Councilmember Bowser Opposes Renaming Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro

CM Bowser opposes adding Park View to the station's name

In a letter sent on October 12, 2011, to both ANC 4C and ANC 1A — both of whom had unanimously passed resolutions in support of appending Park View to the name of the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station — Councilmember Bowser made it clear that she does not support this “proposal.” While graciously acknowledging that ANC’s have “great weight,” Bowser’s opposition most assuredly kills this proposal since she is the District’s current representative on the Metro Board of Directors.

In explaining her opposition, the Councilmember began with the pro forma list including the cost, length of name, and policy favoring continuity and certainty.  Yet, when considering the proposed name change for the Georgia Ave. Metro against the four name changes put forward by DDOT, it’s clear that these aren’t really the barriers Bowser makes them out to be.

Name Length: There is no denying that adding Park View to the name of the station does increase the length and would not comply with WMATA’s approved policy on station names. Yet, when comparing it with the list of name changes put forward by DDOT it is also clear that station name length is not a real issue. Three of the four proposals (listed below) also do not comply with WMATA’s station name policy. Only Navy Yard-Ballpark is fewer than 19 letters.

Current name Proposed name
Waterfront – SEU Waterfront – Arena Stage
Navy Yard Navy Yard – Ballpark
New York Ave. – Florida Ave. – Gallaudet U. New York Ave. – NoMa
Gallaudet University
Smithsonian Smithsonian
The National Mall

Continuity and certainty certainly appear to be a sound policy, but embracing station names simply because they are currently in use diminishes the ability to critically examine station names for their appropriateness. In nearly all cases such examination should validate current station names. In some cases, a name may be found to be inferior. The New Columbia Heights blog had an interesting post examining the appropriateness of the Georgia Ave.-Petworth station name.

Cost: While the $100,000 or greater cost of changing a station name sounds daunting, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a lot of money. The chief reason for putting forth this proposed name change at this time was to minimize costs as much as possible. The District often seems to have the ability to come up with a $100,000 here and there whenever they want to. A recent case in point is the proposed renovations at the Park View Recreation Center. The District recently added $200,000 to that project without any apparent difficulty.

So, if the arguments tied to WMATA’s policy on station names either don’t apply or have not be uniformly applied to all station renaming proposals, this leaves us with Councilmember Bowser’s real objections. Reading her letter further, they come out as:

  • The station is not located in Park View;
  • Station names should be associated with centers of activity; and,
  • Changing the name of the station “dilutes the identity of Petworth.”

In looking at the Metro map the location of the station is listed as Georgia & New Hampshire Aves. The station’s entrances are on the north (Ward 4/Petworth) side of the intersection, but the intersection itself is “in” both Petworth and Park View. Additionally, with the station being underneath New Hampshire Ave. it’s possible that a small portion of the station could be in Ward 1. On a purely practical level, it’s hard to argue that a station less than 250 ft. north of a neighborhood is not “IN” that neighborhood. As I wrote to the WMATA Board of Directors on September 19th:

I invite the members of the Metro Board, Councilmembers Bowser and Graham, and others to visit the station. As you stand at the leaf sculpture and look to the south you will notice the new Georgia Avenue CVS and an Ace check cashing location directly across the street. Both of these businesses, and all of Georgia Avenue you can see beyond, are in the Park View neighborhood. You will immediately understand that this station is on the border of two neighborhoods.

Bowser’s assertion that station name’s should be associated with centers of activity also indicates that she may associate development on Georgia Avenue with Petworth and consider Park View a dead zone. But activity has been happening south of the station as well as north of it and the station itself is becoming the center of activity as developers look for property close to Metro. Because of this it is impossible to separate out the “Park View” from the “center of activity.”

But what it all seems to boils down to is this, the proposal to change the name of the Georgia Ave.-Petworth station would be fine if the station wasn’t located in Ward 4. In an example of classic DC politics a double standard is being applied that let’s other non-conforming station names to move forward for consideration while this one does not. The draw bridge has been raised and the soldiers called to the battlements. The fiefdom will be protected at all costs.


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21 Comments on “Councilmember Bowser Opposes Renaming Georgia Ave.-Petworth Metro”

  1. Kevin Says:

    The CVS is technically in Columbia Heights, right?

    I think it’s even more complicated because the station borders three neighborhoods.

  2. Chris Says:

    I think the west side of georgia is still Park View. PV extends over to Sherman Ave. Note that the Park View police station is west of Georgia.

  3. jcm Says:

    Three of the four DDOT proposal don’t fit the WMATA rules. This isn’t an argument for your proposal, it’s an argument against DDOT’s proposal. Unsurprisingly, WMATA staff (rightly, in my opinion) recommended against the three DDOT proposals which don’t fit the rules.

    Station names should be brief and descriptive, not used as boosters for little-known neighborhoods.

    • Brian Says:

      Georgia Avenue for the title of this metro stop is neither brief nor descriptive.

      • jcm Says:

        I agree. If it were called something else and someone suggested changing it to Georgia Ave – Petworth I would be against that, too. The bad current name is no reason to change it to a bad new name, though. If I had my druthers it’d be just Petworth. I’m not sure it’s worth $100K to change it, though, and I don’t believe there’s anyone willing to pay to do so.

  4. ~~~mh Says:

    I support a revision of the METRO Station to Petworth-Park View based on its relative location.

  5. ParkViewRES Says:

    So, my question is, how do we go about protesting this decision? You can’t have a station on the last few inches of a neighborhood and expect that station to only serve that neighborhood. I believe the station is used equally by Park View residents as Petworth residents, if not more.

  6. AP Says:

    I’d really like to see “Petworth-Park View.” It has a nice alliterative ring to it and Georgia Ave adds little since it stetches from Florida Ave to what, Pennsylvania State? And “Georgia Avenue” still hasn’t shaken its “gritty” image, although Sylvia Robinson soldiers on…

  7. Jeremy Says:

    IS DDOT claiming it cost 100K to change the name of this 1 station? Aren’t they changing names of other stations as well? I was under the assumption that the roll out of the silver line on the map was allowing station name changes to happen and the total cost of rebranding the map was 100K . Petworth-Parkview with the subtitle of Georgia Ave/New Hampshire Ave makes the most sense.

  8. DCDave Says:

    Bowser is clearly acting in her role as Ward 4 councilmember, and not as the District’s representative to the WMATA. Her decision appears totally politcal, to benefit her Ward.

  9. Debra Says:

    Never heard of the Park View neighborhood and I have lived in DC for 25 years!

  10. […] Customers have strong “familiarity” with all of the current names. The fact that two ANCs passed resolutions requesting a change in the station’s name shows that there was enough consensus in the […]

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