Thursday, July 16, 2009

Girard Street Park Reopens After Redesign Project

Girard Street Park at 14th and Girard streets NW reopened Friday after an extensive facelift. After almost eight months of rebuilding, it is practically a new park.

The commons sport new fences and lighting, a cushioned multiuse play court, more game tables for chess players and two new bathrooms. The play court, game tables and bathrooms are accessible to people with disabilities. A play fountain with four randomly spouting water jets is at the plaza's center. The park has also been landscaped with shade and ornamental trees.

The park's redevelopment, a D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation project, began with community meetings in spring 2007. The old park was demolished in December.

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities recently received applications from artists and arts organizations for an art installation on the east wall of the outdoor multiuse play court. A panel of architects and representatives from the community and D.C. government will review the submissions. The installation is scheduled for fall.

District Seeks Feedback On Chinatown Plan

The District government is seeking public comment on a plan to promote Chinatown as a regional destination for businesses, programs, services, events and festivals related to Chinese and other Asian cultures. The Chinatown Cultural Development Strategy draft plan, a joint project between the Office of Planning and the mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, is available in English and Chinese.

To download a copy, go to To request a print copy, e-mail

A public hearing is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Chinatown Community Cultural Center, 616 H St. NW, second floor. The deadline for review and comment is Aug. 7.

Eastern Market Offers First Outdoor Public Wi-Fi

The District introduced its first outdoor public wi-fi hot spot June 30 at Eastern Market. It is the first city-sponsored hot spot available all day and night rather than only during government office hours.

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer provides more than 300 free wi-fi hot spots in D.C. government offices in each ward. Hot spots are sites where anyone with a computer, personal digital assistant or other device with wi-fi capability can browse the Internet for free.

Over the next 12 months, the agency plans to launch an additional 200 hot spots, including in public schools and outdoors.

To locate city hot spots, go to, and click on any of the hot spot icons on the D.C. map.

Housing Agency Opens One-Stop Center

The Department of Housing and Community Development opened its Housing Resource Center last week at Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road SE. The center will serve as a one-stop shop for the District's affordable-housing services and information to help rehabilitate homes and prevent foreclosure.

Computer stations are available at the center for housing searches. An on-site housing provider ombudsman provides technical assistance to small housing providers. Literature on the housing department, Fannie Mae and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs can be found in an information area.

Other offices at the center include University Legal Services, a community-based organization offering rental counseling, and the Housing Regulation Administration, the agency that administers D.C. rental housing and condominium laws.

The center is open 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached by phone at 202-442-6998.

Streetscape Work to Begin On 14th Street NW

Columbia Heights streetscape work on 14th Street NW should begin at the end of the month, the District's Department of Transportation said. The initial streetscape work on Park Road between Mount Pleasant and 14th streets is near completion, the department said.

The 14th Street construction includes new storm-drain inlets, sidewalks, granite curbs and streetlights. This work will be done concurrently with construction in the Civic Plaza at 14th Street and Park Road.

The right travel lane and curb parking lane on northbound 14th Street, from Columbia Road to Park Road, will be closed beginning on or about July 27. One lane of traffic will be maintained in both directions at all times.

The temporary lane changes will cause the loss of some parking spaces on both sides of the 3000 block of 14th Street. Motorists are encouraged to use the DC USA parking garage with entrances on Park Road and Hiatt Place, or take mass transit. Columbia Heights is served by Metrobus, D.C. Circulator and the Green and Yellow lines on Metrorail.

Some sidewalks will close temporarily with detours posted for pedestrians, but businesses will remain open.

The pickup of H8 Metrobus passengers will be relocated from 14th Street to the Irving Street bus stop near the Metro station entrance. Instead of turning north on 14th Street, the H8 bus will continue east on Irving Street. The bus stop on 14th, north of Irving, will be temporarily moved to a stop south of Irving near the CVS and Bank of America.

Further 14th Street work from Newton Street to Columbia Road is scheduled in November. Reconstruction of Irving Street, between 14th and 16th streets, will follow, with the entire project expected to be complete by late next spring.

For information, go to or visit the field office at 3247 Mount Pleasant St. NW, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Health Department Conducts Survey

The District's Department of Health is conducting a health information technology survey based on feedback from community members and stakeholders who attended a series of policy meetings in March.

The agency needs responses from residents, patients, consumers, health-care providers, third-party payers, community and faith-based organizations, trade and professional associations, employers, technology experts and health-service researchers as it develops a plan for implementing health information technology.

To complete the survey, go to

New Farmers Market Opens at UDC

A new farmers market opened Saturday at the University of the District of Columbia campus, 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW. The market, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays until Nov. 14, offers fresh fruits and vegetables and plans to expand to include free-range meats and dairy products.

Consumers can get both food for the table and food for thought, as the market also offers on-site consultations on nutrition, financial literacy, gardening, parenting, home repair, water quality and more.

Mid-Atlantic Growers and Consumers Cooperative, a D.C.-based organization of farmers and consumers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District, Virginia and North Carolina, will manage the market with the university.

"The creation of this market is exciting and unique because of our focus on supporting local farmers and providing access to healthy food alternatives for urban dwellers," said market manager Quinton Robinson.

-- Compiled by TERENCE McARDLE

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company