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“The National Park Service has cleared the way for the transformation of Franklin Park into an active, flexible, sustainable and historic urban park” in 2017

by Prince Of Petworth August 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm 21 Comments

13th and K Street, NW

Ed. Note: We spoke about the difficulties in Franklin Square back in 2011.

From the National Parks Service:

“The National Park Service has cleared the way for the transformation of Franklin Park (also known as Franklin Square) into an active, flexible, sustainable and historic urban park, finding that this effort will not adversely impact the natural or cultural resources of the park, which dates to 1832.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Park Service, in cooperation with the National Capital Planning Commission and working with the District of Columbia and the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID), completed an Environmental Assessment for the Franklin Park Vision and Transformationplan (EA). Based on analysis of the EA and consideration of public comments, the National Park Service determined that the work in Franklin Park will not result in significant impacts to the environment.

“The completion of the environmental review process represents an important step forward in the plan to transform Franklin Park into one of our nation’s premiere urban parks,” said Karen Cucurullo, acting superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks. “This reflects the National Park Service’s commitment to design a Franklin Park that meets the diverse needs of neighborhood residents, workers and visitors without altering the historic character of the site.”
The National Park Service has released a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the preferred alternative outlined in the EA;the FONSI is the decision document that completes the initial planning phase and ensures the project complies with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
“The District is excited to partner with the National Park Service to unlock the potential of our urban national parks, improving access to signature outdoor spaces for all people,” said Eric Shaw, Director of the DC Office of Planning. “The transformation of Franklin Park is an essential part of the District’s strategy to enhance the economic vitality and livability of Downtown.”
The park, which is served by Metro, 32 Metrobus lines, and two DC Circulator routes, sits amid a thriving commercial district and a growing residential population.
“A vibrant Franklin Park is a major investment in DC’s downtown economy,” according to Rich Bradley, executive director, DowntownDC BID. “Companies want to locate near great public amenities. Franklin Park will provide a competitive advantage for the city when those decisions are being made.”
The National Park Service chose “The Edge” action alternative design, which includes: revisions to the center plaza, with a newly-designed interactive fountain;the addition of a play area;the addition of a pedestrian mall along the southern edge of the park and other revisions to the hardscaping;the addition of a café and other basic amenities;and landscaping improvements. “The Edge” is designed to rehabilitate and enliven the park with enhanced program elements and circulation improvements and still retain much of its historic layout.
The entities involved in this effort will next complete the design and develop an agreement with the District of Columbia to construct and manage the new Franklin Park. Completion of the entire project is expected in 2017.”

franklin square

  • Laura

    I hope fewer rats are also part of the plan…

  • ClevelandDave

    Sounds like a bunch of gobeldygook. Where is the plan?

  • sproc

    Sadly, I feel like not much has changed since the 2011 discussion here. I’m sure it will come up repeatedly, but until there is a humane alternative for the large homeless population that congregates/lives there, I don’t know how successful this effort can be. Even compared to other parks, it really seems to have a critical mass of some of the most troubled and needy folks in the city. Even just catching buses along Eye St, I’ve been yelled at, harassed and witnessed some brutal fights in broad daylight, not to mention the pervasive urine smell. The plan seems to have lots of upbeat language, but doesn’t seem to address the park’s “residents.”

    • Richq

      The real solution is to have the churches that support the homeless here go elsewhere. That sounds heartless until you look at where those churches come from: Temple Heights, Alexandria, Manassas, all places with significant amounts of poverty. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their neighbors become the homeless who become the responsibility of the District and windup in the park. Until homelessness is treated as a regional problem, it will be something for which DC is expected to provide services. In the meantime, these do-gooders from the suburbs need only look in their own backyards if they want to perform acts of charity.

      • anonymous

        Recently started running through here on Saturday mornings. The church group food services is a massive endeavor. Very clear why this park is such a congregation point. Kind of a sticky problem.

      • MMMkay

        I didn’t realize people traveled from so far out of the District to attend church. Is that why churches always need so much parking? Seems inefficient.

  • trebek

    The success of this will be the maintenance – not the actual renovations.

    I remember Farragut Park (?) being renovated and the immediate improvement. Unfortunately, there is a significant homeless population there and significant rat population due to littering and people leaving bread for the ducks. It’s one of the few parks (beside Franklin Square) where I can see rats during the day.

    • annonny

      I think you mean McPherson square. It was beautifully renovated and about a month later OccupyDC moved in and trashed the place. Since then it’s never really recovered. And it has a homeless/mentally ill problem much like Franklin Square.

  • Rich

    The design is flawed in that the northern part becomes a deadzone, without any amenities. The North is on higher ground and placing the food service and whatnot there would create a much better system for informal security–people would be well places to watch the park. the kids’ section is mostly in response to day care providers, but I wonder how that are will be managed and maintained outside of its use by them–there is much talk of more children living in the inner areas of the city, but most of them are further North and better oriented to larger complexes like Kennedy Rec Center.

    • annonny

      It’ll never happen, but what if the local BID were to be given authority to take care of the park? Not sure what BID is over there along the K street corridor, but GoldenTriangle has “adopted” Farragut Square and does a pretty impressive job supplementing the work of the park service. I think it’s time to face the fact that our DC “national parks” are never going to have enough money from the Feds to be properly cared for and if we want nice parks somebody with a local interest will have to pay and be involved.

    • ClevelandDave

      Correct. Let the WaPo and other members of the BID pay for some portion of the maintenance cost. Why the need for a café? It isn’t like there are other alternatives. Seems like just another opportunity for a well connected friend of whomever is in charge of the bidding on this to get a sweetheart deal.

  • Colin

    Was sitting in Rittenhouse Square last weekend eating a sandwich and thinking “why can’t Franklin Park be like this?” I’ve had similar thoughts about Dupont when sitting in Bryant Park. Then I remembered that both are at least privately-run while Dupont and Franklin are operated by the National Park Service. The thick lanes of traffic around both parks don’t help either. Sigh.

  • neighbor

    This whole thing is just an excuse to kick out the homeless people. There is nothing wrong with the park, other than that it is filled with homeless people who piss all over the place. It’s just politically more palatable to say it’s being renovated, then keep them from coming back vs. kicking them out now. All of this money could be saved if NPS would just man up and say: “we no longer want to let homeless people piss all over this park.”

    • 11M resident


    • anonymous

      No, the park as it is is actually pretty poorly designed.

    • anonymous

      Yeah, no problem other than that huge problem. Unless and until our city parks are not occupied by large numbers of homeless people, they aren’t going to transform into much of anything. Sounds harsh but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

  • katka

    Thanks to all who continue to try to push this forward. The improvements to the park would be amazing. Playground for children that could be used by visitors, daycares, and schools. New pathways that are handicapped accessible. Basically bringing the park into this century.

    • ClevelandDave

      That isn’t the option they decided on. That would have been option 2. Look at option 3. Far more aggressive, with far more opportunities to screw this up, which in time the Park Service will.

  • Herr Grumpus

    Kumbaya…affordable housing…kumbaya…diversity…rama lama ding dong kumbaya…dog park kumbaya


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