Church Plans Spur Citizen Input

Church Plans Spur Citizen Input

In the parking lot of the Korean Presbyterian Church of Washington, a temporary basketball hoop sits on the ground and another waits in the parking lot between the church and the auxiliary building. The church is now interested in building a gym on that space, so Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) has planned a "test the waters" meeting to clear up any concerns that may arise from the addition.

Bulova said that a meeting beforehand will enable residents to avoid surprises. She tries to have one of these meetings at all land use and zoning proposals in the Braddock District.

"We encourage the developer, church or school to host a 'test the waters' meeting. This gives the community a chance to ask questions," Bulova said.

The church is located on Braddock Road right across from the Twinbrook Shopping Center in a space previously occupied by Fairfax Baptist Temple. A church building sits on the land adjacent to Braddock Road, with a side parking lot, an auxiliary building and a large parking lot in the rear. Entrances from the back parking lot lead into the surrounding neighborhood.

Mary McKeough lives in the first house on one of the back entrance roads and received the meeting notice from Bulova's office. She lives closest to the church and plans to attend Bulova's meeting. Her concerns include unsupervised children, loitering and traffic, but she doesn't think a gym will cause much problems. When Fairfax Baptist was there, problems did arise with parents speeding into the lot and dropping off children.

"There used to be a school there and the parents dropping off the kids was a problem," McKeough said. "I don't really think it [gym] will be a problem. I'm not going with any preconceived notions."

Fred Burgess is on the neighborhood watch committee. He hadn't received anything official on the proposal.

"If it's a gym to use for their own school, I don't see much impact," he said.

Although the previous tenants, Fairfax Baptist, did operate a school there, the Korean Presbyterian does not have any activity there during the weekdays. Bulova noted that if they're planning to start a school, they need to apply for different permits.

"It is definitely not a school, that would be a bigger deal," Bulova said.

Bulova's chief of staff Florence Naeve was in contact with the church officials. Although a gym could be used for church dinners and other gatherings, Naeve said the church had no other plans for the gym.

"It's not an intensification of use," Naeve said.

Church elder James Choi said no school plans were envisioned and the gym would only be used on the weekends, mostly by the church youth groups.

"No, we don't have that plan [school] at all," Choi said.

Going through all the expense to build a gym that will only be used on evenings and weekends surprised McKeough.

"That was sort of a surprise since they don't have a school there," she said.