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On Saturday night, the Fall Massive electronic music festival on the parking lot south of RFK Stadium roared throughout the surrounding neighborhood of Hill East—-and the neighborhood roared back, forcing them to turn down the volume way earlier in the night than planned.
A small victory for residents, perhaps. But they know it’ll probably just happen again. This is where the city’s special events arm tends to dump noisy shows and competitions that may generate revenue but not much else. Many residents still remember when the city signed a ten-year contract in 2002 for a Grand Prix track on two of RFK’s parking lots, and had to back off the plan when residents discovered no environmental analysis had been done before 200 race cars were welcomed three days a year.
Just yesterday, though, a new proposal cropped up for the north parking lots: Rip out the concrete and lay down grass for kids to play on. A group calling itself the Friends of the Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park just launched a website with a sketch of what the new park could look like. Actually, it’s not a new idea at all; the National Capital Planning Commission proposed it five years ago as part of a planning study for all the areas around RFK. But it gained traction through the Mayor’s SustainableDC initiative crowdsourcing website thingy, receiving more votes than any other proposal (there’s a meeting tonight where the idea will likely come up again).
There are broader ambitions for Hill East, of course, including a new mixed-use neighborhood that’s been extensively discussed but probably won’t get rolling in earnest until developments like the Southwest Waterfront and McMillan are out of the ground. Focusing on one piece of it could be more feasible, and build the case for more capital-intensive development on the west side of the stadium—-not to mention get existing contamination out the ground and stop chemicals from running off into the river in the mean time.