After a public comment period, NCPC adopted the CapitalSpace final plan on April 1st, and Commission staff is now working to implement the recommendations. NCPC's web panelist will be Julia Koster, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs for NCPC and former development coordinator for the Governor's Office of Smart Growth in Maryland. DC's park system, uniquely challenged by overlapping governing bodies and high tourist traffic, not to mention neglect, now has plans for the first revamp in 40 years spearheaded by NCPC, the planning body for the federal region that oversees development on or near federal land and coordinates the area's capital improvement plan.
CapitalSpace sets out "six big ideas" that, in short, seek to better connect the parks with each other by "weaving a greenway" through the neighborhoods from park to park, improve the parks, and connect the parks with DC's underutilized rivers.
1. Linking the Fort Circle Parks: Creating a walkable green space with historic significance by connecting the series of defensive forts built to encircle DC during the Civil War - a function of the McMillan Commission of 1901 that set out to establish "Fort Drive," a green beltway around downtown DC. Only small sections of the green roadway were ever established.
2. Enhancing Center City Parks: With 30 percent of the city’s future housing growth and 70 percent of job growth likely to occur downtown and along the Anacostia River, downtown parks add vibrancy, but place high demand for active uses.
3. Transforming Small Parks: Of the city's parks, 67% are small - less than one acre. NCPC plans to refurbish small spaces greater recreation and for "cultural and historic commemoration."
4. Enhancing Urban Natural Area: On top of providing recreational areas, the parks serve an ecological function as well - providing "pathways for wildlife" to move around the city.
5. Improving Playfields: DC's various athletic fields, of which there are more than 1,000 throughout DC, will be accorded "the highest level of planning and upkeep." Designs include better lighting, synthetic turf, and an online system of registering and reserving fields.
6. Improving Public School Yards: A plan to improve the 30% of the District's playgrounds, fields and courts that are run by the DC Public Schools (DCPS).
Factors that influence regeneration of the parks: Some 68% of parkland in DC is controlled by the National Park Service; 35% of DC children between 10 and 17 are obese; DC has 12.9 acres of park per 1000 residents (7617 acres) - one of the highest in the nation; DC has .217 athletic fields per 1,000 residents - one of the lowest ratios on the east coast; the District Department of Transportation manages about 250 small parks in DC; Washington DC is expected to increase from in population from 600,000 to 700,000 by 2025.
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