Since WMATA released a solicitation asking developers to submit bids to develop parcels at the Brookland/CUA Metro stop that includes the “Brookland Green” almost 350 of you expressed your opinion to preserve the “Brookland Green” by signing our petition. Ward 5 Councilmember McDuffie wrote letters to WMATA, and in an effort to receive feedback from the Brookland Community, WMATA, represented by Stan Wall, heard from 70 people at a meeting a couple of months ago. Unanimously the residents delivered a message to Mr. Wall, Director of WMATA Real Estate and Station Planning, – respect the wishes of the community they serve, and leave the “Brookland Green” untouched by the planned development. It was also confirmed that the Small Area Plan for Brookland clearly states that this specific green space should be exempt from any future development and should be preserved. Since the meeting, Community groups such as the BNCA have written letters to WMATA asking them to amend the solicitation to exclude the Brookland Green.We were encouraged when after all this public outcry, WMATA decided to amend the solicitation. Here is a message from Stan Wall:
Amendment of Joint Development Solicitation: We have released an amendment to the joint development solicitation in which we will request that developers submit at least one scenario that proposes development of the entire property in line with the Small Area Plan, and at least one other scenario that preserves the trees. This will allow us to quantify the financial impact to WMATA of not fully developing our property at the station, including the resulting loss of capital dollars that would otherwise be available for reinvestment into the system. In our evaluation of the development proposals we receive, we will still continue to focus on identifying proposals that best meet the goals outlined in our Joint Development Policies and Guidelines.
The problem is that the solicitation doesn’t call out the preservation of the Brookland Green, it merely asked developers to consider including “green spaces” or “trees”, in their proposals. I remember Stan Wall clearly sating at the community meeting that WMATA’s motivation for the development is not to make profit, but to improve the traffic flow for pedestrians and bicyclists, and to make the area around the Metro station more beautiful.
Now, we are excited to announce that Casey Trees, the Brookland Non-Profit organization that promotes the restoration, enhancement and protection of the tree canopy of the greater Washington DC area, has joined the community in the fight to save the “Brookland Green”. Their advocacy team has launched an online letter initiative, to let the WMATA board members know how Brookland and other concerned DC residents feel about their development plan. Please take advantage of this online platform to express to WMATA that the “Brookland Green” should be exempt from the development plans.
Maybe it has more of an impact if we fill up the inbox of the WMATA board members with hundreds of emails. Maybe I am too idealistic, but I was under the impression that an agency, like WMATA, is supposed to operate on behalf of and in the interest of the residents. The residents have clearly spoken at the community meeting, and through the petition. The Brookland Community asks the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation AGENCY to respect it’s wish, to focus on providing us with smooth and safe Metro transportation, and not to destroy green space in exchange for maximizing profit through excessive development.
We do not oppose the development in general, that would not be realistic for a major public transportation hub. But we expect an agency to work for and not against the public request.
The time to act is now. Once a developer’s proposal is selected it will be much more difficult to have an impact on the future of this space. Share the Casey Trees link with friends and neighbors and ask them to submit the online letter.