Department of General Services’ Plan for Redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza Hits Snag
by Larry Janezich
Wednesday night, ANC6B voted 6 – 0 to ask for a delay in the Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Public Space Committee (PSC) hearing on the Department of General Services’ (DGS) plan for redesign of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza. The action seems to be in keeping with a conclusion DDOT and other city agencies have reached independently.
The Public Space meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 26th and as of this writing, the DGS application is currently on the tentative agenda. Wednesday night’s meeting was a “Special Call” meeting of the ANC to hear from residents and to submit comments before that meeting. (It is possible that PSC will hold the hearing regardless of the request, but circumstances seem certain to require a second appearance before the agency at their October meeting.)
Asked for comment, on the Commission’s action, ANC6B Chair Chander Jayaraman said, “Over the course of a two hour meeting, the community was clear that without the release to the public of the Transportation Study and a Maintenance Plan, the PSC should not go forward with a hearing on DGS’s application. Attendees and commissioners developed a list of critical elements that are missing in the current design to make the plaza function and manageable.”
In laying the ground work for Wednesday night’s meeting, ANC6B Commissioner Steve Holtzman whose single member district abuts Parcel 1 on the north, found through conversations with city officials that the DDOT has not accepted the Transportation Study for the project. That study was done for the city by a private contractor. Holtzman said that a city official had told him the study was flawed and will require an additional month for review. One issue about which residents expressed most concern is the reversal of traffic flow on D Street on each side of the Metro Plaza. Without a clear idea of what to expect, residents and the ANC are unable to weigh in owing to the lack of a Transportation Study.
In addition, Holtzman said there were other concerns being raised after review by other city agencies which would seem to require additional time to resolve.
One of the most serious critiques came from the Department of Urban Forestry, which recommended relocation or resurfacing of the playground, moving the proposed splash pad on Parcel 1, banning the use of heavy equipment in all critical root zones, and dealing with the likelihood all of the trees planned for the bio-retention area will die.
Holtzman cited the lack of transparency in the process and the unwillingness of DGS and other agencies to consult with the community as being responsible for a number of concerns. Some of the issues which remain unresolved include a performance pavilion for Parcel 4 (nearby neighbors have noise concerns), lack of a photometric study of the lighting, and infrastructure plans for supplemental electrical and water outlets.
DGS will hold a meeting of the Eastern Market Metro Park Advisory Team on Wednesday, September 25, at 1:30pm, in Southeast Library, lower level. More information may be available then. The meeting is open to the public.