Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: The Year of the Anacostia – Turning the Tide

Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: The Year of the Anacostia – Turning the Tide

The Anacostia River is increasingly getting better press, and more and more DC residents are beginning to recognize and celebrate the river as a vast and beautiful shared public amenity. The positive evolution of conventional wisdom around the river is decades in the making, and several “watershed” (get it?) milestones are approaching that will significantly change the river—and perhaps how we think about it.

The Clean Water Act Turns 45

The Clean Water Act Turns 45

Raise a glass (of clean water!) to the Clean Water Act and offer a word of thanks as it celebrates its 45th birthday.

Kingman Island Could Unite Us

Kingman Island Could Unite Us

An Opinion by Rev. Keith Kitchen and Doug Siglin published in the Washington Post, October 15, 2017. 

Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: On Partnering with the National Park Service

Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: On Partnering with the National Park Service

The National Park Service owns and manages a majority of the Anacostia River waterfront. National Capital Parks-East (NACE), which manages Anacostia Park, relies on local partners, including residents, non-profits and DC government agencies, to help achieve its mission. NACE is currently expanding its capacity to collaborate with new and existing partners.

Planning for Change in the Anacostia Corridor

Planning for Change in the Anacostia Corridor

It is critical to set up a process for residents in the front line neighborhoods, working alongside experts in housing, policy, planning and other fields, to define what they want their communities to be. 

"Not Just Some Children – All Children"

"Not Just Some Children – All Children"

Recently, I was thinking about the proposed plan for the modest children’s environmental education campus on Kingman/National Children’s Island, and I happened to see an interview with someone named Jason Morris.

LCDR Schafler Steps Down

LCDR Schafler Steps Down

Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Schafler’s tour of duty as the Community Affairs Officer for the District ends on September 30th, to the disappointment of the community whose admiration he has earned.

A Weekend of Progress on Kingman Island

A Weekend of Progress on Kingman Island

Kingman Island saw a weekend of significant progress on September 16 and 17. On Saturday, over 400 volunteers attended an event sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy to remove trash and litter from the shoreline of the Island.Then, on Sunday, over 50 volunteers from Catholic University removed an invasive species from a large and heavily overgrown area

The Year of the Anacostia

The Year of the Anacostia

Doug Siglin

Today, all 13 members of the DC Council, following the notable leadership of Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, introduced a Sense of the Council resolution to declare 2018 “the Year of the Anacostia.” The resolution also says that the DC government should “identify resources and policies that create opportunities for recreation within the Anacostia watershed, ensure sustainable development on and along the Anacostia River, and continue improvements to the water quality of the Anacostia River.”

 This is very cool. DC is blessed with a resource of extraordinary potential for our residents, largely hidden in plain sight, right in the heart of our city. It’s great that the Council has shown a light on it.

 Challenged to design a great twenty-first century international city from scratch, you could do a lot worse than to build it around a gentle river and an enormous riverside park, an easy bike or bus or Metro ride from hundreds of thousands of residents.

 We already have that. It’s Anacostia Park and Kingman/National Children’s Island. It is more than 1200 acres. That’s bigger than New York City’s Central Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park or Chicago’s lakefront parks. Think of all the great educational, and health, and recreational programs that could be done there. 

 Our great riverside park isn’t new; in fact, it will be an actual Centenarian next August. During the summer of 1918, in the middle of World War I, a visionary Congress declared that most of the Anacostia River waterfront would henceforth be public parkland, frustrating those who wanted it for industry or other uses. The new law built on the 1902 “Anacostia Water Park” vision of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr, Daniel Burnham, and other members of the Senate Park (McMillian) Commission. It was Burnham who reportedly said, “make no little plans…make big plans”. He and his colleagues did. The Commission of Fine Arts wrote that the proposed Anacostia Waterfront Park would be of “exceptional beauty and value” for Washington.

Our Anacostia public riverfront hasn’t yet made it to exceptional beauty and value, although it’s certainly a standard to strive for. Other cities with waterfront parks apparently understand what they have and invest in infrastructure and frequent activities. But unlike most of those, DC doesn’t have an agency responsible for helping to generate waterfront events and programs. The National Park Service, which manages most of the riverfront parkland, would like to do more, but has billions of dollars in deferred maintenance around the nation and pretty much struggles to keep the lights on and the bathrooms operating in its less popular parks. That doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon.

The Council’s Year of the Anacostia resolution was triggered by the 100th Anniversary of Anacostia Park. But there are other reasons, too, the most important among them that in 2018 DC Water will open its massive underground Anacostia Tunnel to detain and clean up polluted water from houses, buildings, and streets. The day DCWater flips the switch, the Anacostia River will be a lot cleaner. You will be able to safely wade, float or swim in it. Really.

One of the best things happening on the Anacostia waterfront is the compelling vision for a children’s outdoor environmental education campus on Kingman/National Children’s Island. Last year, the DC Council commissioned an updated plan for nature education infrastructure that was first proposed three Mayors ago. The kids’ outdoor education campus plan is modest, but very important. It envisions a floating lab, some shelter, some bathrooms, some storage, some trails, and a dock. It would give kids on the eastern side of the District a lot more opportunity to learn about nature close to home. There is plenty of evidence that outdoor learning helps children to succeed in a lot of unexpected ways.

