What Happened To The Old Soldiers Home Development Plan?

I saw this on the Petworth Listserv:

on the Armed Forces Retirement Home Final Master Plan

Public Input Is Welcomed

Please join the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) to discuss the proposed final Armed Forces Retirement Home Master Plan. The Plan has been submitted to NCPC for review and action at the Commission’s May 1, 2008, meeting.

NCPC staff will describe characteristics of the plan and will be available to answer questions and receive public comments.

Public Meeting
Monday, April 14, 2008
6:30 – 8:00 PM
Bruce-Monroe Elementary School
3102 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Speakers will be given five minutes to make oral comments.

Written comments will be accepted at the meeting and also may be sent to:

Mr. Eugene Keller
National Capital Planning Commission
401 9th Street, NW
North Lobby, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20004
eugene.keller@ ncpc.gov

9 Comment

  • PoP – part of the Federal process here in the Nation’s Capital. What has happened: A master Plan was drafted with alternatives; an EIS drafted to determine the impacts of the alternatives; Issue Record of Decision on the EIS; revise Mater Plan; select developer. The next step is to submit the plan to the National Capital Planning Commission for final approval. So far things seem to be moving along pretty well. Welcome to my world!

  • DDOT, DC Historic Review Board, and the Commission on Culture and Fine Arts gave the AFRH plan a failing grade. Everyone pretty much agrees, zones C and B must be preserved. They have way too much historic and current value as open space. Can you imagine 2 sold out Nations ball games letting out on Park Place, Irving street every day?

  • Hey, but lets keep AFRH a high security no mans land and the surrounding neighborhood a dump. I like it better that way anyway. I has the uneasy urban grit to it. You know that feeling that you get when you see kids hanging out in alley’s at 2 in the morning. When you see people tossing empty 40s in my front yard. That’s why I moved to Petworth in the first place! Why mess that historic context up!

  • The AFRH development at Irving and N. Capitol looks to be on track. Echoing what Cliff posted, so far everyone seems to agree that there is no warrant to destroy the historic greenspace that is Zone C (the area bordering RCC Rd and Park Pl) and also Zone B (bottom corner, Park Pl and Irving).

    As for the Anonymous posting above, I have no idea what creating public parkland in Zone C has to do with people “tossing empty 40s in [his] front yard.” Some have the idea that building new condos everywhere will mean the end of all things they hate about their neighborhood. I’m sorry they are unhappy. But the idea that the neighborhood benefits from trading nonrenewable greenspace for a couple of condos makes no sense. There is already plenty of unused space for building condos in the neighborhood, along GA Ave and elsewhere. It is not a zero sum equation.

    Preserving the beautiful things in our neighborhood, like the greenspace of the Old Soldiers Home, will only enhance the value of the neighborhood. Neighborhoods west of the park have lots of greenspace, and are desirable because of it, not in spite of it. The same is true all over the world. And once such greenspace is gone, it is gone forever.

  • Anonymous, I’m sorry your neighborhood is so bad, but Park View is not at all what you described – maybe you should consider moving. All we need is some publicly accessible greenspace here and we are in good shape. Save the big buildings for around the Petworth Metro station, and open zones C and B for recreational use and this neighborhood will be where everyone wants to live.

  • Cliff – you are never, never going to get usable greenspace from AFRH unless it is going to make AFRH money. It is a DOD facility and will never be open to the public – to see the Anderson Cottage, you need and appointment and security check! AFRH land is their only resource. Unless you can some how come up with the same smack developers are willing to pay for that space, AFRH will remain off limits to all except residents. Mean while the old VA hospital along with the unused buildings at the northern part of the campus will continue to crumble and decay – which will ultimately lead to thier demolition. Further, we live in a city that has tremendous amounts of greenspace – re Rock Creek Park and closer to home, FT Totten that is usable green space. I live next to Ft. Totten and you know how many people I see recreating there on weekends? ZERO! Finally, what is being proposed at AFRH will benifit the neighborhood by, among other things, enhancing providing more amenities, residents who will demand lower crime and improved schools, increased tax revenue for the city and increased property value. I’m sorry you moved to a urban environment with an aversion to traffic on residential streets and a longing for green acres. Perhaps you should move to Loudon County. They have plenty of that there.

  • “what is being proposed at AFRH will benifit the neighborhood by . . . providing more .. . residents who will demand lower crime and improved schools”

    Hmmm, I wasn’t aware such residents were in short supply. Perhaps your neighbors up near Ft Totten love crime (although that would be surprising). My neighbors near the Soldiers Home are not big fans. The unstated message, however, comes through loud and clear.

