Coming off of a very successful experience advocating on the FY 2018 budget last spring, APACC again eyed Mayor Bowser's proposed FY 2019 budget as ripe for analysis and advocacy. Here’s what our budget-savvy members think about the budget.
Investments in the Anacostia River in DC’s FY19 Budget
Anacostia River Cleanup
There’s good news in the budget, a win for the Anacostia River and those who want to enjoy all it has to offer.
While it's true that there is a $3.5 million decrease in capital funding for the ARSP (referred to in the budget as Hazardous Material Remediation (Anacostia River)) over the life of project, capital funding in FY 2019 is $8 million, double what was projected for FY 2019 in the FY 2018 proposed budget. DOEE director Tommy Wells explained what the budget means in practical terms:
This year, capital funding levels will enable DOEE to continue evaluate the impact on the health of fish and wildlife in the Anacostia River and determine the quantity and quality of sediment contaminants entering the District from Maryland tributaries, and publish the Feasibility Study and Proposed Plan for riverbed restoration.
Kingman and Heritage Islands
Mayor Bowser’s commitment to making significant educational and recreational improvements is encouraging. The FY 2019 proposed capital budget is $600,000 and the total project budget is $3.7 million to make real the promise of focusing on children. DOEE proposes to spend the $600,000 as follows:
- project design and island restoration plan ($372,000)
- securing permits and insurance ($23,000)
- site preparation, mobilization, and clearing and grubbing ($205,000)
Need for Meaningful Engagement
While APACC is pleased that the FY 2019 allocation includes planning for both the cleanup and for Kingman and Heritage Islands, the fact remains that real and meaningful community engagement is essential, particularly with residents and stakeholders of Wards 7 and 8.
APACC will work with DOEE to encourage them to more meaningfully engage the people whose lives have the most to benefit from improvements to the river. We will monitor DOEE's planning process and continue to encourage them to invest more heavily in outreach, engagement and transparency.
There is no budget in FY 2019 for the cleanup of the National Park Service-controlled Kenilworth Park, which will eventually be transferred to the District. The District will be responsible for cleaning up the northern part of Kenilworth Park, while NPS will be responsible for the southern part. Most likely the Park Service will request the District to pay for the remediation up front, with guaranteed reimbursement from NPS. According to Director Wells, there is not an agreement on a consent decree, which means that DC does not know how much needs to be paid this fiscal year.
We will be tracking this issue going forward, as Kenilworth Park is an important asset for the neighborhoods nearby and could be much more of a resource for Ward 7 and the DC region than it is today. We also believe that the District should engage with members of the Kenilworth community and other nearby areas to determine an appropriate way to prioritize investment in the space and to honor the memory of Kelvin Tryone Mock who was died in the landfill beneath Kenilworth Park fifty years ago in 1968. [insert old picture of burning]
Year of the Anacostia
The FY 2019 budget does not include any support for the Year of the Anacostia, a joint celebration of the milestones and anniversaries of 2018 for the Anacostia River. Many APACC members were some of the 63 different organizations that signed a letter to Mayor Bowser in 2017, encouraging her to provide additional funding for more programming, events and activation of the Anacostia River and parks during this calendar year.
While no such funding was included in her proposed FY19 budget, we hope that the District will recognize the need to invest in activities in parks like Anacostia Park even if they are owned and managed by the National Park Service, since DC residents will directly benefit from that investment.