Funding the Kingman/National Children’s Island children’s campus would be a great move in the Year of the Anacostia. So would funding a lot more activities in our huge riverside park. There are many nonprofits that would gladly develop more kids’ programs and other events and activities on the waterfront. All they need is some help.

Doing something significant and lasting to implement the Year of the Anacostia is a great political opportunity for Mayor Bowser. She should embrace it. The Anacostia has always been a divider of the District, but now the river and the lands around it could become a uniter and an equalizer. The Mayor could have an exceptional win for herself and the District if she would take it on in this notable 100th Anniversary year.

 

Children’s Island Needs Help Now

Children’s Island Needs Help Now

Twenty-one years ago, a federal law transferred the 45-acre “National Children’s Island” to the District of Columbia government to use as “a cultural, educational, and family-oriented park.”You would be justified in wondering if somehow in your exploration of DC you’ve totally missed a great cultural and educational park on an island.

Rest easy. You haven’t. There is an island, but not the one envisioned in the law.

Premium Stormwater Retention Credits Available Now

Premium Stormwater Retention Credits Available Now

The Anacostia Waterfront Trust is offering for immediate sale 27,092 Premium Stormwater Retention Credits.  These stormwater retention credits were certified by the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) on May 10, 2017. They can be used immediately to meet regulatory obligations, or can be banked indefinitely for future use. 

72 Years on the Anacostia

72 Years on the Anacostia

I spent most of Saturday afternoon sitting at a picnic table, eating good food, chatting with friends and strangers, and watching the Anacostia River flow by. It was an almost perfect way to spend a hot August Saturday.I was at the District’s Seafarers’ Yacht Club, at an event called “Celebrating the History of Seafarers Yacht Club” organized by the Double Nickels Theater and the 11th Street Bridge Park.

Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative (APACC) Policy memo: Proposed Amendments to the District Elements of the Comprehensive Plan

Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative (APACC) Policy memo: Proposed Amendments to the District Elements of the Comprehensive Plan

The Anacostia Waterfront Trust is a member of the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative, a coalition of nonprofit organizations interested in working collectively to catalyze and assist the transformation of the Anacostia River Corridor. APACC submitted a joint response to the DC Office of Planning’s call for amendments to the Comprehensive Plan in the spring of 2017.

Connecting for a Cleaner Anacostia River - June 21 Stakeholder Meeting Summary

Connecting for a Cleaner Anacostia River - June 21 Stakeholder Meeting Summary

Over 80 people gathered in the basement of Thurgood Marshall Academy in Anacostia last month for an event titled “Connecting for a Cleaner Anacostia River.” The presentations updated the audience about the latest progress on the “Anacostia River Sediment Project” (ARSP) - the plan to clean up contamination at the bottom of the Anacostia River. Below is a brief summary of what the Anacostia Waterfront Trust and our friends with the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative took away from the meeting. You can also download our 4-page PDF summary here.

Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: The Anacostia River Corridor is the “Essential Arena” for Building a Resilient DC

Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: The Anacostia River Corridor is the “Essential Arena” for Building a Resilient DC

The Anacostia River corridor is poised to play a crucial role in the future of the District of Columbia as it ramps up its efforts to become a more resilient city. When I think about climate change, I often think about the alarming images that come from reports like Climate Central’s study based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, worst-case-scenario projections show areas along the Anacostia River inundated by rising water levels by 2100. But communities adjacent to the river not only face the specter of potential flooding in the distant future: residents Wards 7 and 8 also face many other challenges in their daily lives today.

Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: Staying up to date on the projects that will clean up the Anacostia River

Notes from the Anacostia Ambassador: Staying up to date on the projects that will clean up the Anacostia River

The Anacostia River may not (yet!) be the most pristine urban waterway in America, but it’s on its way. Several government agencies are creating plans to clean it up, and many milestone projects and decisions are on track to be completed next year. The cleaning up of these areas is important because not only because remediation will heal the natural environment and improve human safety, but also because the planning processes for these areas will pave the way for the redesign and/or redevelopment of these sites. While Poplar Point may someday be developed to combine ecological restoration along the shoreline and mixed-use development near the Anacostia Metro station, areas like Kenilworth Park may someday be designed to combine expanded forest cover with additional recreational space and better access to the waterfront.

Help Shape the Comprehensive Plan - and the future of the Anacostia Waterfront

Help Shape the Comprehensive Plan - and the future of the Anacostia Waterfront

Last month, the DC Office of Planning extended the public amendment period for the District Elements of the Comprehensive Plan. This means that residents have until June 23, 2017 to submit proposed amendments to the existing plan that could make it into an updated document in 2018. If you have any sort of vision for what you think your neighborhood—or the Anacostia River waterfront—should look like over the next 20 years, then you’ll want to make sure your vision is reflected in the document!

Perfect Weather for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: Lots of Rain!

Perfect Weather for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: Lots of Rain!

The forecast for Thursday morning was gray, rainy and cold – but the Anacostia Waterfront Trust was joined by nearly 40 friends and supporters to celebrate the completion of its first RainPay green infrastructure project.

Representatives from the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Anacostia Riverkeeper, Casey Trees, Greening Urban, Environmental Quality Resources, Green Scheme, neighborhood organizations and many more groups huddled together under tents graciously provided by Casey Trees.