Wells Comments on Efforts to Build Private Training Facility in Hill East Neighborhood

March 2, 2012

Tommy took to Twitter today to add several comments to the news published in today's Washington Post about efforts to build a large private training facility on the banks of the Anacostia River in the Hill East community:

@TommyWells: Such a bad idea on so many fronts: It's for real, folks: "District officials are mounting the most serious ... http://wapo.st/ypUxLv"

@TommyWells: 30 acres on the riverfront for football practice is a wasted oppty for DC

@TommyWells: Frankly it's insulting to the city for us to give up valuable land for Wash to practice to play in MD

@TommyWells: Even worse if we rebuild RFK too. Then riverfront is consigned to 30 acres of practice fields AND the rest is a parking lot.

@TommyWells: What is the city willing to do to keep DC United in DC? So far nothing.

More from the Washington Post article, March 2, 2012:

"Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), whose ward borders the site to the west, said he was "absolutely opposed" to the idea of a football facility there and wanted Gray to focus on plans for mixed-use development Wells said would deliver amenities the community wants and greater tax returns to the city. "It deprives the Hill East neighborhood of a development vision that had been promised," he said.

Wells's concerns are echoed by neighborhood leaders, who don't want to see the planning process discarded. Gray has promised to discuss the future of the Hill East land at a public meeting this month.

The debate over the land stands apart from whether taxpayer money would be required to lure the team. Officials familiar with the dimensions of a possible deal suggest that the city might offer a free or discounted lease to the Redskins if the team is willing to pay to build its facilities there.

The city is very close to its debt limit, making it difficult to offer revenue bonds or other debt instruments to help build a facility.

Wells said the city should be wary of using public money to help Snyder, who he said "has made quite a lot of money on the Washington brand."

"I would hope that the [District's] chief financial officer would be the grown-up in the room and say, 'This is not a good idea,' " he said."

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