lot has to be done before the first hammer can be swung. Indeed, the NPS repeatedly characterized the Woodson project as moving along briskly. Several studies must be completed (e.g., a Historic Status Report, followed by a Historic Resources Report) before we even start to think about the plans for the space and the buildings.
+ The NPS still has an eye on obtaining the corner building, 1544 9th Street (pictured at far right above), which is currently under renovation (reportedly to become all residences). Acquisition of this building (which they describe as an "at grade" building) would make it easier to make the other buildings ADA accessible (and I posit that this corner building's visibility from Rhode Island Avenue also desirable for the NPS). The NPS will move forward with the planning process regardless of whether or not they can purchase this building. Apparently the owner is asking the NPS for 3 times the building's market value. It seems that archictecural plans are still a ways off, so this isn't really affecting anything now.
+ The ASALH is not expected to move into the completed buildings, so their construction of a new headquarters is basically irrelevant to the project.
+ We are unlikely to see any temporary facade improvements prior to construction. The question was inadvertently posed specific to the Woodson home itself (for which there are concerns that any such improvements might hinder the study and preservation of the building); I wonder if the adjoining building, which has boarded up windows on the second floor, could get some sprucing up.
+ The NPS did a significant amount of cleaning and "battening up the hatches" types of work to the buildings when they first obtained them. Notably, the Woodson Home (and perhaps the others) received a new roof, and dumpsters were filled with trash left by vagrants in the long-vacant structures.
+ If you EVER see vagrants or any other criminal activity in or around the buildings, call the NPS police at 202.619.7300 to report it.