The Issue: In an overhaul of green spaces in the District, residents in Park View and the surrounding area may be left without a park to view. The Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH), a rolling 272-acre campus, has not been open to the public since 1968—but the community still considers it the neighborhood’s primary green space, and there have been several proposals over the years to open the land to general use. But now the AFRH is planning to develop the northwest southeast part of the site to increase cash flow and the CapitalSpace Draft Plan, a collaboration of D.C. and federal agencies, has no plans to take the space into consideration. Will residents be left with concrete?
Green Trees! Because the campus has existed since 1851, and was even considered public park space by the McMillan Plan, some say the surrounding area has developed without any green space to speak of: Cliff Valenti, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A chairman, told City Desk: “In other parts of D.C., there are tons of large accessible parks within walking distance… [the plan] really needs to consider equal distribution of park space in our city.” He added that, instead of condos, AFRH should consider leasing the space to the National Park Service to raise revenue.
Green Money! According to the AFRH development plan website, the home was hit with a financial crisis in the 1990s and was permitted by Congress in 2002 to explore a private development option. AFRH says: “New businesses and housing will generate jobs for neighbors, enhance property values and create new tax revenue.” Ross, writing on the blog Prince of Petworth, says, “They are vastly under funded and desperate.”
Next Step: Valenti says the ANC issued a letter of opposition to parts of the plan at its meeting yesterday. In the meantime, tree-lovers have until Dec. 8 to submit comments to CapitalSpace. Jeff Hinkle, a spokesman for the CapitalSpace plan, says, “Our partner agency team is already reviewing comments and discussing responses.”
Photo by Blacknell, Creative Commons Attribution License