The Office of Planning completed the NoMa Public Space and Water Management Study in order to find a ‘nexus of opportunity’ between the rapidly occurring development within NoMa, an aging storm water infrastructure, and impending storm water management regulations, with the goal of creating a park for this neighborhood. The analysis undertaken through this project showed that, while there is an important relationship between storm water management strategies and the potential to provide new parks in NoMa, it does not appear that economies associated with storm water will cover the cost of a site for a new neighborhood park. Property owners and developers believe they can meet the new, more strict storm water management requirements - adopted in response to DC’s storm water permits negotiated with the US Environmental Protection Agency - on private property. They concluded that they have little incentive to consider a more complicated storm water management solution that could include an off-site storm water facility that would also serve as a shared, publicly accessible open space and neighborhood park.
The study does, however, provide a roadmap for ways the public and private sectors can take the lead in incorporating Low Impact Development strategies into streetscape plans. It also highlights storm water management best practices for private property. The document is an effective tool for promoting “green” development practices in NoMa and in other high-density urban neighborhoods. It also furthers the discussion on progressive strategies that combine park space with storm water storage facilities – even as it outlines the challenges that need to be overcome in creating these kinds of public assets.
Addressing storm water issues in ultra-urban settings is a challenge facing cities across the country. Throughout the District we have ample green spaces lining our wide streets that can be used effectively to absorb storm water. Out history of using part of the street right-of-way as a component of our park system gives us an advantage in addressing this challenge. In NoMa, streetscape guidelines reinforce this idea and sets aside part of the sidewalk pedestrian area as green space.
The NoMa Public Space and Water Management Study is only available on the Office of Planning’s website. Please contact Chris Shaheen, Public Space Program Manager, at (202) 442-7616 or at [email protected] should you have any questions.