Former residents of Ward 6 who reside in the Navy Yard vicinity appear not to be overly concerned about becoming a part of Ward 8 as redrawing the boundaries for advisory neighborhood commission districts takes shape.
Jared Rothstein has lived in The Yards Park neighborhood for three years. Rothstein told the Informer that he knows little about his neighborhood’s shift from Ward 6 to Ward 8.
“I have read about it in the headlines and I have heard my neighbors talk about it some, but really I don’t know what’s going on,” he said, standing in front of the Bluejacket microbrewery and restaurant on Jan. 23. “I really haven’t looked too deep into what this is all about.”
In the 2021 redistricting process undertaken by the D.C. Council, the Navy Yard area became the newest portion of Ward 8. For many years, Ward 8 sat exclusively east of the Anacostia River.
The new western boundary of Ward 8 lies on the eastern side of South Capitol Street for several blocks. Nationals Stadium, the Yards Park and the residential buildings in the neighborhood along with the retail and restaurant within the immediate area are now in Ward 8.
Rothstein and his neighbors are a part of the second phase of the redistricting process, redrawing commission district boundaries. The districts must have a population of 1,900-2,200 people. According to the 2020 census, the Navy Yard neighborhood has 11,036 residents. Added to Ward 8, the Navy Yard area could shrink the Black population of the ward from 91.84% to 78 %, D.C. Office of Planning estimates say.
In Ward 8, the redrawing of the boundaries process has started with Brian K. Thompson, the commissioner for district 8A03, as the chairman. D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) asked Thompson to lead the commission.
At a virtual meeting of the Ward 8 commission redistricting committee on Jan. 19, Thompson said new boundaries have to be drawn for the five Ward 8 commissions (A-E) and incorporate parts of Ward 6’s D and B. The group agreed to accept maps drawn by residents and to meet for the latest proceedings and updates on Feb. 2, Feb. 16 and March 2. The vote for the final map by the committee will likely take place on March 22.
Thompson stressed the meetings are open to the public and encouraged the input of their new neighbors.
Ward 8 is OK, New Residents Say
Like Rothstein, Sari Edelman confessed that she didn’t know much about the change in wards her neighborhood underwent.
“I have to be honest with you, I just don’t know what is going on,” said Edelman, walking her pet at the dog park located at Yards Park. “I am new to Washington, D.C. This is a nice area to live in and I would like to stay here for a while.”
Edelman joined dozens of people walking their dogs and baby carriages at Yards Park on the cool Jan. 23 evening. Whites comprised the overwhelming majority of walkers including Heather L. Lawrence, who approached the intersection of 4th and Water Street SE with her dog.
Unlike Rothstein and Edelman, Lawrence knew about becoming a Ward 8 resident. She voiced no objections to the change.
“I would like to know what becoming a Ward 8 resident means as far as city services and programs are concerned,” Lawrence said. “The people who live in this neighborhood don’t have the same economic and public safety concerns that people across the river have. For example, I know Ward 8 [east of the Anacostia River] has a dearth of sit-down restaurants. That is not an issue here. But I am encouraged by the mayor’s programs to facilitate more restaurants being built in Ward 8 through the uses of city grants.”
Corrie Clark, a Black resident of a residential building, also said she has no problem becoming a Ward 8 resident.
“I am just fine with this neighborhood becoming a part of Ward 8,” she said, walking in the area with her male friend. “There is nothing wrong with Ward 8. I have no problem going across the river to do what I need to do. My new neighbors across the river, of course, are more than welcome to come here.”