Update on Redesign of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza
Councilmember Allen Asks Mayor for FY ‘18 Funding
by Larry Janezich
CM Charles Allen told CHC at his community office hours at Radicci on Friday morning, that he has asked Mayor Bowser for FY 2018 funding to initiate the redesign and development of Eastern Market Metro Plaza.
Allen said he expects the development will happen in phases, and acknowledged that Parcel 1 (where the children’s playground funded by community benefit funds from the Hine Project will be built) would be the easiest and least expensive place to start. ANC6B Chair Chander Jayaraman told ANC commissioners recently that funding for the first year planning and development of Parcel 1 will cost $3 million. CHC has previously reported that the plans for a children’s playground on Parcel 1 is moving forward here: http://bit.ly/2n0M1g4
The redesign project will also include the expansion of the Southeast Library under 7th Street, with an above ground entrance on the Metro Plaza. Funding for the initiation of the expansion reportedly has already been included in the FY ’18 budget. Allen says that the first year of funding for the library would typically be devoted to planning, with funding for construction following in the subsequent fiscal year.
The City Council will hold hearings on the Mayor’s budget in April and May. Allen said that if funds are included for work on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza, he will fight to keep them in – and if they are not, he will fight to include them.
The organization behind the redesign is Barracks Row Main Street, who used congressionally ear-marked funds to hire architect Amy Weinstein to create a plan to redesign the plaza about two years ago. CHC reported on the June 16, 2014 meeting of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Task Force to hear Weinstein describe the final plan here: http://bit.ly/2mOFrHG
The redesign plan was referred to the Department of General Services (DGS) for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) some 18 months ago and appears to be in limbo. DGS already knows a lot about the EIS for Metro Plaza, since a study was done for construction of the metro. It is uncertain why the DGS has not made public the result of the EIS for the redesign; calls and emails to the DGS Office of Public Information were not returned. Asked why he thought DGS had not reported out the EIS, Allen said, “Because they’re slow as molasses.”
Asked for comment on the status of the redesign, BRMS Executive Director Martin said: “BRMS is fully committed to moving forward with the Eastern Market Metro Park project for this important L’Enfant-designed public space at the heart of Capitol Hill. Two years ago, we completed a year-long community input process that resulted in a world-class design that enjoys broad community support. We are continuing to brief city officials on the design and seeking support for the necessary funding to see it go from a concept to a reality. We are hopeful that the needed funds can be included in the city’s FY18 budget. In the meantime, BRMS has agreed to take the lead on utilizing the funds from the Stanton Eastbanc Community Benefits Agreement that were set aside for a playground and other improvements to construct an interim playground on the northeast parcel. This interim playground will provide Capitol Hill residents with a preview of the park’s potential while also providing a place for local children to play while the overall plan is being finalized and readied for construction.”
The community presentation of the final plan is here: http://bit.ly/2nSxnFs