  • The punks who hang out in the alleys dealing drugs off Park Place seem to enjoy crime. Whoever murdered that guy on Princeton seemed to enjoy crime. Your neighboors who did not seem to see a thing don’t seem to mind it. Remember – no snitches! What do you want – have a park that will be taken over by that element or a mixed use commercial residential develeopment that will provide jobs and tax revenue to adequately fund schools job training, mental health care, and crime prevention to break the cycle that exists today. I would love to have parks and recreational space! Tell me, What green space in this area is utilized? What greenspace in this area do you feel safe in after the sun goes down? What park has the trash and litter picked up in on a regular basis. I can’t think of any. Merdian Hill Park, until recently was one of the most dagnerous areas in the City. Open to suggestions.

    We can argue all day and into the night about this. However, until the Sec Def or the Approprations Committees appropriate adequate funding for the facility, AFRH is going to be forced to enhanced lease their unsed property. Love, hate it. It is just the way it is!

  • Anonymous, you are completely mis-informed on the AFRH deal. Anyway, its almost a sure thing that zone C and B will not be developed, and will be open to the public – and yes, AFRH will get paid for it.

    City planners and the NCPC have officially recognized there is a deficiency in usable greenspace in this part of the city, specifically. By the way, I use Fort Totten every moning, but I have to get in my car and drive there with my dogs. A healthy city is said to contain 4.5 acres of public greenspace for every 10,000 residents. Park View, and Petwroth only have 2.1, west of 16th they have 11. A re-distribution or allowation is necessary for a good quality of life. Thats not me talking, thats the experts. Here is what others have to say, as well:

    “Zone C: Because this area is within the views from the oldestportion of the Home and along the historic approach – Lincoln’s approach – tothe main gate; because is adjacent to a couple of the oldest intact areas of significantlandscape; and because the green space here is the visual termination of theeast-west streets of the adjacent and aptly named Park View neighborhood; andbecause retaining open space will help mitigate the effects of buildingelsewhere on the campus, we believe that there should not be development inthis area.”

    DC Office of Planning, comments onAFRH Master Plan (MP), January 30, 2008

    “The Commission members weredissatisfied with the proposed design for new development in Zones B and C…If possible,the Commission encouraged the consideration of retaining these areas as parkland with public access.”

    U.S. Commission of Fine Arts,comments on MP, January 28, 2008

    “Zone C – …the HPOrepeats its 2006 recommendation that this area not be developed. Notbuilding, in fact, should be seen as mitigation for or minimization of theoverall adverse effect of essentially reducing in size the naturalistic,historic campus.”

    DCState Historic Preservation Office,comments on MP, January 28, 2008

    “Most important, Zone C isthe original setting for Rock Creek Church Road and the approach to theSoldiers’ Home and Lincoln Cottage—an approach not only for visitors today butsubstantially that seen by President Lincoln…we believe that the preservationof this zone is an appropriate measure to avoid in part or to mitigate thewhole of the considerable development proposed on the entire campus. …[T]he Master Plan and EIS should expresslyinclude language acknowledging a no-build alternative here as a possible andviable option, especially if such an option can be made to provide revenue forAFRH through lease, sale or easement.”

    DCOffice of Planning, comments onFEIS, December 10, 2007

    “As a whole, Zones [B and C]contain the most intact historic landscapes, much of which was present as earlyas the 1870s, including wooded areas, historically cultivated land, and thelovely “fishing” ponds. The mosteloquent argument for preserving this area (which is actually continuous withthe rolling meadow and treed areas at the south of Zone 4) is to stand on thesite and take it in. Particularly with theZone A development interrupting views from the south toward the Chapel Woods,the green space here is crucial both in itself and to keep uninterrupted viewsto and from the Quarters area. The four-and eight-story development proposed cannot help but radically transform theseareas and affect the setting of the National Historic Landmark to the north. And part of that setting is the approach tothe landmark area; these zones bound the route that Abraham Lincoln took dailyto his summer retreat…”

    DCState Historic Preservation Office,comments on MP, January 26, 2006

    “In our judgment, the area[]identified as [Zones B and C] should be considered critical components of anoverall park, open space, and landscape component of this retirement home andthe city as well. To allow these twoareas to be developed for either housing or for embassies would excessively hemin the current and future use of the golf course and ponds to a point thattheir future would be threatened. Werecommend that a new alternative be developed which would create a public parkincluding the golf course. In order torelieve AFRH-W from the maintenance costs, consideration should also be givento transferring the new park to the District of Columbia or the National Park Service for management.”

    U.S. Dept. of Interior, comments onDEIS, July 6, 2005

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