|Current West End Fire Station. Image: Gary Griffith|
In the meantime, the city must find a temporary location for the fire station.
|Work on Francis Field. Image: Gary Griffith|
DMPED confirms that it has three sites on its short-list for the fire station: Francis Field on 25th St. NW between M and N Streets, the tennis courts on 23rd St. between N and P Streets, and the vacant Stevens School at 1050 21st St. Each of the sites presents some awkwardness for a temporary fire station location. The city awarded Stevens School, vacant since 2008, to another private developer in September. The tennis courts are located in a residential area, making them a less likely alternative. Francis Field, the final possibility, is therefore drawing scrutiny. But a group called Friends of Francis Field argues that relocating the fire station there would destroy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of recent investments in the park.
Gary Griffith of Friends of Francis Field said his group worked to raise $350,000 through a zoning process for renovations to the field in 2010. Those improvements, made by the developer Vornado when it built West End 25, involved planting trees and putting up a fence, among other things. "We don't think that those renovations should be undone," Griffith told DCMud. "We think it would be a bad precedent on the part of the District...what other private company would ever want to put funds into a public park if the District were just going to tear it out?"
|Work on Francis Field in 2010. Image: Gary Griffith|
Jose Sousa, deputy chief of staff with DMPED, told DCMud that DMPED had been working with the National Park Service to discuss the feasibility of the tennis courts and Francis Field as possible sites for the fire station. Sousa said representatives from DMPED and Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) would be meeting with with ANC2A and ANC2B next week to "share additional information about the benefits and challenges associated with each of the proposed sites."
"Our goal is to try to come to an accord on this in the near future. We've been working closely with the office of Councilmember Evans on this as well," Sousa wrote in an email to DCMud.
For now, the Friends are looking to the West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2A take a stand on the issue. Although the ANC is not a decision-making body, its recommendation could have sway with the city. The fire station temporary location issue is on the ANC2A agenda for November 14th. No matter what the city's decision, it seems no one is likely to be happy.
|Rendering for the redevelopment of Francis Field (completed) - Image: Public Record|