The DC Council today will consider several pieces of emergency legislation all centered around speeding up the development of parking and commercial development at the site of the Washington Nationals' new ballpark.
As Tim Lemke and Amy Doolittle of the Washington Times reports:
One emergency bill, introduced by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, would permit the city to sell revenue bonds to help pay for the construction of parking structures on the ballpark site, and would also allow the city to use money from the sale of development rights for the same purpose. The mayor's bill also allows D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi to collect money from adjacent parking facilities, with the money raised going to pay for parking garages and commercial development at the actual ballpark site.
A separate emergency bill introduced by Councilmember Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, would free the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission from the responsibility of providing parking at the site. Under the bill, those duties would be handed over to the quasi-public Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, which would likely partner with a developer on a parking and commercial project.
The sports commission, which is overseeing the ballpark project, is required by contract with the Nationals to provide parking for 1,225 cars on the ballpark site in time for the stadium's opening day. The transfer of parking responsibilities to the AWC, according to Barry's bill, "is the most efficient method of providing the necessary parking spaces on time and initiating the development process on the ballpark site." But sources yesterday said such a transfer could be in violation of the contract with the Nationals
But, a cheaper alternative may come from Adrian Fenty, the Ward 4 Democrat who is expected to win the city's race for mayor next month. Fenty could introduce a plan to place all the parking above ground at a location at the south end of the stadium site, saving the city as much as $30 million in construction costs. As the article further reports, the "plan reportedly has received the blessing of the Nationals ownership group, the Lerner family, which must approve any plans for the stadium site."
Mayor Anthony Williams is opposed to the plan citing the need for placing the parking below ground at the northern end of the ballpark where more commercial development could occur at the street level.
With all 13 council members still reviewing the bill it is uncertain if there are enough votes for the emergency bills to pass.
(The Washington Times)