Last week Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced a bill in Congress that would allow the District to purchase the RFK site from the federal government. This is a great step in the right direction. At 190 acres, the site is the largest tract of unused land in the city. Once acquired, the city can begin the careful planning process for what kind of land use makes the most sense there, which promises to stir up a vigorous debate. Some of the city’s most ambitious redevelopment projects like the Wharf or the Capitol Riverfront were made possible only after acquiring federal land.
Improving the city’s land use policy has been a priority for the Federal City Council, and that includes pushing for DC control over the RFK site. We held two RFK meetings for Trustees in the fall of 2018, one with Beverly Perry from the Mayor’s Office. Our most recent Board Meeting hosted Mayor Bowser and Ms. Norton to talk about how the city can better utilize federal land.
The RFK news follows on the heels of other positive developments involving the federal government. In February, Congress passed a bill allowing the city to forge public-private partnerships to improve federally-owned parks. This means, for example, that construction to rehabilitate downtown’s Franklin Park can soon break ground.