Greater Greater Washington

Four suggestions for a new Franklin Square

DC and the National Park Service are partnering to redesign Franklin Square, the largest of the parks lining K Street in downtown DC. As they draw up plans, here are 4 ideas that will help transform Franklin from one of DC's most underused parks into one of America's best public spaces.


Franklin Square today. Photo by the author.

Work with the city's edges

Most of downtown DC's existing squares pay little attention to what's around them. They're laid out symmetrically, with paths emanating outward from a central statue through grass and trees to the street. Each side is close to identical, regardless of what's across the street. That works well for small spaces like Dupont Circle or McPherson Square, but not for larger ones like Franklin Square.

Larger squares need multiple sub-areas, each with distinct attributes that reflect what's around them. Franklin Square is big enough that it shouldn't be symmetrical. The more active 14th Street side should be more welcoming to large numbers of people, and should have more hardscaping and mixed-use. Conversely, the less active 13th Street side should be quieter and more park like.

Embrace transit

One big reason the 14th Street side is more active is the entrance to McPherson Square Metro station at 14th and I Streets. That's a big opportunity. Rather than treating that as just another corner, no different from the other 3, the new design for Franklin Square should focus acutely on the Metro station. That corner should be the most intense part of the park, and should function as its unofficial center.

New York's Union Square is a great example of what that might look like, with its hardscaped plaza surrounding a subway entrance, and quieter park area behind.

But the Metro station isn't the only big transit component to Franklin Square. It's also a major transfer point for several of DC's busiest bus routes. The southern edge of Franklin Square, along I Street, is essentially one long transit station, serving hundreds if not thousands of passengers per day.

But Franklin Square's current layout treats I Street the same as all the others. Landscaping curves away from the sidewalk, and benches face inwards towards the center of the park. As a result, every day tons of bus passengers stand in the grass facing I Street, while most of the benches sit empty, facing the wrong way. Except the grass is actually dirt, because too many people stand in it for grass to grow.

By ignoring bus passengers, Franklin Square's current layout makes it a worse park, and a worse transit stop. Embracing I Street with better transit amenities would make the whole park better for everyone.

And don't forget that the northern edge, along K Street, will eventually have streetcar service.

More stuff is better, but make it visible

Franklin Square's existing layout should teach us one thing, at least: That it's not always enough to simply plop some green space in the center of the city and hope for the best. If designers phone it in and just build a big grass lawn, the result won't be any better than what's there now.

The best parks are surrounded by extremely busy sidewalks, from which pedestrians naturally spill over and hang out. Except for the corner with the Metro station, Franklin Square is surrounded by moderately busy sidewalks, but not extremely busy ones. That means the park needs amenities to draw people.

Interactive features like movable seating, splash fountains, and vendor kiosks are all great ways to add vitality to parks, and should be considered in Franklin Square.

The existing fountain at Franklin Square fails to draw many users because it's nothing but a squat ledge set in a sunken plaza. It's impossible to see until you're right on top of it. If designers want people along the park's edges to enter and move towards the middle, there need to be highly-visible, interesting-looking things in the middle. That means they need to be taller than 2 feet.

Finally, the park does need a large central landmark. It may make sense to put such a thing at the southwest corner near McPherson Metro rather than the center, but regardless of its location within Franklin Square, there should be some single defining icon, to act as gathering place and landmark. A more grand fountain, or an archway, or a clock tower, or something.

Consider what's missing from downtown

Since Franklin Square is so much larger than McPherson or Farragut, it can fit things the others can't. It's worth asking what amenities are missing from downtown DC that
Franklin Square might accommodate. Downtown doesn't have any ponds, like Boston's Public Garden. Nor does downtown DC have a concert shell. Surely there are others.

Franklin Square won't be able to fit every possible idea, and some that it can fit may not be the best uses for Franklin's particular needs anyway. But redesigning such an important square isn't an opportunity that comes along every day, so while we have this chance it's worth exploring all the options.

The National Park Service will hold a public meeting to discuss the redesign on the evening of October 2, at the Sheraton at 1201 K Street, NW. Come with ideas!

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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is constitution gardens not considered downtown?

by rsn on Sep 5, 2013 1:12 pm • linkreport

Two major problems with Franklin Square:
1. way too many bums hanging out
2. not great retail (could use a gym, clothing stores, etc...)Think L and K streets

by John L. Smith on Sep 5, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

rsn: I definitely consider the mall and downtown to be different places, used by different groups of people.

by BeyondDC on Sep 5, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

You've got limited restaurant patios as well. Could be another rittenhouse square.

