Strategies for Parks and Open Space in NoMa

Podcast: Listen to an update five years after the workshop

On September 17, 2011, planners from around the country and local community members gathered in one of D.C.'s fastest developing neighborhoods — known as NoMa — to help the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) come up with strategies to preserve public open space and parks in the midst of remarkable growth. More specifically, workshop participants presented NoMa BID with:

  1. A vision statement that supports the community's needs and wishes for future public spaces.
  2. Park design guidelines and ideas for a breezeway outside the local Metro rail station.
  3. A long-term public engagement strategy.

NoMa's name derives from its location "North of Massachusetts Avenue," which has seen a total transformation over the last decade. A once-blighted industrial area has transformed into a bustling transit-oriented, mixed-use community. Since the opening of the public-private partnership project of the New York Avenue Metro station in 2004, the headquarters of the U.S. General Services Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have located within the neighborhood.

The daytime population is roughly 40,000 people, and the full-time resident population continues to explode.

The pace of development, coupled with an industrial past, has left NoMa vulnerable to the loss of all significant open space and parkland. This is where the workshop participants stepped in to help the community recognize and capitalize on its open space and recreational potential.

Workshop participants used the offices of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) in NoMa as headquarters for the day's events. NoMa Transportation and Planning Manager Jamie Brätt and Ambassador Supervisor/Outreach Coordinator J. Otavio Thompson first led participants on a walking tour of the community.

After returning to MWCOG, participants separated into five breakout groups, each consisting of APA members and community stakeholders. These groups met to discuss and produce answers to a set of issues and questions. After each breakout, the five groups reassembled and reported their findings.

During the last part of the day, the entire group assembled to create a prioritized list of recommendations for how the community should engage its growing resident base and other stakeholders in the neighborhood. The workshop ended as APA participants and NoMa participants met separately to discuss the day's activities.

The findings of the workshop will help the NoMa BID plan for a healthy proportion of open and park space as it continues to thrive as a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood.