Not Much Ado About The Ballpark Effect

By Jacqueline Dupree
Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ballpark and Beyond is adapted from Jacqueline Dupree's blog on development in Near Southeast, the rapidly changing area between Capitol Hill and the Anacostia River that is now home to Nationals Park.

At Monday night's ANC 6D meeting, there was a discussion of the traffic and parking effects on Southwest and Near Southeast during the first few games at the ballpark. For a group of people who, shall we say, have not been shy over the past few years about voicing fears as to how the new stadium would affect their neighborhood, the reaction was surprisingly muted.

Comments from the commissioners included: visitor parking passes not getting sent to all residences; additional signage about parking and access restrictions needing to be installed; issues with left turns and parking enforcement on G Street SW needing to be addressed; and residents wondering about the extent of the parking restrictions on M Street and whether they can be eased.

But, overall, the commissioners didn't have a lot to say and didn't raise any major issues. Commissioner Robert Siegel, who represents the ANC's single-member district east of South Capitol Street, proclaimed himself "very pleased." Commissioner David Sobelsohn did remark that things "will go smoothly as long as the Nationals keep losing," referencing the smaller-than-sellout crowds that the ballpark has seen since its March 30 opener.

The meeting itself was pretty sparsely attended, with few of the residents who have been vocal about potential problems at previous meetings on hand. Only a couple people in the audience spoke up about any issues they'd had or heard about, and did so without much emotion. The discussion was over in about 15 minutes.

Meeting on Street Parking

Opinions about the stadium's impact on curbside parking throughout Southwest, Capitol Hill and Near Southeast might be more plentiful at a scheduled May 7 community meeting to discuss how the new regulations are working. The session is being held by Ward 6 D.C. Council member Tommy Wells. Representatives from the D.C. Department of Transportation and Department of Public Works and the D.C. police will be on hand to receive feedback and answer questions. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church at Fifth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, on the south side of Seward Square.

Temporary Surface Lots

While ANC 6D was meeting about parking issues around the ballpark, the Zoning Commission without much discussion gave preliminary approval to an amendment that adds blocks to the Buzzards Point section of Southwest to the zoning rules allowing temporary surface parking lots near the stadium.

The commissioners who spoke mentioned the need to give the Nationals the flexibility the team seeks to be able to build new surface lots as future development projects take away lots in use. The vote was unanimous, although Commissioner Michael Turnbull stated for the record his concern that lots north of Potomac Avenue, closer to the residential portion of Southwest, could introduce significant traffic problems for that part of the neighborhood.

As of now, the Nationals have announced no plans to use any lots at Buzzards Point this season.

More Cash Parking Options

With parking lots at Nationals Park less full than had been feared, options for cash parking close to the stadium for non-season-ticket holders are expanding.

Not only are the Nationals now offering via their Web site pre-paid single-game parking at some of their official lots, but the lure of extra evening and weekend dollars has spurred some nearby property and garage owners who aren't part of the team's lot lineup to offer cash parking. The standard price appears to be $20 per event.

Lots that have this option so far include the underground garage at 80 M St. SE, Splash car wash at 10 I St. SE, a private lot on L Street SE, between First Street and New Jersey Avenue, another at 250 M St. SE, and a new lot next to the lowered northern portion of the Frederick Douglass Bridge at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue SW.

Another entrant in the cash-lot derby has been the Positive Nature program for disadvantaged youth at 1017 New Jersey Ave. SE, which is trying to raise enough money to pay its skyrocketing property taxes so that it can stay in its rented building.

Dupree, a Post staff member, has been tracking the neighborhood's changes since 2003. For information and photos, go to

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