But yes, basically, #1 problem is the homeless.

Not sure why all those bus lines need to be there. The 14th st circualtr seems to have 3 stops on the square, maybe 4 if you include the one on the north side.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

My thought is a mini plaza on the SW corner where everyone congregates, a childrens play area on the east side, improved transit stations along the south section and a large off center central location skewing northwest where people can relax with landscaping that gives it a quieter feel like the inside of Madison Sq Park in Manhattan. Probably not enough room for a dog run though that is underserved in the area. Also preserving as much of the existing treecover as possible is highest priority to me.

by BTA on Sep 5, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

Segway users moving erratically in the center. Mentally ill people screaming at a statue (or us). Human excrement around the fountain.

Until those 3 constant features are gone, it's hard to imagine wanting to linger in Franklin Park. Does renovation cost include additional police presence?

by downtown worker on Sep 5, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

There are also homeless people in Dupont Circle, and plenty of other users. Because the space is better.

by MLD on Sep 5, 2013 1:29 pm • linkreport

Please no splash fountains. They are getting overplayed.

Something should be at 13th and K relating the park to the Franklin School. I'd suggest an Alexander Graham Bell statue. Or, move the Benjamin Franklin statue off of Penn Avenue to Franklin Square. Or both. Not sure I understand the placement of the John Barry statue there.

by jh on Sep 5, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

"Finally, the park does need a large central landmark. It may make sense to put such a thing at the southwest corner near McPherson Metro rather than the center, but regardless of its location within Franklin Square, there should be some single defining icon, to act as gathering place and landmark."

The Nixon Memorial?

by 202_cyclist on Sep 5, 2013 1:35 pm • linkreport

The 13th Street and K St sides of the park aren't all that passive when you go there during lunch time. That's where the food trucks park (since they can't park on 14th or Eye), and hence, that is where a great deal of the people are.

by Alex B. on Sep 5, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

A: a playground

B: if you do the things that Dan suggests then the issue of homeless people appearing to take over or whatever will take care of itself.

by drumz on Sep 5, 2013 1:39 pm • linkreport

With regard to the food trucks, again, I would like to see some kind of auxillary power system where the trucks can park and run off of electricity instead of having ten trucks use their diesel generators five hours each day. When not used by the trucks, these can be used as charging stations for electric vehicles.

by 202_cyclist on Sep 5, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

@ drumz; no, the homeless problem won't end until church groups stop feeding them on weekends/nights.

Trash is also a problem. But yes, take care of the homeless and the trash problem goes away.

@202_cyclist; yep, great idea. The food trucks would have to be pretty modified to take the load -- even the high voltage chargers might not be enough.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2013 1:50 pm • linkreport

Via Wikipedia, two other ideas for things you could memorialize there:
  • Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross maintained a residence adjacent to the park at 1326 I Street, where she held the first official meeting of the relief organization in May 1881.
  • Nobel Laureate Charles Townes has said that he conceived the theory behind the laser/maser principle while sitting on a bench in the square.

by Gavin on Sep 5, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

I can't agree with most of this post.

I walk through Franklin Square almost every day at lunch, it's a nice respite, and it's always good to be in a green, tree-covered space during the day, even if just for five minutes.

More hardscaping is the last thing the square needs. Preserving the grass and trees is vital, and is what makes Franklin Square unique downtown. If anything, it needs more trees along the 13th St. side.

I agree with the other commenters who mention that the homeless issue is the real problem, and is what dissuades many people from using the park. I would agree that the central fountain is not the best use of that space, and would be open to seeing it replaced. But nothing that reduces the natural elements of the park. Franklin Square does not need more concrete. There is plenty of that already downtown.

by JW on Sep 5, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

The reason the homeless go there is the beautiful green canopy and the size with visibility that makes it a very defensible space for the defensless. I agree with JW that it dose't need more concrete, but would be for the smaller changes like bench orientation and smaller sub-spaces.

