Last night a meeting to discuss the park at the confluence of 2nd, Mass and H Street was held. Attendees included, but not limited to, residents from the Sonata, a representative from the office building at 251 H Street, our MVT CID executive director Bill McLeod, president of the MVSNA Cary Silverman, Thor Nelson from the Office of Planning and Sarah Moulton from the Department of Park and Recreations.
The park is presently an under utilized eyesore. The heavy traffic surrounding the park isolates it. Homeless sleep in the park with one often camped inside the center ring of bushes. There was also talk of a recent illegal BBQ (by homeless?) at the park. The park is not well maintained, safe or inviting.
Funding is not presently available to perform a major overhaul of the park. Long term this could be negotiated with the developer seeking air rights over I-395 but improvements are needed in the short term. The Office of Planning (OP) has identified a transportation funds grant program that could provide the modest funding needed for small scale improvements including critical irrigation. With this intersection being one of the busiest in the city it qualifies and has the visibility to increase likelihood to receive the grant. However the grant will require that ongoing park maintenance is secured. If this comes together the improvements could begin as soon as October.
Rendering from Dept or Park & Recs (DPR)
The Department of Parks and Recs (DPR) has developed a set of design guidelines for the site. These cite the short term objectives for the park to be primarily beautification of the space and creation of a marker for the surrounding neighborhoods and the immediate area on Massachusetts Ave. DPR has also identified materials and plants that could be relocated from the Art Walk at the Old Convention Center site to keep costs down.
From the Draft document distributed by DPR:
Short Term Scenario Implementations Guidance:
- Provide a minimal, but bold planting pallet to be both low maintenance and highly visible to passing motorists.
- Focus tree planting on streets edges and in areas with significant soil depth.
- Install focal artwork or monument to create a sense of place and draw for the area.
- Provide benches and other seating to allow lunchtime gathering and passive use of the park
- Preserve existing pavement areas and repair where needed
- Implement “quick fix” pedestrian safety measures like: new cross walk painting, adding parking lanes to Mass Avenue next to park
Discussion turned more towards the homeless impact on the park. The Central Union Mission is opening a 150 bed shelter at the Gales School within a year just a block from the park. DPR’s position is that parks are an amenity for everyone including the homeless. It should be designed to be safe and engage all people.
Cary Silverman expanded upon his previous point of the Gales School shelter opening and pointed out that the isolation of the park is appealing to the homeless. He suggested the space needs a draw to bring surrounding residents across the busy streets to the park. There is no design for a prominent draw in the short term plans. An expenditure of a fountain or statue could be taken on longer term. A Sonata owner chimed in with the benefits of the park embracing dog owners. Dogs owners want green space to walk their pets and most presently walk to the Building Museum. She suggested the added benefit to the community that dogs tend to discourage vagrancy
“scare people who know they are where they shouldn’t be.” I don’t think she’s suggesting anyone shouldn’t be at the park. But people shouldn’t be camping in the bushes . McLeod made note of this as he said “durable grass”.
Lastly, an important message was put forth that this park would NOT be THE PARK for the Triangle. Both DPR and the MVT CID want a larger more central green space less isolated by heavy traffic. There are some alternative that are being studied regarding this but they were not shared in the meeting. One possibility I have previously seen in the Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project suggests a park along a new extension of 3rd Street built out over I-395.
Note: Cary Silverman has also covered the meeting on his blog. Cary is spearheading a “Friend of the (name TBD) Park” effort.
Via random googling I came across an article dated April 23, 2008 about the Mount Vernon Triangle in the American Observer. The American Observer is produced by the American University School of Communication’s graduate journalism program. It is an online magazine is a student publication that focuses on news from campus, Washington, and the world.
The piece discusses a spectrum of issues with ranging from homeless services, Section 8 housing, City Vista, and local small businesses. The auther chats with a spectrum of people including MVT CID Bill McLeod, Kristine Thompson of Calvary Women’s Services, Vera Watson, a resident of Museum Square for 25 years, and the owners of G & J Deli and Tunnel Wine & Spirits.
Other, newer businesses are banking that the new residents of the neighborhood will bring new jobs and fresh dollars to the area. Already, recent upstarts like Tunnel Fine Wines and Spirits on H Street are awaiting the influx of wealthy patrons.
The dark-wood paneling and cobbled floors of the liquor store distinguish it from others in the area. In the back of the store, a wine cooler holds bottles of white from around the world and a small, decorated room stands ready for a community wine-tasting later in the evening.
Owner Feleke Girma, a 23-year resident of the D.C. area, started the business two months ago. Despite already having survived a robbery, he trusts that the new demographic of the neighborhood will appreciate his openness.
