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Hill Talk: Auto Groups Offering Tire-Pressure Checks

Congressional staffers who are concerned about their gas costs — or who handle energy policy for their bosses — can get a hands-on lesson today with a car-side demonstration and educational program offering fuel-saving tips.

Car manufacturers and dealers will conduct tire-pressure checks and dispense other advice from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building garage.

One-quarter of Americans waste gas by driving with underinflated tires, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which are sponsoring the event.

The Energy Department estimates that 1.2 billion gallons of fuel were wasted because of underinflated tires in 2005, according to the groups.

House Administration ranking member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) and other Members will appear at the event.

Meetings on Tap for Eastern Market Area

Backers of a proposal to transform the stretch of land surrounding the Eastern Market Metro station into green community space have scheduled two meetings to gather public input on the plan.

The Capitol Hill Town Square project aims to improve the aesthetics and usefulness of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza in Southeast D.C. A meeting to solicit feedback from the entire Capitol Hill community will take place Sept. 23. An additional meeting solely for immediate neighbors and stakeholders will be held earlier that week.

“The purpose of the project is to look at how to redevelop that whole area in between Seventh and Ninth streets into a reusable green space,” said Amy Weinstein, whose architecture firm has been tapped to design the project.

Proponents of the project say converting the concrete lot into a community park will promote civic pride and create a neighborhood gathering spot.

Though the project has been in the works for years, recent transfers of several parcels of land to the District of Columbia government have paved the way for the planning to move forward. The study for the site kicked off in March and backers hope to have a final report on the plans ready by June 2009.

After the land was transferred, Barracks Row Main Street Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the community, came on board to fund the planning activities and launched a task force of area residents, business leaders and representatives from community committees and associations to spearhead the project.

The meetings were announced at a related community meeting last week held to gather input on what the community would like to see developed in place of the Hine Middle School at Eighth and C streets Southeast, which was closed this year because of low enrollment.

“When it became probable that Hine was going to be closed, there was a feeling that this might be the opportunity to really connect Eastern Market with the plaza, with Eighth Street,” said task force chairman Tip Tipton, chief executive officer of the Tipton Group Inc.

Some have proposed transforming the school, one of seven targeted for development by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty earlier this summer, into additional green space. Weinstein said she was invited to that meeting to share how the Capitol Hill Town Square project was already set to increase the amount of green space in the area.

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