Update – Third Community Meeting on Redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza
by Larry Janezich
The Department of General Services (DGS) convened the third community meeting on redesign of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Wednesday night. John Stokes, DGS Communications Director, said they would continue to host meetings “until we get as close a consensus as possible” on the design. The goal is to build a space people want to come to and stay.
Project manager Cassidy Mullen gave a presentation on the status of the project. On March 21, the design team took their plan before the Commission on Fine Arts (CFA) – the federal agency who approves public design plans. The CFA withheld that approval and offered comments which DGS is now working to address.
Cassidy said the Commission had no issues with individual components of the plan, but felt that there was “too much going on” and that parcel 1 (Metro entrance) and parcel 4 (playground) needed more separation and should be treated as independent parks.
Revisions will build on the existing plan and the design team has taken a step back to look at the big picture – how the shapes and forms relate to each other and at how to make the parcels operate independently, with parcel one focused on residential use and parcel 4 focused on transit and the commercial rim.
At Wednesday night’s hearing, the design team only had rough sketches of the latest concept with some preliminary changes to playground outlines and an attempt to preserve existing trees on parcel one and an attempt to emphasize the urban plaza feel of parcel 4. Cassidy emphasized they were not wiping the slate clean and the project would continue to be a community-based plan.
Under the current timeline for the project, work will begin soon on the schematic design phase, adding details to define what the parks will look like – colors, forms, lighting.
The interim playground equipment is on order and will be installed in May, and later be incorporated into the 7,200 square foot permanent playground, which Cassidy said was among the larger public playgrounds in the city.
DGS will get permits in the summer/fall, and begin construction in December of 2019. The initial $5.9 million available will be spent to initiate construction on both parcel 1 and parcel 4, concentrating on the areas outlined in purple in the design concept above.
The Department of Transportation is finalizing a vehicular and pedestrian transportation study. The current design anticipates reversing the flow of traffic on the two D Streets, north and south of the parks.
DGS is drawing plans being made for a maintenance budget on a 40 year cycle ensuring money will be available far into the future.
The next community meeting will be in mid to late June.
Here’s the link to the project website: https://dgs.dc.gov/page/eastern-market-metro-park-project