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DMPED unveils new Bruce-Monroe interim use plan

Thanks to additional funding, DC's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) has added a second basketball court, two tot lots, and more landscaping to the park that will temporarily fill the site of closed Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Park View. There will also be a small parking lot due to zoning requirements.

Click to enlarge. See also this Site and Utilities Improvement Plan from DMPED.

When a revised design was presented to the community on March 31, 2010, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) only had $500,000 to work with and only truly proposed building a tennis court, basketball court, and installing a security fence around the property.

On May 26, 2010, Councilmember Jim Graham announced that an additional $1.5 Million had been secured for developing the site. At last night's Georgia Avenue Community Task Force meeting, DMPED project manager Andre Byers presented an updated plan that also dates to May 26.

The area along Columbia Road is already being prepared for the athletic courts.
In addition to the original tennis court and basketball court, as second basketball court has been added as well as two tot lots and a parking lot for visitors to the park. While DMPED's original proposal to make the entire site a parking lot was successfully defeated by well-organized neighbors, Byers stated that zoning required the parking spaces included on the plan, even if the site was being used on an interim basis.

Work on phase one is scheduled to be completed by mid- to late-July. The initial development will not include water or lighted courts. The only lighting that will be in place will be for security purposes.

An area will be reserved for a future urban garden, and the athletic courts have been relocated along Columbia Road to free up the northwest corner of the property for a farmers market. Due to zoning restrictions, only the property along Georgia Avenue can be used commercially. The remainder of the property is zoned R-4 residential.

The second phase will include water and lighting for the entire site. There will be no designated lighting for the athletic courts. Programming and permitting for the second phase will occur while the initial development is underway, and may even begin before the first phase is completed.

Finally, a building of some sort will be located at the center of the property to support educational programs and other community needs. Whether it is a trailer or permanent structure does not appear to be settled at this time. When pressed on how the $2 million was to be used, Byers responded that it was all allocated for construction, development and programming.

The current budget does not have specific line item allocations. Once completed, the site would be operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation, and maintenance costs would need to come from them.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest primarily within the District. He's worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He's been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and is the force behind the blog Park View, D.C.


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I like the park. But if it's only temporary do we really need to be spending 2 million dollars on it? How interim is this? Will they be bulldozing these trees in just a couple years time? I know this is an election year but this seems a little over the top. Why not just make it a permanent park if we are going to pour all this money into it? And how does the city seemingly pull these millions out of thin air all the time? I'm sure the city could have leased the lot for a non parking lot use at a profit in the interim. Laser Tag anyone?

by Anon on Jun 24, 2010 11:40 am • linkreport

Anon: That was my reaction too. Is this not really temporary any more? Having some quick and dirty basketball courts instead of a parking lot sounds great. This plan, though, has TREES. Trees are not temporary. This looks like a real, permanent park. (Maybe that's what it should be.)

by David Alpert on Jun 24, 2010 11:47 am • linkreport

Again I'm all for a park there. That area could use more green space. But if this is still temporary then thats 1.5 million that could be better spent. Think of the fight the community will put up when the city trys to take that park back in a few years too. Swapping out bball courts for Condos and groundfloor retail would be an easy sell to the neighborhood. But this will be a different story

by Anon on Jun 24, 2010 11:57 am • linkreport

I don't see any lighting proposed. Is that in another plan?

It would go a long way to making the location safe for residents and more useful for those who play their sports in the evenings.

by Jim Bob on Jun 24, 2010 12:02 pm • linkreport

It does look like a permanent park, and as a resident of nearby Park View, I'm fine with that. The area desperately needs some more green space. I just wish the city was more honest about their intentions with the area.

by Beef Supreme on Jun 24, 2010 12:02 pm • linkreport

I agree with all the other commentators. This all seems quite strange to spend on an "interim" property.

by Adam Lewis on Jun 24, 2010 12:03 pm • linkreport

If there's been as much trouble as it sounds like there has been getting new development moving on the property - and with the market looking the way it does - it might not be the worst idea to put effort into an interim use that may be around for a while. This lot occupies a substantial amount of space next to lots of residences and a commercial corridor, so it's wise to ensure that it's somehow serving the community. The farmer's market would certainly be a boon to the area, and generating new trips to the neighborhood by folks who may end up spending money in the area isn't bad either. Compared to other city projects and expenditures, this is far from a significant cost, and one that is surely worth it for the adjacent homes and businesses, the neighborhood, and the surrounding communities.

If this is an investment in not only the property itself, but also in the surrounding neighborhood and shoring up monetary values as well as livability, then I am all for it.

by er on Jun 24, 2010 12:17 pm • linkreport

Agree with most everyone - it seems like this is more than temporary, and I suppose it should be - while most of DC has lots of park space, this area does not.

One interesting thing is that both the parking and retail zoning laws apply. If this were deemed a park, wouldn't a farmers market be allowed anywhere and the parking not required. Anyone know the nuances of DC zoning?

by norb on Jun 24, 2010 12:31 pm • linkreport

This looks like it will be interim until some new plans are in place that will result in a huge public outcry and suddenly the powers that be decide that this should indeed remain a park and voila, the 'interim' label will be removed. Do they really need to add a silly little parking lot to the thing?

by NikolasM on Jun 24, 2010 12:33 pm • linkreport

The way condo inventory is drying up around town I wouldn't be surprised if the city had takers for this plot sooner than expected.
They should at least hold off on the trees. The city planted trees in the Columbia Heights civic plaza and bulldozed them 8 months later at the start the streetscape project. No attempt to transplant them. Just dozed right over them. It's like the city only knows how to completely half ass something or go overboard. Put up some bball courts and throw down some astro turf like silver spring did.

by Anon on Jun 24, 2010 12:38 pm • linkreport

Speaking of "interim use," a *TON* of money was invested into the temporary Anacostia Boathouse site as part of the 11th St Bridge project.

The temporary buildings were occupied this past weekend, and AFAIK, the historic buildings are ready for demolition. Given how much was spent on the site, the new pedestrian bridge over the CSX freight line, and the temporary structures, they might as well have just built something more permanent.

by andrew on Jun 24, 2010 12:52 pm • linkreport

The timeline related to the Columbia Heights in the post above is incorrect. Those trees where supposed to be in the plaza for 6 months and then transplanted. They stayed for over 3 years, which made transplantation almost impossible within a budget. Politically there is a connect between the CH Plaza's temp design and Bruce Monroe, both are the results of bad policy and oversight by Ward 1 CM Graham.

by W Jordan on Jun 27, 2010 7:29 pm • linkreport

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