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Kalorama Park Rehab Project to Continue; U.S. Fine Arts Panel Undecided on Plaza

Accompanying images can be viewed in the March 2015 issue PDF

By P.L. Wolff

The long, on-going controversial debates over how to fix erosion problems and create design enhancements in this small federal park at 19th Street and Columbia Road recently reached the exalted heights of the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), which has jurisdiction over federal reservations located in DC. (For background, see “Kalorama Park in Adams Morgan Now Set for Long Called For Erosion Mitigation & Other Improvements; ANC Narrowly Approves Project,” InTowner, December 2014 issue pdf, page 1;

So it was that on February 19, 2015, representatives of DC’s public works (DPR) and general services (DGS) departments made a joint presentation to the CFA describing the departments’ plan and rationale for certain changes to the original 1947 design of the plaza area.

Among the Commission’s members, most of whom are architects, several raised concerns about deviating from the original rectilinear design of the plaza and urged reconsideration with a view to making adjustments along with providing additional technical details related to the design of that specific area of the park. The Commission neither took a vote one way or another nor did it raise concerns regarding other aspects of the planned work affecting other improvements, including for the playground and soil erosion mitigation.

Following the February 19th CFA meeting, On March 2nd DPW and DGS issued a released an open letter addressed to the “Kalorama Community” which read, in part that they “would like to thank the many residents who have expressed their thoughts on the planned improvements . . . and in particular [for] the area known as ‘The Plaza.’”

Further, and most significantly, both departments stated that “[a]fter giving this matter careful consideration, DPR and OGS have agreed to continue with the renovation as planned, while addressing any additional details with the Commission of Fine Arts.”