I'm afraid the homeless issue is one that we must live with since they are as much a part of our society as the top 1%. Short of improving the services for the mentally ill, the next best thing to do would be to increase the nearby residential units to further populate the park, thus improving the sense of safety that I think is the issue behind the homless comments. Also, enlivening the perimeter with out-door cafe's like at Rittenhouse Square.

by Thayer-D on Sep 5, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

I don't know if this is "downtown". It's really peripheral to the traditional downtown (F Street, 7th to 14th), the convention center, Logan/Thomas and the main K Street/West End corridor (which is more connected to Farragut). It's almost more akin to the area around 20th & Penn, which is another peripheral spot (not really West End or Foggy Bottom).

Restaurants often have not done well here and there isn't a natural base for retail except maybe at the Metro. There are residential areas to the N and E, but they probably are oriented toward Logan, Mt. Vernon and perhaps Chinatown. Most of the pedestrian activity is along the W & S peripheries. It is lively at lunch, but I'd wonder if that really would signal viability of more retail or restaurants.

Union Square and Rittenhouse are not great analogues. Union Square is a much more concentrated transit and retail node. Rittenhouse is has historic significance, a longstanding mix of uses and always has been a center for upscale downtown amenities. The peripheral-ness of the Franklin is probably the biggest barrier to re-imagining it. In some ways, it may be too large a park for its location and the current uses nearby, breaking it up into smaller pieces has been discussed before, mostly in the context of creating a playground area. I'm a little dubious about a playground getting a lot of use, even if the user base changes a bit, in part because it would get use only part of the day and play areas in nearby neighborhoods with more kids (like the one by the Kennedy Rec Center) seem to get little use). OTOH breaking up the space in some manner, may be with multiple foci (statues, fountain, etc.) might work. Using the SW corner as a major focus could easily be part of this and doing something with that area, with a big diagonal access to the NE might help create natural breaks in the park and invite a little more use from the N & E. use of the park probably depends on whether more intensive housing or commercial uses develop nearby, particularly N & E of the park.

The homeless are the issue that has to be addressed. As I never tire of pointing out, much of the charity activity comes form suburban churches with plenty of poverty in their own backyards and getting them to attend to their own communities would lessen the pressure on this park and also would serve as a step toward address the regional nature of housing problems in the region. Absent that, they might be persuaded to serve a different, already concentrated area of service like that around the Mitch Snyder center.

by Rich on Sep 5, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

One thing I think that is needed is some form of dining or other vendor to keep the park in use from morning until night. Unlike Dupont Circle which has vibrancy all the time, Franklin Square is busy only at lunch (or during daylight on beautiful weather days). What retail has worked well in NYC parks? Should there be space for events?

One other random idea I had is would it be feasible to have say 3-4 small kitchens shacks that food truck vendors could use for say a day or a week or a month? Think of it like a stepping stone between a food truck and a full restaurant. I'm not sure if that concept has been able to be done elsewhere. Or maybe seasonal businesses?

by GP Steve on Sep 5, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

@Rich; yep, you're right. I was thinking that Rittenhouse is about the same size as Franklin square but the real issue is that Franklink square is on a edge of a lot of areas. I was trying to suggest the very nice effect of having restaurants line the square.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

"What retail has worked well in NYC parks?" Shake Shack, Bryant Park's Pop-up Christkindlmarkt (which has a temporary restaurant).

As long as we're searching for inspiration from NYC parks (which, of course, has serious limitations), my favorite neighborhood park in NYC is Carl Schurz. It packs so many uses into its ~15 acres. (As a former UES denizen, I am of course bias).

I know this sounds ridiculous, but the homeless in Franklin seem to be so much more aggressive at panhandling. Even when walking on the perimeter sidewalks, I'm accosted there more than anywhere else.

by Non-LTR on Sep 5, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

Franklin Square might be at the edge of surrounding neighborhoods, but could be the center of a new neighborhood, or the center of the surrounding neighborhoods. Planning is as much about what should be as what is. Many people agree that it has a lot of the physical characteristics of great squares. What's missing is what I think should be the main question.

by Thayer-D on Sep 5, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

C'mon people. DC 101. Commercial uses are not allowed on NPS property, so no retail or restaurant in the park. You all should know that.

And as far as the homelessness goes, that is primarily a design issue. Franklin Square is too dark because it has to many trees. The trees need to be thinned a bit so that more light can enter site and people can't just chill in it all day half-noticed.

