Over the last several days with everyone focused on Hurricane Sandy, many folks may have missed an article posted at the Washington Post on Sunday titled “Metro considers Armed Forces Home land for new bus garage.” In short, the article describes the need to upgrade or replace the Metro bus garage on 14th street and Metro’s interested in exploring the use of land at the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) for a new Metro facility.
I completely understand that Metro should explore any and all options before building a new facility. It also appears that Metro is very early in the process of identifying possible sites as alternatives to the 14th Street garage. But even so, it is impossible to support any proposal to locate a Metro bus garage on the grounds of the Old Soldiers’ Home without more details — especially when Ward 4 Councilmember and Metro Board Member Muriel Bowser has stated that “any [new] location should contain a job training component or facility if possible, as well as serve as a catalyst for economic development.”
In looking at a map of the AFRH from their 2008 final master plan, the land already identified for future development is the area at the southeast corner of their current grounds (Zone A). Zone A is the wildcard. If future development there has already been set in stone then a bus garage would need to go somewhere else. But the other areas formerly considered for development are along Park Place on the western frontier of the AFRH. If this is the area being considered it would have a significant negative impact on Park View residents and would need to be opposed.
If a bus garage were planned for Zone A and placed near the intersection of Irving and North Capital streets, the impact would be far less but there would still potentially be much more bus traffic in the area as buses go to and from the garage. Some of that traffic would definitely be driving through Park View. Again, this is not all that desirable.
But … here’s something to consider. If a bus garage were located near the Irving and North Capital intersection and it was accompanied by a community amenity such as publicly accessible green space/park on a portion of the land along Park Place, would that be a trade off that would be acceptable to the community?
I’m certainly not suggesting that such a deal is in the works. As stated above, the problem with the Post article is the lack of details.
My greatest concern here is that, after the residents at the AFRH, the residents most impacted by any development of the AFRH land would be the Ward 1 residents of Park View. Yet, the 14th Street bus garage is in Ward 4 and CM Bowser is also on the Metro board. The AFRH on the other hand is in Ward 5.
We’ll definitely want to watch this development as closely as possible and make sure all stakeholders are included in any decision making should plans move forward.