Housing Complex

Eleanor Holmes: Save the Garden, But Nevermind That Community Center

Contested space.

Contested space.

Missed this one last week: D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton sent a strongly-worded letter to the Marines objecting to their tentative plans to put new barracks on land currently in use as a community garden and ten-year-old doggie daycare business. The strapping lads and ladies, she wrote, are certainly fit enough to walk a few blocks to get to their training facilities:

Your emphasis apparently has been on selecting a site in close proximity to the Marine Annex and Barracks Row, a convenient walk for the Marines, whose training is perhaps the most rigorous of all the armed services. Notions of convenience for your Marines should not supersede important community concerns, including consideration of the convenience for the community and the displacement of important community assets.

It's a big lift for Virginia Avenue Park boosters, who met with the Congresswoman in mid-August to make the case for keeping their little scrap of land in cultivation. But speaking of community assets: In lieu of the park, Norton seems to be offering up land long promised for the Capper Community Center. "I must know why the Marines do not propose to build on the empty lot located on 5th Street, between K and L Streets, which abuts the parking garage next to the Marine Annex building itself," she writes.

The community center has been on hold while the District of Columbia Housing Authority and Capper/Carrollsburg developers struggle to finance the rest of the housing units and office buildings on the gigantic site, which were supposed to then fund construction of the community center. Back in July, the Zoning Commission granted a second extension on their timeline, pushing expected construction back to 2013. But considering the history of that redevelopment, you can bet there would be as many people upset by the Marines taking over that land as there are people upset about the Marines bulldozing a community park.

In a city as dense as D.C., no options are great options.

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