I think that a playground on part of the square is a step in the right direction but I doubt that it would generate much use. Maybe a fitness course of area or even a community garden could mix the place up a bit. I have always liked man-made hills as well.

by Morgan Zehner on Sep 5, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

@Morgan Zehner
All the more reason to also discuss transferring the park to DC.

by GP Steve on Sep 5, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

'Necessary and appropriate' concessions are allowed on NPS property.

by Non-LTR on Sep 5, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

@Non-LTR

Unfortunately, since there are other food vendors across the street (unlike down on the mall), this clause would probably not allow concessions in Franklin to be considered "necessary".

by GP Steve on Sep 5, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

Agree that a strict definition of necessary can't be met by either. Even a plausibly liberal definition wouldn't allow retail.

Glancing through the CFR, I don't see any definition so there's room for interpretation. Based on my zero years of experience with NPS concession law, the best I can come up with is that the receipts from the concessions could be 'necessary' to fund improvements at the park.

Even if that needle could be threaded, I doubt in-park concessions would cure what ails Franklin.

by Non-LTR on Sep 5, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

How about a stairs-only entrance to McPherson Sq Station with a tunnel beneath 14th Street, sort of like the currently unused but about to be reactiviated stairs-only entrace at Pentagon City Station.

The homeless are a large problem. Perhaps we relocate them closer to the suburban churches that provide food and other services. While the homeless of course have a right to use the public space, so do others who are not homeless but still want to use the public space without being screamed at or having to step over/around human waste.

by Transport. on Sep 5, 2013 3:43 pm • linkreport

"Conversely, the less active 13th Street side should be quieter and more park like." Ummmm...no? The 13th St. side usually has more people on it at peak times than any side of the park. The grass on that side has been destroyed by people lining up for food trucks. If any side needs more concrete, it's that side. Attractive concrete mind you. The 14th St. side should be kept as green as possible, because it provides a nice break in a canyon of tall office buildings block after block.

by JDC Esq on Sep 5, 2013 4:16 pm • linkreport

@Morgan Zehner

"Too dark because it has too many trees"??? Given the calming, cooling effects of large trees, I'd keep the whole canopy. I agree with others who say the fountain may not be the best thing, but I do love the current greenery-to-paved surface ratio. As for splash parks, this is a neighborhood where adults work and eat lunch. Splash parks are a better fit near housing, where parents can rush the wet kids home wrapped in their towels.

by Sally M on Sep 5, 2013 4:48 pm • linkreport

So...many would like to start the public planning process of a public park by saying that certain people of the public (the homeless) shouldn't be allowed in the park. Or, said in yet another way by others, let's "design" them away (really, you'd want to get rid of a fantastic tree canopy for that end?!). Or "Take care" of them along with the "trash" (or are you saying they are one in the same?). It's an interesting discourse occurring. Race and class come to mind. Democracy. Symptoms and causes. Most importantly...They are people, people.

by RS on Sep 5, 2013 6:05 pm • linkreport

Why don't we just rid of the park and put in a mixed use building? I never understood why Franklin Park is there when McPherson Square is 1 block away, and Franklin Square wasn't part of Lenfant's design.

by Tyler on Sep 5, 2013 6:05 pm • linkreport

I do like the concert shell idea.

it's a big park so it could support subsections. the Franklin School will be redeveloped so that might need consideration too with regard to design.

there aren't that many residents nearby so I'd cater the park to a mostly daytime lunch crowd and a special events crowd if the concert shell or a stage were constructed.

the fountain is a bust as it currently stands.

by pqresident on Sep 5, 2013 9:42 pm • linkreport

RS +1. A homeless person is just as much a person as anyone who reads or writes on this website. They are not very different than the rest of us.

by pinkshirt on Sep 5, 2013 10:03 pm • linkreport

I don't think it's as simple as saying "you either hate the homeless or you don't. The conversation requires way mor nuance than that.

For better or worse, people do stay away from places like Franklin park because they feel uncomfortable. I think proactive strategies like making sure the design of the park is varied, open, and follows best practices in design is much better than other cities strategies of just clearing people out or banning the handing out of food, etc.

Homelessness is a big problem that requires many solutions. Arguing over a parks design isn't one of them.

by drumz on Sep 5, 2013 10:35 pm • linkreport

I don't think it's as simple as saying "you either hate the homeless or you don't. The conversation requires way mor nuance than that.

Absolutely. There are design decisions that you make, and they encourage certain uses over others. The fundamental question is "what is a public park for"? If the answer is "primarily to compensate for shortcomings in the social safety net" then you make one set of design decisions. If that's not the answer, you make another set.

