The District of Columbia Department of Transportation took a slide show, maps, charts and three bureaucrats to Anacostia recently to tell citizens there that what they really need is a 1,300-car parking lot at the Metro station.
The plan did not sell in Anacostia any better than it would in Silver Spring or in Arlington County.
"The most convenient access to this station will be for Maryland residents, not for us," said Kathleen Holly, a resident of the area. "Why weren't we considered?"
Holly's complaint and question are typical of those heard throughout the metropolitan area whenever the controversial topic of parking places at Metro stations is raised.
If, for example, the parking lot is planned for Alexandria or Arlington, residents complain that the parkers would come from "Fairfax County," a name spoken with a sneer.
In Silver Spring, cars come from out there," one is told with a disdainful wave toward northern Montgomery County. In the District, city dwellers argue that the parking places will be filled by hordes of dreaded suburbanites from Maryland and Virginia.
Under Metro's original plans for the 100-mile subway system, a total of about 30,000 parking spaces was scheduled at the stations. The recently completed Metro financial plan contemplates adding 20,000 spaces. That would still leave Metro about 50,000 spaces short of the total projected need for about 100,000 parking places next to subway stations.
Most of the spaces will be near outlying stations close to major highways or the Beltway, as is the new 1,900-space lot at New Carrollton. There is little disagreement about the need for substantial parking lots at such locations, and the real estate is generally available.
Statons closer to Washington, such as Silver Spring and Rosslyn, have severe parking problems and no immediate relief in sight.
One entrance to the planned Anacostia station will be on the south side of Howard Road SE just west of Mrtin Luther King Jr. Avenue, in an established residential and business neighborhood.
The other entrance will be on the west side of the Anacostia Freeway, wedged among the spaghetti strands of concrete leading to the South Capitol and 11th Street bridges. Here, between the freeway and the Anacostia River, Metro and the District of Columbia propose to put 1,300 parking spaces.
Five hundred of those spaces would be in a parking garage immediately next to the station entrance. The other 800 would be in temporary lots on adjacent land that the National Park Service has promised to turn into a recreation area.
The 800 spaces would be removed after the Metro Green Line reaches beyond Anacostia and into Prince George's County. The Metro financing and construction schedule calls for a Green Line extension to run from the L'Enfant Plaza station under Seventh Street SW to M. Street SW, under M Street to the Navy Yard, then south across the Anacostia River to the Anacostia station. That work is scheduled for completion by late 1983.
It would be another three years, however, before the Green Line could be extended to its ultimate terminus at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County. Thus, Maryland and District of Columbia commuters who live south and east of the Anacostia Station and want to drive to the subway will find a way to park near the station.
Of the 50 persons assembled for the meeting last week in the Covenant Baptist Church on South Capitol Street, only two spoke in favor of the proposed 1,300 parking spaces.
One of those people was Linda Moody, chairmperson of Advisory Neighborhood Comission 8-A.
"We'd much rather see 1,300 cars parked on the lot than see 1,300 of them kissing and riding down Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to Howard Road," she said.
In an interview later, she said, "We were representing the silent majority. The pople who are opposed to this are the ones who show up at the public meetings."
Transportation department staff members explained the history of the station and the need for parking there. It was at least the third meeting on the subject, and the size of the parking lot had been reduced from 2,000 spaces to 1,300 spaces in response to community pressure.
The new proposal would require relocation of 12 residential units, most of them in tiny, decrepit apartment buildings on the south side of Howard Road; three businesses, one church, and the J. Finley Wilson Memorial Lodge No. 1371.
Nobody fought for the buildings, but some expressed concern about the impact of heavy Metro traffic on children attending nearby Nicholas Avenue Elementary School.
Jerry A. Moore Jr., chairman of the D.C. City Council's Transportation and Environment Commttee and acting chairman of the Metro Board, said in an interview later that he would be opposed to the larger parking facility until after business and community planning had been completed for the area around the Anacostia station. Ward 8 Council member Wilhelmina Rolark is opposed to more than 500 parking places, she said.
Transportation officals are continuing to study the question before making a final recommendation to the Metro Board. The Metro Board technically has the final say in what happens, but never goes against the wishes of the local government involved.