Washington, DC (July 9, 2011) – Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray hosted a historic, Ward 8 Community Summit that addressed community concerns about the unprecedented changes taking place within a two-mile radius of the Anacostia and Congress Heights Metro Stations. Nearly 600 individuals, including residents from throughout Ward 8, as well as community and business leaders, District officials and special guests attended the session throughout the day.
Held at the Thurgood Marshall Academy/Savoy Elementary School Gymnasium on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE, the ultimate goal of the Community Summit was for residents to gain a better understanding of the “big picture” changes taking place in their community and provide critical, on-site input with regard to those changes.
“This has been an exciting and productive day,” said Mayor Gray about the Summit. “The Summit results established the priorities for the people who live, work and do business in Ward 8 as well as provided us a blueprint for moving forward where residents will have a real stake because they helped to develop the priorities.”
Throughout the meeting, participants used keypad polling to register their views and engaged in facilitated group discussions about the future of Ward 8 communities. Among the concerns that registered high among attendees were lack of jobs (not enough hiring of Ward 8 residents), lack of services for youth (education, recreation and job training), safety (high crime rate, lack of adequate street lighting) and limited retail opportunities for consumers. Other issues discussed at the Summit were residential development projects in the Ward, business and retail projects and transportation.
The Gray Administration plans to utilize the input of participants to develop a set of outcomes and priorities that can be used to ensure that the community’s interests will play a significant role in shaping the changes coming to Ward 8. A town hall meeting will be convened in September to discuss the outcomes. In addition there will be quarterly update meetings to review progress made in the Ward.
The District was able to hold the Summit with the support of a Community Challenge Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Additional summits are planned for other Wards in the District. The Ward 8 Summit was coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Planning and was facilitated by AmericaSpeaks.
In addition to Mayor Gray, other government officials who attended the Summit included Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, DC Council Chair Kwame Brown, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor L. Hoskins and Economic Development Cluster Agency Directors, including Harriet Tregoning of the Office of Planning; John Hall of the Department of Housing and Community Development; Lisa Mallory of the Department of Employment Services; and others.