Same is true of any public amenity. Libraries for example. Homeless people are people; they deserve respect, and they have a right to access public amenities. But if you go to an urban public space, and 99% of the folks in that space are homeless folks--or drunk, high, yelling, mentally ill or misbehaving people of any housing status, that's a problem.

We could apply the same arguments to public pools. Why don't we see homeless people being served by our city's public pools? Do the current rules exclude homeless people? Perhaps we should change them to encourage more homeless folks to use the pools. After all, there are bathrooms, showers, etc... It's a perfect fit. Besides, there's a very real need for homeless services. Until that need is completely satisfied, there's a moral argument that any public service should become a de facto homeless shelter. After all, any other use is frivolous.

Of course, that's a recipe for the death of urban communities as healthy socio-economically diverse entities, but there's always the suburbs.

by oboe on Sep 6, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

Perhaps we should turn it into a soccer stadium, since that seems to be all the rage.

by SJE on Sep 6, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

Way more nuance? How you see and frame the issues is important. I don't discount the very clear evidence that many people are uncomfortable with the homeless population in Franklin Square (or probably just homeless people in general). I visit the park frequently - and think many aspects of it (definitely not all of them) actually work pretty well, btw. And I agree (although, I think "99%" is over the top) that if much of the park's daily use is a de facto, homeless day camp, then there needs to be a responsible, and truthful, conversation about it - rather than the colonialist attitude many (not all) have approached this "redesign." Perhaps, part of the "plan" (not just the design - that's the fun, creative - albeit important - part that everyone wants to add their 2 cents to) should at least address the homelessness issue. This park discussion could represent more for this city if folks wanted it to. Nobody expects to solve homelessness with a single park design. Clearly. But the park (obviously by many accounts in this discussion thread, the inartful as well as some of the more thoughtful ones) is a face for homelessness in the city - the region, really. You don't get to forget about it; it's in your face. Disinvestment (social and financial) is the recipe for the death of urban communities - for any community/place, actually (regardless of an urban-rural distinction). There is obviously a choice about how to invest. Move the problem somewhere else (disinvestment) is the business as usual model. Kick the proverbial can quite literally down the road. If this park spurs a conversation about homelessness in the city, then good. I think it should, because Franklin Square should spark something more in people other than, "How do we create a park that doesn't have quite so many homeless people in it." If that's too much 'morality,' then let's just call it lesser lesser Washington. Or perhaps, it's just too much to ask...because it's just too big of an issue to even bring into the picture. I don't know, but that seems like less nuance to me. And I suppose designers aren't really equipped to think outside the pretty pictures they draw anyway. Don't forget to Photoshop in one (maybe even two) token, smiling homeless cut-outs in the renderings.

by RS on Sep 6, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

20/20 hindsight: the two behemoth office buildings across Eye St. on the south and K St. on the north of the square do nothing to help mix up the neighborhood. There can be no hope for an assortment of business or retail there to give the area some flavor. The 14th Street side offers the most hope for a focal point.

One of my college buds worked for Trammell Crow back in the 80's and they were developing Behemoth #1 (on Eye Street) and his part of the project was to help redesign Franklin Square, mostly the fountain. It did actually work like a real fountain for about a month...

by daveb59 on Sep 6, 2013 2:45 pm • linkreport

RS,

So you just wouldn't change anythig about Franklin park? Well ok.

by drumz on Sep 6, 2013 2:47 pm • linkreport

Further, I think there should be honest and hard conversations about how to solve homelessness. I don't think treating park redesign as a callous, bourgeois past time is the best place for it. Let park designers design parks and let homelessness solvers solve homelessness.

Moreover, I don't think the tactic of having a big visible area where the homeless camp out is very effective. Otherwise we probably would have collectively done something about it by now.

Again, this isn't a out switchin out groups (homeless vs. everyone else) but programming the park so that more people overall come an spend time there.

by drumz on Sep 6, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

@ drumz; actually that is the problem with urban plannng thinking. Too much focus on "programming" and not enough on dealing with the real problems. Dan's orginial post misses the elephant in the room, and it is weaker as a result.

I understand that a city employee may not have the liberty to go out and say "yep, the homeless are the problem" but that is the point of independepnt forums.

The threshold questions need to answered. Why do they congregate there? It is the design/trees? The remnant of when the school was a shelter? The feeding by churches? Nobody else to go?

