NoMa Green a Go For This Fall, Softening MBT’s Z-Curve at R Street NE

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Development

One inconvenient section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail is the z-curve that greets you as you approach NoMa. Its back-to-back 90+ degree turns will break your momentum at R Street NE. Not only that, considering I ride mostly at night, it’s a pretty desolate stretch, well-lit but no one in sight if you find yourself in need of help.

Fortunately, the plans for a park in that empty patch of land between the MBT and Harry Thomas Way NE include addressing the z-curve, making it more bike-friendly. And with the park should come more people in the area, and hopefully, more use of the MBT by more bikers.

In December 2015, the NoMa Parks Foundation acquired two acres of vacant land owned by Pepco. As envisioned in the NoMa Parks 2012 Public Realm Design Plan, “NoMa Green” will provide for outdoor recreation and community gatherings. This new space will serve as NoMa’s “backyard.” In May 2016, an additional half acre of park space was acquired at the northeast corner, allowing for the softening of the R Street turn on the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT). The NoMa Parks Foundation worked with the community during 2016 and 2017 to design the park, and construction is planned for 2018-19.

Currently it’s called NoMa Green, but there’s a survey to rename it. Of over 100 suggestions, we’re down to four options for the new name.

Tanner Park — Named for Alethia Browning Tanner (c. 1785-1864), a former slave who purchased her freedom and that of many relatives. She helped sponsor some of the first schools for black children in the District of Columbia and provided financial support for many hundreds of young people to gain access to education.

Gales Wood — The land that became the present-day Eckington neighborhood was the country home of Joseph Gales Jr. (1786-1860), a newspaper publisher and Mayor of Washington. After the Civil War, the area was known as “Gales Woods” and was a popular picnic ground.

Met Branch Commons — This name acknowledges the adjacency and the integration of the Metropolitan Branch Trail in the park.

Union Green — This name reflects the history of the site, which became a rail yard after the combination of the B&O Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad at Union Station. This merger enabled the creation of the National Mall.

Construction will be starting this fall and be completed by late 2019.

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