When Eastern Market Metro Plaza Park opened up a year and a half ago, it was welcomed as the successful fulfilment of a long-held vision to reimagine public space. The $14.2 million project was also a significant investment in rebuilding the park by the District.
Since that day, the park has hosted concerts and celebrations, parades and their finales, chess tournaments, holiday festivals and any number of exciting events.
But there are also concerns. In October 2022, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) toured the park with representatives from DC agencies, looking for ways to address concerns voiced by residents. Some of those were with maintainance. Others were with a need for outreach and services for some of the users of the park. “While it’s the site of many positive public events, the plaza park has also had struggles with individuals experiencing mental and behavioral health that well pre-date the renovations,” Allen wrote in a newsletter to constituents.
The Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (DMHHS) and the Director of Behavioral Health (DBH) has committed to developing a plan for increased outreach and services in the park. This week, they presented their plan to Allen’s office.
THe DBH Public Engagement Team has already begun weekly community outreach and constituent engagement activities. The team will be present Mondays and Wednesday every week. They are expected to coordinate their efforts with other District agencies and work in close collaboration with Community Connections, already onsite daily.
The DBH Community Resource Team (CRT) will conduct outreach activities once per week during the day shift and will vary which day of the week that takes place.
The Department of Behavioral Health Mobile Unit will be present and provide on-site assessment, referral, and outreach services the first Monday of every month from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Allen said that he expects that the city will pair and coordinate these efforts with the community, local businesses, provider organizations, and partners across government.
As a result of the October walk throughs, which included the Departmentof General Services (DGS) and Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Directors, crews have put a new focus on improving landscaping and maintenance.
These agencies implemented a schedule of repairs for items that need attention like lighting and electrical outlets that need repairs, decking that has already broken and cracked and replacing loose gravel with new pavers that will perform better.
Read more about the efforts at www.charlesallenward6.com