You see the same sort of logic with library designs for the downtown library.

by charlie on Sep 6, 2013 3:21 pm • linkreport

But the park (obviously by many accounts in this discussion thread, the inartful as well as some of the more thoughtful ones) is a face for homelessness in the city - the region, really. You don't get to forget about it; it's in your face.

The solution to regional homelessness for the last half century has been to set up services in downtown. This pushes the social and economic costs of homelessness from regional taxpayers to DC taxpayers. Homelessness is a regional (national) problem--the answer to that regional problem is not for DC taxpayers to convert all public services into homeless services. As you say, that's a recipe for disinvestment and the slow death of the city. We've been down that road.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm pretty sure it's not "people who live in Alexandria and Fairfax get lovely parks and libraries because they've successfully managed to keep large numbers of homeless people out of their communities, but people who live in DC cannot have those things because the city--not the suburbs--is where homeless people belong."

You're wrong, by the way, that "you don't get to forget about it; it's in your face". Most people in the greater DC region do not have, and need never have any direct experience of the homelessness or real poverty. For them the status quo is the perfect solution: poverty is swept under the rug, they never have to deal with it unless they come downtown, and even then they get to experience a morally invigorating sense of pity for the homeless, and superiority over Washingtonians because "they won't help the homeless"

Homelessness and poverty in general are national problems that require national solutions. It looks more and more that the only way those national solutions are forthcoming is if suburban voters have some skin in the game. That won't happen until homelessness becomes a suburban problem rather than an exclusively urban problem.

by oboe on Sep 6, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Charlie,

I might be closer to your side than you think. It's just that these conversations automatically devolve into who cares about X problem more and thus progress on the issue is halted. It's the same thinking that says since units in a new building will be expensive it's better to let the lot remain vacant for the sale of the poor.

I'd just rather people talk about park design and save to social cures for a post that deals with that.

by drumz on Sep 6, 2013 3:29 pm • linkreport

Here's something I threw together earlier this week http://goo.gl/OPL2Kd (Google Earth .kmz file)

Looks like it shared many of these same recommendations... SW corner a large plaza capable of various programming. NE corner is a more escapist park. A small plaza at the east geared toward food trucks, the southern side open for bus services. Also a few Pennsylvania bits (it IS a park dedicated to Ben Franklin, after all) scattered about.

by Bossi on Sep 6, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

@oboe

If there were no homeless outside of DC, then yes, you would have a point. But I don't think anyone here is saying that homeless belong in Franklin Square or in DC.

My mother works with homeless people all throughout Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Perhaps they're not as prominent as they are in Franklin Square, but they're there nonetheless. A family of 5 renting a hotel room in Bethesda (to use one example she recently told me about) is functionally homeless. Not the same as a Vietnam vet lying in Franklin Park, but still there. And you can't go on many major roads in Montgomery County, whether it's Colesville Road in Silver Spring or Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase without seeing at least one panhandler.

You would do well to look up organizations like Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, or visiting the homeless shelter on Gude Drive in Rockville, before saying the suburban communities are shirking their responsibility to take care of the least fortunate.

by dan reed! on Sep 6, 2013 10:58 pm • linkreport

Speaking of Franklin Square does anyone know why the block between 13th and 14th is so long compared to 14th and 15th or 13 & 12th ?

Concerning the park, what about a new metro entrance where the bus shelter is at the corner and a shelter that cover all of the bus stops on I street similar to Pentagon Station or Vienna or West Falls Church (north entrance).

Take a portion of the park for a lane just for buses where this is the terminal

No windy paths in the park, two paths that go from corner to corner and one straight down the middle with perhaps a new fountain in the middle.

Get rid of the homeless, rats and squirrels and the occasional Canadian Geese

by kk on Sep 7, 2013 12:24 am • linkreport

If homeless persons all seem to congregate at the park it would seem to imply that the park is one of the few available city services that they see any benefit from. If working-class persons want to have the park for their own pleasures they should probably consider how services for homeless persons superior to a wide, shaded seating area might be developed.

The simplest, best addition to the park would be a large number and variety of tables for patrons of the nearby food trucks. Reserve the space around the park for food truck vendors on a license-per-space basis. A portion of the license fee could be directed to the District's homeless services. This seems to be the nature of the park, given its situation among an office-dense downtown. Most people are in the area to use the park during the workday, and getting a bite to eat is the thing a person is most likely to leave the office for.

by Pennsy on Sep 7, 2013 3:17 am • linkreport

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