A park "is always preferred" by residents over development: proposals for a park on the grounds of RFK Stadium
HillNow reports ("Building Youth Sports Park Near RFK Stadium Is a ‘Long March,’ Charles Allen Says") that Capitol Hill residents are calling for park and recreation uses of the current RFK Stadium parking lots. I will say that an impressive amount of work has gone into the proposal, based on the renderings.
-- Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park
But I think this is another example of a point that Dan Malouff (BeyondDC) made once in a comment here, that residents will always prefer the reuse of a site as "a park" because it is not residential or commercial development.
With regard to the RFK parking lots, since 2003 I've advocated that the northern lots abutting Benning Road should be developed as housing. I think that the city would be better served by such a decision.
What the deal is with the land there is the reverse of McMillan.
For McMillan, at the outset, the city paid to extinguish an easement that required the land to be used for parks.
That's why "the city" prefers to move forward with a plan to develop the McMillan site, one that seems to be opposed by many residents in the area--although like RFK, it's a bad location "for a park" because of how it is bounded by roadways and with a limited number of nearby residents. (Jane Jacobs wrote about the often poor siting decisions concerning parks.)
I suggested ("Wanted: A comprehensive plan for the "Anacostia River East" corridor") a few years ago that a master planning process occur. (This piece is a little different, and suggests an alternative course, "DC has a big "Garden Festival" opportunity in the Anacostia River corridor.")
Afterwards, instead, Councilmember Orange proposed a wacked entertainment district anchored by a new stadium for the Redskins Football team ("The 5 Strangest Parts of Vincent Orange's RFK Stadium Plan," Washington City Paper).
I expect that the plan put forward by the residents is designed to ward off such an initiative.
In fact, it appears if the group of residents were spurred in part by proposals predating the initiative by Vincent Orange, a since scuttled plan to build a Redskins practice facility in Reservation 13, land east of 18th Street and south of the Armory.
Personally, I think that the area would be better served with a master planning process, but one that should consider the ability to add housing, which would support transit use in the corridor (streetcar) and the continued strengthening of the H St. retail district, and would make a better connection to the Ward 7 part of the corridor, knitting it together better.
Probably an Oklahoma Street Metro Rail station would be a bit much, but depending on the level of development at the Pepco site, it could be justifiable.
The big problem in strengthening Ward 7 at least in the Minnesota Avenue corridor, is the big gap between Oklahoma Avenue and Minnesota Avenue. Fixing the gap that exists with the parking lots at RFK, on the south side of Benning Road, across from Spingarn High School, and filling the gap that exists with the Pepco site north of Benning Road, would go a long way towards knitting these two sides of the Anacostia River together.
One other thing about DC and new parks: the city doesn't want to take on "new" operating responsibilities. I don't know if there is an official, legislated, policy, but in the last decade the city has refused to take on direct financial responsibility for the creation of "new park spaces." (I happened to have a conversation about this just yesterday.) Even if the city contributed money to the creation of such parks.
The city's "newest" parks, the Georgetown Waterfront Park, created by the National Park Service with assistance from a community group on land that was transferred from DC to NPS, and Yards Park and Canal Park--both in the Capitol Riverfront district in Southeast--are not operated and managed by the city. Yards Park is operated by the business improvement district, and Canal Park is run by a separate nonprofit organization.
That creates a major hurdle for the Capitol Hill Youth Sports Park proposal, because there are no adjacent development interests that would be motivated to pay towards building and operating the park as a way to simultaneously support their own business interests.
They are adamant that park spaces should be developed and managed by the city's parks department. Recently, they have opened Dilworth Park ("Top 12 Reasons To Be Psyched For The New Dilworth Park," VisitPhilly), rehabilitated Rittenhouse Square, created a new riverfront boardwalk ("Top Reasons To Visit The Awesome New Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk," VisitPhilly), which extends over the Schuylkill River, and are developing neighborhood pocket parks which simultaneously incorporate green infrastructure as part of the city's stormwater management program.