East Side News – May 2017


NOMA Parks Update
The NoMa Parks Foundation held its sixth community conversation on April 13 at the Hilton Garden Inn on First Street NE. The goal of the meeting was to update the public on the final design for the park at Third and L streets and provide updates on other ongoing projects.

In 2015, as an affiliate of the NOMA Business Improvement District (BID), NoMa Parks acquired two pieces of property, one at Third and L streets NE, and “NoMa Green,” an expanse along the railroad tracks between New York Avenue and the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT). The most recent acquisition, what the foundation calls its proudest achievement, is an additional half-acre of land adjacent to NoMa Green worth $3.6 million, negotiated at no cost. NoMa Parks has also taken responsibility for enhancing the M Street and L Street underpasses, projects expected to complete this year.

The community conversation focused on the progress of the work at the Third and L streets park. Two representatives of Lee and Associates gave a detailed presentation about the overall layout and esthetic feel of the proposed park. It will be divided into two sections.

The portion lining L Street will be sectioned off for children. The main feature of the playground will be a multilevel Wallholla, a vertical-wall structure produced by Dutch company Carve. It allows for maximum climbing potential, designed for tight urban settings. And this tiny block is extremely tight.

The larger section of the park will be fenced in and serve as a dog park. The dogs will also have their own structure on which to climb, both on and through. The dog park will be maintained by Friends of NoMa Dogs (FOND), which made a presentation encouraging people to volunteer.

The space was originally purchased by a developer and slated to be condominiums, but the project stalled, leaving the fate of the space in question as other multi-unit buildings rose around it. Through public/private partnerships, NoMa Parks was able to purchase the space at a reduced cost. The park is scheduled for completion in October.

NoMa Parks was founded in 2011, as developers began buying up property north of Union Station, with the goal of preserving space for green parks and outdoor recreation areas. The foundation was awarded a $10 million grant in 2013 under Mayor Vincent Gray. NoMa Parks President Robin-Eve Jasper says the group is on schedule with current and planned project. For more information visit www.nomaparks.org.

REI’s Beer for Better Biking Rally
Early in April, the REI flagship store released its first-ever beer, Rally Cry IPA, created in collaboration with Atlas Brew and DC Brau. It is sold for a limited time in very limited locations. The proceeds will benefit the Capital Trails Coalition, an alliance of biking groups whose goal is to link all of the DC region’s bike trails.

To launch the new beer, REI hosted a large event, providing two drink tickets to anyone who came to shop until the beer ran out. Food was donated by Cava. REI staff hosted free bike clinics, and many vendors, including the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), had tables to show off their products. Features also included a photo booth and bike-race competition stand.

The event was the culmination of a project that has been in the works since before the store opened. Community involvement was always a big part of the plan of the DC flagship store according to Matt Liddle, regional programs and outreach manager for REI. With the United Outside campaign, REI attempts to reach the local community through internal classes and external events, usually with the help of partner Wunder Garten.

As one of the largest bike shops in the country, REI got involved with WABA and its three-year-old effort to connect all the bike trails in the District. They formed an alliance, the Capital Trails Coalition, which has partnered with local and federal governments (the National Park Service was the first government agency to join) to create the infrastructure to make it possible to bike throughout the DC region without having to join car traffic.

The coalition set out to involve businesses. The CEOs of DC Brau and Atlas Brew were already involved in WABA, both being active bikers. Both breweries were interested in collaborating for the cause. They also convinced their malt and can suppliers to donate the proceeds to the coalition.

The event’s timing was strategic to coincide with the Craft Brewers Conference, which brought over 10,000 brewers to DC. Liddle said they wanted to show how craft brewers can do good work in their local communities. A special event was held for the brewers on the evening after the launch.

The project is ongoing, and the Capital Trails Coalition will continue to build members. The work is in the planning stages. For more information visit www.capitaltrailcoalition.org.

Wunder Garten’s Fruehlingsfest
On Easter weekend, Wunder Garten hosted Fruehlingsfest. The three-day event was filled with live music and games, such as a stein-holding competition. The event had typical German fare, served by Cafe Berlin. The event kicked off on Thursday evening with the tapping of the traditional Maibock keg. The Maibock is a paler, more hoppy version of a German lager. The Maibock is the go-to brew for the spring festival because it is lighter than its usual counterparts.

Traditionally, Fruehlingsfest is the celebration of the start of spring. The event is held every year in Munich and is commonly referred to as Little Octoberfest. Although the timing of the event on Easter weekend is coincidence, there are many crossover traditions between the holiday and Fruehlingsfest. For example, one game usually played involves finding hidden eggs.

The event hosted 3,000 people over the three days and provided a winter-weary DC population with a great excuse to spend a few nights outside.

Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: taylor@midcitydcnews.com; @rtaylorb.