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ANC 7D Looks at Arboretum Bridge and Trail Project

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 7D met Feb. 13 via WebEx. Commissioners Siraaj Hasan (7D01), Wendell Felder (7D03, chair), Ebony Payne (7D05), Marc Friend (7D06), Brett Astmann (7D07, treasurer), Brian Alcorn (7D08, vice chair) and Ashley Schapitl (7D09, secretary) were in attendance. Commissioner Milton Hardy (7D04) was absent. Single Member Districts 7D02 and 7D10 remain vacant.

In their March meeting, ANC 7D examined the proposed Arboretum Bridge and Trail Project. Currently in the design phase, a joint effort between the DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) and the National Park Service (NPS), it will connect the current Anacostia River Trail to Maryland Avenue NE via a new Arboretum Bridge bike and pedestrian bridge.

The seawalls which line the edges of the Anacostia River along the Arboretum are considered historic, DDOT Manager Kyle Ohlson said. Any alterations are subject to approval by both Commission of Fine Arts and the DC Historic Preservation Office. His team hopes to finish the design within the next few months and to complete the project’s construction in 2026, he stated.

Commissioner Ebony Payne asked whether the trails were sustainable and were paved with a “natural surface.” Due to ADA compliance, a natural trail is not feasible, Ohlson said.

“The trail surface is not a natural surface, and part of what’s driving it is that it must be ADA compliant,” Ohlson said. “That said, there will certainly be stormwater features, tree plantings and other kinds of natural features to help with natural setting, but the trail itself does need to be an asphalt surface.”

Commissioner Marc Friend raised the long-term closure of the gate at M St. and Maryland Ave. NE. As DDOT continues to develop the connecting trail, he suggested it include reopening the gate.

DDOT and NPS are planning a public community meeting. Details are forthcoming.

Other Matters
The commission approved its 2023 fiscal year budget as well as expenditures for Zoom access and a renovation of the ANC 7D website.

The commission approved a letter of support to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for 1717 E St. NE, currently a vacant lot on which the owner wishes to construct semi-detached, three-story, three-unit apartment homes. The owner is seeking zoning relief for a sewer easement running through the property which constricts the buildable area. The commission recognized the developer’s efforts to change some of the design to “better match the look and feel of the neighborhood.”

The commission appointed Trey Sherard (7D05) to the Environment Committee, Francis Ojok (7D05) to the Transportation and Public Space Committee, Aaron Johnson (7D05) to the Transportation and Public Space Committee, Sam Deluca (7D06) to the Housing Justice and Economic Development Committee, Adriel Harvey (7D07) to the Transportation and Public Space Committee, Sarah Bell (7D07) to the Grants and Community Outreach Committee, Mallory Row (7D07) to the Transportation and Public Space Committee and Brynn Barnett (7D09) to the Public Safety Committee.

ANC 7D next meets April 11 at 6:30 p.m. via WebEx.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.

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