As the D.C. government plans a second construction project at our neighborhood’s Lafayette Park, local residents are concerned about a few issues that have become apparent as a result of the recently completed first project.
Lafayette Elementary School, which occupies the southern part of the site, bounded by Broad Branch Road, Northampton Street, 33rd Street and Quesada Street, was renovated in 2015 and 2016. During the renovation, classes were held in trailers and students used much of the site’s northern section for outdoor activities. One result has been that the packed ground does not absorb heavy rains, and there is considerable water runoff onto nearby streets.
D.C. officials are planning a renovation of the Lafayette Recreation Center, a small structure north of the school off 33rd Street. At a public meeting last week organized by Friends of Lafayette Park, which is interested in preserving and improving the park, attendees agreed that the city should take steps to deal with the water runoff problem while it works on the recreation center.
Other concerns were expressed about the park’s lighting, which many people believe is too bright when the lights are fully operating. Lights installed during the school project comply with modern intensity standards, and those in the surrounding park should comply, local residents said. Many favor “dark sky-friendly” lighting that minimizes glare.
Friends of Lafayette Park also would like D.C. officials to replace some of the park’s aging shade trees. At a public meeting earlier in January, the D.C. Departments of General Services and Parks and Recreation presented results of a survey of nearby residents that largely parallel views expressed at the Friends of Lafayette Park meeting.
D.C. officials said they would take public views into account as they develop the center’s design. Residents have said they do not think that the new structure should be any bigger than the current one, to preserve as much open parkland as possible. They stressed that new restrooms and the availability of drinking water are high priorities.
— Ted Gest