YOUR VIEW | What Price For Open Space?

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To the editor:

Oftentimes we become aware of decisions after theyve occurred. This is an attempt to convey citizen input before changes have been acted upon. City Council is soon to make a decision to study the possibilities of swapping land that is not part of Potomac Yard but does have open space. The open space to be exchanged lies near the Braddock Metro, abutting the George Washington Middle School. This open space is currently being used for playing fields (baseball, soccer, rugby, etc.). Not only does the school use these fields, but so also do the residents of Braddock East since this is within walking distance.

The rationale for replacing these fields is to get more, larger tracts of open space nearer to Simpson Field in a continuum stretching to the south from the Gold Crust Bakery and extending behind G.W. Most people like open swaths of land where neighborly activities can occur. But this does not happen without a price and the price is not without loss. The present owner of Landbay L has permission to build townhouses and appears not to be interested in swapping this land to be used for open space. What he could gain is less land that which abuts the school ground. In order for this to be an economically feasible package, the density must be more compact, thus it must be concentrated into high, tight buildings.

Residents of the city must determine which is the better benefit: Tight, high buildings abutting the middle school, or a quality of life that affects the middle school students, the surrounding community and intensification of traffic which affects more travelers than the nearby neighborhoods?
This school is not a neighborhood school but a regional one that affects students throughout the east side of the city. Safety will be compromised by vehicular traffic in the alleys and underground garages. Residents who traverse the Braddock Metro area in cars will patiently wait in queues while buses, trucks and other vehicles use the roadways behind tall buildings for egress and access to the school and businesses. But queues will also occur on Braddock Road. Redevelopment of the 7-Eleven site across Braddock Road is not to be ignored. Amenable access to and from Old Town (and the developing Braddock East) neighbors will be compromised. Justification of height, alleys, underground garages, safety, density and concomitant traffic woes are not seen as a beneficial rationale. Traffic woes may cause chagrin as vehicles serving school and businesses queue patiently with commuters in a quest to get under/around/through the railroad tracks.

In short, perhaps the question is this: For whose benefit does the larger playing space/open fields accrue? Will students at G.W. be shortchanged so that a more continuous, contiguous stretch of land can be used by the urban community to the north? Is this for the benefit of most of the community? Is it only a few students from a nearby neighborhood that will be affected or should the community of the entire school be of consideration? Will only the nearby neighborhood be affected by traffic queues at Braddock Metro or might there be others who use these roads for commuting purposes? Will the future residents of the new Braddock East Plan hope to see playing fields in their nearby community (not currently in plans land is too expensive)? If you are to consider any of these arguments of importance, then be aware of what happens at City Council.

Judy Miller
Rosemont resident

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