DC wouldn’t be DC without its perks – er, I mean parks. A bustling city is made greater by the greens that are within it, that’s just common knowledge. Even the diehard city slickers who like to pump their arms aggressively as they walk from meeting to meeting and pride themselves on scoffing at the use of Google Maps (it’s not that hard to just know your way around, guys), can admit through desperate chugs of caffeine: nature is a necessity.
Luckily, here in the District, we have a handful of organizations that are dedicated to making sure the grass stays green and there’s space to grow. One of those organizations is the NoMa Parks Foundation. If you don’t know the lay of DC’s land, NoMa is north of Massachusetts Ave and northeast of Union Station, consisting of neighborhoods such as Truxton Circle, Sursum Corda, Eckington, and Near Northeast.
NoMa Parks Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making that part of the general DC area the best it can be. Put into more specific words on their website, their purpose is to “establish welcoming, sustainable, beautiful spaces where people can play, refresh, and connect in NoMa, now and in the future.” If that doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzies, the city’s exhaust has melted whatever heart you had left.
NoMa Parks Foundation is not just words though – they are plans put into action. The Foundation is very close to bringing two parks that have been a long time coming into existence. A few weeks ago they even opened up a contest to the public asking for help with some of the finishing touches – such as the parks’ names.
This isn’t a small feat – in fact, it’s a big deal. While DC has a lot of public parks , these will be the NoMa area’s first. According to an article written in August by the DCist:
“Getting public green space installed in NoMa has been in the works for more than five years. In the neighborhood’s original plan, public parks were non-existent, so the NoMA BID created an affiliate, the NoMa Parks Foundation, to exclusively focus on finding the land and money to build them.”
Money came into the picture early on, with previous Mayor, Vincent Gray giving $490,000 towards the efforts in 2012 and the D.C Council approving a $50 million budget for NoMa parks and public spaces. Trickier than the cash was the land. Long story short, they eventually were able to secure some space. One option they secured was a lot that had been intended for soon-to-be condos, at 3rd and L Streets NE. After that, more success followed as the organization got its hands on an area of land previously owned by Pepco, bordered by Harry Thomas Way NE and the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
The second acquisition, a total of two acres, is temporarily being called “NoMa Green” as the organization sifts through some hopefully great names (plus the occasional Parky McPark Face-esque suggestions). Once finish, NoMa Green will have open green space, a playground, an interactive fountain, dog park, and connections to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The smaller piece of land will have some of the same, featuring at least a green space, playground, and dog area. The small park is expected to be completed sooner, with the large park waiting until the year’s turn to break ground.
The projects stopped taking name suggestions on August 25th, so one can only hope that the new “it” places will be revealed by name sooner rather than later. What shall we call them? Will it be a nod to the proximity to the the estate of Joseph Gales circa 1815? A hats off to the Irish Immigrants that settled not too far off in an area that became known as Swampoodle? A nostalgic stab at the fact that NoMA hosted the Beatles’ first U.S. Concert back in February of ’64? A mention of one of many other historical tidbits? Or, perhaps, something original. I’m on the edge of my seat.