[Hpn] Our little firehouse

Thomas Frampton TFrampton01@sidwell.edu
Mon, 2 Jul 2001 11:48:23 -0400

Hey everyone,
   Sorry I haven't been around as much lately, I'll be good again starting
this weekend. But did anyone see this article in the Post??? The address is
listed wrong as 439 New Jersey Ave., but it's the one we were in. This is
the shit I was talking about during the takeover, but couldn't get Kimberly
Shellman to call me back. Looks like the city really does have a history of
screwing folks over when it comes to this little property...(it's the last
few paragraphs). Peace,

Center for Abused Children Caught in a Fight Over Site 
Nonprofit Group Plans to Drop Expansion if D.C. Doesn't Act 
By Sewell Chan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2001; Page B07 

A nonprofit organization that has tried to expand a center that serves
victims of child abuse in the District is threatening to pull out of the
project because the city has lagged in finding larger offices for the

The D.C. Children's Advocacy Center, which pays the city $1 a year for
offices at 300 E St. NW, brings together different agencies that assist
juvenile victims of sexual or physical abuse. The center, also known as Safe
Shores, provides emergency clothing and meals and a safe, friendly waiting
area for children preparing to testify in court.

But the 3,400-square-foot site is insufficient for the center's needs, said
Kimberley A. Shellman, who recently announced her resignation as executive
director of the center. The space prevents the center from hiring additional
staff and interviewing more than two children at a time.

"Kids are backed up like airplanes waiting to get into the two interview
rooms," Shellman said. Last year, 508 children were interviewed at the
center. The center is used for doctors' exams and interviews by teams of
social workers and police.

"We have continued to work in good faith on this project for four years,"
said Nancy Chandler, executive director of the National Children's Alliance,
which partly funds the project and wants to locate its headquarters and a
training facility in the same space as the D.C. center. "We are close to
completely walking away." 

The center's supporters have grown increasingly unhappy with the District in
recent months. Shellman, the center's founding director, said she quit
because she does not think the city has demonstrated enough commitment to
the project.

City officials had said the center could have space on two floors of One
Judiciary Square, the temporary city government headquarters at 441 Fourth
St. NW, when top officials return to the historic John A. Wilson Building.
But the move has recently been delayed until late summer at the earliest.
And the center's supporters say they believe the space proposed is

The District has already proposed and withdrawn two other sites this year.
One was the unused Gales School at 65 Massachusetts Ave. NW near Union
Station, which was built in the 1880s. It is now being considered for
designation as a historic site.

The second site was an unused lot in the 400 block of I Street NW, but
economic development officials blocked the proposal because the site in the
District's East End is considered a valuable venue for redevelopment.

Carolyn N. Graham, the deputy mayor for children, youth and families, has
coordinated the city's efforts to find a suitable site but could not be
reached yesterday because she was on vacation.

Leigh Toney, an assistant to Graham, said she was "quite surprised" to learn
of the dissatisfaction and said the advocates have not told the city they
considered the Judiciary Square space unacceptable. The space would provide
the 75,000 square feet the advocates need, Toney said.

"We are not going to relent on this project," Toney said. "It is going to go
forward. That is our commitment. . . . I don't think the parties have any
need to feel this effort is jeopardized in any way." 

Several city agencies use the five-year-old advocacy center. A D.C. police
detective and a social worker from the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency
are based there. Staff from the corporation counsel's office, the U.S.
attorney's office, Children's Hospital and D.C. public schools also work on
children's cases there.

The center, a public-private partnership, grew out of a 1994 mayoral order
signed by Sharon Pratt Kelly that required the city to create a
multidisciplinary approach to investigating and prosecuting child-abuse

In 1995, the city promised to turn over an unused firehouse at 439 New
Jersey Ave. NW to house the center. The financial control board approved the
lease in January 1997, but rescinded its approval a month later because
officials felt the city could better use the property by redeveloping or
selling it.

Two years ago, the National Children's Alliance offered to buy the firehouse
for $1 million, and Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) accepted. 

Last year, the city changed its mind again and announced that the firehouse,
vacant since 1993, would be reopened for use by the D.C. fire department. In
February, the alliance threatened to withdraw its offer to build the center.

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) said she plans to ask
officials about the status of the site negotiations at a Judiciary Committee
meeting this morning on police investigations of child-abuse reports.

"I think it's a disappointment that the mayor's commitment has not been
carried out by his staff," she said.

 2001 The Washington Post Company