Hitting the Big Time

Hitting the Big Time

There’s only one way to reach true stardom in the Washington metropolitan region: appear on C-SPAN. The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, created in 1979 by the cable industry, is the mainstay of political junkies who crave the unfiltered skinny on everything from foreign affairs to regulatory trends. And making an appearance on the cable channel can be a life-changing event.

Just ask Craig Fifer, the city’s e-government manager. He was on a show called “The Communicators,” which originally aired on Dec. 9, to plug the new citywide wireless network. Host Pedro Echevarria sat down with Fifer in the City Council chambers to find out about the city’s innovative wireless project, which Fifer hopes will go live in six to nine months.

“I was really shocked at how many people commented to me about it,” said Fifer. “These are not people I would have been expecting to be sitting around watching C-SPAN on a Saturday night.”

The appearance must have worked. A week after the show aired, the City Council voted unanimously to approve EarthLink’s proposal. When asked if he plans to launch a television career by appearing on shows like “Heroes” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” Fifer was coy.

“If they let me talk about the wireless network, I’ll go on any television show,” he said.


A Post Office in Carlyle?

The Old George Mason Hotel is one of Old Town’s architectural stalwarts, standing at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Duke Street. Ever since the post office moved from the federal courthouse on the other side of the street, the George Mason station of the United States Post Office has been Old Town’s mailbox. But that will come to an end when the lease of the post office expires in March 31 and the post office will be forced to relocate.

According to the request for proposals released by the United States Post Office, the new location could be a long walk for many users of the current location. The formal request set out a large area for consideration, bound to the west by Telegraph Road, to the east by the Potomac River, to the north by King Street and to the south by the Capital Beltway.

“That area includes Carlyle, which has grown so much it probably needs its own post office,” noted Bert Ely, a local business owner and box holder at the George Mason Station, during Saturday’s public hearing at City Hall. “Not only would such a relocation remove an important pedestrian-oriented retail facility from Old Town but it would worsen traffic within, to and from Old Town, further damage Old Town as a commercial business center and add to Carlyle’s traffic woes.”


Next Door Sewage

Now that the City Council has resolved the Virginia Paving controversy, the city’s elected officials seem to be taking a much more proactive attitude toward future opposition to industrial land use. As they considered a development known as “Carlyle Center,” a 281-unit, five-story residential building that will be the first edifice of a new neighborhood known as “Eisenhower East,” members of council wanted to acknowledge the industrial nature of the area.

The neighborhood is the home of something called Virginia Concrete, a name that invokes the two-year struggle of west-end residents to battle an asphalt plant called Virginia Paving. But Virginia Concrete is a different story, city officials say, because its owners have agreed to find a new location before residents start moving into Carlyle Center. But the area also has the city jail and a sewage-treatment plant — two possibly controversial installations that city officials want to keep in their current location.

“Let’s not kid ourselves,” said Mayor Bill Euille. “The sewage treatment plant will probably need to expand.”


New Street Names

Speaking of Carlyle Center, the plan approved by City Council creates four new roads in the area, and for new road names: “Limerick Street” honors John Limerick, who was a baker on the west end from 1797 to 1803; “Bartholomew Street” honors Bartholomew Rotchford, who owned the site from 1833 to 1864; “Savoy Street” honors Mary Savoy, who was an African-American businesswoman who was a grocer and real-estate agent in the 19th century; and “Eisenhower Park Drive” has been named for the new park named for Dwight Eisenhower that will be created to the south and west of the street.