New bike racks in front of Blue Banana & DC Reynolds
While private development is often at the forefront of local news, I certainly wanted to highlight some of the major changes in the neighborhood that the District government is responsible for this year. While not as glamorous to many as new condos or restaurants, I think the development the District is responsible for — especially this year — is far more important to the vibrancy of the community.
2012 saw the completion of the Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets project. Construction began in May 2010. In addition to curbs, gutters, and sidewalk improvements the $8M project added more bike racks to the area north of Otis Place, NW, and new trees to the intersection of New Hampshire and Georgia avenues. The project has gone a long way in making the northern portion of the neighborhood more attractive and livable.
Another change DDOT implemented this year was the enhanced residential parking program. The program has two key elements. The first is that every household in ANC 1A, 1B, and 1C receives a visitor’s parking pass so that non-Ward 1 visitors can park when visiting residents. The other change is that one side of each block in our neighborhood has been reserved for Ward 1 residents only (unless they have a visitor’s pass). While the full implementation of this part of the program seemed to take forever to implement, nearly all streets in the neighborhood now have new zoned parking signs and one can consider the program as fully in place.
Planning for the school’s phase I modernization began in late 2011.
Modernization of the nearly century old Park View School building was a major accomplishment this year. Construction on the phase 1 modernization began on June 16th and was completed in time for the first day of classes to begin on August 27th. While the construction was only the first of three scheduled phases, it fully modernized the class rooms, main office, and library. It also updated the schools restrooms. The gymnasium and cafeteria were freshened up and will be fully modernized in one of the next phases. The historic auditorium was untouched during this round of construction.
Parks & Recreation
View of the new playground from the northwest
Just as important as the improvements made to the school and Georgia Avenue were the renovations of the Park View Recreation Center’s outdoor spaces. These renovations were a long time coming and date back to committments made several years ago. What was accomplished this year far exceeded the reworked baseball field originally presented to the community in 2009. Construction on the new playground was in full swing by early April and completed by June 18th in time for the annual Ty Hop basketball tournament.
The communtiy worked hard on this one, continually pushing DPR for more than was originally proposed. One item that wasn’t in the budget, but that all agree is needed, is a new field house to replace the cinderblock building on the corner of Otis and Newton. Even though a new field house was not in the cards, DPR did hear the community and was able to scrape together some additional funds to rework the existing field house for the short term. Work on the field house began on November 19, 2012 and will be completed in early January 2013.
Continuing the progress achieved by DDOT and DPR this year is going to require community involvement. The Lower Georgia Avenue Great Streets project has largely stalled. But with prospects looking good on the future of Howard Town Center, not to mention other development projects ramping up on Georgia Avenue, the time is ripe for the community to work with the District to get this back on track. The same can be said for the facility at the Park View Recreation Center. This year’s field improvements and minor building improvements are appreciated, but still fall short of what the community expects of this ammenity. We definitely want to be mindful of the DC Council’s hearing schedule this year and plan to testify and advocate for the improvements that are still needed.
Modernization at the school will be on hiatus for a few years. Phase 2 is not scheduled until 2016 and the final phase 3 is planned for 2018. Here, too, we need to be mindful of this schedule and make sure that it doesn’t slip. With additional school closings proposed for the coming years, nothing is ever set in stone. The renovations to the school this year were nothing short of stellar … and we need to ensure that they contunue until the job is done.
Next: Part III — Small Business