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For immediate release
Monday, September 22, 1997

NCPC expresses doubt at convention center finances

Citing evidence of spiraling costs and a new report by a leading citizens' advocacy group, the National Capital Planning Commission expressed serious concern tonight over questionable finances associated with the proposed convention center at Mt. Vernon Square, raising doubt as to whether the Commission will vote to approve the Mt. Vernon plan as expected Thursday.

"I don't see how we can vote on this [convention center] until staff provides us with a response to the [Committee of 100] report," said Commissioner John Parsons, referring to a new study by the Committee of 100 on the Federal City that projects real costs of the Mt. Vernon proposal to be $270 million higher than the competing Union Station site for the convention center.

Over 75 witnesses appeared before the NCPC, with 41 submitting testimony in opposition to the Mt. Vernon site, and 36 expressing strong support Heavy attendance by citizens and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners from Ward 2 tipped the balance of public testimony against the Mt. Vernon site.

"When the citizens of Georgetown were presented with the facts on the convention center last week, their reaction was laughter," said ANC 2E Commissioner Westy Byrd. "Why would you build a convention center with no parking?"

Other witnesses criticized the Mt. Vernon center proposal because of its lack of expansion capability, its harm the historic Shaw neighborhood, and its lack of a sound transportation plan.

But the most serious concern seems to be over whether the Washington Convention Center Authority can deliver the building as planned within the current budget. WCCA has refused comment on the sole construction bid submitted for the project earlier this month.

The following citizens and organizations were opposed to the Mt. Vernon plan: Norman Wood, Jr., Central Northwest Citizens Association; Quinzella Narce, Washington Apartments Tenants Assoc.; Tom Briggs, East Central Civic Assoc.; Leroy Thorpe, Jr. ANC 2C02; Beth Solomon, Shaw resident; Gastrel Riley, Shaw Coalition; Steven Donkin, Shaw resident; Gwen Jones, Sierra Club New Columbia Chapter; Joe Passoneau, Washington Regional Networks for Livable Communities; Terry Lynch, Downtown Cluster of Congregations; Jim Schulman, ANC6A04; Joseph Hairston, ANC4A03; Tersh Boasberg, Committee of 100 on the Federal City, Richard Westbrook, ANC2DO1; John Gloster, D.C. Statehood Party; Gottlieb Simon, ANC2D; Nellie Longsworth, Preservation Action; Joe Bender, Citizen; Kent Cooper, Washington Architectural Foundation; Alice Stewart, Citizen; Sandra Seegars, Recall Marion Barry; Millie Riley, Citizen; Jennifer Ellingston, D.C. Green Party; Cardell Shelton, Citizen; Paul Riley, Citizen; Peter Harnik, Citizen; Norma Chaplain, Citizen; Dorothy Miller, ANC 2A05; Westy Byrd, ANC 2E04; Debby Hanrahan, Citizen; Margaret Feldman, Southwest Neighborhood Assembly: Lin Hagood, N Street Citizens Assoc.; Sam Jordan, D.C. Statehood Party; G.E. Maxwell, Citizen; Dorn McGrath, Citizen; Karen Szulgit, D.C. Green Party, John Capozzi, Citizen; Winifred Gallant, Citizen; Jim Dougherty, Sierra Club; Harriet Hubbard, Residential Action Coalition.

For more information, contact Beth Solomon, Shaw Coalition, (202) 789-7864.

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