Reconsidering the Partial Closing of Otis Place

Last August I posed the question on whether or not closing a portion of Otis Place to connect the school and recreation center properties was a good idea or not. Since it was unclear at the time if the school was destined to be modernized or closed, I dreamed large and not only closed the entire block but cut in a new road at the rear of the recreation center’s property.

Now that things are more settled I think its time to think about this again. During the last year a decision has been made to keep the school open and renovate the building. We are also poised to begin renovations of the rec center’s athletic field. Because space at the rec center is at a premium and residents have expressed the desire to support tennis, basketball, soccer, and football, we either need to find additional space or decide what we are willing to live without. One possible way to enhance the neighborhood’s need to balance recreation, green space, and general quality of life would be to close the portion of Otis Place between both campuses.

Realistically, what would a partial street closure look like and how would it impact traffic? Below is a map that makes sense to me along with notes on what would need to change.

Map indicating how closing the section of Otis Place between the school and rec center could impact traffic

The only part of Otis that truly lends itself to closing easily is the section between Warder Street and the alley behind 6th Street, NW. Yet, to close this section the following changes would need to be made.

  1. Newton Place between Warder Street and 6th Street would need to change from a one-way eastbound street to a one-way westbound street.
  2. It would make sense if 6th Street, NW, were changed to a one-way northbound street.
  3. The stoplight at Otis and Warder would no longer make sense and should be relocated to the intersection of Princeton Place and Warder (or perhaps just a stop sign could be placed at this intersection and the traffic signal eliminated entirely).

This wouldn’t impact drivers too much since both Princeton Place and Park Road (the streets directly north and south of the affected area) support two-way traffic and have traffic signals at their intersections with Georgia Avenue.

Closing this section of Otis Place is not a new idea. Records at the DCPS school archives indicate that it has been raise at least two prior times. The first attempt to close Otis and unite the adjacent playground with the school property was proposed in 1928, but was opposed by the Georgia Avenue Business men.  It was raised again in 1962 when the Board of Education requested the closure to make the school and recreation lands available for joint use. This met with opposition from the Pleasant Plains Civic Association ultimately causing the request to be withdrawn from consideration.


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9 Comments on “Reconsidering the Partial Closing of Otis Place”

  1. Cliff Says:

    I have liked the idea for a long time, but I would be dead set against any kind of a light at Princeton and Warder. 6th could also be extended to Princeton Place, though.

    • JulesonPrinceton Says:

      Please do not dump any more traffic onto to 700 Block of Princeton Pl. I do NOT support the extension of 6th St. to Princeton. With the opening of many new bars and restaurants nearby on GA Ave we are already absorbing a lot more cars. And suffered a hit and run just last week.

    • Kent Says:

      After much reflection, I think a stop sign is all that would be needed. It’s also cheaper.

  2. Warder Resident Says:

    As someone who drives on those portions of Otis Pl and Newton Pl that would be affected almost everyday, I support the plan, although I am not sure why Newton needs to become a one-way street in the other direction between Warder St and 6th St (is it to provide access to 6th Street from Warder St?). That stretch of Newton could be made into a two-way street by eliminating parking on one side.

    Is there a way we can do a 2-3 month summer trial and erect a semi-permanent barrier at the intersection of Otis Pl and Warder St? We can then then monitor how traffic behaves and evaluate the new traffic patterns in the fall.

    • Kent Says:

      I think a traffic trial has a lot of merit and would be an excellent idea prior to any permanent action. Thank you for suggesting it.

  3. DCDave Says:

    I voted yes, I think it would add to the community amenities. But I would defer to the majority opinion of the residents most affected, especially those that live on Otis Place and 6th Street.

  4. Katherine Says:

    I live on the 700 block of Otis Pl (the one that would be cut off by the change) and I currently drive 4 blocks out of my way to avoid driving on the 600 block of Newton (which was referenced on this blog on April 5, 2011 as being a trash/abandoned building problem, and commentors correctly noted the prevalence of drinking, drug use/sale, and prostitution on the block). Until that block of Newton is cleaned up to the point I could feel safe driving down it, or unless a Princeton cut-through to Otis at the rear of the rec center can be performed, I can’t support this road closure as it would add several more blocks to the already long way I get to my house. I understand that the road closure makes sense, but our block already feels cut off from the rest of the neighborhood because of the school/rec center and because of the state of the 600 block of Newton.

    One other issue for our block and for 6th St would be a loss of parking with this road closure.

    Why not cut off access with barricades only during school hours? This already happens occasionally for special events and wouldn’t be as big of a problem, at least for people who work 9-5. There are many retirees on our block who might feel differently.

  5. […] athletic field I decided to play with the plans myself. Taking into account the entire site, and presuming that the DPR and school sites could be united with indoor recreation activities being included at the school when it’s not in session, […]

  6. IMGoph Says:

    I still think this is a great idea.

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