Housing Complex

McMillan Development: Underwater Again?

The McMillan Sand Filtration Site.

Last week, I reported on the steady progress of plans to redevelop the McMillan Sand Filtration Site on North Capitol Street. After 25 years of battles, the latest plan has the support of key councilmembers and segments of the local public.

But it may have just hit a snag, in the form of water engineering.

Residents of neighboring Bloomingdale, where summer storms brought severe flooding, have expressed concern that development on the site could worsen their flooding problems. Now, Mike DeBonis reports, DC Water is contemplating whether McMillan may hold the solution to Bloomingdale's problems. But not in a way that's conducive to development:

D.C. Water General Manager George S. Hawkins said his agency is exploring whether the historic McMillan Sand Filtration Site north of Bloomingdale could be used as a place to store storm runoff during major storms, easing the aging and overloaded sewers downhill. ...

The concept is that, during major storms, storm sewers upstream from Bloomingdale would dump runoff into McMillan’s filtration cells, where it would stay until the weather passes. Once downstream sewers were less taxed, the runoff would then be pumped though to be processed at Blue Plains.

But here's the catch:

If D.C. Water and city officials decide they need to use McMillan’s underground filtration cells until the planned storage tunnel is complete in 2025, that stands to affect how redevelopment will proceed — perhaps it could be done in phases, or perhaps it would have to wait until the tunnel is fully in service. ...

D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who has both been intimately involved in the McMillan planning and has been crusading for storm-ravaged residents, said it’s “a little too early to get residents’ hopes up” about McMillan. But he said his first priority would be using the site for flood relief.

So full development of McMillan could have to wait at least another decade after all.

Photo by David Monack (Wikimedia Commons)

  • Kirby Vining

    While I very much appreciate your attention to the controversy over the current plan to develop the McMillan Site, I think that your characterization of support for the proposed project by 'key councilmembers' and 'segments of the local community' is overstating the pro-plan side and deliberately neglecting the broad segment of the population which is seeking a better plan. Using such terms as you have suggests that your 'key' source of information is close to the proposed developer. No civic group in the surrounding area has supported the plan. All have opposed it, for very specific and constructive reasons. ANC 5C voted for the plan in a very controversial vote which deliberately blindsided the three ANCs from the SMDs surrounding the park -- controversial in itself as the ANCs often, if not usually, defer to districts directly affected by any action. Not this time. Why? So I think that your characterization is slanted overly to the side of the proposed developer. I hope to see you cover this story from a perspective more inclusive of the surrounding communities, 1,000 families in which (according to a survey this summer) opposed the plan because they desire 50% park (not 'open space' but real contiguous park), creative re-use (not destruction) of the underground caverns (the current plan preserves only two), and some realistic answers to the problems of sewers and traffic which such a development would pose. And of course there is the Bloomingdale flooding. Tell me you believe that so many million new square feet of office/residential construction at the top of the hill, source of the waters flooding Bloomingdale, isn't going to aggravate an already very bad situation. Thank you. -Kirby Vining