Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

DC puts forward legislation to create Waterways Commission and Authority

According to the WAMU/NPR story "More People Are Using D.C.’s Rivers. Lawmakers Say Better Management Is Needed".

From the article:
To illustrate the need for better management, Allen cites the example of the Frederick Douglass Bridge currently being built over the Anacostia River.

Allen says the District government has done a “a phenomenal job” on the design. “But, from a construction standpoint, no one thought about the users of the river. The construction plans actually narrowed the entire river down to one small channel.” At this key river access point, near the confluence with the Potomac, water traffic is choked down to one lane.

“That was a decision that we probably could have thought about differently if we viewed the access to the water and the management of the activities on the water in a more proactive way,” says Allen.
While I have been recommending the creation of such an authority since 2006, in 2014 I specifically wrote about managing the crossings over the Anacostia River as a system:

-- "The Anacostia River and considering the bridges as a unit and as a premier element of public art and civic architecture"
"Saving the South Capitol Bridge as an exclusive pedestrian and and bicycle bridge"

and in 2012:

"Wanted: A comprehensive plan for the "Anacostia River East" corridor"

1.  In any case, a waterways authority is a concept that is not original to me.

2.  A few years ago, I also recommended that the DC Comprehensive Plan should include a "Rivers and Waterways Element."  The Office of Planning wasn't interested.

3.  And that DC's neighborhood commissions, called Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, should create River/Watershed/Environment subcommittees to address relevant matters that relate to the rivers and watersheds, streams, etc. in their communities.

4.  And that the city should create an Adopt a Stream program -- it has as a pilot, in association with the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the Rock Creek Conservancy -- as part of a way to provide engagement opportunities for citizens in connecting more to the city's waterways and watershed environments.

5.  There was some letters to the editor in the Washington Post recently expressing concern about the proposals to redesign and make more active the C&O Canal in Georgetown ("Here's a better idea for the C&O Canal: Leave it be").

-- "Planning commissioners warn against ‘over-programming’ Georgetown C&O Canal overhaul," Curbed DC

The C&O Canal should be part of a waterways plan.  And it does need more programming and investment because obviously it's just one of many parks in the National Park Service system that are underfunded and that will be the case for decades.

Note that I thought the inclusion of the C&O Canal in the "Georgetown Glow" outdoor lighting/sculpture program was pretty cool.
Canal lighting

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-- "Revisiting stories: DC's Waterfront," 2018

FWIW, Salt Lake County has an awesome publication on watershed management that is citizen- and public- engagement focused, Stream Care Guide: A Handbook for Residents of Salt Lake County.  Which is paired with an annual Watershed Symposium.

It's not that DC isn't doing some of this stuff, just that, as usual all the efforts are one-off and not integrated or coordinated.

Of course, a key issue is dealing with climate change and hardening buildings in the flood plains.

For example, the rough rainstorm on Monday flooded buildings in the vicinity of the National Mall, including the National Archives once again ("Dangerous flash flooding hits DC during morning commute," ABC News).

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