Mayor Says Hill East Redskins Camp “Is Not a Plan – It’s a Conversation”
by Larry Janezich
Mayor Vincent Gray told 300 residents of Ward 6 and Ward 7 that the idea of bringing a Redskins training camp to Reservation 13 “is not a plan – it’s a conversation.” The community meeting, sponsored jointly by ANCs in Wards Six and Seven, was held in DC Armory, near Reservation 13. Last fall, the redistricting process placed Reservation 13 in Yvette Alexander’s Ward 7, most of which lies east of the river, a change from its previous, contiguous location in Ward Six.
Ward Six residents in the neighborhoods adjacent to Reservation 13 are largely opposed to siting a Redskins training facility there, preferring the long-stalled plans for city buildings, retail, and residential complexes.
Mayor Gray said that DC joined the conversation about a new Redskins training facility in DC after learning that Virginia and Maryland each had proposals on the table for a training facility within their boundaries. Gray added that he had visited the Tampa in 2011 to take a look at what was reportedly the finest training facility in the country. The Washington Times reported that Gray and was accompanied on that trip by Councilmembers Evans and Michael Brown.
Gray said that visit to Tampa resulted in consideration of what a Redskins training facility might include: fields, a training facility, a Redskin’s hall of fame, a hotel and a medical center. He went on to say that “nobody wants to bring out something that is half-baked,” and noted that one reason there have been no community meetings on the plan was that, “we’ve had nothing to present – and there is still nothing to present.”
The Mayor went on to tell the crowd what would have to happen before a training facility could be brought to the site of Reservation 13: both the DC Master Plan and the DC Comprehensive Plan would have to be modified, each being brought first to the community and then passed by the City Council. Then the site would have to be re-zoned in public hearings before the Zoning Commission. “To the extent people are concerned about this; there is no way anything could be moved through the back door,” Gray told the gathering.
He went on to say that the city needs a catalyst to jump start Hill East – “I don’t know what it is,” he admitted, “but we’ve been focusing on economic development and will continue to focus on economic development.”
Gray also said that Reservation 13 is not the only place “we’ve looked at for a training facility,” and summing up, the mayor said, “There is no plan. I have a desire to bring the Redskins back to DC. If we work together that will happen. But we need to work together rather than fighting over a non-existent plan.”
City Officials turned out in force for tonight’s meeting, which in addition to the Mayor featured Councilmembers Michael Brown, Jack Evans, Yvette Alexander, Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins, City Administrator Allen Lew, former Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, and more than a dozen ANC Commissioners from Wards Six and Seven. Councilmember Wells was reported to be travelling.