After nearly a decade of community work reimagining the plaza that surrounds Eastern Market Metro Station, located at Pennsylvania Ave. SE between Seventh and Eighth Streets SE, the Eastern Market Metro Park (EMMP) is now officially open.
On Thursday, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) cut the ribbon on the a $14.25 million project, accompanied by agency directors and members of the construction team. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) was unable to attend the event, which conflicted with DC Council budget oversight hearings.
The project was led by the Department of General Services (DGS) and the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). In May 2020, the first phase of the project delivered a new playground, splash pad, and more to the Capitol Hill community. The completion of the second phase includes additional amenities such as a pavilion, pedestrian and streetscape improvements.
“Eastern Market Metro Park is a great example of what happens when community members and government join together to create a beautiful outdoor space, which lies within the intersection of many transportation options,” said DGS Director Keith A. Anderson.
Capstone of 12 Years’ Community Work
The park is the result of more than twelve years of work in the community, noted Commissioner Gerald Sroufe (6B02) in comments opening the event.
It was back in 2013 when an extensive nearly two-year community engagement process to determine a shared vision for the park was undertaken by Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS). Although a master plan was developed in 2015, the park was stalled for years before being reinitiated by Councilmember Charles Allen (D), Sroufe said.
BRMS Executive Director Martin Smith attended the Thursday event and said it is a great feeling to bring such an exceptional civic asset to the community. “We are thrilled with the outcome,” said Smith after the event. “This is the capstone of 12 long, hard years of work, so it’s always nice when you’re actually able to see something that gets finished and be here for a ribbon-cutting.”
Smith said that the project would never have happened without Councilmember Allen’s help. “This was something that he took on and that he was passionate about from day one,” he told the Hill Rag, “and we are enormously grateful for him sheperding this thorugh the budget process and piecing it together through multiple different years of funding to get us where we are today.”
In 2018, Allen secured funding for the project, paving the way for Department of General Services (DGS) to begin the design-build process. Construction company Keystone Plus and architects Moya Design Partners were selected to join the Design Build Team (DBT), which held multiple community meetings beginning in January 2020.
Sroufe complimented the design team on their work adapting the project to meet the needs of the community. “In this case, we have had a really wonderful working partnership, and I commend DGS for the creativity that you can see here before you today.”
Investments in Infrastructure, Mobility
Bowser used the event to announce planned investments in infrastructure and mobility improvements in neighborhoods across all eight wards. The Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget proposal allocates more than $670 million to fix roadways, add sustainable transportation options and create new outdoor spaces for community use.
“The Fair Shot Budget has the ability to transform the way we move around DC,” said Mayor Bowser. “As the District reopens and more of our residents are actively getting to and from home, work, and school, we are seizing this opportunity to expand access to a wider variety of sustainable transportation options.”
The Mayor’s $17.5 billion budget aims to improve the District’s transportation system and expand mobility throughout DC by delivering:
- 80 new Capital Bikeshare stations so every resident has a station within 1/4 mile of home and 3,500 new e-bikes for the fleet
- 30 miles of Protected Bike Lanes over the next 3 years
- 17.4 miles of new pedestrian and bicycle trails
- Car-free lanes and other initiatives to improve bus speeds and reliability on 50+ priority bus corridors throughout the city
- One-time and recurring street closures to reclaim streets for public use
- All streets, sidewalks, and alleys in a state of good repair by 2025
The Mayor was unable to say whether improvements to the intersection of 15th Street with Potomac and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, located a few blocks east of the EMMP park, would be funded as part of these investments in the 2022 budget. A design has been selected for the reconstruction, which aim to reduce driver and pedestrian confusion at the complicated and dangerous intersection, but it has not yet been funded. The Hill Rag has reached out to the Mayor’s office for further clarification.