National Park Service Seeks Input on Franklin Park Revitalization

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

By DowntownDC

Sharpen those pencils.

The National Park Service (NPS), in collaboration with the D.C. Office of Planning and the DowntownDC Business Improvement District, is seeking public input of the newly released Franklin Park Vision and Transformation Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA). Comments can be submitted through the NPS website through January 9, 2015.

Franklin Park, a NPS reservation, is bounded by K, I, 13th and 14th streets. At nearly five acres, it’s the largest park within the DowntownDC BID area.

But many of the park's features are in disrepair, and the level and quality of visitor experience is not what is desired at such a large and centrally located urban park. As a result, the DowntownDC BID and its partners have come together to transform the historic park into a premier, active, flexible, and sustainable urban park connected to its community.

“Our vision is that we want to turn what is currently an eyesore into an asset for the adjacent properties and the properties within the vicinity,” Megan Kanagy, capital projects manager with the DowntownDC BID, told the Washington Business Journal earlier this year.

Opportunities for public input have been available throughout the planning process. Design alternatives for the restoration and transformation of Franklin Park were presented at a public meeting in February. Construction is scheduled to take place in 2015-2016, coinciding with the NPS’s centennial. 

The newly released EA --which has been prepared in accordance with the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended; and other laws, policies and regulations -- evaluates a range of alternatives to enhance the historic and urban qualities of the park while transforming it into an active, flexible, and sustainable park.

The NPS preferred alternative is known as “the Edge.” It features a linear plaza along the park's southern edge with a small structure housing a café, restrooms, and park management space. The existing path system is also adjusted to increase accessibility to the park center and the historic fountain, which would be redesigned to be more interactive and easier to maintain. The alternative also includes a play space in the northeast corner of the park.

You can find more information about the EA and the preferred alternative from the project newsletter on the NPS website.