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Despite community concerns, D.C. United confident Buzzard Point stadium is on track

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Citizens raised issues on Monday night ahead of the Zoning Commission Public Hearing on 11/2

In an office building in Southwest Washington D.C., not too far from the proposed Buzzard Point Stadium, representatives from D.C. United gave a presentation on their proposed new home Monday night to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D. The presentation went over the design of the stadium, the transportation plan for the area, and current community relations between United and area schools and children.

There were plenty of concerns raised though, as both ANC commissioners and residents of Ward 6 poised questions to United’s representatives, which included President of Business Operations Tom Hunt and Director of Community Relations Victor Melara.

After the stadium portion of the meeting, Hunt said that the team was excited that ANC 6D was supportive of the team’s effort to build a stadium at Buzzard Point, despite the issues that were brought forth.

“We were very happy that they said they were supportive of the stadium,” Hunt told B&RU outside of the meeting room. “And that they would support the PUD (planned unit development), based on if we met the conditions they talked about.”

While a flyer available before the start of the meeting raised questions with the design of the stadium and an apparent ”bait and switch” once public funding for the project was raised, most of the concerns were about the impact on the community that another stadium in the area will have.

ANC 6D voted unanimously (7-0) to pass the resolution regarding their testimony that they will present at the Zoning Commission meeting next month.

“ANC 6D is generally supportive of the notion of the D.C. United soccer stadium at Buzzard Point, contingent upon a clearly defined and unambiguous transportation plan,” read Chairperson Andy Litsky at the conclusion of the stadium portion of the meeting.

“Overall, there currently exists no sufficient transportation plan for the stadium at Buzzard Point. D.C. United’s PUD transportation plan is not informed by, and directly contradicts a number of transportation proposals from, DDOT [District Department of Transportation].”

Despite these concerns from ANC 6D, Hunt was confident that everything that was brought up by the commission had been previously addressed by the team.

“We’ve engaged with them for quite some time. So what we heard tonight was nothing new,” Hunt said. “We take all of the feedback from our stakeholders seriously, and we will continue to work on it to make sure everyone is happy.”

“A lot of what they addressed tonight actually falls under the District’s responsibilities,” added Hunt. “We work closely with the District to make sure that their needs are met.”

Also addressed by the commission was the issue of potential health hazards for local residents during the construction of the stadium. United, who has taken the responsibility of conducting the voluntary cleanup on the site from the city now that they have been handed the land, are slated to begin the cleanup on December 1st. That would then allow the team to begin vertical construction after the first of the year, in hopes of opening the stadium in the middle of 2018.

But with several residents raising the issue about contaminated soil and vapors in the area, to go along with construction dust, the ANC included language in their resolution that asked for the December 1st date to be pushed back until the health impact could be properly resolved for them to alleviate concerns.

“ANC 6D requests that the District of Columbia and the applicant halt the voluntary cleanup of the proposed stadium site, slated to begin on December 1st.”

This testimony will all be part of the public hearing for the Zoning Commission on November 2nd. Having said that United has addressed these concerns previously though, Hunt is confident that the January construction date is still on course.

“Our gameplan is to be vertical as soon as we can in January. We will be doing foundation work,” said Hunt. “We have to get through the zoning process, but we’re excited. There’s no reason to believe we won’t get there.”