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Community Weighs in on Proposed Plans for Rose Park

Neighbors and residents can chime in on three options for the future of Rose Park's multi-use path.

Parks and cycling enthusiasts alike gathered at the National Zoo Wednesday evening to get a look at proposed options to rehabilitate and change sections of in the District. The National Park Service (NPS), working in conjunction with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (EA) on the proposed rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail. The section of the plan that directly impacts Georgetown is .

The options for Rose Park include a "No Action" plan where the path would remain under its current conditions. The other two options would help improve the connection between P Street and M Street that allows path users to easily travel between Dupont Circle and Georgetown. One "action" option would resurface the path at its current alignment to a standard six foot width, the other would increase the width to eight feet. According to the presentation given Wednesday evening the existing trail at Rose Park varies in width from five to six feet.

The Rose Park section of the trail will be evaluated under a separate option in the EA "due to comments received during the 2009 and 2011 scoping periods," according to a DDOT document.

As previously reported, the ANC adopted a resolution opposing modification of the path as per the request of Friends of Rose Park. The park supporters sent a letter to agency heads in early February stating its three long-held priorities for the park: the path should not be relocated or widened, though it should be renovated for safety and future use should be limited to pedestrians (no cyclists).

A Q&A session Wednesday allowed attendees to propose solutions to be included in any plan. Greater Greater Washington reported neighbors made suggestions such as "building a fence to separate the Rose Park trail from the playground and using brick pavers to slow down cyclists."

Jim Sebastian, a supervisory transportation planner for DDOT, said about the suggestions that his agency and the park service would consider them when refining the plan for the neighborhood park.

When asked about the choices for the width of the improved path—why six or eight feet—Sebastian said the national standard for a sidewalk is 10 feet, but that "would be a bit much" in Rose Park. The six foot path would allow two people to pass one another and for a stroller to comfortably maneuver the space, he explained. Whatever option the agencies decide to go with, based on public feedback, the NPS intends to keep the path multi-use, rather than pedestrian-only.

The project would impact sections of the trail from Broad Branch Road to P Street, and also would include the Piney Branch Parkway trail from Beach Drive to Arkansas Avenue, NW, and part of the Rose Park trail from M Street to P Street. In total the rehabilitation project, if approved, would cover a 3.7-mile segment of the existing Rock Creek trail and a 3,000-foot segment of the existing Rose Park trail.

The public can comment online during this scoping period until Feb. 28.

After this initial public comment period, the agencies will work to develop a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) by the spring; that document would also be open for public comment with a final EA likely by the summer. Should the NPS and FHWA determine the project has no "significant impact" the project could then move to the design and construction phase.

David Abrams February 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Hi - I was there Wednesday night and made a comment on behalf of Friends of Rose Park. I was actually the only real "neighbor" of the park to do so - the other 15 or so folks who commented were from outside of Georgetown and font use the park as the "end-destination" park it is - they wanted a superhighway through the park so they could speed thru to get where they're going quicker, with the exception of one other biker who saw no need to increase the width. David Anrams
Shaun Courtney (Editor) February 25, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Thanks for your input David. We'll continue to follow this project and to provide the community with updates on decisions and future opportunities to comment.
Teel Oliver February 27, 2011 at 04:36 AM
Teel Oliver David, thank you so much for representing those of us who use Rose Park for recreational activities on a daily basis. Had I known I would certainly have accompanied you. When this issue first arose several of us conducted an informal survey to look at the demographic of those using the path. When the determination was made that the only change to the path would be to repair it at its current width, I discarded the information I had collected. As you know the overwhelming use of the path is by pedestrians including families with small children and strollers who are walking to the two small playgrounds in the park, kids coming to the park to play soccer, basketball and baseball and to skateboard near the basketball court. If this were to become a major commuting route for bicycles all of these people would be endangered and the very nature of this small neighborhood park would be substantially changed. Will there be another hearing or another opportunity to oppose these proposed changes?
Shaun Courtney (Editor) February 27, 2011 at 06:01 AM
Teel, the changes won't necessarily change the number of cyclists riding on the path. At least that is not the goal of the update. That said, there will be future opportunities to comment on the Environmental Assessment when it comes out this spring. Patch will continue to follow this project and provide notices of any public meetings and comment periods. Thanks for your interest in the community and Rose Park!
Teel Oliver February 28, 2011 at 03:25 PM
If that's the case, then why are the bicycle groups so fervently advocating for widening the path? Speeding bicyclists would present a definite hazard. Pavers to slow them down sounds like a good idea. Safety first.
Shaun Courtney (Editor) February 28, 2011 at 06:03 PM
The cyclists may be advocating for a wider path. My point was that the NPS, DDOT and FHWA are not necessarily intending it to become a speedway. Both cyclists and neighbors have a say in the process and it is our job to keep you abreast of the continued development of the plan for Rose Park. Thanks!
Ken Archer March 01, 2011 at 07:55 PM
I completely agree that we need to preserve a calm transportation environment in Rose Park. But with bike usage increasing in DC and once this Rock Creek path is renovated, bike usage of the Rose Park path will only increase. The Georgetown ANC also recommended unanimously that DDOT add a Capital Bikeshare station just south of Rose Park. So, keeping the path at its current width is unlikely to keep bike usage of the path from increasing significantly, as it does connect Georgetown with Dupont Circle. As bike usage of Rose Park increases, the interests of pedestrians in Rose Park will be better served by a wider path with brick paving and a fence around the northern playground, than a narrower path and hoping that bikers avoid the park.
Teel Oliver March 02, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Shaun Courtney has stated that widening the path will not necessarily increase bike traffic but Ken Archer's comment indicates otherwise. Also, P Street 26th, 27th and 28th also connect Dupont Circle and M Street in Georgetown. Also, I have long been in favor of a fence around the northern playground to prevent dogs from getting into it, but that doesn't do anything to preserve the safety of families, adults, children and strollers getting to the playground.

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