Two sticky problems that have plagued Metro and the District of Columbia government appear to have come together in one neat solution that could pay for the restoration of an old mansion in Brookland and provide more parking at a new Metro station in Northeast.
Under a staff proposal presented yesterday to the Metro board. Metro would purchase from the District of Columbia an abandoned elementary school near the new Minnesota Avenue Metro station and use it for expanded parking facilities in an area critically short of parking. Part of the payment for that building would be the Brooks Mansion, a Greek Revival residence built between 1836 and 1840 immediately adjacent to the existing Brookland station.
The Brooks Mansion originally was acquired by Metro to be part of the Brookland station facilities, but neighborhood opposition saved the building. It since has been placed on a federal historical register, which gives it added protection.
Numerous details have to be worked out before the solution can be called final. The Metro board yesterday referred the staff proposal to a board committee that is studying ways to pay for expanding Metro parking facilities as par of completing the planned 100-mile system. About $700,000 will be required before the plan can be completed, Metro general manager Theodore C. Lutz estimated.
Furthermore, active community groups around both the Brookland and Minnesota Avenue stations will have to be briefed and sold on the plans.
One advantage of the proposal, according to Anthony M. Rachal III, director of the office of mass transportation for the D.C. government, is that it provides money that could be used to restore the Brooks Mansion.
A number of proposals have been made for the mansion over the years, but all have failed for lack of funds.
Some Metro property adjacent to the mansion would be retained for use as a "Kiss 'n' ride" facility - an area where motorists could drop off and pick up Metro riders.
In the original Brookland station plans, such an area was supposed to be located underneath the nearby Michigan Avenue Bridge. However, the much-delayed reconstruction of that bridge means that it will be another three years at a minimum before the area could be located there.
There is a similar problem at the Minnesota Avenue station, which will open for passengers on Monday. The station has only 275 parking spaces and a projected demand of 2,600 parking spaces. Furthermore, the parking lot is separated from the station proper by the Benning Elementary School. That school, now abandoned, would be razed and the area used for parking.
"The business community (near the Minnesota Avenue station) supports this proposal," Rachal said, "but we haven't heard from the community at large yet." Area residents have expressed concern that the arrival of Metro east of the Anacostia River will bring extra traffic to their neighborhood as people try to park there cheaply, then ride the train.