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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

ANC approves officials’ request to renovate Smith Center this fall

A+Foggy+Bottom+and+West+End+Advisory+Neighborhood+Commission+meeting+agenda+sits+on+a+table.+
Colin Wagner | Photographer
A Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting agenda sits on a table.

Members of a local governing body voted in support of a request from University officials to extensively renovate the Smith Center beginning next fall.

Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously approved the University’s application to amend the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan, which allows officials to replace the Smith Center pool with an additional basketball court and more exercise facilities next fall. Officials scheduled the public hearing for the application for April 22.

Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto, who represents the area encompassing Foggy Bottom, also addressed commissioners about the planned clearing of a homeless encampment near campus.

Here are some of the meeting’s highlights:

Commissioners approve Smith Center renovation

Commissioners unanimously approved officials’ request to add a basketball court and exercise facilities to the Smith Center in place of its pool. Officials first introduced the plan in a September ANC meeting.

Director of Athletics and Recreation Tanya Vogel said the men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s water polo programs would relocate off campus to a local facility fewer than 15 miles away with an Olympic-size pool and a diving facility due to the elimination of the Smith Center pool. She said she is currently working to provide athletes with transportation to the facility via the Mount Vernon Campus Express.

The Smith Center’s pool is only 25 meters long, whereas an Olympic-sized pool has a 50 meter length.

“That pool is wonderfully located, however insufficient for the needs of those very high-quality, championship-level programs,” Vogel said about the Smith Center pool.

Adam Aaronson, the assistant vice president of construction management and campus planning, said officials would expand the Smith Center by 10 feet towards G Street as part of the renovation. He said officials plan to begin the renovation sometime around Labor Day and complete it by mid-to-late 2025, but the renovation schedule isn’t finalized yet.

“There’s a number of things we’re still working through from a structural standpoint inside the building,” Aaronson said.

Council member Pinto provides updates on encampment closure

Pinto said D.C. Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services officials made an effort to communicate housing options to the residents of a homeless encampment in Triangle Park along Virginia Avenue between 20th and 21st streets before they announced the cleanup date of May 15 earlier this month. She said many of the encampment residents were “not willing” to “work” with the officials.

“That was an additional factor in that case,” Pinto said.

Pinto said Triangle Park falls on both National Park Service and District land, making it more difficult to coordinate outreach efforts to the encampment. She said DMHHS officials also need more government support to conduct outreach.

“They need more staffing, they need better pay, they need more manageable caseloads,” Pinto said.

Two community members said there are currently residents living in The Aston, an upcoming homeless shelter in a former University dorm and apartment complex, before unhoused residents are allowed to move in starting in the spring and summer. In response, Pinto said she would look into the matter.

“It is news to me that anybody is living there,” Pinto said.

Resident voiced concerns about Columbia Plaza break-in

A community member, who didn’t disclose their name, said they were “concerned” about an inaccurate Metropolitan Police Department report and lack of coordination between 911 calls following a break-in in the Columbia Plaza Apartment complex last week.

They said the MPD report did not include that the individual who entered the building also knocked their neighbor’s glasses off, which they said qualifies as assault. They said although they were the fourth person to call 911 about the break-in, the operator acted as if they were the first caller.

“That’s very frightening in your place of residence,” they said.

2A03 Commissioner Trupti Patel said officials have instructed 911 operators not to disclose previous phone calls about the same incident because of a previous “major crisis.”

2A05 Commissioner Luke Chadwick said the individual who broke into the apartment complex walked up and down stairs, pulled the fire alarm and entered a ground-floor apartment in the building. He said an MPD representative was supposed to attend the ANC’s meeting to address residents’ concerns about the event but did not show up. He said he expects them to address the incident at next month’s meeting.

“Residents were very concerned about this incident because it’s extremely alarming that someone could break into a ground-floor unit like that,” Chadwick said.

Members approve restaurant’s summer garden

Commissioners unanimously approved a request for a summer garden from Sixty Vines, a restaurant and wine bar coming to 2200 Pennsylvania Avenue in April. Summer garden approvals allow alcohol-licensed establishments to sell and serve alcohol in outdoor public spaces like sidewalks.

Kristin Newby, an associate lawyer representing Sixty Vines, said the restaurant will leave 16 feet between the garden’s structure and the curb, allowing for 10 feet of pedestrian walk space when accounting for the sidewalk’s landscaping.

Foggy Bottom ANC opens application for executive director

ANC 2A Chair Jim Malec said the governing body initiated the hiring process for a new executive director and that the job posting for the role is live on ANC 2A’s website. Peter Sacco, who served as the body’s executive director for more than a decade, left the position last month, but attended the March meeting as a volunteer.

Malec said two candidates have submitted resumes for the role that he has not yet vetted. He said he hopes more candidates will apply.

“We want to get as many candidates as we can,” Malec said. “We’re encouraging everyone to apply. There’s no formal professional educational requirement for this. So take a look at the listing, share it widely.”

Commissioners will hold the next ANC meeting April 17 via Zoom because the ANC is unable to organize a hybrid meeting without a new executive director, according to Malec.

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About the Contributor
Rory Quealy, News Editor
Rory Quealy is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications from La Grange, Illinois. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2024-25 news editors. She was previously the assistant news editor for the Health and Research beat and a research assistant.
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