Looking to Mayor Bowser for Anacostia Centennial Support

The Anacostia Waterfront Trust (AWT) is preparing for next year’s centennial celebration of the Anacostia River Park by urging DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to create a grant program to fund centennial events, programming and educational activities on the Anacostia waterfront.

“We want to make it the Year of the Anacostia,” says Doug Siglin, AWT executive director. “We want to have programming that will have direct impact on the health and well-being of people near Anacostia Park, particularly in Wards 7 and 8. Environmental education programs that are science- and math-based, health programs, movement programs—very practical activities that will be of benefit to the people who live there.”

In September, the DC Council filed a Sense of the Council resolution that designated 2018 as the “Year of the Anacostia”, in recognition of the 1918 decision by Congress to set aside most of the Anacostia riverfront as public parkland. In addition, 2018 will mark the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s birth and Major League Baseball will bring its All-Star Game to Nationals Park in July.

“The cause endures and the work has got to continue,” said FC2 CEO and Executive Director Anthony Williams at FC2’s 2017 Annual Meeting on Dec. 5. “This is not a park where we want it to be. We need to continue our efforts on the Anacostia River because it’s so important and use this moment, the celebration of the anniversary of the Anacostia Park in 2018, to try to do that.”

DC Water’s massive sewer tunnel system will go into effect in 2018, significantly reducing the amount of bacteria and other contaminants entering the river. Following the Council’s resolution, the AWT and other nonprofits wrote to DC Councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the Transportation and Environment Committee, asking her to schedule a committee hearing in support of the resolution.

“We hope that this resolution and a hearing in the Transportation and Environment Committee will contribute to a better public understanding of this extraordinary resource,” they wrote.

In its October letter to Bowser, the AWT and 62 other nonprofit groups highlighted the Council’s resolution, described the history of the Anacostia riverfront and requested a targeted DC government investment to support public programming by community-based organizations for the neighborhoods around the river.

“There’s enormous potential and we need to find a way to create momentum for it,” says Siglin. “We’re working hard to encourage the mayor to say ‘yes, I will be a leader this’. We want to help her make the Anacostia waterfront a valuable educational, recreational and economic resource for DC residents and visitors.”