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Via ANC 6B commissioner Norm Metzger, the Marines have sent out a one-page Comparison of Key Components chart, looking at the four possible sites for a new Marine barracks that appear to still be in the running (Square 882 is not on the chart, so this letter must have worked). There's not necessarily anything new in this table, but if you haven't slogged through the documents on the project's web site, it's a nice quick overview of the pros and cons (from the Marines' standpoint) of each location.
It does look like maybe they're looking at using their current Annex site at Seventh and L a little more intensely than it seemed in their early public workshops, with the possibility of expanding its footprint westward to Fifth Street, which would mean taking over the site where a new community center is to be built, and demolishing the parking garage built just east of Fifth in 2004. (But a new community center could be built as part of the "shared uses" scenario that the Marines are looking to enter into as part of their new plans to "create a win-win solution" for both the community and the USMC.) The baseball and soccer fields currently on the site would most likely be taken over in this scenario.
The Square 929/930 and 11th Street Exxon sites both would mean that the Virginia Avenue PARK AND Garden would have to be relocated, and though the document says that "replacement sites to be provided with goal of no net loss," the PARK AND garden's fans are fighting hard to not lose their current location.
The option of relocating the barracks to a site within the walls of the Navy Yard is also still on the table, though with the Navy talking about its own needs for an additional 700,000 square feet, it would seem difficult to reconcile the two expansion plans within the finite space of the WNY.
There probably won't be much news on the Barracks front until the "charrette" in September (details TBA), unless the Development Fairy makes a surprise appearance before then and finds a location that pleases all sides. For more background on the search up to now, read my previous entries.
(UPDATED to prevent hordes of Virginia Avenue Park fans from burning me in effigy for mistakenly referring only to the garden and not the entire park.)
Comments (12)
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pkp says: (6/21/10 4:35 PM)
This is about saving a city park, not only the community garden! Has anybody said how much square footage is needed for the new construction? If we're talking a half million more square feet of buildings and garages in an area that's already top-heavy with military-industrial complex, then that's something the residential community needs to know. I am not opposed to mil (dad was Navy). I just know that tons more residential is being added around Capitol Riverfront area and think that existing parkland needs to be improved, not erased. The new Riverfront Park and Canal Park are not going to be able to handle it all.

Nicole says: (6/21/10 5:10 PM)
Re":...the garden's fans are fighting hard to not lose their current location."

This statement is partially incorrect. It is the Park's fans that are fighting hard! AND yes, we are!

The campaign to Save Virginia Ave Park is comprised of many members of the community and does not solely include gardeners. The mission is to preserve the green space already established in the District--open space that has been in L'Enfant's plan since 1791. Green space increases quality of life, property values and overall morale in large cities. And research has been done proving the social and economic effects community gardens have urban areas. The Virginia Ave Community Garden is ONE very special asset to this park. As a result, its story is very appealing to the community and the press.

For up-to-date information on the mission of Save Virginia Ave Park, please visit: link

chuck says: (6/22/10 7:27 AM)
Just an FYI: this morning I noticed that some survey work was being done around the park. Wonder what's that all about...

CAPT Hill says: (6/22/10 8:33 AM)
I just don't want to see any reduction in the sports field - neighborhood kids use that field every day. It is a fantastic community resource.

As for the Virginia Ave site, I have no opinion on the park/ garden, but I do think that the Exxon site looks terrible - anything that could be done to improve that area would be of benefit to the Near SE community's overall appearance - and attractiveness to development/ immigration.

JT says: (6/22/10 8:38 AM)
This one-pager looks to me like a propaganda piece.

Of the two middle options, both of which favor eliminating the park, one would also require taking some private residences. The other two, which would save the park, are inexplicably listed as being "Limited to no potential" as BEQ sites.

Now, the Marines can claim, "We had to choose between these two options, and we're being good to the community by taking only the park and not any residences. You're welcome, community."

Eliminating the park (or "replacing" it as they like to say) is not a win-win for the community no matter how they try to spin it.

Mary says: (6/22/10 9:29 AM)
I believe I've read this before, so excuse me if I am wrong, but DC has more open parkland, open space and tree canopy than any other major metropolitan city in the nation, and you have a 150 acre national mall not half a mile away so lets keep the argument aboveboard.

I can "understand" that local people might be upset about losing their "garden" space, but reasonable people can all agree that it was never "your" space to begin with, and such valuable urban space can be put to better, high density uses.

These proposed barracks would accomodate hundreds of additional marines and/or navy personel, each with a decent amount of expendible income that would be spent in our neighborhood and city, helping our citys businesse to thrive and grow.

If you feel entitled to a garden in the middle of a city (on public land no less), perhaps you should move to the suburbs and buy a piece of land large enough to accomodate you.

JW says: (6/22/10 9:36 AM)
While I'm not a member of the VA Community Garden I do belong to a community garden on the Hill and hope we can add more not eliminate those that have already been developed. For all you VA members I think you are justifiably suspect of any plan that eliminates the garden without the Marines offering up or suggesting alternatives. The burden is on them and to date it seems they have not come up with new sites for any kind of move.

MJM says: (6/22/10 10:23 AM)
Hey Mary why don't we just cut down all the trees and pave over all green space in DC since we have so much of it and then fill in one of the rivers because we have two and most cities don't even have one? This isn't the only community garden in DC or the world.

Has anyone ever tried to walk down K St from 5th to 8th St? Can't do it can you? The barracks will cut more of SE out, remove more residents, remove businesses (like Dog-Ma and some of the other places there). The Marines as I've been told have been there since the late 1700s, right? They have been bringing income to that area of DC for over 200 years and look at. This is not more Marines but rather relocating them from an old barrack location that is not safe from terrorists. Without new businesses to go to once lower 8th St is redeveloped (because of the barracks) the point of spending all this income is a moot point.

They either need to move w/in the walls of the Navy Yard which it seems like the Navy doesn't even want them there or take over the space of the proposed rec center which I guess DC could could replace with the current barracks building/location.

Maybe they could move to Buzzard Point convert the old Coast Guard HQ or to the Navy Base over in Anacostia and take shuttle buses to 8th?

JD says: (6/22/10 2:14 PM)
JT, just a note on the "limited or no potential" designation--that's for the "shared uses" that the Marines are hoping to come up with, things like a fitness club or community center or day care or all manner of other possibilities that would be open to the public. It would be next to impossible to create anything like that inside the walls of the Navy Yard (since the public can't enter without showing ID), and would be difficult at the Annex site because if they build a new barracks there it will all be a pretty tight fit. There's much more room and more options in the Square 929/930 and Exxon scenarios.

(Not endorsing any sites one way or the other, just wanting to clarify)

MJM says: (6/22/10 3:22 PM)
I don't quite get the mixed use piece because the reason for a new place is because of AT issues. Having the public with access goes counter to that.

For those public peeps who use the field what do you have to do to get in there? For us military you only need an ID? And what would the public have to do for a mixed/shared use place such as day care, communit/rec center?

Doesn't both the Exxon and VA Sq Park spots take residences and businesses? Those are all really hard to replace.

JD says: (6/22/10 3:28 PM)
The mixed-use stuff would be close by in their vision, not within the fences of a new barracks site. There just isn't really much room at the Annex site for that (unless they take the community center lot at 5th and K), and it's not an option inside the walls of the Navy Yard. And it appears from this new document that, if they choose either the Annex or Navy Yard site, they'll be keeping Building 20 at 8th and I for their own uses, instead of making it another possible community/shared site.

(The community/shared stuff has always been a bit amorphous to me; it's really their way of trying to find a good trade-off for taking land, so there's no real specifics of what would be offered--it's more what the community demands in return for what it might lose)

Sam Fromartz says: (6/22/10 4:02 PM)
Last week, I attended a leadership meeting for the Marines' Development, the so-called CIMP (Community Integrated Master Plan). Here are my main take-aways with regards to Virginia Avenue Park.

1. The Marines representatives restated they have a goal of equal swap of land for the park if the park gets used in any development. They did not think DC Department of Parks and Recreation would agree to a park takeover without a swap, though they have not had any direct contact and feedback from DPR. "They have not returned our calls," they said. So far, DPR has not been involved in any of the meetings for the future of the park. The Marines have also not identified any land they would be willing or able to swap in return for Virginia Avenue Park.

They did present a proposal for an attractive rooftop garden on a new building (at the site of the current Building 20 Marine barracks next to the highway), but were not proposing this in exchange for park land.

2. The Marines are committed to keeping property tax rolls at current levels in DC. So they are investigating "leasing land," not buying it outright. Aside from homeowners directly around the park, developers are sitting on property around the park that could potentially be developed.

3. Any footprint for future buildings must meet security requirements. Currently, the building setback must be 82 feet from any area where there is vehicle access. (This is the reason they must move out the barracks out of Building 20, next to the Southwest Freeway). They can reduce that somewhat if walls are thickened, or other measures taken. Any plan hinges on security review of building design and placement and so far that has not happened, so every plan they've presented is hypothetical -- they don't precisely know where any new buildings can be sited.

4. Any shared access areas for the community would require security clearance of some kind. "We want to know who is going in and out at all times," one security official said at the meeting. In the next meeting they will detail what facilities would have various levels of security measures, such as potential recreational facilities shared by Marines and the community.

5. After the CIMP process is completed, the Marines still have to go through a DC regulatory process to get any plan approved. There are four reviews from DC planning, historical review board, National Capital Planning Commission and Commission for the Fine Arts. They want community backing before they go into the regulatory process.

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