Melanie Stern, MUP 2018
National Capital Planning Commission, Washington, DC
Sponsor: Greater Boston Community Service Fellowship
” A few weeks ago I wrote about my work on the Parks and Open Space Element of the Comprehensive Plan. I have been researching parks and open space in the District that can serve as case studies to support the Element’s policies and guiding principles. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a variety of community meetings and presentations on innovative park projects within the region. This week I was thrilled to learn more about the 11th Street Bridge Park, which will be the District’s first elevated public park.
NCPC has advisory review authority over the 11th Street Bridge Park, as it is a District of Colombia project located outside the city’s Central Area. The project is a venture by the nonprofit, Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR), to connect communities that have historically been divided geographically, socially, and economically.
The park will extend across the Anacostia River atop the piers of the old 11th Street Bridge, connecting the Capitol Hill neighborhood to Historic Anacostia. Among its goals, the project seeks to serve as an anchor for equitable and inclusive economic development within the region, to spark community engagement with and appreciation of the Anacostia River, and to reconnect historically disparate communities. The park is expected to open in 2019 and is predicted to attract between 800,000 and 1.2 million visitors annually.
While the plans for the park itself were very exciting to learn about, I was most invigorated to hear about the comprehensive approach the team is taking to promote equitable development in the historically dis-invested community of Anacostia. In his presentation, director Scott Kratz discussed the lengths the team has taken to ensure that the community is the driving force behind design and programming decisions.
The team also produced an Equitable Development Plan in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders in order to come up with actionable steps that Bridge Park could take to assist the community with workforce development, small business enterprise, and housing.
Throughout Scott’s presentation and the walking tour I went on later that night, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the project’s holistic approach not only to activate the riverfront and to connect communities, but to act as a catalyst for equity and opportunity as well.”