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ANC Wants Rethink of Eastern Market Metro Park

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B held their first hybrid meeting on Feb. 13 via Zoom and at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Jerry Sroufe (6B02); David Sobelsohn (6B03, secretary); Kasie Durkit (6B05, parliamentarian); Chander Jayaraman (6B06, vice chair); Vince Mareino (6B07); Edward Ryder (6B08, Chair); and Matt LaFortune (6B09) were present. Frank D’Andrea (6B04). Frank Avery (6B01, treasurer) did not attend.

ANC 6B voted unanimously to send a letter to Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) asking him to convene a committee to reconsider the southwest quadrant of Eastern Market Metro Plaza (EMMP) Park.

“It’s been in many ways a great success; and in some ways, somewhat of a disappointment,” said chair of the ANC Public Parks and Recreation Space Task Force Jerry Sroufe.

After nearly a decade of community work, EMMP officially opened in 2021. Located at Pennsylvania Ave. SE between Seventh and Ninth Streets SE, the park is diagonally separated into two major sections. The northeast quadrant features a new playground, splash pad and public art. The southwest side, between Seventh and Eighth Streets SE, includes a pavilion, pedestrian and streetscape improvements and movable furniture.

There have been some successes, the ANC acknowledged, such as the conclusion of the Barracks Row July 4th parade at the pavillion, and the Capitol Hill Holiday Tree Lighting. But overall, Sroufe said the southwest side of the park is less successful than the northeast side.

Much of the movable furniture originally placed in the park is now missing. Two commissioned sculptures have not yet been installed, including Jay Coleman’s “Loveful Hands,” for which a platform has been installed. Maintenance is spotty, with light posts on the ground.

The ANC letter argues that congregations of unhoused people and unsupervised students “discourage activities such as a quiet lunch or reading in the park. The metro police and DC police [Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)] are frequently called to the southwest [quadrant], especially in the after-school hours.”

Kids enjoy the EMMP Splash Pad in the Northeast quadrant of EMMP, Ninth Street at Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Sroufe said this side of the park has been more successful. Photo: E.O’Gorek/CCN
A 2020 rendering of the complete park showing the diverse parcels. The Southwest quadrant is Parcel 4; the Northeast quadrant, which the ANC sees as more successful, is Parcel 1.  Image courtesy ANC6B Livable Communities Task Force presentation.

In April 2023, Allen united stakeholders who agreed to a memorandum of agreement (MOA) assigning maintenance responsibilities for EMMP, Sroufe said. But, he added, the MOA leaves some important issues up in the air.

The ANC recommends Allen reconvene the original EMMP Advisory Committee to get feedback on the success of the park and reconsider the original goals for the southwest parcel. That committee should now include representatives from MPD members from local schools. It should consider whether design components of the park need to be reworked and make suggestions as needed.

The ANC also requests that the city install public restrooms on the site (pointing out that access to the Southeast Library facility is closed until its renovation is complete). Finally, they ask that the MOA signatories meet periodically to assess if they are achieving the goals of the agreement.

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