The Washington Post

NoMa to get $490,000 for park planning

Developers and planners of the District’s NoMa neighborhood, behind Union Station, are enjoying an incredible wave of construction but have long wrung their hands over the area’s lack of green space.

Officials from the District government and the NoMa Business Improvement District have looked for ways of accumulating enough land to build a large central park. But with so much of the neighborhood already pegged for development, the BID’s new president, Robin-Eve Jasper, decided to push for a network of smaller places for public gatherings, dog walks, relaxation, playgrounds and limited recreation.

Now Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has endorsed that vision with $490,000 in planning dollars. In a statement issued by the BID, the mayor said he wanted the District to be the greenest major city in the country.

“Developing parks and open space in NoMa, a neighborhood whose growing population of residents, employees, and neighbors currently lack dedicated recreational amenities, is an important step in achieving that vision,” he said.

In an interview, Jasper said the money would set the stage for a network of walking trails and small, urban parks serving a variety of functions throughout the neighborhood. “Basically what we came up with was a plan that addressed all of those different needs in places in the neighborhood but not all in one place,” she said.

Jasper said it was critical to begin the process because with all the development happening in NoMa, private landowners needed to know where and how parks would be located to make sure they could build projects that interact with — and sometimes set aside land for — public space.

“They’re planning their developments and they need to know what it is that the city and the BID are planning that we want them to interact with,” she said.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.

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