“I used to have to work behind bullet-proof glass,” he said, describing his experience at his former convenience store on Georgia Avenue, which was not part of the Triangle improvement district. Thinking back to the Triangle’s neighborhood 15 and 20 years ago, Girma acknowledged the whole demographic has changed. Before, many of the buildings were boarded up, he said.
“These changes were necessary,” he said. “It has been neglected for a long time.”
Tonight the MVT CID and the Department of Parks and Recreation
are hosting a meeting to discuss the park 2nd and Mass Ave NW. The meeting will be at Second Baptist Church (816 3rd St NW) at 6pm.
From MVT CID Bill McLeod
We will be discussing: current uses of the park; maintenance needs; landscaping needs; infrastructure needs; and future uses for the park. The DC Department of Parks & Recreation and the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District are organizing this meeting.
Earlier today a City Vista resident shared a letter he had dispatched to Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells on the Lifein MVSNA blog.
I am requesting assistance from your office with the noise level and late night loitering in the parking lot of Museum Square at 401 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20001.
People congregate on the benches under the shelters in the parking lot in the rear of the building every night until about 3AM. The crowd can range in size from 5-15 and often include children (there was a toddler around 3 or 4 years old, crying from 2-3 AM and wandering the parking lot last night – while an adult just stood there with the child’s stroller under the shelter talking with their friends, ignoring the child). There are also a number of teenagers that loiter in the same location, shouting and running around the parking lot.
This arrived in my inbox today. Phase 1 is the “L” building. I’m unsure of the size of these 1 BR. Anybody know?
Word from the MVSNA blog is that settlements at the “K” building began this month.
UPDATE (7/29/08 6:20pm): Discussion in comments suggests the Floorplan may be the LUNA.
UPDATE (7/30/08 11:05am): Unsure which floorplans are available for the deal – but check out the quirky Luna Floorplan linked above just for fun.
UPDATE (8/01/08 1:35pm): An email today suggests the 1BR at the L are sold out. Most affordable option remaining is 1BR+D for $369,900
Strolling down K Street I noticed that AA Auto Service at 311 K Street NW employs dogs to protect their inventory of cars.
It was a tad unsettling to see the white dog try to squeeze through the fence to come after me. I wasn’t even on his side of the street. Yikes! Maybe the owners need to feed these dogs a little more if a guy 70 feet away looks like lunch.
Courtesy of DC MPD’s Crime and Activity Statistics webpage I was able to create a Google Map of year-to-date crime activity in the Triangle. The MPD tool allows you to specify the details of your report. I exported the report as a KML file and then imported it into Google Maps.
The image above is a thumbnail of the Crime Map. For the full effect, click through to the Google Map. Once on the google map click on the pushpins for descriptions of the crimes. Most are theft from autos but there is a car jacking, a pair of muggings on 5th Street, and a few ADWs. For help deciphering the shorthand notation in the descriptions or other general knowledge behind MPD’s crime maps, please visit the DC MPD Crime Incidents Abstract.
Note: While the number of year-to-date MVT crime incidents on the map may seem high – many neighborhoods had exponentially many more. The Downtown BID had more year-to-date incidents then the KML export tool could even output.
There is recent landscaping progress along the streets of City Vista. My last update on the landscaping was July 3rd. The plants on K Street aren’t new but had previously been behind the chain link construction perimeter fencing.
Plants along 400 block of K Street NW
Plants along 400 block of L Street NW; in front of Safeway
Triangle Park at New York Ave and L Street NW
Are they planning to chain off the grass areas of the park using those posts they installed? It may be for the best. Panhandlers setting up camp under the shade of the tree should be discouraged.
I peeked in a few of the windows at City Vista Safeway to gauge the construction progress. I could see that the signs above the Meat & Seafoods counter, Customer Service booth and Cafe Seating have been hung. Encouraging that the exposed cinder block I saw 3 weeks ago seems to be covered now. Many of the produce shelves are in place. I’m not sure if the flooring is complete and covered in dust or if it is yet to be installed.
Please forgive the glare in the photo below as I took it through thick glass.
I had read in a few places the Safeway would open in September. I still have some doubts on this. The construction seems like it could potentially be completed in that timeframe. However stocking shelves and training employees (unless training has begun offsite) would add 3 or more weeks – right?
Storefronts on the 5th Street facing of City Vista appeared to have had their windows shattered by bullets over the weekend. Both display windows of 5th Street Ace Hardware are shattered as well as windows at Safeway and the City Vista Sales office.
Three shattered windows at Ace Hardware(2) and City Vista’s Sales Center
Closeup of a bullet hole at 5th Street Ace Hardware
The Lifein MVSNA community blog reported this shameful vandalism earlier today.
UPDATE (8/6/2008 11:10am): I forgot to update this to the post last week, but Lt Durand replied to my inquiry and said “It appears that someone used a BB gun or CO2 rifle to shoot out the windows. My troops will be giving the area special attention.”