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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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City representative skips Stevens School meeting

This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Harald Olsen.

The stage was set for a showdown Wednesday night between the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A, which encompasses Foggy Bottom, and Valerie Santos, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. The two parties have publicly disagreed for months over the fate of the Stevens School building on 22nd and L Streets, with one commissioner even testifying against Santos at a confirmation hearing last month.

But the public meeting failed to occur. After promising to address many of the ANC’s irate members, Santos canceled and sent one of her directors, Dale Smith, in proxy.

Armando Irizarry, Chair of the Commission, opened the discussion by expressing his frustration with Santos, whose last-minute cancellation was seen as just one more in a series of decisions that disrespect the input of area residents, Armando said.

“We’re extremely frustrated and disappointed with [Deputy Mayor Santos],” said Irizarry, “That is not the way to treat a community.”

Smith, who was sent to represent Santos, said Equity’s ability to finance construction was the deciding factor in the city’s decision to grant the company’s proposal to build apartments similar to another Equity building, the Apartments at 2400 M.

Residents spoke about their worry that the planned apartment building would fill with GW students, who were described as disruptive and detrimental to the property values of community residents.

“We don’t want a community full of students, we already have that at 2400,” said Michele Wiltse, who lived at 2400 M in 2007. “It’s completely absurd that you guys think you would replicate that with Equity again.”

Wiltse, who lived in the short-term rental building that has been historically popular with GW students, said that after a year spent seeing condom wrappers and cups full of beer in the hall, and hearing of neighbors whose patios had been urinated upon by students living above them, “I couldn’t get out of that building fast enough.”

Commissioner Asher Corson, a GW alumnus, described the decision to go with the Equity Residential plan as “insulting.” Corson also testified against Valerie Santos’ confirmation as Deputy Mayor in September.

“I really did think that ANCs mattered a little bit in this town,” Corson said. “Now I’m not so sure.”

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