Clean Water Action is proud to be a member of the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative (APACC), a community-based coalition to improve Anacostia River parklands, increase access to parklands for local communities, and create a healthy river adjacent to thriving neighborhoods. The National Park Service is updating their management plan for Anacostia Park, an important step forward for realizing APACC's goal of creating a world class urban park in time for the 2018 Anacostia Park centennial. Along with other community partners, Clean Water Action signed on to this comment letter highlighting our top Anacostia Park issues for the National Park Service.
March 17, 2017
National Capital Region
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20242
Dear Ms. Stidham,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Anacostia Park Management Plan / Environmental Assessment. The staff of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust has drafted the comments below on behalf of the Trust and eighteen valued nonprofit partners with a strong interest in the park. Collectively, we are committed to ensuring that the Anacostia River and the parkland along its shores become a clean, resilient, accessible, safe, beautiful, activated, well-managed and amazing waterfront that serves the needs of nearby residents and visitors alike.
We look forward to collaborating with National Capital Parks-East and the National Capital Regional Office to help achieve the vision for Anacostia Park. We encourage you to continue to frequently engage with stakeholders, partners and the general public about planning efforts, potential design or improvement projects and changes in management or programming in the park. In order to become a “signature urban park” there must be robust and meaningful involvement of many groups in decision-making about Anacostia Park, particularly residents who live nearby and organizations whose day-to-day operations take place in the park.
We celebrate the release of this Management Plan/Environmental Assessment and note that it is especially timely in light of the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the August 31st, 1918 legislation creating Anacostia Park. We look forward to collaborating with you going forward to improve the landscape, facilities, programming and operations and maintenance of Anacostia Park for its second century and beyond.
We support the vision expressed by the management plan for Anacostia Park to be a “signature urban park that can serve as an example of how the National Park Service can provide high quality, inspirational, natural and cultural spaces close to home, as well as a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities for urban communities” (Anacostia Park Management Plan/Environmental Assessment, 2). We understand that the management plan is “a programmatic document, and as such does not describe how particular programs or projects should be implemented” (1). We recognize that achieving the vision for the park will require no small effort, and we encourage NPS to continue to engage with partners like us that are able and eager to assist with the implementation of projects and programs. We support the stated purpose of the management plan to “promote partnership opportunities that will support and complement management of the park”.
Anacostia Park serves a variety of users in different ways, and it is important that the park offer a mix of recreational, educational, social, cultural and natural amenities. We hope and assume that NPS will flexibly treat the boundaries between each of the management zones so that the park has a sense of continuity despite its diversity in use.
We strongly encourage NPS to consider the land uses adjacent to the park, especially those owned or managed by the DC government and those just outside the park boundaries, to ensure that future capital investments and programs in the park fit into the larger context of the waterfront. The Anacostia public waterfront is divided among various land owners and managers, and we believe strongly that each landowner can and should consider the larger context to ensure, to the greatest possible degree, a rational, unified waterfront experience for residents and visitors.
We understand that the management zones proposed for the two sites that are Congressionally directed to transfer to the District of Columbia represent the National Park Service’s approach to managing the areas in the event that the transfers do not occur and will not dictate use after the land is transferred to the District.
Our priorities and the priorities that we have heard raised by members of the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative and the other stakeholder organizations that participated in the recent meeting to Shape the Future of Anacostia Park include, but are certainly are not limited to:
- improving access to the park,
- improving visitor experience throughout the park including the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens area,
- improving connectivity and wayfinding across the waterfront,
- providing a variety of new and improved high-quality facilities in which enhanced educational and health-related opportunities can take place,
- managing natural resources in a comprehensive manner,
- increasing the park’s positive effect on water quality consistent with the park’s purpose statement,
- protecting all trees growing in Anacostia Park and planting new trees in the Natural Resource Recreation Zone to increase tree canopy,
- providing opportunities for cultural expression and telling the stories of communities near the park,
- streamlining permitting processes,
- increasing the frequency of events in the park, and
- increasing training and employment opportunities in and around the park.
We understand that few if any of these issues can be addressed solely by the National Park Service, and that achieving them will require increased vibrant partnerships and positive support from external groups. We and the undersigned are eager to support NPS in developing these partnerships and addressing these issues in conformance with the recently-revised Director’s Order 21.
Anacostia Park is a unique and invaluable resource to the District of Columbia, the residents who live near it, and the entire region. Guided by the Management Plan and by meaningful engagement with stakeholders, Anacostia Park can become a national example for how the NPS can successfully pursue its Urban Agenda create a world-class waterfront park that serves locals and visitors alike. We look forward to working with you to make the vision and framework established by the Management Plan/Environmental Assessment a reality.
On behalf of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust and 18 of our valued partners:
- Alice Ferguson Foundation
- Anacostia Economic Development Corporation
- Casey Trees
- Clean Water Action
- DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice
- Fairlawn Citizens Association
- Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative
- GOOD Partners
- Green Spaces for DC
- Historic Anacostia Block Association
- Infrastructure DC
- Institute for Public Health Innovation
- Living Classrooms Foundation
- Progressive National Baptist Convention
- Student Conservation Association
- Teens Run DC
- Washington Area Frisbee Club