ANC Requests Reconfiguration of Eastern Market Metro Park

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ANC 6B unanimously supported a letter calling for a committee to reconsider the design and use of the Southwest quadrant of Eastern Market Metro Park, pictured in June 2021.

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.

Sroufe said the southwest side of the park is less successful than the northeast side. Much of the movable furniture is now missing. Sculptures have not yet 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.”

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 im-portant 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 and 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.

ABC Chair Rues “Hunger Games” Cannabis Licensing

Chair of the ANC Alcohol Beverage and Cannabis (ABC) Committee Jayaraman is in the process of negotiating Settlement Agreements (SA) with three applicants for medical cannabis licenses. These include No Kids Allowed (637B Pennsylvania Ave. SE), DC Dash (727 Eighth St. SE) and UpNSmoke (427 Eighth St. SE). Jayaraman said he expects to publish the SAs in March.

DC Code prohibits the operation of more than one cannabis retailer within 400 feet. In the Up-NSmoke case, two additional cannabis sellers currently operate within these limits, Mother Blossom (406 Eighth St. SE) and Mr. Nice Guys (409 Eighth St. SE, Unit 200). Jayaraman noted that if Up-NSmoke’s application is successful, the other two retailers will be prevented from legal operation at their current sites and would potentially lose significant investment in the spaces.

As is, the applications are processed and granted on a first-come, first-serve basis, a situation Jayaraman likened to the fight to the death premise of popular film series the Hunger Games, calling the process “inherently unfair.” Although the ANC can weigh in, Jayaraman said commissioners don’t get to indicate a preference for an applicant. Opposition must be based on adverse impact on peace and quiet, property value, or pedestrian safety and parking.

Since all these businesses are new, the ANC can’t speak to adverse impact, Jayaraman said. He said Allen and McDuffie are working on permanent legislation related to the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA); that could be an opportunity to weigh in with changes to the law.

Pedestrian Safety Around Southeast Library Project

The ANC unanimously supported a letter asking DC Public Library (DCPL) and the District Depart-ment of Transportation (DDOT) to improve pedestrian safety around the Southeast Library renovation. The project is fenced on all sides, including the sidewalks on the west side of Seventh. The letter proposes: 1) a protected pedestrian walk in the bike lane on the edge of the construction site on South Carolina Ave, 2) a temporary painted crosswalk on D Street SE (roughly behind the rear entrance of Labyrinth); 3) that DDOT provide analysis of best way to protect pedestrians on Seventh Street; and 4) that screens around site be removed to improve sightlines.

In Other Business:

Committee and Taskforce were unanimously renewed and chairs elected as follows:

• Planning and Zoning Committee Chair: D’Andrea

• Public Safety Committee Chair: Resident Member Lisa Masamoto; Vice Chair Avery.

• Transportation Committee Chair: LaFortune

• Taskforce for the Southeast Library and Public Parks and Recreation were renewed as were the existing chairs: Sobelsohn and Sroufe, respectively.

No action was taken regarding the ABC Committee. Bylaws allow the current chair, Jayaraman, to serve until a successor has been elected. Jayaraman intends to serve as Vice Chair in 2024 but cites reduced availability in the upcoming year. The Committee can elect Jayaraman as Pro Tempore Chair, with ANC selection of permanent chair in March.

The next meeting of ANC 6B takes place 7 p.m. March 12 in-person and online. Get full meeting details at anc6b.org