Park Improvements at 2nd and Mass (proposed)

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 for proposed improvements to park at 2nd, Mass and H

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.

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American Observer article on MVT

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.

an excerpt:

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.”

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Reminder: Park at 2nd and Mass meeting tonight

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.

Image from Cary Silverman

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.

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Late Night Loitering and Noise at Museum Square

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.

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Builder Closeout of Phase 1 at CityVista

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

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Old School Security System at AA Auto

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.

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