Since 2001, the Committee of 100 has presented its annual Vision Awards to recognize projects, programs, plans, and the work of organizations and individuals that are visionary, innovative, and provide a notable benefit to the District of Columbia. This year, the Barbara Hartman Award for Planning and Zoning goes to Monte Edwards, Chair of the CHRS City Planning Committee.
The Barbara Zartman Award for Planning and Zoning Advocacy honors individuals who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the values of the Committee of the 100 through work advocating responsible planning and zoning decisions and laws. This award will be given on a periodic basis to recognize the great contribution that an individual can make in shaping our city.
Remarks from the awards ceremony:
This award was established to shine a light on those few individuals who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to the work and values of the Committee of the 100, advocating responsible planning in the District of Columbia. Monte Edwards is such an individual.
When he became a member, Monte joined forces with Meg Maguire, Dorn McGrath and Dick Wolf to offer ground breaking guidance on how a first-class public streetcar system should be designed. The 2011 report, Building a World-Class Streetcar System for a World-Class City, is as reliable today as when presented to the City Council. It raised still unanswered questions about how it should be governed, financed, operated and maintained, and it’s still the blueprint to evaluate the performance of our neophyte system.
He is well-known at City Hall and within city agencies. He develops trusted relationships with decision makers and leaves as his calling card a glossy C100 treatise on streetcars or an equally glossy compendium of C100 testimony on the merits of expanding commuter rail options or some other useful piece of information on the pertinent topic.
His work on the lack of planning foresight in the approval of an expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel galvanized a broad demographic of potentially affected residents who had been voiceless. They proved a formidable group and with Monte’s help they took on powerful CSX and exposed the lack of transparency and the questionable local and federal decisions that frustrated the expansion of commuter rail in favor of potentially risky increases in freight rail through some of the most sensitive parts of our city.
As both an engineer and a lawyer, Monte can spot shoddy planning, a hidden deal buried in a footnote, or an unknown agreement that changes the course of decision-making. Tailor made documents, high level meetings, and extensive press advisories are classic tools of any Monte Edwards undertaking for C100.
To say that Monte gets results is the proverbial understatement. We may get a replacement for overhead wire technology before long – something most wanted, but few were willing to do the continual research to keep current and advocate for implementation of technology advancements. We will soon have a DC Rail Plan that will provide rail safety regulations and processes to move in the direction of closing the District’s gap in passenger and freight rail planning, due to Monte’s tireless efforts at the Council. Whether arguing against siting a streetcar maintenance facility on the historic Spingarn campus or arguing for a second river crossing for rail, Monte is the first to grapple with dense and technical subject matter that would frustrate most academics, skillfully interpreting his findings for public officials and the public at large. Monte doesn’t shy away from the challenge. He seems born to do this work.
If he were a grumpy, geeky fellow who would object given the importance of this work? But Monte is a charming gentleman who easily engages with anyone and who welcomes collaboration and sharing the limelight. He has long been involved in the Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s work at Eastern Market, and as the organizer of the annual Dick Wolf Memorial Lecture.
Monte is one of those rare and special people who are visionary, hard working, collaborative, and effective. He has recently added to his portfolio improving the Anacostia Waterfront – and once again Monte is laying the groundwork for the Committee of 100 to provide valuable analysis and insight into preserving and enhancing that historic waterway. The good news for the Committee and for current and future District residents is that Monte doesn’t relinquish an interest, he just keeps adding challenges, always challenging the city to produce its best.
It is a great honor for the Trustees of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City to present the Barbara Zartman Award to Monte Edwards, our former Vice Chair and esteemed colleague.
Other 2016 Visions Award winners are:
Douglas Development Corporation for the Hecht Warehouse
Perkins Eastman DC for Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School
National Capital Planning Commission
Historic Congressional Cemetery
Pamela Scott: Lifetime Achievement Award