RFK Campus Short Term Redevelopment Public Comments

August 9, 2016

Andrew Harrington
Director, Venue Operations
Events DC Sports & Entertainment Division
2400 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

RE: RFK Campus Short Term Redevelopment

Dear Mr. Harrington,

Casey Trees is a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit, with a mission “to restore, enhance, and protect the
tree canopy of the nation’s capital.” To fulfill this mission, we plant trees; monitor the city’s tree canopy; and work with elected officials, developers, and residents to prioritize the District’s trees and to encourage tree planting on both public and private property.

We are dedicated to helping the District reach its 40 percent tree canopy goal by 2032. To achieve this goal, developers must work alongside the city to protect existing trees and plant new trees. Therefore, we are excited to provide you with comments on the short-term concept plans for RFK campus.

Due to its massive size, numerous mature trees, and proximity to the Anacostia River, the RFK campus presents a tremendous opportunity to help the District compete with some of the greenest cities in the U.S. Both the Stitch and North-South short term proposals would expand green space along the Anacostia River. However, under either proposal, at least 60 trees or 1.7 acres of tree canopy would be lost campus-wide. To create a welcoming, shade-filled campus, it is imperative that existing trees on site are preserved and that trees are planted to replace any lost during construction.

By protecting healthy trees, planting new trees, and implementing sound tree care practices, tree canopy can be maximized along the riverfront to provide an attractive forested park. A forested park would offer a shaded community gathering place for active and passive recreation. This new green space would not only minimize stormwater pollution flowing into the Anacostia River, but would also reduce the site’s enormous stormwater fees.

After analyzing the two concept plans, Casey Trees endorses the Stitch proposal but recommends planting trees in all available green space. The Stitch plan provides 12 more acres of plantable space compared to the North-South Axis plan (see Figure 1). In order to maximize benefits to District residents and visitors, we suggest incorporating the following recommendations into the redevelopment plans for the RFK campus:

  • Increase RFK campus’ tree canopy from 8.6% to 30%: There is potential within the Stitch concept plan to increase canopy coverage to 30% (see graphic below). By protecting existing trees and foresting all plantable space, this project would allow the city to take a significant step towards achieving the 40% tree canopy goal and adhering to the Anacostia 2032 plan.
  • Preserve existing trees: Work with a certified arborist to create a campus-wide tree preservation plan that will preserve all healthy non-invasive trees along the Anacostia Riverwalk trail and throughout the campus. The mature willow oak trees lining the site of the future RFK Memorial should continue to serve as a grand entrance, drawing neighborhood residents to the newly expanded green space along the Anacostia River.
  • Protect trees during construction: Adding tree protection fencing will prevent damage from equipment and debris. Install clear signage and metal fencing beyond the critical root zone of on any trees on or near construction sites, as specified in the District Department of Transportation’s tree protection requirements (DWG NO. 608.10).
  • Replace lost trees: Comply with the Special Tree requirements of the Urban Forest Preservation Act and replace any non-Special Trees removed during construction at a ratio of at least 3:1. Reference Casey Trees’ Urban Tree Selection Guide when selecting trees for this site. It is important that all replacement trees are watered regularly as their root systems have not yet expanded far enough to gather water from a large area. Trees less than 3 years old should receive 25 gallons of water or 1.5 inches of rainfall per week to survive.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Casey Trees would be happy to work with you to achieve the suggested canopy goal, provide clarity on any of the above recommendations, or determine species selections for this site. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at ktaddei@caseytrees.org or 202-349-1892.

Kristin D. Taddei
Planning Advocate

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