Mayor Vincent Gray appeared before a room of some 300 Capitol Hill residents to try to qualm their fears about what his lofty goal to bring the Washington Redskins back to the District would mean for their hopes of community-serving development at Reservation 13.
Reservation 13 is a swath of land near RFK Stadium at the eastern edge of Capitol Hill (Hill East as many residents describe it).
Since the Mayor and Councilmembers Jack Evans and Michael Brown took a trip to Tampa in late October, the community has been abuzz with concerns that a long-awaited and mired mixed-use development proposal for that same space would be jettisoned in favor of a Redskins Training facility that would be largely off-limits to the community.
The Washington Post spoke with Brian Flahaven, one of Hill East's younger and more outspoken Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, about those concerns over Reservation 13:
“'The idea was that this would be an extension of the neighborhood that would bring new jobs, new retail, new housing in an area that needs all three of those things,' said Brian Flahaven, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in the area. He said there’s 'a lot of skepticism' among his constituents when the Redskins are mentioned as a possibility for the site’s most valuable land."
Throughout the course of the meeting, the Mayor and several councilmembers assured residents that there is no plan in place for the space and that they were merely exploring the idea. Gray said he had not consulted the community on the proposal because there was no firm proposal for them to give input on.
But the Mayor and the three Council members at his side (Evans, Brown and Yvette Alexander) also professed their great desire and hope to bring back Washington's football team to D.C. in some way.
However, the Housing Complex Blog at the Washington City Paper questioned whether that sentiment still resonated with District residents, given the rapidly changing demographics of the city.
"...There seems to be a fundamental disjuncture in Gray's pitch. He and the three councilmembers on the stage with him—Jack Evans, Yvette Alexander, and Michael Brown—take as an article of faith that anybody else cares about bringing the Redskins to Washington."
What do you think? Does it matter to you if the Redskins have a physical presence in D.C.? Are neighbors right to be concerned? SPEAK OUT in the comments.