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Sierra Club, Washington Chapter
Letter to Mayor Anthony Williams on
National Grand Prix Race

January 18, 2002




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Sierra Club
Washington, DC Chapter

Please reply to:
Mark Wenzler, Chair
305 10th St., SE
Washington D.C. 20003

January 18, 2002

The Honorable Anthony Williams, Mayor
District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mr. Mayor:

The Washington DC Chapter of the Sierra Club has several serious concerns regarding the proposed National Grand Prix Racing at the RFK Stadium site, and we write to you now to share those concerns and ask your help both as mayor and as one who understands the importance of environmental protection here in the District.

First among these concerns is that the fast timeline for this event does not allow sufficient time to assess its environmental impacts. We ask that you evaluate the environmental effects of this event on both the nearby neighborhoods, the adjoining Anacostia River, and the region at large, and that you require these effects to be mitigated as necessary to protect public health and environmental quality.

Air Quality. We believe this event may very well degrade air quality in both nearby neighborhoods and the region at large. The lack of air pollution controls on the racing cars has the potential to emit toxic chemicals into surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, this event will bring thousands of spectators in cars into the city, resulting in even higher smog levels – during the time of year when we are most likely to experience Code Red days. Given these factors, we feel that this event will make compliance with the Clean Air Act even more difficult for the Washington region. You should make sure that both of these impacts are evaluated and mitigated to the greatest possible degree to protect public health. At a minimum, the event should encourage the maximum possible use of Metro rail and bus.

Runoff into the Anacostia River. Runoff from the RFK Stadium parking lot already is a major source of pollution for the Anacostia River. Placing fuel storage, car maintenance, and other facilities on the lot without substantial measures will only exacerbate the situation. Since the lot is being repaved to accommodate the event, however, you have the unique opportunity to help mitigate these problems by integrating runoff controls such as rain gardens and other bio-retention methods into the parking lot repaving plan.. By strategically designing green spaces into the new parking lot, the water can be filtered naturally and its flow into the Anacostia slowed, further helping to clean this endangered river.

We look forward to working with you to reduce both the runoff and the air pollution problems of this event.

Mark Wenzler
Chair, Sierra Club, Washington, D.C. Chapter

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