Why does the NoMa neighborhood need parks?

  • In the NoMa area, there are 44,000 residents, but less than 5 acres of open space. There are thousands of children, yet NoMa has no significant parks or public spaces for gathering or recreation. The surrounding areas also rank among the lowest in the District in terms of parks and open space.
  • For several years, private landowners have informally allowed use of their undeveloped land for dog walking, movie nights, farmers markets, and other public uses, but these sites are rapidly disappearing as development occurs.
  • As a whole, Washington, D.C., is one of the greenest cities in the country and is graced with a huge variety of neighborhood parks and open space, totaling over 7,500 acres. On average, the District has 12.9 acres of open space for every 1,000 residents.

Why are parks important for healthy urban living?

  • Public parks are essential for health, safety, and overall well-being. Simply interacting with nature has been shown to improve cognitive ability, reduce aggressive behavior, and generally recharge our brains.
  • Access to parks and open spaces build social capital and community. This, in turn, decreases crime and disorder.

How many parks will there be?

  • The total number of parks is a work in progress. The NoMa Public Realm Design Plan identifies specific park opportunities, as well as referencing an undetermined number of “pocket parks.” NoMa parks will include playgrounds, green spaces, public plazas and gathering spaces, pocket parks, and underpass/connectivity improvement.

$50 million is a significant sum of money. Why does NoMa need so much? Why not use public land in the area for parks?

  • Regrettably, there is no publicly owned land in NoMa that is suitable and available for parks.
  • In order to build parks, the NoMa Parks Foundation will have to purchase land, perhaps multiple parcels. For the sake of comparison, park-sized parcels in the area have sold for as much as $30 million in recent years. The cost of constructing a park is also significant. The Washington Canal Park in Southeast cost more than $27 million to build, and Yards Park cost about $35 million.
  • NoMa is one of the fastest growing areas in the city, with ongoing private investment and development. That means land costs are increasing each year.

Who will own NoMa parks?

  • Except for certain publicly accessible parks on privately owned land, the District government will own all NoMa parks.
  • District government funds will only be spent for improvements on District government owned property.

Who is working on the parks?

  • The NoMa Parks Foundation, District agencies, community stakeholders, and private property owners will all be working together on the NoMa Parks effort.

What will the parks look like?

  • Parks in NoMa will incorporate the best available thinking on urban parks, public safety, sustainability, handicapped accessibility, and ease of maintenance.
  • The NoMa parks system will be evaluated in terms of its ability to bring neighbors together as a community.
  • Demonstrations of alternative energy sources, vertical green spaces, portable/temporary community gardens, etc. are of particular interest and will be given consideration when creating NoMa park design concepts.
  • The Public Realm Design Plan, created after months of careful analysis and with input from a cross-section of community stakeholders, is a vision of what parks could look like in the neighborhood. This is the framework for NoMa Parks under the NoMa Parks Grant Authorization Act of 2013.