CM McDuffie Supports Saving The “Brookland Green”, Secures Funds for RI Avenue Streetscape Projects

by Astrid on November 9, 2013

Photo Courtesy of Washington Post

Photo Courtesy of Washington Post

Since this week WMATA published their intention to solicit contractors to submit plans to develop their land east of the Brookland CUA Metro Station, we have reached out to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie to find out where he stands on this issue. We received the following statement:

“The WMATA plan to redevelop the Brookland metro station has been in the pipeline for a long time. I have spoken now twice to representatives of WMATA about their development plans, and have each time expressed my firm belief that any plan for the site should be community-driven and preserve the Brookland Green. I reiterated this concern in a meeting with WMATA just a few weeks ago. However, WMATA’s November 2013 Joint Development Solicitation clearly anticipates building over the Brookland Green between Newton and Otis Streets. I cannot support such a plan because there is limited community-accessible green space in the area. Furthermore, the development plan for the site should take into account, and be coordinated with, other large-scale projects in the immediate vicinity, including the Monroe Street Market and the 901 Monroe Street development. In the coming days, I will transmit a letter to WMATA, which I will share with the community, opposing the loss of the Brookland Green, and urging WMATA to solicit a development plan that respects the character and integrity of the Brookland neighborhood.”

Brookland Green Fall 2012

Brookland Green Fall 2012

We were told that the staff of CM McDuffie is in contact with WMATA to understand more about the details of this development project, among other aspects why the parcel of the bus turn around at the metro stop is not included in the area to be developed.

We also learned that Councilmember McDuffie pushed for some additional financial support to improve the Rhode Island Avenue streetscape, which includes efforts to improve pedestrian safety, appearance,  adding tree boxes and planting trees:

This past spring, Councilmember McDuffie secured $2 million in District Department of Transportation (DDOT) infrastructure funds to implement the Rhode Island Avenue, NE Small Area Plan, which will be leveraged with additional federal highway funds. The funding will support streetscape design, improved sidewalks and pedestrian safety measures, tree planting and tree boxes, as well as other measures to make Rhode Island Avenue NE a more attractive and walkable corridor.

Photo courtesy of www.friendsofria.org

Photo courtesy of www.friendsofria.org

DDOT has completed the contracting process and received the final notice to proceed on the streetscape project. DDOT will be announcing shortly the selected consultants for the project as well as the members of the Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP), which will assist in soliciting feedback from the community. The selection process for CAP members is based on recommendations from DDOT and Councilmember McDuffie. In addition, a public notice will be made soon for an upcoming community meeting to introduce the consultants and the streetscaping project.

As exciting as it is that RI Avenue is getting some overdue attention, it is important that all neighbors, north and south of the Avenue, are involved in this process. Look out for community meeting announcements, engage with your ANCs, your Civic Associations and neighbors to assure smart, sensible and balanced improvements are being implemented.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

JD November 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

Which community members or organizations currently use the Brookland Green, and for what exactly? I’ve never seen anyone actually use that space other than cutting through it on their way to Metro. Developing that space, if done right, could offer way more amenities to the community than what’s currently there.

Reply

Astrid November 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm

JD,
I respectfully have to disagree. The value of a green space within the community, in my opinion, is not defined by how many BBQs, football games, gatherings or play groups are using it. Especially spaces that host that many mature trees can not be adequately replaced by a development, even if it is done right.
Actually trees in a space that is not impacted as much by permanent use, have a good chance for a longer life span than trees that experience a lot of impact around their root system and possible damage to their trunk.
It took decades for these trees to reach their current size.
Healthy trees that are cut down are a huge loss in my mind. Parks are an important part of our green infrastructure, providing valuable ecosystem services by purifying our water and cleaning the air. Large and small parks also break up urban heat islands, reducing summer temperatures and air conditioning costs.
With increasing numbers of residents in Brookland, we need to take advantage, save and improve pocket parks, circles and privately-owned open space. Although Brookland has many trees, most of them are on private property. There are very few publicly accessible parks in our neighborhood and the hundreds of new residents who will rent and not own I am sure will benefit from an oasis like the “Brookland Green”.
It can also serve as a buffer zone, visually and environmentally, between the established neighborhood and the new developments around the metro station. NOMA developed every square foot of land and literally forgot to integrate green spaces in their plans. Now they spend millions of dollars to squeeze in small pockets of green with young trees that will not fill in the void of a park or larger green space.
As I mentioned in my article, I question why the “Brookland Green” is included in the parcels to be developed, but the bus turn around are is not. Why not leaving the “Bookland Green” alone and doing smart development on top of an already paved parcel of land.
I am not against development, especially not against smart development, but to sacrifice a space that provides so many benefits to the people who live around it and who commute through it, does not sound smart to me.
Kind regards,

Reply

AB November 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

While the current situation is better than, say, a surface parking lot or a fenced-off rubble pile, it’s hard to believe that it’s the best possible use of that space.

At least we are all agreed that the current space is essentially unusable for activities of any kind, and is mostly a pleasant 20 yard shortcut to the Metro. The euphemism “green space” obscures the reality that it’s not much different from the front lawns in most of Brookland– mowed grass and trees. Hardly a lush, verdant wilderness, a diverse garden, or even a usable recreational space, say for throwing a frisbee around.

It’s probably better for the community than stacking yet another condo there, but it’s hard to believe that the space is currently being put to its best possible use.

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